Your skin is your body's largest, most visible and most sensitive organ. It is constantly changing and renewing and our skin performs essential functions for our bodies. It provides a barrier to protect our bodies from external aggressors, excretes waste, regulates our temperature, detects infection, gives us our sense of touch, protects us from UV rays and even synthesises Vitamin D!
The skin is such an important organ and healthy skin not only performs best but also looks great! This guide has been put together to help arm you with the information you need to take the best possible care of your skin, to help give it the attention it deserves and help it glow and age in a healthy way.
In this article we will look at how to create a skincare routine for healthy skin, how to treat the skin conditions that are common here in Ireland, how to adapt your skincare through different stages of life as we age and what to consider before making a purchase of a skincare product.
With powerful ingredients on hand to tackle any number of skin concerns, you need to arm yourself with the right knowledge in advance of using any of the wide range of skincare products available on the market - and with this uniquely Irish skincare guide, that's exactly what we're here to help you do!
How to Determine Your Skin Type
Your skin type is generally categorised into one of 4 types. The amount of sebum (oil) produced by the skin will determine your skin type and this is largely influenced by genetics. However, some other factors can have an impact on the skin type including:
Skin type is largely determined by how much oil the skin produces, it is normally genetic but this process changes over time and is impacted by the following factors:
- Medical Conditions
The four broad skin types are:
- Oily skin
- Dry skin
- Combination skin
- Sensitive skin
It is worth noting that each of us could fall on a scale between two or more of these skin types, for example your skin may be Combination to Oily with some sensitivity or you could fall on the Dry/ sensitive scale where most of the time your skin could be one type but can be affected by the external or internal factors making it demonstrate characteristics of another skin type.
The question is, how do you tell your skin type? Easy, follow these tips.
Does your face feel oily and look shiny most of the time, then you most likely have oily skin? Does your T-zone (Nose and forehead area) shimmer with oil, but the rest of your face is mostly matt? Then you would appear to have combination skin. If the skin is flaky or tight or in any way uncomfortable then the skin is normally Dry. Do you skin often appear red and inflamed perhaps itchy or flaky? Does it react often to products or changes in the environment e.g., Hot or cold weather? Then it is most likely sensitive.
Alternatively, you could follow these three simple steps:
- Clean your face well and let it dry naturally or with a soft towel
- Hold some thin tissue paper or a blotting paper on the different parts of your face, say, T-section, cheeks, nose and chin
- Hold the paper to a light, look for the presence or absence of oils in the paper.
This quick and easy DIY check will give you a clear picture of your skin type by indicating the level of sebum production that your skin projects.
If you're still struggling to identify your own skin type, get in touch with us here in Meaghers or alternatively, this skin quiz from the Irish Cancer Society is a very handy resource which can help classify your skin type for you.
How to Develop a Healthy Skincare Routine
Once you have determined your skin type it is now time to formulate a skincare routine with the aim to achieve and maintain healthy skin by tackling any issues that may affect your skin type and cause problems for the health and appearance of your skin.
Once you establish your skin type, you can now comfortably develop a customised routine that suits you best and promotes the healthiest skin possible.
There's no universal rule of skin care as many different things work for different ages, genders and skin types. The best routine is the one that you will consistently use, that you enjoy using and that is within your budget. These following steps are vital in every skincare routine.
Cleansing is the most important step of all.
Cleansing twice a day is so important for removing sweat, debris, makeup, pollution and dead skin cells. A clean and clear canvas is important for the penetration of other active ingredients in serums and creams
Double cleansing in the evening times is important for a number of reasons- To loosen foundation and remove eye makeup, to soften the skin and allow for any active cleansers to work more efficiently.
The purpose of toning is to remove any traces of cleanser and have the skin at the ideal PH for the next steps of the routine. It is also useful in constricting the pore in oily skin types and in adding hydration for dry/dehydrated skin types. It is also the ideal step to include active ingredients such as skincare acids or hydrators.
Serums are designed to deliver active ingredients deeper in the skin. The molecules are smaller and the consistency thinner to allow them to work better than a moisturiser. This is the ideal stage to introduce a treatment to the skin, when the skin is prepped for the active ingredient and for it to be delivered deep into the epidermis. There are multiple categories of serums on the market for each skincare concern. Identify the ingredient that would benefit your skin and introduce a serum with that ingredient.
