From burning the candle at both ends to scrimping on SPF, we’re all guilty of neglecting our skincare regime – but damage can occur long before you start seeing your first wrinkles. Read on and find out which habits you need to break now…
Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E should play as large a role in your skincare regime as they do in your diet. When applied topically to the skin, antioxidants can help to defend against free radicals (the particles found in pollution, smoke and UV rays); boost collagen production, which is crucial for a youthful complexion; and reduce brown spots and pigmentation. Dr Benji Dhillon, skin specialist at London’s PHI Clinic, recommends using antioxidant-based skincare from your early 20s. A good place to start is Skinceuticals’ CE Ferulic serum, £129; we also rate new brand LIXIR’s Vitamin C Paste, £32.
Not Sleeping Enough
Beauty sleep really is the key to your skin’s health. As you sleep, your body repairs itself, so ensure you get your full eight hours. Make an effort to make a good night’s sleep a priority, and wash your face before you hit the pillow – even the slightest residue on the skin can trap free radicals and bacteria, causing premature fine lines, discolouration and acne. Double cleanse with a micellar water and cleansing oil for best results.
Dirty Make-Up Brushes
Make-up brushes are a breeding ground for dead skin cells, dirt, oil, pollution and bacteria. When you don’t wash your tools, you’re essentially caking your face with layers of dirt that will inevitably clog your pores and cause breakouts. Make an effort to clean your brushes – especially foundation and concealer brushes and sponges – every couple of weeks using a baby soap or gentle shampoo, spritzing every few days with a make-up brush cleanser; try Clinique’s Make-up Brush Cleanser, £14.
Indulging Your Sweet Tooth
Sugar may temporarily shoot your energy levels back to their youthful heights, but consuming it on a regular basis can wreak havoc not only with your waistline but your skin, too. In a nutshell, sugar breaks down collagen – the springy substance that makes skin look plump, youthful and lifted – and weakens the immune system, which can lead to clogged pores and blemishes. Excessive sugar can also cause bad gut bacteria and cortisol levels to surge, both of which have been proven to cause problem skin. Naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib has even coined the term ‘sugar face’ – if lines and wrinkles on the forehead, sagging under the eyes, a gaunt look to the face and a grey, pasty hue sound familiar, it could be worth cutting back on your sugar intake.
Not Wearing SPF
No surprises here – a daily SPF, even on cloudy days in the depths of winter, is a skincare essential. Even if you have a desk job and aren’t outside much, remember damage can also be caused by blue light from your laptop, phone and other screens. Sunspots typically take between eight to 15 years to come to the surface, so if you skip SPF in your 20s, you may end up paying for it later. The best approach is to fend off these harmful rays before they begin doing any visible damage; thankfully, a whole host of new formulations mean SPFs are more wearable than ever before. We love Murad’s City Skin SPF 50, £45, which melts seamlessly into the skin, as well as Obagi’s Oclipse Daily Sheer, £57, the industry’s first sun cream to protect against blue light.
The benefits of exfoliating are undeniable, but if you’re still using a granular exfoliator, take note. Dermatologists agree physical exfoliants that involve scrubbing or contain large grains can aggravate sensitive or even regular skin types. They can even cause tiny tears in delicate skin and result in increased breakouts. While exfoliating is essential as we age (as we get older, our skin loses its ability to shed cells, leading to a dull complexion), be sure to stick with gentle, yet equally effective, BHA and AHA acid exfoliators, such as glycolic and lactic acids.
This one is a no-brainer – research shows smoking has been linked to a bevy of skin-related problems such as discolouration, pigmentation and premature ageing. Just one cigarette can deplete vitamin C and collagen stores, resulted in an increased risk of scarring, fine lines and wrinkles. A separate study found smokers look, on average, 1.4 years older than non-smokers due to the fact smoking hampers the blood supply that keeps skin tissue looking supple and healthy.
Aside from the mental damage crash diets can cause, leading to a tricky relationship with food which can be tricky to overcome, restricting fat and other essential nutrients from the diet is bound to take its toll on your complexion. Too little fat can cause lacklustre hair and dry skin while too few carbs will cause fatigue and not enough protein can cause muscle loss, leading to a hollow appearance in the face and a loss of firmness. Try to focus on a long-term, nourishing way of eating – your body (and face) will thank you. Add a scoop of Correxico’s Collagen Booster, £64.95, to smoothies for an added boost if you struggle to eat adequate amounts of protein.