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How to get that pre-wedding GLOW with Stephanie Alexandra and guest blogger Dr. Amber Woodcock

So often, I am approached by clients asking for advice on specific skin concerns, from dark circles and blemishes to acne and rosacea, I have worked with many different skin types, but skincare has adapted and advanced so much in the last few years in particular, that I wanted to dive deeper into what is available for my brides to be and beyond! Who doesn’t want flawless skin on their wedding day right? And let’s not forget that gorgeous honeymoon glow we lust after. So, for this week’s instalment, I would like to introduce you to the wonderful Dr. Amber Woodcock, a local medical esthetician and all-round skin expert!


Together we have gathered some of your TOP skincare questions, we have put our knowledge together and are here to share our answers. So, grab a cuppa, get comfy and enjoy…


1. When should I start a Skincare routine to ensure my skin is the best it can possibly be for my Wedding day?

Stephanie says, “For me the sooner the better, but I would really recommend at least 6 months prior to your wedding date, it can take time to really understand your skin type and which products will work best for you and your skin, so give yourself that wiggle room to discover the perfect routine! I would NOT try anything new in the week leading up to your wedding, I have seen the consequences of this, and it isn’t always good! Tender skin can leave you feeling rotten and cause the Makeup application to become uncomfortable, which I wouldn’t want for any of my clients, luckily, I offer all of my clients Airbrush Makeup which has a great coverage, can feel soothing to the skin and applies flawlessly whilst still allowing the skin to breath!”

Amber says, “This very much depends on the current condition of your skin. A good question to ask yourself is ‘how much you would like to achieve before your big day?’ If you have normal skin and are just looking for a bit of a boost and a nice glow, then 8 weeks, but if you have concerns such as acne or scarring, you may need as long as six months. Retinol in particular is best given a few months to work its magic.”

IF at this point, you’re wondering what is Retinol? Well, it is used as a wrinkle reducing agent. It also helps to promotes production of regenerated collagen and motivates further blood vessel activity to produce a healthier and rosy skin, with less pigmentation and dark spots.


2. What are the most important parts of a Skincare Routine that I should be doing Daily?

Stephanie says, “Cleansing twice daily is essential, even if you aren’t a regular wearer of Makeup, oils and bacteria can still be found on the skin’s surface and needs to be washed away to avoid clogging the pores. Exfoliating for me is also an absolute necessity, this will remove dead skin cells lurking on the surface and make the appearance of the skin brighter and feel much softer. Hydration is the key to providing longevity to your Makeup application so always make sure you are using serums/ moisturisers to replace the lost moisture.”

Amber says, “Oh that is a tough question as I could write a book on all the important bits! As Stephanie said, cleansing twice daily is essential to clean the skin and ensure your products can be absorbed properly. Cleansed and hydrated skin will also help your make up sit much better. Daily sunscreen is also an absolute necessity to prevent damage and protect your skin from cancer causing UV rays. This must be a dedicated sunscreen, SPF in your make up/creams does not count. A great sunscreen which I use and stock in the clinic is the pHformula UV protect.


3. How do I find THE best products and routine?

Stephanie says, “Finding a routine can be a challenge to say the least, first of all, you have to understand your skin type and what it needs. I would recommend visiting a Skin Specialist such as Amber (who can be found on Instagram at @cosmeticsdoctor) who can offer a skin analysis, saving you time and money searching endlessly through the internet and trialling products which may go to waste if they aren’t right for you. Getting recommendations is great, but everybody’s skin is different and what works for one person, may not work for you.”

Amber says, “If you are serious about getting that glow, the best thing is to discuss with a skin expert at a local clinic. Skin specialists are experienced in providing advice on the correct products and how to use them. An easy and affordable way is to introduce a new product every few weeks, this also gives you time to get to grips with its use and see that it suits you. If you are feeling confident, you can totally start the whole routine at once and many of my patients do this too. The key is whatever makes you comfortable and suits your lifestyle and budget. Some easy ingredients to add which are safe for all skin types and during pregnancy and breastfeeding are vitamin C (stimulates collagen, reduces sun damage, reduces pigmentation) and hyaluronic acid (traps water, intensely hydrates, plumps, calms).

