Exfoliate regularly to clear your pores of dirt, oil and skin cells making them look smaller and your skin brighter and clearer. Speed up your skin's cellular turnover and smooth the surface by using products containing AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) like glycolic or lactic acid. Using products containing retinol will also encourage skin cell turnover and boost collagen production to help keep skin firm and youthful.
Look for products that combine vitamin C with gentle exfoliants (not micro beads which are an environmental hazard) and natural skin brighteners like licorice or mulberry. You can also make your own exfoliator with sugar mixed in honey, or include other natural ingredients like gram flour, oats, orange peel or lentil powder. Use a handful of sea salt with a couple of drops of essential oils to exfoliate your body, great for upper arms.
2. Use Serum
Choose a day serum that contains antioxidants to help in skin's defence against free radicals and stress, and some specialists recommend pentapeptides to help boost collagen, giving skin a firmer, more youthful appearance. For best results, apply serum to freshly washed skin, followed by sunscreen or moisturiser to lock in hydration, but remember serum is far more concentrated than a cream or lotion, so a tiny amount goes a long way.
The latest buzz in serums is around those containing resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red grape skins with more antioxidant power than vitamin C. In studies it has been found to prevent lines and wrinkles and to protect against the damage caused by environmental skin saboteurs like smog and second-hand smoke. Use it at night to plump up lines, smooth skin texture and fight daily damage.
3. Consult an Expert
If you feel that your skin is too far gone, it is worth considering a treatment such as Erbium Laser Resurfacing. It will remove sun damage, acne scarring and pigmentation, leaving skin smooth and refreshed, ready for you to start implementing the rest of our tips for life.
4. Keep the Temperature Down
Hot water in the bath and shower can dehydrate your skin, stripping it of essential oils and dilating blood vessels which make skin look flushed and red. Keep the water around body temperature, 37C and limit showers to around 10 minutes. Splash your face with cold water after washing, and turn down the shower temperature as far as you can bear for a last blast of cool or cold water. Lock in hydration by applying moisturisers to still damp skin, plumping skin and improving the appearance of fine lines for up to 24 hours.
You should also avoid the sun when it is at its hottest, but some sun exposure every day is essential for vitamin D levels. Around 20 minutes of normal activity with forearms and face exposed should be sufficient. Otherwise, cover up and/or wear sunscreen.
5. Get Your Beauty Sleep
It's called beauty sleep for a reason and with the average UK adult getting just over 6 hours a night, we all need more of it. Sleep deprivation lowers circulation making you look pale and washed out, and also cuts down on the vital time skin needs to rejuvenate.
Reduce stress with practices like yoga and Tai Chi, and cut as much stress from your life as possible. Daily exercise, particularly walking in nature, will boost circulation and benefit your whole body, as well as encouraging sleep. Make an early morning or after-dinner walk a daily ritual in the spring and summer months.
6. Eat Nuts
Recent studies show that munching on a handful of nuts a day is the best boost for your skin and overall health. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium which increases skin elasticity, and may also decrease the risk of skin cancer. Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids which help to lower inflammation and prevent breakouts, so great for acne sufferers. Whilst macadamia nuts are full of high quality oils and fatty acids that can boost skin repair and rejuvenation, and cashew nuts are a good source of skin-boosting zinc.
7. Drink Water
Our bodies are nearly 90% water and we lose it through sweat, urine and other bodily functions continually. Replenishing our water levels throughout the day keeps skin hydrated, and also helps to clear out toxins and to transport nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells. At least 8 glasses (2 litres) of water a day is recommended, more if you're active or live in a warm climate.
Add flavour with berries, a squeeze of citrus, pureed watermelon ice cubes, cucumber or mint leaves. Herbal teas, such as chamomile and mint, and green tea also count. You could also start juicing your own fruits and vegetables to add to your skin diet.
8. Balance Your Diet
Reduce your meat consumption, swapping for protein from lentils and beans or tofu, and add oily fish to your diet. Choose natural protein-rich foods like fish, nuts, buckwheat, brown rice and quinoa.
Keep fat levels low and don't go overboard on the carbs like bread and pasta. Reduce sugar, alcohol and salt to a minimum. Use coconut oil for cooking - and slather it on your skin too.
Aim for 5 portions of vegetables and salad a day and 3 of fruit. It sounds a lot, but a portion of berries at breakfast, vegetable crudites and fruit as a snack, a salad before dinner and lots of vegetables with your meals will soon see you meeting your target. Plants contain antioxidants which help fight free radicals, boosting your skin and general health and preventing cancer. Add more lycopene-rich foods to your diet such as watermelon and tomatoes to reduce the damage and redness caused by sun exposure, prevent wrinkles and reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Key nutrients include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, spinach, flaxseeds and walnuts
- Vitamin C from broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, chillies, peppers and dark leafy greens
- Vitamin E from sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, squash, avocadoes and grape-seed oil
- Zinc from Greek yogurt, spinach, pumpkin seeds and chick peas
- Vitamin A from sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and kale