10 Tips For Better Skin From Complexion Expert Kate Somerville

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Perfect skin has always felt like a carrot dangled in front of me — so close, yet so far away. If there’s been a blog or magazine article professing the secret to perfect skin, chances are I’ve read it and attempted to follow its advice. (Never fall asleep in makeup: check. Stay out of the sun: check. Drink plenty of water: check.) Yet, I’ve struggled to find a skin-care routine that really works for me. (And, I still suffer from breakouts, sensitivity, dryness, and more.)
This year, I’ve made it my goal to kick up my complexion a notch with 10 skin-care resolutions courtesy of the one and only Kate Somerville. Whether it’s acne, a dull complexion, or premature ageing you’re worried about, Kate’s advice will take your routine to the next level, too.
1. Apply Sunscreen Every Day 
According to Kate, sun protection is the single most important element to keep in mind. When clients come to her with skin complaints, they're most often a result of sun damage. Sun degrades the skin’s collagen and elastin, and affects our bodies' abilities to create healthy new cells. Make it a resolution never to leave the house without applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 — even in the winter and on cloudy days. Look for a broad-spectrum SPF (which means protection from all UV rays), like Kate Somerville Daily Deflector SPF 50.
2. Make Sure You're Using The Right Products 
Taking the time to get to know your skin will help you navigate through the aisles and aisles of products in stores. Is it oily, combination, or dry? If you’re not sure, enlist a dermatologist or aesthetician to help you assess your concerns. Also, keep in mind that different areas of your face may have different characteristics and concerns. Kate explains that one common skin-care mistake is using the same product all over your face. And, no matter what your skin is like, hydration is key. If you're really oily, look for an oil-free formula with hyaluronic acid.
3. Exfoliate
Exfoliation should be a part of every skin-care regimen. Kate recommends exfoliating twice per week if you’re in your 20s, three times a week if you’re in your 30s, and up to four times a week if you’re in your 40s. Exfoliation is really important because it lifts dry, dull skin and allows products to penetrate and work more effectively. Look for exfoliating formulas with fruit enzymes, like ExfoliKate (or ExfoliKate Gentle). They gently dissolve dead skin. Stay away from products containing sharp nuts or seeds, because they can actually damage skin. Always exfoliate with steam (in the shower, for example). Steaming not only warms the skin, but it also adds moisture to soften.
4. Don't Neglect Your Neck
Our necks can show our age more than our faces. Kate recommends bringing any products you’re using on your face down to your neck, and massaging them in an upward motion to create a lifting effect. Like your face, the most important step is to wear SPF daily. Also, moisturize morning and night.
5. Purify Your Water 
The simplest thing you can do to ensure that your skin is properly hydrated is drinking more water. We all know that by now. But, in addition to this, Kate recommends looking into what’s in your local water supply. Your water department should provide you with data on chemicals and impurities. You can then decide whether you want to use a home filtration system or a purifier. Certain metals and impurities can be filtered out, but other chemicals, drugs, and toxic materials cannot.
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
6. Watch Your Dairy, Coffee, & Alcohol Intake 
What we put into our bodies is every bit as important as what we put on our faces, says Kate. Be wary of dairy. Studies suggest that certain foods can worsen or trigger acne. Also, as coffee may dehydrate the skin, you may want to limit your intake to no more than two cups a day. Keeping it to two drinks a day isn't a bad idea either. If you want to enjoy a drink, consider opting for red wine, which contains the protective anti-ageing compound resveratrol. Note: One serving of wine is just five ounces, which is not always the average pour when you’re dining out!
7. Supplement Your Skin Care
Here are a few supplements Kate recommends:
Vitamin A is your skin’s “maintenance man” — it helps keep everything operating properly. This vitamin repairs and reinforces the mucous membranes and tissues that protect against bacteria and viruses. It keeps your skin from becoming dry, flaky, and wrinkled, and helps prevent acne.
Calcium is a major player when it comes to skin health. Low levels of it in your skin can make you more likely to experience premature ageing and have a higher risk for skin cancer.
Vitamin C is vitally important to our bodies, and our skin in particular. It is instrumental in forming collagen, helps heal wounds, and fights free radicals.
Fish oil and flaxseed oil (with essential omega-3 fatty acids) work to hydrate and lock moisture into cells. Hyaluronic-acid supplements are also incredibly effective in attracting more water to the skin cells and then locking it in by preventing evaporation. (Before adding any supplements to your routine, make sure you consult with your physician!)
8. Do The Double Cleanse 
It’s important to fully remove ALL of the makeup, dirt, debris, and other junk that’s gathered on your skin. Kate promotes the "double cleanse" with her clients. First, use a makeup wipe to remove impurities on the surface. Use both the front and backside of the wipe. Then, apply a cleanser (suited for your skin type) to penetrate deeper and fully clean the skin. You can also use a cleanser twice if you prefer.
9. Pop Properly
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s impossible to resist popping that pimple (even if you know you shouldn’t!). If you’re going to do an at-home extraction, it’s important that you at least do it correctly. According to Kate, here are the rules: Only extract if the blemish is ready, use the proper supplies, cleanse and steam skin thoroughly, and give the blemish a canal. Begin by gathering your supplies: your cleanser and exfoliator, a clean washcloth, some tissue or cotton swabs, witch hazel, and Neosporin. Cleanse and exfoliate skin, and apply a warm compress to steam. Wrap your fingers in tissues or use cotton swabs. Start with blackheads by gently squeezing with two cotton swabs or your tissue-wrapped fingers. Do the whiteheads next, but only if they’re ready. Carefully squeeze the blemish by pushing underneath it — not on top. Gently release the infection by squeezing at the base of the blemish.
10. Get Regular Facials
Even the best at-home skin-care routine isn’t a true replacement for regular facials. If you can afford to set aside a facial fund, stop in to see your aesthetician regularly. Exactly how often you need a facial depends on your skin type. Kate recommends getting a facial every three to six weeks if you're oily or acne-prone, every four weeks if you're dry, every four to six weeks if you're combination, every six to eight weeks if you're normal, and every eight weeks if you're sensitive. Be sure to discuss any issues you’re having before you begin, so your aesthetician can choose a treatment that's targeted to you.

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