4. Should I be visiting a professional for regular facials and what are the benefits of this?

Stephanie says, “I cannot recommend this enough, I always say to my clients that Makeup shouldn’t be a tool that is used to mask the appearance of the skin, if you have concerns, only specific skincare can treat this and visiting a professional regularly will assist in this process of getting your skin feeling flawless again. Some treatments, products and more specifically, the % of some of the ingredients in them are only suitable for expert use, meaning you just cannot imitate what you get at the salon, at home! The knowledge and guidance they can give is also something that should be taken full advantage of and it’s a really relaxing experience, so it is good for the mind too!”

Amber says, “Absolutely. Professional facials with a skin expert are so advanced nowadays, they include deep cleansing, mini chemical peels even enzyme and acid facemasks. They really go above and beyond your average “facial”. The benefits will very much depend on what type you go for; your average spa facial will not have many long-term benefits but will help with deep cleansing/hydrating and refreshing. For more long term results a professional facial/treatment at a skin clinic can stimulate cell turnover, fresh collagen and improve the skin quality.

One of my favourite facials I offer is the Ultimate Glow treatment, combining a dermabrasion cream, retinol, and vitamin c treatment and even a mini peel at the end! It is amazing and all in less than an hour. Patients report their make-up sits much better and does not crease so much or go flaky! Find out more here… https://www.cosmeticsdoctor.co.uk/cosmetics-treatments/

5. Could other factors such as a poor diet be the cause of certain skin concerns?

Stephanie says, “Poor diets can absolutely worsen certain skin conditions. Remember everything works in balance. Certain foods, for example. Blueberries contain nutrients and vitamins which are great for the skin’s health and appearance. Exercising can also help to flush any nasties out of our system, almost like cleansing from the inside out. Following these alongside a fantastic skincare routine, will help to get your skin looking and feeling amazing."

Amber says, “A fabulous cleanser… No seriously, so many people’s cleansers are just cleaning but not actually deep cleansing. You want your cleanser to contain some enzymes or acids so it can penetrate deep into the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells. We call this “chemical exfoliation” (we do not recommend scrubs anymore, as they damage and irritate the skin). A great exfoliating cleanser is the exfo cleanse – It deep cleans, hydrates and calms all in one.

Other ingredients which can help are salicylic acid, if you get blackheads/congestion – The spot-on gel can help to cleanse the pores and kill acne causing bacteria. Retinol is also a key step is preventing congestion and blockages, it stimulates the cells to turn over so essentially keeps fresh skin coming to the surface. Applied at night-time, it does take some time to get used to – But it is well worth the wait.


6. What is the best way to prevent blocked pores?

Stephanie says, “Blocked pores can be caused by many factors including makeup, excess oil, bacteria, dead skin cells and even hormonal factors. Regular exfoliation will help reduce this, don’t be tempted to use harsh and heavy product though, this can cause trauma and worsen the skins condition. Slow and steady wins the race here for sure!”

Amber says, “A fabulous cleanser… No seriously, so many people’s cleansers are just cleaning but not actually deep cleansing. You want your cleanser to contain some enzymes or acids so it can penetrate deep into the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells. We call this “chemical exfoliation” (we do not recommend scrubs anymore, as they damage and irritate the skin). A great exfoliating cleanser is the exfo cleanse – It deep cleans, hydrates and calms all in one.

Other ingredients which can help are salicylic acid, if you get blackheads/congestion – The spot-on gel can help to cleanse the pores and kill acne causing bacteria. Retinol is also a key step is preventing congestion and blockages, it stimulates the cells to turn over so essentially keeps fresh skin coming to the surface. Applied at night-time, it does take some time to get used to – But it is well worth the wait.

7. Should I be washing my Makeup Brushes and how often?

Stephanie says, “Just like any surface, bacteria, oils and dirt can collect in your Makeup brushes too. (Particularly, those which you use for liquids and creams). Continued use without the correct cleansing and disinfecting, will in turn, lead to blemishes occurring and clogging of the pores. Sponges are the most common at storing bacteria and can be difficult to clean thoroughly so I always recommend limited use of these and washing between every use. Washing your Makeup brushes should be a regular part of your beauty routine and can be done weekly at least, we are all guilty of it, but with a huge range of brush cleaners available to buy now so there are certainly no excuses anymore.”

