When it comes to the confusing world of skincare we are swamped by well meaning advice, some of which ranges from the ludicrous to the downright dangerous. What products do we really need? What is the best routine for our skin? These are the questions I have been seeking the answers to from Skincare Specialists that I trust. Today I have the pleasure of introducing former blogger Andy Millward who turned his passion for skin in to this full time job and after training to be a facialist and esthetician now runs his own successful business treating clients in the Midlands area.
Andy takes a holistic and corrective approach and having been lucky enough to experience one of Andy's treatments, I really enjoyed his thorough and comprehensive approach.
AGG: What's the number one skincare mistake you see people making when they come to you?
I’d say wrongly self-diagnosing their own skin type and / or concern, which of course leads to purchasing skincare that may not be suitable for them. This can often exasperate skin conditions rather than making an improvement. Common issues I see are people convinced they have dry skin, when in fact they have quite normal sebaceous activity but complain of a tight feeling in the skin, which is generally a sign of dehydration (skin lacking in water, not oil), often from a compromised barrier function. Instead of focusing on repairing the barrier function, they over compensate with emollients and creams that are sometimes too rich for their skin.
AGG: With so many different types of products and so much confusing marketing out there, where should we start when devising a skincare routine that works for us?
It’s always worth remembering that the skin is an organ and like any other organ of the body, it needs certain key nutrients to function and stay healthy. When devising a skincare routine, it’s important to focus on the ingredients that the skin needs, rather than individual products. Marketers love to focus on the latest buzzwords and ingredients, and I see whole skincare ranges built around one ingredient, like Vitamin C for example. However the skin needs a lot more than Vitamin C alone. You couldn’t eat a diet consisting only of oranges and expect to stay in optimal health and the skin is no different.
Ideally a skincare routine should consist of topical Vitamins A, C & E (think A.C.E. for Face), antioxidants, ceramides, essential fatty acids and peptides / amino acids. Plus additional nutrients for different conditions - Niacinamide and Zinc are very beneficial for acne for example.
How you get these ingredients in to your routine will depend on budget and preference of texture. Serums are a far superior way of getting active ingredients into the skin, as they penetrate that little deeper than moisturising creams.
AGG: What products (product type i.e moisturiser, cleanser ect..) would you say are essential and which would you tell people to avoid?
Again this depends on budget and preference. I see a lot of people who are willing to spend money on expensive moisturiser but not willing to invest in a good cleanser. Personally I think this is back to front way of thinking, as cleansing correctly will often prevent a lot of skin issues from happening later on in life.
When designing a new treatment plan for a client it usually consists of four core products. A cleanser, a serum, a hydrator and a sunscreen. This is the basic starting point of any routine. Then depending on skin concern, it can be developed and different products added in, but it’s a good foundation to start with, without getting too complicated.
Regarding products to avoid – there aren’t any really. If you want to use an item and you have the budget for it, then go ahead. However I am a big advocate of less is more. Why use three products, when one could do the same job!
AGG: If you could tell people to change just one thing for better skin?
This is actually a really difficult question to answer, because there rarely is just ‘one’ thing that people need to address and the ‘things’ that do need changing, particularly for people with problematic skin, will vary from person to person.
However, overall if I had to say one thing, I’d have to say that diet is the first area to address for better skin. Even people with so-called “healthy” diets can often make fundamental errors with their diet. For example, essential fatty deficiency is a big factor affecting skin barrier function. Also, starting the day with a cereal and fruit-based breakfast is not the best way to start the day if you’re suffering from acne!
Feeding the body with the key nutrients it needs to perform optimally will have a big impact on the health of the skin.
AGG: Price points across products vary tremendously, where would say it is worth investing money and where can we save?
Invest in a good treatment cleanser. This can often save you money and a lot of hassle later on. Just because the product doesn’t remain on the skin, doesn’t mean its not providing tremendous benefit to the skin. Some cleansers also have additional benefits such as AHA’s to treat the skin whilst you cleanse, so can save you money on exfoliators.
Secondly, invest in a good antioxidant serum. Free radical damage and inflammation is at the root of most common skin concerns, therefore protecting the skin and preventing this damage is essential for happy, healthy skin.
Lastly, invest in a good retinoid / Vitamin A product for nighttime use. Vitamin A is a wonderful ingredient for helping to repair the skin, boost collagen production and regulate normal cell function.
If you have problematic skin such as acne or rosacea skin, then spending a little more on a good physical sunscreen is also recommended, as the majority of over the counter products can often make these conditions worse.
Areas to save money would be moisturisers, hydrating toners / floral waters and physical exfoliants. Whilst there are some fantastic products on the market that are definitely worth the investment, there are also some very affordable items to, so if your budget doesn’t allow for all items, these are area you’re better off scrimping on.
AGG: What's the value of professional treatments as part of a good routine?
Many people have this idea that a ‘facial’ is just applying different products to the skin. However it’s a lot more than that. A professional treatment is a lot like a personal training session at the gym but for the skin. It’s a service, based on the professionals’ knowledge and expertise, designed to treat your particular skin concerns. For example, I spend an hour with all new clients going through an in-depth skin consultation, before I even touch their face! This is to give me insight into their medical background, diet and lifestyle habits, as well as their skin care routine, so I can identify the potential root cause of their skin concerns. During treatment I have access to skin analysis equipment that assists me to accurately identify skin type and show me what’s going on underneath the surface i.e. oil in the pores, depth of pigmentation, areas of dehydration etc. I also have access to ingredients and products that are higher strength and work at a deeper level of skin, therefore achieve a stronger effect, compared to what you can use at home. A professional treatment also offers stimulating massage to boost circulation, increasing oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin and lymphatic drainage massage, helping to eliminate waste materials form the tissues.
Also, professional treatments provide a relaxation element, which has a huge benefit of mental and emotional wellbeing.
Finally, because our skin changes over time; a professional treatment is beneficial for reviewing and altering skincare routines, offering guidance, to ensure you’re always on the appropriate products, which can ultimately save you money in the long run.
I hope this has helped to make the confusing world of skincare that little bit less daunting. Andy provides treatments in the Birmingham and Midlands area, head on over to www.andymillward.com to find out more.