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When it comes to getting your best skin yet, it pays to get specific with the products you use
ulti-tasking has become so intrinsic to our being, it’s almost part of our DNA. It’s infiltrated every part of our lives: we commute listening to a podcast and completing a sudoku, and watch TV while shopping on our tablet and scrolling our Insta feed. We even expect our skincare treatments to do numerous things in one dollop. And there’s nothing wrong with that: it’s time- and space-efficient, and makes sense. But there are occasions when multi-tasking has to be abandoned, which is where ‘mono-tasking’ comes in.
Mono- or single-tasking has become a buzzword in the corporate world over the past few years, after research by Stanford University revealed it was mono-taskers (those who focus on one task and only move on to the next when it’s finished), not multi-taskers, who were more effective. Now this approach has filtered down into skincare, with more and more targeted products hitting the shelves. ‘By choosing products that address the problem in hand, all the active ingredients should be geared to solving that skin issue,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall. Plus, it makes it easier to choose the best solution for your unique skin issues.
‘Products that are targeted at specific skincare concerns generally allow for clearer messaging, making it easier for the consumer to understand the benefits,’ explains Dr Mike Bell, skincare scientific advisor for Boots. So read on to discover the latest mono-tasking marvels that you need to know about now.
THE TROUBLE: If your jawline has lost its definition and the apples of your cheeks aren’t quite as plump, then a product that helps your skin feel and look firmer – and more lifted – is what you’re after. But let’s start by looking at the cause. ‘As we age, the biological processes that maintain the skin’s function and structure become less efficient, and the effects of many years of sun exposure become more apparent,’ explains Dr Bell. ‘Skin firmness is influenced by how good the supporting structure is – i.e. how much collagen we have – as well as how well-moisturised it is. But as we get older, collagen reduces, as do our levels of hyaluronic acid, the molecule that retains moisture in skin.’ Of course, some of the responsibility lies with gravity, too, as that also encourages skin to head south. But as nothing has been invented (yet) to prevent the years passing, or to defy gravity, you need a product that will drench your skin with hydration, as well as ingredients that will strengthen its support structure and make it look firmer.
TARGET IT: Catering to these needs is the New No7 Laboratories Firming Booster Serum* £38/3,800 points (30ml). The new, clinically proven formula focuses on No7’s firming complex of hibiscus seed extract and hyaluronic acid, but at four times the concentration of No7’s other serums. The hibiscus, rich in amino acids, helps support collagen production, for longer-term visible firmness, while the hyaluronic acid helps lock in moisture in the different layers of the skin, for more rapid, visible improvements. The serum also contains No7’s Matrixyl 3000 Plus, a breakthrough peptide technology that helps support the skin’s elasticity. All of which means your skin looks and feels firmer – and it’s been clinically proven in independent testing.
THE TROUBLE: Age spots, liver spots and pigmentation patches are all different names for the same problem – clusters of a high concentration of melanin, the pigment in your skin, which leave you with small, dark patches. They’re most frequently found on the areas of the body that get the most sun exposure and not enough SPF coverage, such as the backs of hands, chest and face. Why does it happen? Those pesky UV rays accelerate the production of melanin – which on its own isn’t a problem, as melanin is our body’s natural SPF. However, too much sun means your melanin levels go into overdrive and the excess clumps together, forming age spots.
TARGET IT: Step forward the New Eucerin Anti-Pigment Dual Serum, £38/3,800 points (30ml), a formula that has been 10 years in the making and targets every step of the pigmentation process to stop it in its tracks. This is thanks to an extremely clever and brand spanking new ingredient, Thiamidol. It sinks down and gets to the root cause of hyperpigmentation by preventing the enzyme that causes the over-production of melanin. It also gets to work on existing pigmentation on the surface of the skin. In fact, it’s so good, it has set a new industry standard for treating pigmentation, and been rigorously tested in clinical trials and found to reduce the appearance of age spots in four weeks. Which proves that it really does what it says it does!
