The Instagram logo

Your winter into spring skincare guide

Looking after your skin can sometimes be a challenge. Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway looks at how to nourish combination, dry and greasy skin and cope with acne, eczema and psoriasis

Unless you are very familiar with a brand and its ethos, always read the ingredients. If you can't pronounce an ingredient, do a quick internet search to see if it's just a fancy name for coconut oil, or something more sinister. Another great way to avoid questionable ingredients is to shop local – many small Irish natural skincare brands specialise in chemical-free skincare.

Clever cleansing

Use the most gentle, basic cleanser available to you. Avoid products with harsh foaming agents, and exfoliants that can overstimulate sensitive skin. Almond oil makes a great facial cleanser, it's extremely gentle and removes make-up easily.

Combination skin

For combination skin look for products which gently balance the skin's own oil production – you want something that's not going to be too heavy for oily patches, but that is still hydrating enough to keep dry areas moisturised. Light oils like hemp, jojoba and grapeseed work well to encourage the skin's regulation of oil production while also adding gentle moisture to areas of dry skin.

Dry skin

Dry skin eats up oils and butters, so the richer the better, as long as you avoid mineral oils. Mineral oils such as paraffin liquidum have molecules which are too large to be absorbed by the skin, so they end up clogging pores and making the skin appear greasy rather than dewy. If your skin can't absorb the product you apply to it, you're wasting your money. Opt instead for natural rich oils and butters such as pure shea, coconut and cocoa. These can be applied to face and body for long-lasting hydration.

Greasy skin

Greasy skin is caused by a surplus of sebum being produced by the body and excreted through the pores of the skin. This can be the result of several different imbalances in the body including hormones, digestive issues, dietary choices and more. Scrubbing greasy skin will only encourage the skin to produce more oil so exfoliation of the skin should be avoided. Instead look for products containing witch hazel, tamanu oil and lavender oil to regulate sebum production.

Acne-prone skin

Acne is usually a hormonal issue but can also occur as a result of food intolerances or other allergies. Changes in dietary habits or even climate can also trigger acne or blemishes. Keeping the skin clean without over stimulation (eg no scrubbing!) and using gentle, natural skincare can help to reduce the appearance of acne. Ingredients to look out for include lavender (anti-inflammatory and soothing), tea tree (antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic) and tamanu oil (promotes healing and reduces inflammation). Sufferers of acne should also avoid using make-up, exfoliators and anything containing harsh foaming agents like SLS and SLES. For long time sufferers of acne, supplementation is your best bet. Omega oils are anti-inflammatory and milk thistle with dandelion flushes excess hormones out of the liver.

Sensitive saviours

For very sensitive skin I would avoid anything with fragrance, including essential oils, and instead opt for something very gentle or formulated for baby. Look for ingredients such as chamomile, aloe vera, calendula and shea butter.

Skin with eczema

Eczema (or severe skin dryness) can be triggered by allergies, food intolerances, stress, changes in the weather or the onset of an autoimmune disease. Keeping the affected area moisturised is the most helpful thing topically. There are specific creams available for eczema relief, but pure coconut oil and shea butter are cooling and hydrating. With eczema I would always recommend looking into keeping a diary of skin flare-ups and anything that may have caused them. Inflammatory foods such as meats, dairy products and foods high in sugar are all common triggers.

Suffer from psoriasis

Due to the nature of psoriasis this skin condition can often be managed or maintained but never quite cured completely. Psoriasis usually presents as red patches on the surface of the skin where skin cells have produced at a faster rate than normal and begin to form itchy clusters on the epidermis. Figuring out which foods to avoid can be extremely helpful when managing psoriasis as well as avoiding over-washing of the skin. Keeping the area as hydrated as possible and supplementation with omegas and probiotics can also help to keep this condition under control.

Personal care products

Go for very gentle soap bars or liquid castile soap with mild to no fragrance, depending on your level of sensitivity. Use a moisturising body balm or lotion after showering to keep the skin soft. Always ask for advice if you're not sure.

Bone broth and your skin

When you simmer meaty joints and bones slowly over a period of time the resultant clear, protein-rich liquid can be excellent for soups, stews or risottos. This is known as bone both and has numerous health benefits, including for your skin.

It is closely associated with boosting collagen, a protein found in skin and bone. It does this by increasing the levels of plasma in amino acids glycine and proline that are needed to make collagen. Some trials have shown the bone broth can improve the appearance of wrinkles and skin hydration levels.

Feeding your skin

"We all know that our diets can have a huge effect on our overall health," says Orla McLaughlin AFMCP, MSc, MBS, DipNT, an in-house nutritionist with Oriel Marine Extracts & Sea Salt.

"Our diet affects our immune and digestive health, but we often overlook our nutrition when it comes to the health of our skin. There are several nutrients to consider for better skin. My top three would be:

Zinc – a fantastic mineral for skin repair. It acts as a UV protector, a potent antioxidant, and is anti-inflammatory, which can help to reduce skin damage caused by free radicals.

Magnesium – the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium helps produce collagen – that amazing protein that helps give our skin structure and elasticity – and it has great anti-inflammatory properties, making it a go-to mineral for helping to support skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne and premature ageing.

Vitamin C – an essential vitamin for collagen production, also helps to brighten our skin's complexion, protect us from free radical damage caused by pollution and UV radiation and improve skin texture."

Articles from our latest issue...