Moisturising the skin is important for all skin types, including oily skin. A lot of moisturisers contain active ingredients and are effective in preventing moisture loss and maintaining the skins protective barrier. Moisturisers will work on the surface layer of the skin and is essential for dry skin types in particular. Day creams and night creams generally differ in the number of moisturising factors and the formula makeup to either remain lightweight for a day cream and rich for a night cream
The SPF step is non-negotiable for healthy glowing skin. Not only are the sun’s rays dangerous where overexposure can cause skin diseases and even skin cancer, sun damage is also the number 1 cause of the signs of aging. UVA rays are responsible for the breakdown of collagen and elastin meaning the skin loses bounce, density and elasticity. Wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin. So, to keep a youthful glow SPF daily from our teens is essential. Darker skin types may not be as vulnerable to UV light but they still need protection from the damage caused to the skin.
Mineral and chemical sunscreens differ in that mineral sunscreen provide a physical barrier they include ingredients like Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, chemical sunscreens absorb in the skin absorbs UV rays, converts the rays into heat, and releases them from the body
Alongside your routine
Consistency of your skincare routine is key for healthy skin, A core routine twice a day sets you up for healthy skin all year round. In addition to a great skincare routine the following lifestyle tip will go a long way in achieving healthy glowing skin.
- Consume enough water- dehydration is a condition that affects most of us here in Ireland, ensure you are getting enough water daily to not only ensure a healthy body but also healthy skin.
- Avoid very hot showers and baths, although in the cold months in Ireland it can be tempting to stay in hot water to defrost after a long day, this practice will harm your skins natural barrier in the long run, opt for lukewarm water instead.
- Get enough sleep- Sleep is vital for healthy skin, also ensure that you change your pillow cases every few days to avoid breakouts.
- If you wear makeup ensure you choose one that is suitable for your skin type, also ensure it is removed thoroughly every evening.
- Limit your alcohol intake and don’t smoke! This will help protect your skin from free radical damage that causes irritation, ageing and lines and wrinkles.
- Manage stress levels. Prolonged periods of stress affect the skin in numerous different ways from rashes and irritations to breakouts and dryness. Try mindfulness or speaking to a professional.
Common Skin Problems
The skin is the outermost organ on your body, is bound to experience challenges from external and internal factors within the body
Some of the most common skin problems found in Ireland include:
According to the Irish Skin Foundation Acne is a very common inflammatory condition involving the blockage of pores in the skin.
These blockages are commonly caused by dead skin cells and because the pore is blocked the oil that keeps the skin healthy cannot escape through the pore. This blockage and the increase of oil production alongside the growth of the bacterium called C. acnes (technically called Cutibacterium acnes) cause inflammation around the pore and cause pimples.
These are the pimples common in many people that are in the form of comedones, nodules and blackheads.
Acne varies in magnitude. Depending on the cause, stage, and blocked pores' prevalence, it could be mild or intense.
To treat mild acne, you can shop over-the-counter products, but you need to see a dermatologist or a doctor to be diagnosed with the condition. We can then support you in setting a skincare routine to help the efficacy of any prescribed medications.
Hyperpigmentation, which is the darkening of your skin surface in blotches or patches, is caused by increased melanin production. The rise could result from hormonal fluctuations, sun exposure or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation at the site of a skin trauma such as acne flareups or atopic scarring.
The reasons why you may be suffering from hyperpigmentation can vary greatly and unfortunately there is not one treatment that can be guaranteed to treat all pigmentation with success. Which is why SPF is so important. If you have a pigment condition on the skin the number one recommendation is to protect your skin from UV rays.
You can also treat the darker skin spots by using skincare products, vitamins and supplementary products containing the following beneficial ingredients:
1) Brightening Acids - Azelaic acid, lactic acid and Glycolic acid will help exfoliate the damaged skin cells brightening the complexion. Combined with an antioxidant, like vitamin C, that can help treat the damaged cells in the epidermal layer works very well on hyperpigmentation. These ingredients could be incorporated into the daily routine as a cleanser, toner, mask or serum. You can also introduce Vitamin C supplements into your routine.
2) Retinoids - Known for their ability to increase the turnover of new skin cells retinoids are an excellent addition to the routine to improve hyperpigmentation. It is essential however that you introduce a retinoid gradually, retinoids can cause irritation to a new user and if inflammation is caused from the introduction of any new ingredient that can lead to a risk of post inflammatory inflammation- this is particularly true for darker skinned individuals.
3) Tyrosinase Inhibitors - kojic acid, liquorice extract, Arbutin, or hydroquinone (an ingredient that is not available in some countries) are known for inhibiting tyrosinase, this is a key enzyme in the production of melanin.
