A quick glance at my bathroom cupboard and you’ll notice that I’m a product hoarder. Forget cleanse, tone and moisturise – I cleanse, tone, exfoliate, oil cleanse, serum, moisturiser, acne cream, and that’s just the evening routine.
As someone who suffered from acne in their teenage years, a myriad of products is almost second nature to me at this point. Attempting to keep up with my frequent ‘blemishes’ was impossible. Pitt scars lined my cheeks, my skin furious with any attempt manage the never-ending angry spots that lined my jaw. I’d awake with my skin peeling like wallpaper, the detritus lining my pillow signifying another failed round of treatment. But, just as the rather unsympathetic GP had suggested five years earlier, I did, somehow, grow out of it.
By 25, I could keep up with my acne. I’d mastered camouflaging my breakouts and learnt the delicate balance between drying spots out and destroying my skin. But all of this required a number of products.
So, for someone like me, is skip-care, the latest skincare trend, going to work? I caught up with Louise Walsh, The Skin Nurse, whose years’ of dermatology experience in the NHS and private sector have made her an expert on great skin. She offers online or face-to-face consultations to private patients that want to improve their complexion.
“I’m a big fan of keeping skincare simple, quick and effective. Why? Because by using too many products our skin becomes lazy, and often sensitive too, over time.“If you think about young, healthy skin, it’s bouncy, bright and clear, it doesn’t need daily attention and products to keep it feeling comfortable because it works perfectly on its own.
But, over time, our skins’ performance slows down and becomes sluggish, which is why we need to protect it and keep it awake and working efficiently.”
So, should I start reducing the number of products I use?
Louise suggests that I start by thinking about my skin type. I’d describe my skin as text-book combination skin, but, what I mistake for dryness, is often dehydration. It’s something Louise sees a lot.
“For example, some people believe they have very ‘dry’ skin because it feels rough and looks dull. So, they’ll search for the best moisturiser money can buy. And are shocked when it doesn’t work. It might simply be that you need to exfoliate more, with a lighter and more basic cream for hydration.”
It might not be that you need to cut out products, it might be that you need to start by making sure that you have the right products.
What products should we use every day?
Louise goes back to her simple and effective philosophy. “It’s important to not layer too many products on the skin. It won’t get absorbed and it will simply sit on the surface of the skin. But, before you do anything else – you need to understand your skin type.
“Without a doubt though, keeping our skin clean is vital – no matter what your skin type is – as well as protecting it from the sun. Bare minimum? A good cleanser and broad-spec sunscreen.
“I also advise all my clients to add in a topical antioxidant under their SPF to help prevent damage to the deep skin cells. This isn’t just forward-thinking, it helps you achieve a healthy glow.”
Can we actually ‘over-use’ products?
Louise offers a resounding yes. “Too much of anything can be detrimental, especially when it comes to your skin. From over-cleansing to over-exfoliating, you can strip the skin of its natural moisture and potentially damage the protective barrier function, which can lead to chronic skin issues like rosacea or dermatitis.
“If you’re using the right exfoliating product for your skin, two to three times a week should be sufficient. I recommend a chemical exfoliator, as scrubs can lead to microscopic damage which will get worse over time, leading to over sensitive skin which is easily irritated.”