THE TROUBLE: The American writer Mark Twain once said, ‘Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.’ And he was right, not just philosophically, but because wrinkles really do occur where you have most movement (and therefore elasticity in the skin), such as around the mouth, eyes and neck. There are other factors, too, including the usual skin-damaging suspects of UV rays, pollution, diet and lifestyle choices. In addition, simply getting older, which leads to the loss of important proteins such as fibrillin (essential for skin elasticity) early on in the ageing process, gives rise to your first wrinkles. If those smile lines are your biggest gripe, there’s one ingredient you need to know about: retinol. Also known as vitamin A, it’s classed as the gold standard of anti-ageing ingredients, because it’s been proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
TARGET IT: When retinol is applied topically, it encourages collagen and elastin production, where dead cells are sloughed off the surface of the skin. Which is where the New Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Rapid Renewal Retinol Treatment*, £63/6,300 points (30ml), comes in. It contains just 0.3% of retinol but, trust us, that’s enough for you to notice a difference. It’s been teamed with vitamin E to protect the skin, as well as hyaluronic acid for moisture.
Helpful note: it’s always best, but not essential, to apply retinol-based products at night, as the vitamin A makes skin more sensitive to UV rays. If you want to wear it during the day, layer with a good SPF and avoid too much time in direct sunlight.
Retinol is the gold standard of anti-ageing ingredients, because it reduces the appearance of wrinkles
THE TROUBLE: Let’s be real about pores for a minute. You can’t obliterate their appearance forever. And neither would you want to: pores are essential for your skin, as they’re effectively a ‘way out’ for sebum and dead skin cells. While sebum can be annoying for its shine-inducing properties, it’s essential for keeping your skin hydrated and supple. Oilier complexions are more likely to have larger pores, because the oil glands produce more sebum, which gets trapped in the pore. This makes the skin widen, and once it’s stretched, it can’t ping back to where it once was. But don’t panic…
TARGET IT: Meet Clinique iD*, £36/3,600 points (125ml), a product aimed solely at targeting your specific skin concern. You start by choosing the right base for your skin type. There are three options, but to tackle pores, the Dramatically Different Oil-Control Gel base is likely to be the best fit. It offers lightweight hydration and contains ingredients such as silica to help prevent skin from producing too much oil. You then insert a cartridge into the moisturiser bottle (this is hi-tech stuff!) with your chosen formula. There’s a range of skin issues to choose from, but for pores, it’s the Pores & Uneven Texture cartridge, which contains a potent mix of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids)**. These genius ingredients are exfoliants that slowly, steadily and gently break down the build-up of oil and dead skin cells in the pores. With constant and consistent use – twice a day – AHAs can keep pores clearer, and the less blocked-up they are, the narrower and smaller they’ll look.
THE TROUBLE: Flushing is your body’s visual temperature gauge. When you get hot, skin vessels dilate, allowing more blood to reach the surface so heat can escape. As soon as your body temperature normalises, so should your skin. But how do you know when you’ve crossed the line from this natural skin function to a concern that needs attention? ‘The issue comes when the skin flushes persistently, or if it remains red, hot and uncomfortable and starts flaking,’ explains Dr Hextall. ‘It may mean the skin is sensitive or even allergic to something. If you wash with a harsh soap, for example, its naturally acidic pH may become unbalanced and the skin barrier will start to lose water. Another sign is if you flush easily when exposed to temperature changes, spicy food or wine.’
TARGET IT: There are products that can help reduce the appearance of redness, such as the New La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra 8 Mist, £19.50/1,950 points (100ml). It contains soothing spring water that gets to work immediately on reducing the appearance of redness, along with glycerin, which helps draw moisture back into the skin and protect it from external aggressors. Suitable for allergic and ultra-sensitive skin types, there’s also an ingredient called carnosine, which protects from future redness triggers. Keep it to hand and spray it over your face whenever you feel you need a relieving hit of anti-redness goodness. Bullseye!
*Available in selected stores.**Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) may increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Apply sunscreen and limit sun exposure during product use.
Words Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith Photography August Image