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8 Skincare Dos And Don’ts According To An A-List Facialist

I want what David Beckham is having. At 47, he looks just as fresh as he did in his thirties, if not fresher. The reason for this radiance? One Nilam Holmes. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Holmes is the expert facialist with a waiting list to rival that of a Birkin. Adored by celebrities and industry insiders alike (Charlotte Tilbury, Kate Moss, and VB are also among her many fans), she uses cutting-edge technologies to target a catalogue of different skin concerns. “Understanding your skin properly means you can get the correct skincare to address your concerns,” she says.

Based at her derma spa in Milton Keynes, (she’s also temporarily occupying a space at a London salon), Holmes is an expert in all things anti-ageing, which is something she tackles with an arsenal of treatments, from microneedling and Morpheus8 to Hifu and Collagen Wave. Designed by her mentor, Dr Saleh, Collagen Wave uses radio frequency energy to tighten skin tissue, helping to contour and rejuvenate the skin. And it’s not just skin she takes care of. Having founded EyebrowQueen in 2019, a line of brow sculpting and nourishing products, she’s also an eyebrow wizard.

Here, Vogue sits down with the expert facialist to discuss her top tips for getting flawless skin.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Hydration is key. On average, our bodies consist of 60 per cent water. You need it for your cell activity, and pretty much everything else. Drinking water is vital, but you should also introduce hydrating ingredients to your skincare routine, which is where your hyaluronic acids come in. Glycerin is also very good for hydration and is largely underrated. It’s great for attracting moisture.

2. Be mindful of budget

When it comes to your skincare routine, you need to be consistent, which is why it’s always good to stick within your budget. There’s no point splashing out on an expensive product if you can’t continue using it long-term. There are plenty of good affordable brands out there.

3. Cleansing and exfoliation are vital

Cleansing and exfoliating the skin are two of the most important things you can do. From make-up, sweat and excess oil to pollutants, dirt and dead skin cells, they work to purge your pores of all things nasty, creating the perfect canvas onto which you can layer your serums and moisturisers. If you can’t do both, opt for a cleanser with exfoliating ingredients.

4. Don’t over-exfoliate

A lot of people tend to over-exfoliate. If your skin is feeling sore, it’s likely because you’ve worn away your skin barrier. The idea is to remove dead skin cells, not new, healthy ones, which is why I’m not a fan of microdermabrasion or very harsh peels. Enzyme exfoliators are great because they just dissolve the glue that holds the dead skin in place.

5. Forget buzzy ingredients – it’s the formulation and percentages of each that matter

We often get carried away with buzzy ingredients, but the thing you really need to focus on is formulation. For example, vitamin C is great, but it’s quite an aggressive substance, so the wrong formulation and percentage can really irritate your skin. People tend to opt for a higher percentage because they think it’s more effective, but that’s not always the case.

6. Use the right retinol

Retinol is the gold standard for anti-ageing and cell turnover. However, there are so many different types of retinol out there: retinol, retinal, retinoid, retinoic acid, tretinoin and adapalene among them. There’s a temptation again to use the strongest one, but that might not be suited to your skin. Someone with bad acne might use adapalene, whereas someone with severe sun damage and wrinkles might use tret. My advice is to see an expert before incorporating retinol into your routine.

7. Be mindful when trying out new technologies

I love lasers, but you need to make sure they’re in the right hands. Anything that promises to remove your top layer of skin, avoid. Aggressive lasers can be good for severe acne scarring and burns, but in general you want something milder. Microneedling can be amazing for your skin. By creating controlled micro traumas, the skin learns to repair itself more efficiently. But it should be done in a clinical environment as opposed to at home. Some people like to use products with microneedling, so that they can push the ingredients further into the skin, but these need to be sterile and not just any old serum. I prefer to use a hyaluronic gel, something to help the machine glide across the face.

8. Supercharge your skincare with at-home devices

Most people don’t have time for an hour-long treatment, which is why it’s great to supplement your routine with at-home devices like microcurrent muscle stimulators and LED lights. They can also make your products more effective. So if you’ve got a cleanser, and you get one of those vibrating silicone exfoliating brushes, you’re actually enhancing your cleansing routine. If you’re using a hyaluronic acid and you use an ultrasonic tool with it, it will break the particles down into tiny molecules which will then be absorbed more effectively into the skin. LED lights are great for stimulating collagen, treating acne and general renewal. But not all LEDs are created equal. Some of them are just coloured lights, so make sure you get a reputable one. I like Dermalux and Celluma. Green light is great for pigmentation. If you have pigmentation, realistically a topical product isn’t really going to do much.

This article was originally published on Vogue UK.

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