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Creating the Ideal skincare routine by Dr Clodagh O’Shea, Beacon Face & Dermatology.

As a dedicated Pilates enthusiast, you understand the importance of consistency, discipline, and a balanced approach to achieving your fitness goals. Just as your Pilates practice helps maintain your physical well-being, a consistent skincare routine is essential for maintaining the health and vitality of your skin. Today, I’ll guide you through a morning and evening skincare routine that complements your active lifestyle, ensuring your skin remains as strong and radiant as your body.

A suitable medical-grade skincare routine that includes antioxidants, SPF, and retinoids is the foundation for any good skin health journey. While we must be aware of the limitations of skincare, it is the most important first step a person should take in order to achieve healthy, glowing skin.

Morning Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanser: Start your day with a gentle cleanser to remove any sweat, oil, and impurities that accumulate overnight. A clean slate ensures that the following products can penetrate and work effectively. For most people, a cream or milk cleanser will suffice for your morning cleanse.
  2. Vitamin C Serum: Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants available. It is an ingredient that should be in almost everyone’s morning skincare regimen. This powerful antioxidant helps to brighten your skin, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and protect against environmental damage. It also boosts collagen production, enhancing your skin’s firmness and elasticity. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, thus preventing premature aging. Applied with sunscreen, they offer double defense against daily environmental triggers that cause extrinsic aging. Look for a percentage between 10-20% for maximum efficacy and always ensure the active ingredient is L-ascorbic acid.
  3. Targeted Serum: This next step depends on your skin type and needs. If your skin is dehydrated, opt for a hyaluronic acid serum; if it is sensitive, opt for a soothing anti-redness serum with botanicals; if it is pigmented or blemished, opt for a niacinamide serum.
  4. Sunscreen (SPF): Never skip this crucial step! Applying a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher every morning is vital to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn, skin cancer, and signs of aging like wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. If you are exercising or doing your Pilates class outside, reach for a physical sunscreen for maximum protection.

Evening Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanser: After a long day, especially after a Pilates session, it’s essential to double cleanse your skin. Begin with micellar water, an oil, or a cream cleanser to remove makeup, sweat, and impurities. Then follow with a second cleanse using a cream cleanser if you have sensitive skin, a salicylic acid cleanser if you have oily skin, or glycolic acid if you have dull skin.
  2. Exfoliant: Use a gentle exfoliant 2-3 times a week to slough off dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote cell turnover. This helps to maintain a smooth and radiant complexion. Here are some examples of the most popular exfoliants:
    • Alpha-hydroxy acids: Glycolic, mandelic, and lactic acid are all well-known alpha hydroxy acids. These water-soluble molecules exfoliate dead skin, resulting in brighter, smoother, and tighter skin. They improve skin texture, diminish the appearance of scarring, and reduce blemishes.
    • Beta-hydroxy acids: Salicylic acid is a potent anti-inflammatory that belongs in every “oily skin type” regimen. Its oil-soluble properties allow it to unclog pores, reduce sebum, and reduce inflammation.
  3. Retinol: Considered the “gold standard” when it comes to anti-ageing skincare ingredients, retinoids are without a doubt some of the most effective ingredients available today. Their benefits are profound but due to their side effects, they are often used with caution. Retinoids help reduce fine lines, minimize acne breakouts, and reduce pigmentation. Their many actions include increasing skin cell turnover, exfoliating dead dull skin cells, increasing collagen production, anti-oxidative effects, and balancing sebum production. Start with a lower concentration if you’re new to retinol and gradually increase as your skin builds tolerance. I usually suggest using a retinoid a maximum of 3 times a week.
  4. Hyaluronic Acid: Despite the word acid, HA neither exfoliates nor strips the skin. It is an incredibly hydrating ingredient, having the ability to hold 1,000 times its own weight in water. This powerhouse ingredient adds water to the skin rather than oil, making it suitable for every skin type. Use it after your exfoliating acids or before moisturising for an added boost of hydration.
  5. Moisturiser: For most people (yes, even those with oily skin), finishing your evening routine with a nourishing moisturizer to lock in all the beneficial ingredients is warranted. Look for ingredients such as ceramides, glycerin, and urea to guarantee an ultra-nourishing moisturizer.

A few little extra tips when it comes to your skincare routine:

  • Avoid applying retinol or exfoliating acids for two consecutive nights. 
  • If you are struggling with building up tolerance to retinol, use the “sandwich” method. Apply a layer of moisturiser before and after a thin layer of retinol. 
  • Always apply vitamin C and sunscreen every single morning. You don’t have to reapply vitamin C throughout the day but you do have to reapply sunscreen, especially after a sweaty workout session or if in hot climates. 
  • Try to have two cleansers in your regime, a gentle hydrating cleanser for the majority of the time and an “active” exfoliating cleanser for a thorough cleanse 3-4 times a week. 

Integrating Skincare with Pilates

Just as Pilates focuses on building core strength, flexibility, and balance, a well-rounded skincare routine emphasizes cleansing, protecting, and nourishing your skin. Both practices require commitment and consistency to see the best results. As you dedicate time to perfecting your Pilates routine, make sure to extend the same care to your skincare regimen. Your skin, much like your body, will thank you for the consistent, loving attention.

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Dr Clodagh O’Shea is an aesthetic medical specialist at the Beacon Face and Dermatology and is internationally recognized and renowned for her natural approach to skin rejuvenation. Dr O’Shea has clinics in Dublin and Kerry and is a highly sought after practitioner.