It was my birthday recently, and I turned 40!
My age came as a big surprise to many people, and I often get mistaken for looking younger than I really am. Some of you asked me what I do to keep my skin looking youthful.
I lived in Paris for 2 years (while studying Fashion Design), and a lot of my skincare tips are influenced by French beauty and fashion influencers. I love their holistic approach to beauty, which is to treat skin from the base, so you don't have to do too much else. For me, skincare isn't limited to what I apply onto my skin. It includes other factors like diet, exercise and a healthy outlook on beauty, which all contribute to turning the clock back. Here are my skincare tips for younger looking skin.
LET YOUR SKIN BREATHE
"You are entitled to have a beauty routine that makes you look and feel beautiful, at the same time."
- Mathilde Thomas, founder of French beauty brand Caudalie
My skin feels best when I let it breathe. I have normal/combination skin, and I keep my skincare routine very simple. I use a cleanser and moisturiser daily, and an exfoliant and face mask once a week. I don't use a serum, because my skin can't breathe when I layer too many products. Whenever I've used serum in the past, my pores feel blocked and appear bigger, and milia pops up under my eyes. While the beauty industry touts that we need an arsenal of products like toner, serum and essences to fix our skin issues, for me less is more. When my skin can breathe, it feels fresher and can rejuvenate itself better. I prefer products that are lighter and easily absorbed, so my skin doesn't feel weighed down. These are the beauty products I use.
*This post is not sponsored. These are my genuine opinions on the products / brands featured.
- Cleanser: Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, which makes my skin feel clean but is gentle and doesn't strip it dry.
- Moisturiser: In summer, I use Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream because it is light yet moisturising. In winter, I alternate between a cream or an oil, depending on whether my skin needs hydration or nourishment on the day. I like Biotherm Aquasource Cocoon and Be Fraîche Seed Face Oil.
- Face Mask: Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque, which never fails to make my skin look radiant and supple.
- Sunscreen: I don't use sunscreen regularly, and when I do (if I go outdoors for over 30 mins), I apply Olay UV Moisturising Lotion SPF 30. This has been my practice for the past 10 years as I don't like the way sunscreen chemicals clog up my skin. I believe that moderate doses of sunlight are essential for skin immunity so our body can produce Vitamin D. The key is to not get burnt, because over exposure to the sun will accelerate skin ageing. I am South-east Asian with slightly tanned skin, so I don't burn as quickly as someone with fairer skin. I am not advocating for people to ditch sunscreen, this is just me sharing my honest opinion on what works for my skin.
"Yes to sunscreen, but not all the time, and not indoors and when it's raining... take a break. Let your skin breathe"
- Isabelle Bellis, French facialist
ADD COLOUR AND VARIETY TO YOUR DIET
"The way to have good skin is not actually about what you put on your face. It's about what you eat."
- Violette, French make-up artist and Estée Lauder Global Beauty Director
Eating a variety of colourful ingredients is vital to having good skin. Colourful fruit and vegetables contain phytochemicals which not only give them their colour, but when eaten, protect skin from free radicals. Orange vegetables like carrots and pumpkin are high in beta-carotene, red tomatoes contain lypocene, green broccoli and spinach are rich in chlorophyll. Pigmented foods not only add colour and glow to skin, some even boost your body's natural SPF. I aim for 30 colourful ingredients in my diet everyday, and this is what I eat.
Breakfast: Oat porridge with soy milk, honey, almonds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chai seeds, tahini, mixed berries and banana
Lunch: Roast chicken with beetroot, zuchinni, garlic beans, corn, capsicum, peas and a mandarin
Dinner: Salmon soup with tomatoes, carrot, celery, onion, ginger, seaweed, edamame, quinoa and an apple.
Face creams and vitamin tablets will never be as effective as healthy eating for maintaining youthful skin. Personally, I don't take multivitamins or supplements because it gives me a false sense of dietary accomplishment. Whenever I've taken them in the past, I get complacent and neglect my diet. Now I rely on proper meals to get all my nutritional needs, and my skin has never looked better.
It can be hard to include so many ingredients in each meal, so these are my hacks to boost variety.