Amber says, “Yes! I love cleaning everything my skin/fingers touch, so this includes makeup brushes, pillowcases, mobile phones, flannels etc. Ideally you should wash brushes and sponges every time you use them, as the bacteria from your skin will be on your brushes every time you touch your face. Even a quick rinse with some soap and warm water and allow to dry is better than nothing.”


8. Is it possible to reduce acne and the appearance of scarring in time for my Wedding?

Stephanie says, “There are so many advanced treatments and products available that nothing is impossible. Just ensure you seek the adequate advice before taking action.”

Amber says, “I love treating acne because it is so rewarding. Many patients are so confused by what to use, they simply give up. Please don’t give up! Allow 3-6 months minimum to clear severe acne and scarring, it is a commitment and the results are so worth it. See an expert for a consultation to discuss your options. I like to start my patients on a really effective skincare routine, I then book them in for a course of chemical resurfacing and if required, a course of skinpen (a form of microneedling) to help with scarring and boost collagen levels.”

You can book yours via https://www.cosmeticsdoctor.co.uk/services/microneedling/

9. Should I be wearing an SPF daily and if so, where in my skincare routine would I use this?

Stephanie says, “SPF is incredibly important for many reasons. Sunscreen should be used prior to applying Makeup all year round, yes… that includes during those glum winter months. Some contain tint so these can be used as a base if you love a natural finish. The biggest concern for clients is will this cause flash back in their photos. Some products are said to be notorious for causing this but in my experience, this is not something that has ever happened, with the correct product and application, the use of SPF certainly shouldn’t be a cause for concern for any client.”

Amber says, “My favourite topic, I simply love sunscreen. Such a cheap and effective way to prevent so many skin concerns. UV rays cause wrinkles, pigmentation, scarring, cancer, rosacea flares and so much more. I recommend wearing a dedicated sunscreen every single day (all year!). It goes as the last step in your skincare routine but before Makeup. So, apply a generous amount of sunscreen, allow it to become touch dry. Then if desired, apply Makeup over the top gently using a beauty blender/sponge. Be mindful that if you use brushes and are doing a lot of blending you may remove the sunscreen. Don’t worry about it being sticky/pore blocking or shiny, sunscreens are very advanced nowadays!

TIP - Sunscreen only lasts 2-3 hours, so apply liberally and reapply if sat outdoors!

10. Can I use Retinols and Acids if I have sensitive skin?

Stephanie says, “Sensitive skin is a concern that is raised with me a lot. Many clients worry about having a reaction to many types of products and I totally get it! No one wants irritated skin… As I said earlier, patience is so important, this will allow your skin time to adapt to the use of new products. Seeking professional advice is always best so you can fully understand how to use the products to their potential and to avoid circumstances such as this.”

Amber says, “Many people who describe ‘sensitive skin’, don’t actually have sensitive skin at all, just skin crying out for the right ingredients. It’s best to seek advice from a skincare specialist but essentially Vitamin A (retinoids) stimulate fresh skin and cell turnover so long term use actually strengthens the skin and improves its appearance. The key with retinoids is to start slowly, so 1-2 times a week at bedtime apply a tiny amount. There is no rush and over time you will see the benefits. If you feel dry after using your retinol cream, you can apply a simple moisturiser over the top to help hydrate. If you are not quite ready to start a retinol cream, pHformula do a great retinol facemask, so for newbies it’s a great way to get your retinol fix! Once used to it, you can go up to the stronger cream. It’s worth noting that topical reitnoids are safe in breastfeeding but not recommended during pregnancy. With regards to acids, again I would seek advice from an expert and not just use something your friends are. If sensitive and delicate, the key is to look for hydrating acids such as lactic/lactobionic. If starting stronger acids, such as salicylic for acne or glycolic for exfoliating – start with a small amount and build up use gradually to see how your skin reacts.”


So, who feels ready to get their GLOW on?


If you have any further questions or would like more information please don’t hesitate to contact either myself or Amber, we would be more than happy to assist you and discuss appointments, treatments, specific skin concerns and everything in between!

stephaniealexandramua91@gmail.com

dramber@cosmeticsdoctor.co.uk

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