3. Atopic Dermatitis
The term eczema refers to atopic dermatitis a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, dry, inflamed and irritated. There are a number of types of eczema but the most common variation is atopic eczema. The word atopic refers to a reaction of hypersensitivity to something in the environment.
Atopic eczema often runs in families and can occur alongside other conditions like hay fever and asthma. Flare ups can happen anywhere on the body but commonly appear at the back of the elbows, behind the knees, on the scalp and face.
During a flare up the skin will feel itchy and turns red. Though it's common in children, atopic skin conditions can affect adults too. It's a chronic condition that disappears and may resurface after a while.
Because the main symptom of atopic eczema is an intense and irritating itch it can be very uncomfortable to live with. When the itch is scratched it cases more damage to the skin and the itch can worsen- this is known as the itch/scratch cycle. The damage to the skin will also leave the skin more vulnerable to infection. The itch can really affect the sufferer’s wellbeing as it can lead to disturbed sleep.
An emollient routine is critical for anyone suffering from atopic dermatitis. This is using an emollient moisturiser daily on the affected areas even at times when the condition is not flared up.
Oral supplements/ diet- A diet high in omega 3 can help with improving the skin barrier, oily fish or supplements can help. Probiotics are also an excellent way of balancing the microbiome of the gut which is said to have a direct impact on inflammation in the skin.
Skin Care Procedures for Different Age Groups
As we progress through the various life cycles our skin changes, we must adapt our approach to our skincare to meet our skin in its current state. The skincare routine that we had when we were teenagers would not tackle any of the issues that we may experience in our 50’s.
There are also external factors that affect the health of the skin e.g., the climate we live in, our lifestyle choices, our stress levels and our exposure to UV rays.
Inflammatory skin conditions perhaps that we are predisposed to though our genetics will also have an effect on how we treat our skin as we age.
One of the main influences on our skin is our hormones and at key times in life our hormones affect the skin hugely.
1. Teenage Skincare
As your children approach their teens and the hormones become overworked, you’ll likely notice a change in the appearance of their skin, this is completely normal and its important to empathise and listen to the teen as they voice their concerns. Skin is more than skin for many teenagers especially, the health and appearance of the skin can affect their confidence levels, self esteem and how they choose to show up in the world. Knowledge can be key in dealing with these changes in the skins health and managing the oil production, protecting the skin from external aggressors and instilling excellent skincare habits from an early age Is crucial!
Getting the right products for their skin care will effortlessly help them manoeuvre the stage and its challenges.
Given the susceptibility to irritation at this age it is important that they use products that are gentle and respect the skin whilst also being effective.
Opt for products infused with the right ingredients as you aim to strengthen your skin's resilience. Some of the best skin care products in Ireland for teens include:
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Range
- Acnaut Range (for oily skin)
- Bioderma Sebium
Products from these trusted professional skincare brands will restore your smooth skin tone as they are manufactured with teenagers in mind. Moreover, they are infused with the calming ingredients alongside active ingredients to manage the common skin challenges at this age.
2. Menopause Skin Care
Ageing comes with its share of challenges, especially for the skin. Apart from wrinkles, you may have concerns about the rapid change in the texture of your skin as the symptoms of menopause take effect on your body.
At this stage, a number of the skins natural processes have slowed down. We are not producing as much collagen and elastin as we once did mean that the skin has lost some bounce and elasticity, you may also be more aware of lines and wrinkles. You may also notice the skin becoming uneven in texture, not quite as rosy or glowey as it once was, this is because our natural process of exfoliation and our production of hyaluronic acid is not as active, so you should endeavour to exfoliate and hydrate to combat those changes. To ensure that your skin remains intact even as you age, in addition to hydrating, always have your sunscreen when leaving the house, no matter the weather.
In Ireland, some of the best skincare products the help you maintain great skin throughout the Second Spring include:
- Nuxe Nuxuriance collection
- Neovadiol Range from Vichy
These are among the best range of products for women in their menopause as they support the skins barrier, brighten the skin and replenish dry skin.
To effectively take care of your skin at this stage, use enough moisturiser that will ensure continuous hydrating of your skin. This is necessary considering that the oil glands responsible for hydrating it are not very active at this stage.
Also note with makeup application the brushes you use for your skin at this stage should be free from any external contaminants and must have very soft bristles, given your skin's potential for heightened sensitivity during the menopause.
