If you opened my bathroom cabinet you’d see a myriad of skincare products, all with different purposes and promising different things. With so many products available for us to buy, it can be hard to know what the most important skincare product you should always use actually is. However, I recently watched a really interesting BBC programme hosted by Cherry Healey called ‘The Truth About Looking Good’ that threw some light onto this topic.
Asking the question – ‘How much of what beauty products promise is based on scientific evidence, and how much is jut marketing jargon?’ the programme unearthed a lot of interesting findings; but the ones that stood out to me most were regarding the effectiveness of moisturisers and how big a role the sun plays in damaging and accelerating the ageing of your skin.
In a study of 25 people over three weeks, the cheapest Nivea and mid-level Clinique moisturiser they tested were hailed as the best performers when it came to ‘retaining moisture and hydrating the skin’- therefore making it feel soft. Surprisingly the most expensive Embyrolisse moisturiser they tested actually turned out to be the least effective at hydrating the skin. As I’ve said before, the humectants added to a moisturiser that keep the water in are the key to it’s performance. In this case both Nivea and Clinique used humectants, i.e glycerin, that did a good job of sealing water into the skin and so had the best results. When considering what moisturiser to buy, always bypass the price and look to the ingredients label instead. If a humectant is high on the list of ingredients used, usually after ‘aqua’, then you know it’s going to do a good job – regardless of price.
When it came to the question of whether the products ‘improved the health of the skin’ – that is, improved the skin’s protective barrier and prevented dryness and irritation from happening, over the course of the three weeks none of the creams were found to have improved the health of the skin at all. The study didn’t actually find any evidence that using a basic moisturiser on healthy skin will improve it’s health in the long term.
I think this really means that skin health has a lot to do with diet and lifestyle. If you are a heavy smoker or drinker with a bad diet, then your skin is going to look worse than someone who eats well and doesn’t fill their body with toxins. As much as we would like to think we can get by using a product to compensate for our heavy lifestyles – that product really isn’t going to make up for the internal damage that’s showing on the outside, and we should always aim to feel good from the inside out.
So if a basic moisturiser didn’t have any long term affect on the signs of ageing, what can we use to combat this? Well products which contained retinols performed quite well with the task of reducing fine lines and wrinkles. A product with minimum 0.1% of retinol can be used initially, then when your skin gets used to that percentage you can move to a product which contains 0.3% or 0.5% – always building up the skin’s tolerance.
The most important take away of all was the importance of wearing a SPF every single day. Sun exposure is the KEY cause of wrinkles – up to 75% of wrinkles are caused by sun damage, the rest are down to things like smoking and pollution, and only a small amount are actually down to getting older.
The Sun’s UVB rays are the culprit for sunburn, but UVA rays are the ones responsible for skin ageing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of winter or you can’t see any sun though a haze of cloud in the sky – your skin needs protection against the Sun’s ultraviolet A rays. UVA rays can even transcend through glass!
So the most important skin product you should be using everyday, is a moisturiser with a SPF in it, or suncream.
It’s important that the SPF you use is at least factor 30 to protect against UVB rays and has a four or five star UVA rating. It’s also important to apply SPF to both your face and décolletage, as your neck is just as important to protect from the signs of sun damage.
In my skincare routine, I alternate between two different SPF products with broad spectrum protection – this means they protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
The first one is Perricone MD’s ‘No Foundation Foundation’, which is basically like a tinted moisturiser which gives my skin a nice dewy finish and tanned glow on those days where I don’t feel like wearing foundation. What I like most about this product is that it contains a broad spectrum SPF 30 – so it’s giving my skin the daily sun protection it needs, while also hydrating it. It’s a great multitasker.
The second SPF product I use is for applying under my makeup when I do feel like wearing foundation. It’s Aveda’s Daily Light Guard defence fluid, and it also has a broad spectrum SPF of 30.
Neither Perricone MD or Aveda test on animals, and they steer clear of nasty ingredients in their formulas. They have a much higher-end price tag – but I like to invest more in my skincare or other products when I’m not spending money on nights out or things like that. It’s okay to cut back on certain things in order to spend a little more on things that are important to you. In saying that, you do not have to spend a lot of money to get a good SPF for your skin, those are just my preferred products.
Other lower price options include this No.7 Protect & Perfect Intense BB Cream with a SPF of 30 and 5 star UVA rating, this Avene Anti Ageing Sunscreen with SPF 50 and UVA/UVB protection, and this Clinique Anti Wrinkle Face Cream with SPF 30 and UVA/UVB protection. For the lads, Steve likes using this SPF 30 Anthony one – but let’s be honest, SPF creams don’t need to be gendered to work, do they?
So whatever skincare products you have in your bathroom cabinet, make sure it’s the one with the SPF you’re reaching for every day – and always aim to look beautiful from the inside out.
– Aisling Abbey