When it comes to skincare, Dr. Anita Sturnham is a firm believer in a “less is more” approach. It’s a philosophy she’s developed over the past 20 years, and one that lies at the heart of both Nuriss, her Wimpole Street clinic, and Decree, her science-backed skincare brand. “Over time, I noticed that the majority of skin issues I was seeing in-clinic were self-inflicted,” she tells Vogue. “People were using the wrong products, constantly changing their routine and frequently over-exfoliating.” Which is why her first step when meeting new clients is to declutter their bathroom cabinets and get them on a simple, structured program that feels sustainable long-term. Think of her as the Marie Kondo of skincare. Below, she shares her top tips for embracing the “skinimalism” trend.
Declutter your skincare routine
If you love skincare, chances are you have a large collection of products, picking and choosing which ones to use at random. Instead, try stripping things right back to a core group of about eight products that you can use every day, all year round. For both morning and night, you’ll want a cleanser, toner, serum, and moisturizer. Choose serums and moisturizers that are designed for use around the eyes, so there’s no need to double up. Always apply an SPF of at least 30 after your moisturizer, and do a “clinical” exfoliating facial using gentle fruit acids once a week.
Upgrade your serums
Serums are vital to skin health, but people often overdo it or combine them incorrectly. Happily, there are now great options on the market that can help you to streamline your routine. Some of the more clinical brands have cleverly combined multitasking skincare actives into single products, so you should really only need one serum for the morning and one for the evening.
It’s worth noting that your skin’s needs at the beginning of the day are very different from its needs at the end of it. In the morning, your skin wants nutrients that will support its epidermal barriers, such as hyaluronic acid and squalane, as well as antioxidants, such as niacinamide and vitamin C, to help protect it from stressors, UV rays, blue light, and pollution.
In the evening, on the other hand, your epidermal barrier becomes more vulnerable to moisture loss, while the sebaceous glands slow down. Your pigment-producing cells will also need some TLC, as they have worked hard all day to protect your skin, while your collagen-making cells are raring to go. Studies show that delivery of nutrients such as peptides, stem cells and retinoids via a night-time serum can support cell function and boost repair, in addition to stimulating further collagen production.
Don’t underestimate the power of a cleanser
Getting your morning and evening cleanse right is essential if you’re after great skin. The type of product you use makes such a difference. In the AM, I recommend a cream- or gel-based cleanser that will gently remove remnants of overnight skincare and excess oil, without stripping the skin. At night, meanwhile, try cleansers that have some gentle fruit acids and detoxifying ingredients such as bentonite and kaolin clays. I love using lactic and salicylic acids together.
Check the labels
Treat your skincare like you treat your food, and always read the ingredients. You need to understand what you’re putting onto your skin and why. Your cleansers should be free of sulfates, perfumes, and parabens, while your toners should be water-based rather than alcohol-based.
Master your exfoliation
Over-exfoliation can send your skin into meltdown and compromise the all-important skin barrier. Avoid exfoliating in the morning, unless advised to do so by a dermatologist; don’t use exfoliating toners, which serve no purpose for most skin types; and steer clear of serums containing lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or retinoids in the mornings. Instead, use a gentle exfoliating cleanser at night time—one with a mixture of AHAs and BHAs is great—and a more intense exfoliation mask once a week for a clinical-grade at-home facial. Make sure you replenish your skin afterward with a lipid-restoring product; squalane, ceramides, and glycerin are good ingredients to look out for.
Give your products time to work
Expect to use products for a minimum of six weeks before seeing results. Some people may experience purging when first introducing an active ingredient or treatment into their skincare routine. Remember that the journey to healthy, glowing skin requires patience.
Supplement your routine with in-clinic treatments
The latest trend for “notox” treatments (non-invasive, toxin-free treatments) is growing fast. I am a big fan of the laser, microneedling, and radiofrequency treatments offered by medical aesthetic clinics. The practitioners will assess your skin and guide you as to the most suitable options for you.
Take a holistic approach
Your overall health will have a big impact on your skin. The food we eat is, of course, key, and we know that cutting out dairy and gluten can be helpful when managing skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Exercise is a great stress reliever that can help anxiety-related skin flare-ups, and good sleep is vital for a glowing complexion, too.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.