And how to stop the sabotage...
You cleanse and moisturise twice-daily; you’ve added sheet masks to your Sunday night Netflix binge and even know your hyaluronic from your glycolic acid. And yet, despite all of this diligence to a solid beauty regime, you could still be doing damage to your skin. Here we identify the stealthy culprits responsible for wreaking havoc with your face– and how to stop them in their tracks…
Skin breaking out, eczema flaring up or skin feeling drier than sandpaper? Stress is likely to be to blame. You see, angst can cause your body to release cortisol, a hormone that is pro-inflammatory and can lead to sensitivity. Worrying about a looming deadline can also cause your skin to look dull and fine lines to take on a deeper groove. This is partly because circulation slows down as more blood is pumped into muscles as part of the fight or flight response. But mostly, accelerated ageing is down to telomeres. These are found at the tips of each strand of DNA – a bit like plastic tips on the end of shoelaces—and tend to be shorter in stressed out folks, causing cells to become damaged.
Beat it: Meditation is a proven cure-all for everything – from causing a drop in blood pressure to increasing signals in the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions. But getting Zen can sometimes feel like a chore. No more. Silatha combines an app with a stunning piece of jewellery, set with a gem stone, that you wear during the day to remind you to get into the lotus position and to support you through 21 guided meditations. Whether you choose the Silatha Dorje Necklace, £249, or the Dorje Bracelet, £99, start by picking the stone that carries the energy of the quality you’d like to strengthen – from amethyst for inner peace and labradorite for clarity to our favourite aquamarine for calm. Then prepare to fast track yourself to feelings of wellbeing.
This is a different type of stress than the one that gets your adrenaline pumping. Instead of tapping into your flight or fight response, this is a term coined by dermatologist Dr Howard Murad for the negative effects digital-only relationships (read: with your phone, laptop, Ipad) have on your life – and your skin. According to Dr Murad, cultural stress can include social isolation, inability to disconnect from work and a plummet in self-esteem caused by FOMO (you know when you see those Instagram pictures of friends frolicking on a beach in the Maldives?). The result?A very emotional complexion. “You’re going to see more breakouts than normal—usually in the perioral area around the mouth and the chin,” says Dr Murad. “Then there’s the dark circles and the appearance of fine lines, which come from dryness.”
Beat it: Murad is launching the Eyes Up campaign as part of his Connected Beauty philosophy – the idea being that even if you lift your eyes away from electrical devices for just five minutes per day you would see a difference in the texture of your skin and feel better within yourself. Visit https://www.murad.com/eyesup/ and make a pledge to go ‘Eyes Up’ for one of your loved ones – for example going on a bike ride with your best friend rather than slobbing out on the sofa watching Game of Thrones. Or you could go the whole hog and embark on a digital detox by signing up to the seven-day challenge. Tasks start simple – such as saying ‘hi’ to a stranger during your commute – before you go cold turkey from social media for 24hours.
Yes, it’s true: taking snaps on your smartphone could be adding years to your face. According to new research, high-energy visible light (HEV) – the blue light from your mobile’s screen – can make your skin duller than an MP’s twitter feed. This is because the magnetic field of a mobile can alter the minerals in your skin. There’s even evidence that constantly taking selfies can do more damage than sunburn as HEV penetrate deeper into the skin more deeply than UV rays.
Beat it: Dr Sebagh Supreme Day Cream, £145 (Net-A-Porter), uses fractionated melanin, shielding skin against HEV light. Or try Murad City Skin Age Defense SPF50, £45, which contains the potent antioxidant lutein to protect skin from blue light plus carbon particles, heavy metals and chemical pollutants in city air.
Your hot tap
As comforting as it may feel, hot water saps skin of moisture by stripping it of the essential oil that protects its surface layer. This, in turn, causes tiny cracks to develop where water can seep out. It can also dilate blood vessels, causing a flare up in rosacea.
Beat it: Switch to cool-to-luke-warm water when cleansing then drench skin in a serum rich in hyaluronic acid – a sponge-like molecule that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. A good one to try is The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £6. There’s just one caveat: serum penetrates better if skin is still damp. But according to dermatologists, you only have a three-minute window if you want to prevent the water in your skin from evaporating.