Skincare is big business, in fact the beauty industry is worth £17 billion in the UK alone. As a society we are bombarded with images of skin perfection; flawless and youthful, dewy and firm. Naturally, we wish to emulate this beauty ideal and are lured down the labyrinth of sales driven 'advice'. Needless to say, we wind up feeling confused, disillusioned and out of pocket.
Enter Dr Anjali Mahto, author of 'The Skincare Bible' and leading consultant dermatologist, whose aim it is to debunk the myths and cut through the marketing jargon in order to bring some much needed honest and expertise advice to the table. As the book's slogan runs: "Your no-nonsense guide to great skin."
So, what pearls of wisdom lie within the attractive pink and gold cover of this widely acclaimed book. We've cherry picked some of the info, to give you a flavour of what the book has to offer. Flawless skin, here we come!
The skin's microbiome
One area of research currently creating waves in the science world is that of the human microbiome. We are born sterile, however from that point on complex ecosystems of bacteria, fungi and viruses form on and within our bodies, which are as unique to each person as a finger print. In fact, as the book states: "Microbial cells outnumber human cells by a factor of ten; we are more microbe than human!"
Through this research being conducted into the specific skin microbiome, we are able to better understand the root cause of visible symptoms that for many, is a daily battle in front of the mirror. While the research is somewhat lacking at present, this hasn't stopped the beauty industry jumping on board with probiotic skincare products now widely available. As Mahto puts it: "Whilst the future for probiotics is bright in the health and beauty industry, one needs to be cautious in marketing a science that is not fully understood."
As you would expect, regular exfoliation is an important part of a healthy skincare routine. As the book explains: "It can either be mechanical or chemical. Mechanical exfoliators include sponges, facial brushes, scrubs and electronic devices... Chemical exfoliators use chemicals - usually acids - to dissolve dry skin cells." This latter method may sound extreme, however the top layer of skin cells is already dead, so gently removing the old skin cells will revive your complexion and make it glow. The ingredients Mahto suggests you look out for are AHAs and BHAs: "AHAs are a group of natural acids often found in food... They work by breaking down the 'glue' that holds together surface skin cells. Glycolic acid also has extra benefits and with continued use will help fine lines, wrinkles and oily skin.
"BHAs are oil-soluble molecules that can penetrate into the pores rather than act on a superficial level. The most common BHA used in skincare is salicylic acid from willow bark. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, so is a good choice for those with oily or blemish prone skin."
Skincare for acne
Having herself been a sufferer of severe acne, it being what prompted her to study dermatology in the first place, Mahto's advice derives from both her professional and personal experience. Her instruction is to: "Stay away from using facial oils as well as cleansers and moisturisers with thick creamy textures. Stick to light or gel-like formulations and look for ingredients such as:
- salicylic acid
- glycolic acid
- tea tree oil
- benzoyl peroxide
- lactobionic acid
- retinyl palmitate