Beauty Clinic: Mature skin S.O.S.

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Q. I have thin fair mature (70 years old) skin with sun damage and deep wrinkles. I am bewildered by the huge range of face creams so am constantly trying new brands, and ending up disappointed. I don't smoke, eat a lot of fruit and veg but do have a very sweet tooth. Also I live in a very polluted street. What would you recommend?

A. The reason we started Beauty Bible over two decades back was to cut a path through the beauty jungle. If the plethora of products was overwhelming then, it’s multiplied goodness knows how many times now. To start with, do look at the products that have won Beauty Bible Awards, which you can read about here, and see the testers’ illuminating comments.

One thing that strikes us is that you are constantly switching products, which doesn't give anything much chance to work. If you like the products you list in your longer email, you could consider sticking with those for at least three months (unless anything causes sensitivity, in which case stop immediately).

We showed your impressive list to cosmetic doctor and GP Dr. Rabia Malik (drrabiamalik.com) for her expert opinion. She comments that you have made a good start with a regime incorporating an antioxidant serum (Garden of Wisdom Vitamin C Serum 23% + Ferulic Acid/£10 for 30ml) and a retinol on alternate nights (Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol/£32 for 30ml), plus Aurelia Revitalise and Glow Serum/£60 for 30ml, and Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser/£58 for 60ml, in the morning, topped by Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF50 for day/£37 for 30 ml.

While these types of products are all essential, Dr Malik suggests using the retinol every night. Importantly though, she says one other product is missing, ‘which might actually impact on the efficacy of everything else. That is an exfoliator.  As we age, skin cell turnover decreases leading to a build up of dead skin cells on the surface. This can lead to dullness and also prevent penetration of other products.’

Dr. Malik suggests cleansing skin twice a day before apply skincare and, in addition, using a form of chemical exfoliation once or twice weekly. ‘I recommend a product containing lactic acid and enzymes as both are gentle enough to use regularly but shouldn't irritate the skin like some other AHAs  [alpha hydroxy acids).’ The product she recommends is Cosmedix Pure Enzymes Mask.

A professional peel treatment can kick-start the process as well as stimulating collagen and elastin. Last year, Dr Malik devised a gentle but effective brightening peel for The Peel Boutique at Grace Belgravia, based on lactic acid; for details, see thepeelboutique.com.

To counteract the effects of pollution, Dr Malik suggests taking Altrient-C, £35.99 for 30 sachets, a supplement shown to help with lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production, which will also give an internal boost.  (This is one of Sarah’s favourite supplements, which really does give visible results.)

Regarding your sweet tooth, sugar unfortunately leads to glycation, which breaks down collagen and contributes to lines and wrinkles. Dr Malik says chromium supplements can help curb sugar cravings (Viridian Chromium & Cinnamon Complex/£25 for 60 capsules. If you really want something sweet, treat yourself to a bowl of sweet-tasting but low sugar red, pink and purple berries, or a little dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids). You could also consider Viridian 7 Day Sugar Detox Kit/£7.

If you do want to switch to a dedicated cosmeceutical range, which contains a higher percentage of active ingredients, Dr Malik suggests Cosmedix Elite (cosmedixuk.com) or Medik8 (medik8.com). We would also consider Oskia Skincare (oskiaskincare.com), a natural nutri-cosmetic brand, which has some dedicated anti-pollution products.

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