How to make your skin ‘glow’

One of the commonest requests I get from patients in my clinic is about how to get their skin to ‘glow’.  There are many different factors that contribute to a glowing complexion. As a holistic medical practitioner, I look at my patients’ skin from many perspectives. Diet, lifestyle and environment all play a part. And then of course, there’s the products side of things and also the various treatments. All play their part. What works, what doesn’t? As always in the world of skincare and beauty, confusion abounds…

My approach is to keep things simple but effective. If we consider diet, then it’s important to remember that a well balanced, varied diet is essential.  There should be as much fresh food as possible and an avoidance of anything processed. Whereas fat was once considered the ‘enemy’, recent research suggests that sugar is the real culprit in our diets – both from a skin perspective and otherwise. To put it simply, excessive amounts of sugar cause accelerated skin ageing and a ‘dullness’ to the skin, not to mention the possibility of congestion and subsequent break outs.  Some fat is important for a radiant complexion. We need essential fatty acids –in particular Omega 3 and 6- in our diet to help regulate our skin cells and keep them functioning optimally. Sources of ‘good’ fat for the skin include avocado, walnuts, seeds and salmon.  An oral supplement can be also be helpful.

There is no doubt that lifestyle contributes to the look of our skin. As we all know, the effects of too little sleep, too much sun, alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes show up on our skin relatively quickly. As we get older, the effects are visible more immediately.  Sleep is the time for skin cell regeneration. Not getting adequate sleep limits the amount of cellular repair that takes place and can subsequently lead to dullness.  Alcohol and caffeine both dehydrate the skin and dehydration is one of the biggest external causes of skin ageing, in particular the superficial (light) lines and wrinkles that appear on the surface of the skin.  As well as drinking plenty of water to combat this, it’s vital to limit the amount of free radical damage our skin is exposed to. The sun is probably the biggest cause of such damage and the best way to counteract this is through applying a daily SPF (whether it’s sunny or not!) and through the use of antioxidants (for example Vitamin C)– both applied to the skin and taken orally.Once I’ve assessed my patient’s diet and lifestyle, it’s time to consider what products and treatments they could try to help them ‘get the glow’.  I strongly believe that each individual has their own unique skin and what works for one person may not work for another. Skin is not an exact science. My product recommendations are all tailored to the individual with the benefit of my own personal expertise and experience. But there are some basics that generally apply to everyone. Firstly exfoliation in some form or another is essential for removing the dead skin cells that sit on the surface of the skin. Unless these are removed, most products applied on top will have little effect. In terms of clinic treatments, I prefer chemical exfoliation (chemical peels) to mechanical exfoliation (for example microdermabrasion) as I feel these are less aggressive when done correctly. It is, however, a matter of personal preference.    Vitamin C has a proven skin brightening effect, and there are numerous formulations to choose from . In terms of clinic treatments, the Skin Therapy Vitamin C Medi-Facial gives an immediate ‘glow’ and is suitable for all skin types and all ages.  In terms of vitamin C containing homecare products, there are many to choose from. I like Medik8’s range, as well as the powder form of vitamin c from Cosmedix. Some people find vitamin c initially quite irritating to the skin but this tends to resolve within a few weeks as the skin adjusts.

Ultimately, I find that healthy skin usually leads to glowing skin. Once the skin is functioning well, glowing skin is definitely within reach!