A Complete Guide to Great Skin

How do I know what skin type I have?

In dermatology we tend to focus more on skin condition rather than skin type but it can be helpful to know you skin type when choosing skincare most suitable for you. Skin types usually fall into one of four categories, normal, dry, oily and combination. Within each of these categories you can also add sensitive, for example you may have dry sensitive skin. Usually you will have a rough idea as to which category you fall within and you probably won’t be far wrong.

‘Normal’ skin will appear well balanced throughout the day. Dry skin produces less sebum and as a result will feel tight, rough and often looks dull. Oily skin produces too much sebum and will often look shiny during the day. Pores will appear more visible in oily skin types. Combination, as the name suggests, is a mix of both oily and dry. The T-zone will predominantly be oily and the cheeks dry.


How do I know whether my skincare products are right for me?

Choosing the right skincare can often feel like a minefield. To simplify it I recommend a two-step approach, firstly choose a cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen based on your skin type. These are you essential everyday products, think of them as the pillars of your skincare regime.

Then for the second step, choose targeted treatments based on your particular skin concerns. For example if you are concerned with early signs of aging, you may want to look at introducing a retinol product, if you are concerned with spots then a product containing salicylic acid will be of benefit to you.

Unfortunately skincare is not an exact science and what works for your best friend may not work for you. There may be some trial and error involved but by carefully selecting ingredients proven to treat your skin concerns, you should be on the path to success.


What causes acne?

In someone with acne, their oil producing glands are particularly sensitive to levels of certain hormones. Due to this their glands produce excess oil. Add to this an accumulation of dead skin cells within the pores and the result is a build up of oil which causes spots.

Some medications can cause acne, for example certain contraceptive pills and medication taken by body builders. Acne can also be caused by certain conditions, those with polycystic ovary syndrome are often troubled with spots.


What is double cleansing and do I need to do it?

Double cleansing, as the name suggests, is cleansing the skin twice often with a different type of cleanser.

It is not necessary in the morning, a single cleanse is sufficient, but of an evening it can be beneficial. We wear sunscreen and long-lasting makeup during the day so the first step in cleansing is designed to remove this. The second cleanse should address your particular skin type or concern.

If you have a sensitive skin type be cautious not to over cleanse as this will strip you skins barrier of essential lipids required to keep your skin healthy.


How can I help prevent wrinkles?

Wearing sunscreen daily is the best way to prevent wrinkles. We know that UV radiation is the biggest cause of skin aging. Ensure that your sunscreen is broad spectrum which means it protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause burning and vary depending on season. UVA rays cause aging and are present all year round, they can penetrate glass and  clouds so don’t be fooled by a cloudy day!


How can I prevent dark circles?

The causes of dark circles under the eyes are vast. They can range from the obvious, such as lack of sleep, through to the more complex such as iron deficiency. Genetics and facial structure can also contribute to dark circles.

If you have seen your doctor and ruled any health issues relating to dark circles, there are some at home remedies which may help. Firstly ensuring you get good quality sleep is essential. Wearing a daily sunscreen and antioxidant will help with hyperpigmentation around the eye area. A cold compress may help to instantly reduce puffiness as it will cause blood vessels in the area to restrict.


How can I help treat rosacea?

Firstly if you have rosacea, try to schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist as there are numerous treatment options.

In terms of self-help, it’s important to know your triggers and avoid them. Triggers can include hot spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, stress and hot/cold temperatures. It is sometimes helpful to keep a diary and note when your rosacea flares, this way it is easier to identify what may have caused the flare.

Wearing sunscreen daily is important as rosacea can be sun sensitive. Avoid skincare which is fragranced and any facial scrubs as these may aggravate your skin.


Do I need to wear sunscreen all year long?

Yes. UVB rays, which cause burning, are affected by season but UVA rays, which cause skin ageing, are present all year round. Both UVA and UVB have been shown to cause DNA damage which may lead to skin cancer, so for health reasons as well as cosmetic reasons it is important to wear sunscreen daily.

It is not sufficient to rely on the protection offered in your moisturiser or makeup as you will not be applying these thick enough to be getting the protection required. Use a dedicated sunscreen first and apply it liberally before applying your makeup.


How can I help minimise pores?

It is a misconception that pores open and close. Some people may have enlarged pores due to an over production of sebum, sun damage or genetics. To help improve the appearance of enlarged pores it is important to exfoliate regularly using a chemical exfoliant. Salicylic acid is particularly effective at unclogging pores, when pores are clear of debris they are less obvious.

Niacinamide is another great ingredient to look for in your skincare if you are troubled by enlarged pores. Niacinamide is known to help increase skins elasticity, so as a result pores will appear less visible.


How can I help fix uneven skin tone

If your uneven skin tone is down to textural issues then regular exfoliation with a chemical exfoliant will help to improve this. Choose an exfoliant suited to your skin type, Glycolic acid is recommended for most but if you have a sensitive skin then you may find Lactic acid suits you better.

If you have uneven skin tone due to pigmentation, it is essential to use sunscreen daily. UV exposure will cause the pigmentation to become darker.

Introducing a retinol product will also help with uneven skin tone. Introduce it slowly to reduce the side effects associated with retinols.

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