In an industry obsessed with Botox, dermal fillers and extreme skin treatments, celebrity facialist Lisa Harris is a breath of fresh air. The beauty expert is an advocate of handling skin with kindness and care, which means no harsh chemical peels or high strength acids, and absolutely no scary needles.
"Needles are a no-go in my clinic because there are better alternatives to regenerating the skin," explains Lisa, who extols the virtues of a great skincare routine and a healthy diet, plus technology like laser and energy. She often uses radio frequency in her clinic, which tightens and revitalises lacklustre skin without downtime. In fact, Lisa says that many of her clients book in with her to reverse badly done needle work. "I'm correcting the damage caused by the beauty industry, where people have had treatments in the '90s and later," reveals Lisa. "People think Botox and filler are skin treatments, but they're not. They're just a quick fix and the skin can only handle so much."
Lisa mentions that over-injecting filler, for example, can cause unwanted long-term effects. "Over a period of time, the skin will stretch," she says. Other possible downsides may depend on the practitioner. "If your chosen practitioner doesn't have enough experience they can inject into a blood vessel," which could cause a lot of skin damage. "If needles go too deep, they can also leave little nodules [or bumps] in the skin," adds Lisa, "so personally, that's one of the reasons I think it's best to stay away from them. You have to go to someone with a great reputation for needles and fillers if that's what you're after, but I'm glad I've stuck to my guns."
So it seems are Lisa's hundreds of clients, who rely on her for refreshed, youthful skin sans unwanted side effects or the pressure to keep on top of injectable trends. Ahead, the skincare pro divulges her best tips and tricks for delaying the signs of premature ageing and making skin look plump and healthy all year round.
Switch exfoliating acids for exfoliating enzymes
Cleansing your skin every day is important, says Lisa, who likes using products that contain enzymes, which exfoliate the top layer of the skin naturally. "Enzymes give you a nice glow and speed up new skin cells. I much prefer enzymes over acids [such as AHAs and BHAs or alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids] as they can disrupt the skin and they are an irritant," says Lisa. If you have particularly sensitive or reactive skin, you might find that overusing acids at high strength can cause redness and flakiness. Enzymes are pretty safe for the skin, says Lisa, and are often derived from fruit like pineapple and papaya. "Using a cleanser with enzymes will help take away any debris and dead skin cells throughout the day, so you're prepping your skin for skincare," adds Lisa.
Lay off the retinol
"Retinol is an amazing vitamin for the right skin type," says Lisa. If your concern is breakouts and skin staining left behind by spots, or fine lines and wrinkles, retinol can make a great addition to an evening skincare routine. But Lisa says that many of us tend to go overboard. "I often repair people's skin from using too much retinol. It can cause sensitivity like redness and dryness, which can be terrible. It also makes skin photosensitive," so it's more prone to the effects of sunlight, like premature ageing and dark spots. If you're a retinol beginner, start low and go slowly. A concentration of 0.2% is your best bet, two or so times a week at night. Always wear SPF during the day, too.
Invest in 'super serums' and apply them generously
Lisa says the one ingredient she swears by is hyaluronic acid. "I've been using it for 30 years," she says. "Splash your skin with a bit of water and put on a bit of hyaluronic acid. It's important to have a bit of hydration first. We know it works; it's like a miracle and plumps skin up. Keeping skin hydrated is keeping skin healthy." While you're applying your hyaluronic acid serum, Lisa suggests doing a speedy facial massage with your fingers. "Massage strengthens the ligaments and muscles and helps rejuvenate the skin," she says. You could also use a crystal roller or a gua sha tool.
Lisa also loves layering on vitamin C in the morning, but there's one rule. "Only use vitamin C ampoules," says Lisa, who explains that once you open a vitamin C serum which is in a dropper bottle, for example, it's exposed to the air and loses potency. "With an ampoule, you're getting full-blown vitamin C," which boosts collagen production, making skin look bouncy and elastic. "You can take as many collagen supplements as you want but vitamin C prolongs collagen production and inhibits pigmentation. It also boosts your SPF." Lisa recommends applying a mineral sunscreen on top. "Sunscreen is a must, otherwise you'll undo all that hard work."
In the evening, Lisa rates a serum which contains plant stem cells (which renew skin), liposomes (which hydrate deeply) and peptides (proteins that repair skin). R29 recommends Decorté Moisture Liposome Serum, £113, or Hylamide's SubQ Skin, £18, if you're on a budget, while skin experts love Bioeffect's EGF Plumping & Firming Serum, £130, packed with regenerating stem cells. After applying your chosen serum, Lisa suggests doubling up on moisturiser. "Your skin loses a lot of moisture when you sleep," she explains. "I tend to double up on everything in the night and I drink a lot of herbal tea, too."
Try a radio frequency treatment for refreshed skin
"We've evolved so much when it comes to technology," says Lisa, who uses radio frequency in her clinic to build collagen in the skin and create a tightening effect. Lisa explains that radio waves penetrate the skin with different energies, and the machine can treat plenty of skin concerns depending on the level of energy. It's painless and causes no downtime. "It causes a small amount of trauma in the skin but this encourages the skin to repair itself," says Lisa. "Radio frequency helps to improve skin health and function, adding vitality into the skin." She explains that it strengthens the muscle and the layers of the skin, whereas treatments like filler may stretch the skin over time if overused. Depending on the clinic, radio frequency treatment can start at £300 per treatment.
Buzzy skin treatment 'no-needle mesotherapy' is also a form of radio frequency and Lisa is a fan. "This treatment uses a virtual needle," says Lisa. "It helps to push active ingredients [examples include brightening vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid] into the top layers of the skin, so you're essentially feeding your skin. This treatment plumps up the skin straightaway and it's long-lasting, too." At Lisa Harris, virtual mesotherapy starts at £170 per treatment.
Try a laser treatment (it's less invasive than you think)
One thing that works on fine lines is a certain type of laser called Cool Laser, says Lisa. "It's energy ablative and creates microscopic holes in the skin," but don't let that put you off. As the skin repairs itself, it renews the top layer, making skin look and feel more bouncy, pillowy and even in texture. "Laser is probably the best treatment I know to improve pores, fine lines and pigmentation because you're working on the surface of the skin," says Lisa. There are many benefits to lasers using LED lights, too. "Red light stimulates collagen, blue light creates a healthier environment for the skin and is healing — great if you've got acne — and then yellow, which is amazing for melasma." Cool Laser starts at £500 at Lisa Harris but prices may vary from clinic to clinic.
Don't be afraid of skin ageing
"Ageing is inevitable," says Lisa, "and it's important to be realistic when it comes to your skin. Embrace the ageing process but look after your skin, which includes eating well, being mindful of the sun and keeping skin hydrated." Lisa says that consistency is key. "You can look younger without Botox and fillers but it's like going to the gym: don't expect a six-pack after one session."
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