If you want gorgeous skin, your first line of defence is a proper skincare routine and a few simple lifestyle changes. Here are the 10 skincare rules to live by.
1. Double cleanse
Skincare pros recommend you double cleanse your face: once to remove your make-up and then again to remove dirt and impurities.
Here's how: Double cleanse at night and then once in the morning to refresh your skin and give yourself a better “finish” to apply your make-up onto. Use a proper facial cleanser and not just the bar of soap in your shower, which can be too harsh and irritate and dry out your skin.
2. Exfoliate... but not too much
Scrubbing your skin with a buff or a facial scrub leaves it feeling so smooth that soon it becomes an addictive skincare step. But once a week is really all you need.
Here's how: Exfoliate gently and infrequently to avoid sensitising your skin (this can mean skin inflammation and increased skin ageing). A facial scrub is perfect for an oily skin type (try something with a very fine grain) and dry skin type (go for a cream-based exfoliator) but if you're a sensitive sister, then physically scrubbing your skin is a bad idea. Try a facial wash with glycolic acid (use this just once a week) as you don't want to risk making your sensitivity worse than it is.
Masking is an easy way to turn around the overall condition of your skin and it takes all of 10 minutes once a week.
Here's how: Select a mask for your skin condition (for instance a hydrating mask for dehydrated skin, or a clay mask for congested skin). Then once a week, after cleansing your skin, apply your mask and relax in the bath or in front of the TV for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and then tone and moisturise as usual.
4. Wear sunscreen all year round
It doesn't matter if the sun isn't very strong, nor if you're indoors all day (we bet you'll spend some time in your car at least), wearing sunscreen all year round is a must. After all, when it comes to ageing, prevention is better than cure.
Here's how: Dermatologists recommend a high factor sunscreen, such as SPF50 for lighter skins, to be used all the time. Cape Town-based dermatologist Dr Dagmar Whitaker says that even darker skins need at least an SPF30 sunscreen.
5. Invest in sleep
Insufficient sleep means you're at risk of upping your skin's ageing process and you're more susceptible to acne.
Here's how: Get the amount of sleep you need to feel energised when you wake up in the morning (it may be eight hours or even a little less). Sleep deprivation increases the levels of stress hormones in your body. If they become chronically high, the result is increased inflammation within your skin and this means accelerated skin ageing and worsening of acne.
6. Drink up
Your skin is your body's largest organ and so plenty of water gives your skin the hydration it needs. Drinking water also helps your skin with proper cell renewal, allowing your skin to function at its best.
Here's how: If you can't manage eight glasses of water a day, aim for four and add other drinks to your intake, such as herbal tea. Remember, alcohol doesn't count!
7. Know your skin condition
Many dermatologists like to talk skin conditions rather than types. In other words, if you suffer from skin troubles such as congestion, dehydration or pigmentation, this is a condition not a type.
Here's how: You may think of a facial every six weeks as a luxury, but seeing a skin therapist regularly is a way to diagnose and treat your condition and know when to book an appointment with a dermatologist. Persistent acne, for example, often needs to be treated medically to prevent lasting skin scarring.
8. DIY steam
An at-home steam session opens up your pores, giving them a deep clean: a great treatment for those battling acne.
Here's how: After cleansing your skin, fill your basin with hot water (it must not be scalding) and stand over the basin, draping a towel over your head to create a cover. Be careful not to come too close to the steam as your skin may become irritated or even burnt. Steam for seven to 10 minutes and then rinse your skin with lukewarm water.
9. Add an eye cream
Women wonder when they need to start using anti-ageing products. The answer is: as soon as you see the need! The best product to start with is an eye cream.
Here's how: Your eyes will be the first place you'll notice ageing (thanks to the thinness of the skin in this area), so when you start noticing this, invest in a light-textured cream for fine lines or a cooling gel if puffiness and dark circles are your problem.
10. Eat right
Next time you're deciding what to eat, spare a thought for what will help your skin stay young and healthy.
Here's how: The nutrients to look out for are: vitamins A, C, B2, B3, B6, E, zinc and selenium. And while too little of these can cause skin problems, eating a healthy, varied diet should give you enough of these little helpers.