- LSA - Ground up linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds which I add to my breakfast.
- Frozen vegetable mix - A colourful variety of carrots, corn, peas, beans and potato which I add to my lunch when it is lacking in vegetables.
- Soup multigrain mix - Contains barley, lentils, buckwheat, soybeans and split peas which I add to rice, stews or soup to beef up its nutrition. I buy this from Aldi.
I aim for variety over quantity. It is healthier to eat a lot of different ingredients, rather than focus on one "super" food, no matter how incredible their claims for good skin are. I also mainly drink water which helps keep my skin hydrated, and hardly touch alcohol and coffee (though this is due to taste preference rather than for health reasons).
A GOOD SWEAT SESH IS NATURE'S FACELIFT
My skin looks the best after a sweaty workout. It is more tight and toned after exercise, and there is a natural glow to it. Sweating opens up my pores, and brings up any impurities trapped under the skin. There is a natural flush to my cheeks, and my skin looks more dewy. I never feel the need to apply make-up after a good workout, because I love how refreshed and clean my skin feels. Exercise relieves stress and makes me happier, which gives skin a healthy youthful glow. When I want to look and feel my best before an event, I always schedule a workout like dancing or interval training beforehand.
LOVE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS
French women embrace their imperfections, and prefer to look natural rather than flawless. Personally, I find that natural skin looks younger, and I hardly wear make-up as I like to show my freckles and skin imperfections. On the special occasion when I do wear make-up, I prefer to accentuate rather than cover up. I'll use only a touch of eye-shadow, blush and lipstick to add some colour to my face. I don't use foundation as I want my real skin to show. For me, when make-up looks too polished and perfect, it ages the skin and can make someone look older than they really are. French IT girls like Jeanne Damas always look effortless and youthful, and I really like her carefree approach to make-up and beauty in this video.
FAT KEEPS WRINKLES AWAY
Fat in any form is great for the skin, whether it's a good quality animal fat or plant fat. Fat plumps up the skin's natural lipid barrier and keeps it hydrated. When we don't eat enough fat, our skin not only gets dry, but it starts to sag and form wrinkles. Oily fish, avocado, almonds and seeds are regular fixtures in my diet because they are healthy fats that contain Omega 3 and 6 that help skin and hair grow. I also love animal fat like cheese, butter, cream, egg yolks and animal drippings. They contain precious fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that are of a similar composition to our skin's genetic make-up, and keeps it firm and healthy. While animal fat has gained a bad reputation due to rising obesity rates, I believe moderation is key. Eat for pleasure rather than out of guilt, as emphasised by Mireille Guiliano (author of French Women Don't Get Fat). I eat full-fat animal and plant products everyday. Not only does it satisfy my cravings and reduce my consumption of junk food, it also keeps my skin soft and wrinkle-free.
A SMILE MAKES YOU LOOK 5 YEARS YOUNGER
A genuine smile will light up your face, and make you look younger. The more you smile, the happier you'll feel, and happier people are perceived to look younger than their age. So turn that frown upside down, put on a happy face, and look younger instantly 😄
In my 20s, I was never happy with the way I looked. Even though my skin was better then, I focused on what I didn't have, like big eyes, sharp cheekbones and a slim face. Turning 30 was a revelation for me... although my skin started to show slight signs of ageing, I also learnt to shed insecurities about how I looked, and felt more comfortable in the face I had. Now at 40, I've finally embraced my "flaws", and realised that the features we sometimes disliked when we were young, are what make us unique and beautiful. Interestingly, the less I cared about how I should look, the more youthful and free I feel inside, and perhaps that mentality reflects on my skin now. For me, youthfulness is not only about having bright glowing skin. It is about feeling healthy in your whole being, and loving and accepting the way you look. Support your health (and your skin) from the inside out. Eat the right foods, exercise and sweat. Laugh more, and embrace your imperfections. Life isn't perfect, and your skin shouldn't be either.
"Enjoy the face you have today! It's the one you'll wish you have 10 years from now."
- Caroline de Maigret
Which French skincare tip is your favourite?
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