10 steps to radiant skin

Natural beauty expert Cherry Woods offers her top tips for reducing inflammation and achieving a natural glow this autumn

We all want to have naturally glowing, radiant skin, but sadly there isn’t a ‘miracle’ trick for achieving the perfect complexion. However, there is certainly one key skincare principle that underpins absolutely everything: reducing inflammation.

Reducing inflammation through lifestyle, diet and good skincare can help stop pesky flare-ups and reduce the effects of ageing. Eczema, lack of skin tone, wrinkles, acne and rosacea are just some of the conditions that are either caused or aggravated by internal and external inflammatory factors. If glowing, healthy, vibrant-looking skin is your goal, then minimising inflammation should be your top priority. Here are some top tips.

1. Aim for Low GI (glycaemic index) foods. Clinical studies show that sugar and refined carbs (high GI foods) can generate more free radicals, resulting in damage to collagen. High GI foods burn energy quickly which also produces heat. This can contribute to accelerated ageing. Low GI diets keep inflammation to a minimum which is anti-ageing and also good for acne-prone, rosacea-prone, irritation-prone skin.

2. Exfoliate regularly but more in the autumn and winter months – up to three times per week. Your skin needs extra help to rejuvenate at this time of year when there is less sunlight as cell renewal drops when UVB levels fall. For a super-easy, natural DIY exfoliator, mix together one teaspoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of natural yogurt and one teaspoon of honey. Massage over the face (not too close to the eyes), leave for a few minutes and remove with cleanser and a warm, soft cotton face cloth. The combination of the lemon’s citric acid and the digestive enzymes in the yogurt help to gently brighten, exfoliate, reduce spot formation and assist with repair of minor scars. The honey is soothing, healing and hydrating.

3. Dairy is not helpful in the quest for glowing skin. Cow’s milk can cause inflammatory responses in the body, from aggravating eczema to causing sinus congestion and puffiness. Alternatives include soya, almond milk or goat’s milk (semi-skimmed is best). Goat’s milk is less allergenic and easier to digest, which causes less heat and inflammation, resulting in calmer skin.

4. Water is your friend. Clients often complain that they drink over two litres of water a day and still feel that their skin is dehydrated. Often this is because their skin is ‘lipid dry’ – this is more common in people who are very slim with fairer skin. Lipid dry skin is like a leaky colander as water just escapes. It is officially called trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). As well as applying a stand-alone sun block daily on top of your moisturiser, locking in moisture, the most effective way to prevent this is to take an omega-3 supplement (see point 5). After a good three months of supplementing you should notice that you don’t have to drink so much water to get the hydration benefits. Your skin will naturally hold on to water better.

5. Invest in a good water or oil-based skin booster/serum. These are concentrated versions of moisturisers – they absorb well and are faster-acting than most moisturisers. Choose ones containing ingredients such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid or vitamin A, all of which are very helpful for skin health. Do not overload the skin, particularly on the T-zone. Oily skin may only need T-zone moisture once a day. Overly heavy application can lead to enlarged pores and ultimately blackheads.

6. Load up with these top six foods for glowing skin: avocados, carrots, beetroots, turmeric, salmon (a good source of omega-3) and raw green vegetables. These foods help to ensure that your diet is rich in iron, vitamin A, omega-3, vitamin C and antioxidants – all big players in the glowing skin stakes.

7. For healthy, glowing skin, a must have supplement is omega-3. Buy super pure only and make sure it is independently batch tested. Omega-3 helps your skin to hold more water, which is very important in autumn and winter. Fish oil contains two types of omega 3: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA keeps the brain functioning properly, but EPA is necessary for good skin. EPA greatly benefits skin by regulating oil production, boosting hydration and diffusing redness whilst assisting in regulating hormone imbalances. All of this is useful in improving spotty skin and delaying the skin’s ageing process. A 2005 study in the Journal of Lipid Research noted that EPA can help to block the release of the UV-induced enzymes that destroy our collagen, resulting in lines and sagging skin. Because EPA is both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, it can protect against sun damage and even help repair it, all whilst reducing diffused redness.

8. Use good quality, broad spectrum sun protection all year round. Apply extra over your moisturiser if you are doing outdoor sports or activities as this will lock in the moisture. Maintaining good and constant moisture or water levels in the upper levels of the skin is important and much harder to achieve from autumn through winter due to indoor heating, wind, rain and temperature drops outside. UVA rays are still present on bright but freezing winter days and UVA rays are ageing, so a sunscreen which is broad spectrum or 5* rated indicates that it is an effective UVA protector.

9. Massage your skin using the soft pads of your fingers and the fleshy soft pads of your hands, upwards and outwards. This helps with micro circulation, lymphatic drainage and increases blood flow. The skin glow benefits of a good facial massage cannot be overestimated! If you have never tried it, test it out yourself or book an appointment with a trusted facialist who can give you tips to continue the routine at home.

10. Relax! Stress is such a problem for the skin, especially as it raises adrenaline levels which trigger those ‘fight or flight’ hormones which cause imbalances. Sleep is so important too. When the body rests, it repairs and if you want a truly happy, healthy, radiant skin, the cheapest and most effective start is a good night’s sleep with no alcohol or caffeine.

Cherry Woods is a luxury facialist and founder of The Cherry Woods Clinic. Visit www.cherrywoodsclinic.com

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