3. Atopic Skin Conditions
If you have suffered from an atopic skin condition such as psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis don't worry; you are not alone. It’s estimated that atopic-related conditions stand at 15 to 20% for children, while for adults, the prevalence stands at 3%.
Atopic conditions are chronic, and they keep reappearing even after they fade for a while. But as you age, the rate of recurrence is sparse.
Actually, the atopic skin conditions recurrence rate will be highly reduced with the right quality skincare products from Dermo skincare brands.
Some of the best products for these conditions include:
- La Roche-Posay Lipikar Range
- Bioderma Atoderm Range
- Avene XeraCalm
These products' range will reduce the impact of the atopic conditions by a significant margin, reducing the itchiness, sensitivity and the turning red of your skin at the slightest trigger.
However, for other specific conditions, you may need to consult a dermatologist to get an expert opinion and set out a plan to care for and manage the condition.
Factors to Consider When Buying Skin Care Products
It is critical to act with caution when shopping for these products. Avoid being blinded by some of the more aggressive marketing within the beauty industry and do your research to ensure you're getting quality products at a fair price.
Also, don't let the new wave DIY 'influencer' videos online convince you to change your routine before carrying out your research. Remember, some of the effects of these poor-quality brands can't be reversed; that's why it's essential to verify their authenticity before using them. Stay away from pore vacuums and nose clearing strips!!
Consider the following factors when shopping for the right treatments:
There are different favourable products for the different types of skin. Know your type first before you proceed to buy. If you use a product designed for dry skin on oily skin the chances are that you may at best see no improvement to your skin and at worst have a reaction or a breakout as the ingredients are too rich for your skin type.
Pre-existing skin conditions
If you have pre-existing conditions such as eczema or dermatitis, you need to be extra cautious about your choice of treatment.
Keeping your extra skin sensitivity front-of-mind, look out for ingredients that cater specifically to your needs. Don't subject yourself to further agony by getting the wrong item that adversely affects you.
Go for reputable, well-known skincare brands; at least you have the surety that they will use quality skincare ingredients. You can even check out reviews on their site, raise your concerns with them or give them feedback.
Such reputable brands have a name to protect; their line of products is for the mass market, meaning the ingredients you find on their packaging are the actual contents. So, you can buy with confidence
It’s not always the bright names you see on your TV screen that deliver the goods, with homegrown skincare brands booming in recent years, it pays to shop local and we’ve got some fantastic Irish skincare products showcasing our island’s finest.
Your tone and complexion will influence your choice of skincare items. There are suitable products for all tones, from dark complexion to lighter skin tones. Get the right one for your complexion to avoid unwanted effects.
Yes, your age will affect your choice. Of course, you want the ones that will tackle the fine lines on your face that eventually turn into wrinkles at old age.
As a teenager, you are probably dealing with fluctuating levels of acne that result from the hormonal variations during this period.
Ideally, go for what you can comfortably afford. The most important factor with a good skincare routine is consistency, choose a product within your budget that you can repurchase and remember expensive price tag does not always mean better! Look out for the ingredient.
Check whether whatever ingredient you have determined you want to include in your routine is present in the product at a meaningful %.
All these are vital points that you should evaluate when purchasing skincare to ensure you retain a healthy appearance across all ages.
The Meaghers Verdict on Skincare Routines
Healthy skin is dependent on several aspects, including your diet, lifestyle, age and the products you use for your skincare.
It is essential to stay consistent with your skincare routine at all times and to take care of your skin right from the onset of your teenage years and as you advance in age, adjust according to your requirements.
The investment we make in our skin is cumulative, so the great ingredients and habits we start in our early years will pay dividends in our later years…. Future you will thank you!
Avoid the hyped brands that have not been tested and approved by suitable quality bodies. Also, make sure you choose your products based on your skin type, considering any skin conditions you may be suffering from and from a reputable brand.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Skincare Requirements
We’re hopeful this guide has equipped you with the right level of detail to understand the immense health benefits of striving for and maintaining healthy skin as part of your daily self-care regime.
With a range of incredible skincare products on offer, we're confident there's a solution for everyone here at Meaghers Pharmacy and we're keen to help our customers better understand use cases for the products that we stock.
If you suffer from any serious underlying skin conditions, we advise that you book a skin consultation from professional medical or dermatological advice before embarking on a programme of skincare products or supplements for the first time - great advice can set you on the right path and we're on hand to assist you and are here to talk you through the various skincare options available to Irish consumers for enhancing your (and your family's) overall skin health.