In an era when sensible beauty advice is hard to find, skincare guru Alexandra Soveral’s wisdom make a refreshing change. Known for her legendary facials, straight talking and bestselling natural products – made with ingredients from her family’s farm in Portugal – it’s no wonder her clients span from beauty editors to models and chief executives.
Ahead of the launch of her new book, Perfect Skin: Unlocking the Secrets, we caught up Alexandra to find out her golden rules for a flawless complexion...
Work With Your Skin
The ultimate ground rule for healthy skin? Work with what you have. Everything you do should contribute to your skin’s health and not just for the sake of its appearance. While even the best facial can’t replicate the effects of Botox and fillers, it’s worth bearing in mind that injectables won’t improve the condition of the skin. If you do decide to have injectables, try having a facial massage before your appointment – massage is the best way to help muscle retain its integrity.
The likes of foaming cleansers and products containing solvents (you’re probably using more of them than you realise) are stripping the skin of its natural defences and breaking down its delicate barrier. Far better is to use a steamy hot flannel and a simple cleanser containing a plant-based oil, water and a natural antiseptic. The golden rule? The fewer the ingredients the better.
Be Wary Of Scent
Look on the back of any of your favourite products and if you see fragrance listed as in ingredient, think twice about using it. Parfum is always synthetic – if you compare the perfume used for toilet cleaner with the most expensive perfume in the world, you’ll probably find very little difference between the two. Instead, look to products containing essential oils – these aren’t classified as fragrance.
While there’s no denying the negative effects of the sun, unless you’re going to be in the sun for prolonged periods of time or are prone to skin cancer, using an SPF daily isn’t always necessary. You should aim to get a little bit of sun exposure on a daily basis so your body can convert it to vitamin D, something many of us are deficient in. When excessive sun exposure is unavoidable, then a good broad-spectrum SPF (both for UVA and UVB) is advisable – an SPF30 is usually sufficient although if you’re very pale or in a very hot climate, then opt for SPF50.
It’s All About Massage
Facial massages are the absolute key to a radiant complexion. They gets the lymph and circulation flowing, stimulate collagen production and clear toxins. Try to massage your face daily at home – use circular movements upwards and outwards, starting at the neck and work your way up to the forehead. However, never massage directly onto dry skin – skin should always be slightly damp.
Invest In Your Skincare
We should invest in our skincare as much as our nutrition, however this needn’t cost the earth. Don’t be deceived by an expensive face cream – just because it costs a fortune doesn’t mean its quality is superior. Always do your research.
It’s Not All Down To Genes
Despite misconceptions, you’re not destined to age like your parents. While you can certainly inherit negative traits, good lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on your health. Studies have shown that a child who inherits both its parents’ short genes can still end up taller than either of them with proper diet and exercise.
Water Isn’t Everything
Your skin can still be dehydrated even if you drink plenty of water. Dry skin isn’t always caused by a lack of moisture but by a lack of fats – both topical and through the diet. Make sure you have a portion of healthy fats every day for breakfast – think avocados, eggs and nuts. Also invest in the best facial oils you can afford and top with moisturiser.
There’s a real lack of concrete evidence to suggest beauty supplements work so don’t waste your money. You’re far better off getting your nutrients from a healthy and varied diet. The only exception is hyaluronic acid – studies have shown women who take it for joint problems report plumper, more radiant skin.
Consider Your Hormones
Getting your hormone levels tested can make a huge difference to the skin, especially if you suffer from hormonal acne. For example, too much DHT (a hormone derived from testosterone) can cause breakouts while too little can lead to dry skin. Meanwhile, oestrogen is the fountain of youth where skin is concerned, explaining why bio-identical hormones have soared in popularity. Hormones can be affected by everything from stress to your diet, so delve deeper if you have problem skin.