Combat bad skin from city living

Living in a city has a myriad of benefits, but stress, pollution and late nights can all contribute to a dour complexion. Here's how to combat it...

Skin is made up of tiny pores that ensure the skin can breathe and regulate body temperature amongst other tasks but they also filter out the grime and debris associated with every day life. Of course that means that city slicker skin is coated with a fine layer of nasty toxins from pollution.

Blocked pores, in turn, can result in a not so delightful concoction of spots, blackheads and dull skin. So what can we do to beat the combined effects of lifestyle and environment?
 
Basic skincare

Sarah Payne, founder of City Skinklinic numbers TV presenter Katy Hill and Tamzin Outhwaite amongst her clients. She says spotting city skin is easy to her. "Most who come to us usually have the classic "city skin" – dull, congested, blocked pores and dehydrated with patches of dryness."
 
"Stress depletes the body and therefore the skin of nutrients.  It can be cause of acne as it upsets hormones," says Sarah. "Stress increases the need for alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants which in turn may damage the skin."

She also suggests avoiding smoke as it is a major contributor to poor skin and checking air conditioning isn't too high as that can dry out the skin.
 
Fear not - it's not quite as bad as it sounds. There are several things you can do to redress the effects of city living on your skin. Primarily, a basic skincare routine and general well-being can do wonders for your epidermis.
 
Get skin in tip-top condition by cleansing, toning and moisturising every morning before applying make-up. Cosmetics are often blamed for clogging pores, but it can actually protect against pollution because it provides a fine layer of resistance.

It should go without saying that falling asleep with your make-up on brings a resounding 'don't do it!' It will happen, even with the best-laid plans, but it is ultimately nothing an occasional and gentle, restorative facemask won't repair so don't worry if there is the odd occasion.
 
Experts at Clinique recommend improving the skin's resistance to pollution by using a moisturiser rich with ingredients to improve the skins surface strength, such as shea butter or ceramides. (Clinique Lab reports are available at Clinque counters nationwide). Sarah Payne also recommends using sun protection every day and keeping hand cream in your bag or desk to sooth exposed paws.
 
For a relaxing and beneficial treat, Sarah suggests perking facial skin up with a relaxing City Skin Cleanse, her popular in-house treatment. Combining flash exfoliation using microdermabrasion to remove surface debris with a steam and extraction the treatment winds up with a lavender mask to nourish followed by moisturising and UV protection. (Tel: 0870 751 3870 or visit www.cityskinklinic.co.uk)
 
Beat pollution

It's impractical for many of us to abandon our beloved concrete jungle for a healthier lifestyle in the country. And lets not mention that all those muddy four by fours have a lot to answer for in the country anyway!

That doesn't mean that we are fighting a losing battle in the city with the effects of environmental damage. Concentrations of car pollution, smoke, sun and the cold can all be prevented and treated, bringing skin back to optimal condition.
 
"More and more research is pointing to oxidative cell damage caused by the environment as a source of aging and illness - just think of a sliced apple turning brown to visualize oxidization," says UK skincare expert, Dr Patrick Bowler.

"That's we use anti oxidants to defend the skin.  The latest and most powerful free radical scavenger is idebenone. In skin care it provides skin with a fighting chance of repairing existing damage and defending itself against future aging."
 
Dr Bowler has developed the Vitage range to specifically help combat the negative effects of city living on skin. It's key ingredient, idebenone, is the first clinically tested antioxidant that not only protects but also corrects skin. (Vitage range is available at Harrods, Selfridges and salons nationwide. For stockists call Cosmeceuticals: 0870 850 6655)
 
Inside out

We all know that a girls’ night out, replete with exotic cocktails, is far more fun than an early night and the requisite 1.5 litres of water a day. However making the switch to a few more early nights of quality sleep well reap rewards. A few small steps can go a long way in improving general skin condition.
 
Clinque recommends drinking green tea and eating foods with vitamin C to help protect skin from further damage. Cutting down on alcohol and sugars are also considered beneficial for overall health as well as repairing stressed out skin that is deprived of vital nutrients.
 
If you can't resist a coffee or hot tea to pep you up during the day, try switching to Dr Stuart's Skin Purify tea. The blend has red clover, nettles and lemon balm, offering skin cleansing and soothing properties and was featured in TV guru Gillian McKeith's best selling book, "You are what you eat".
 
Anti-oxidants have proven benefits when used on the surface of the skin but vitamin supplements also contain the skin-boosting compound. Often bombarded with dietary advice it is unsurprising that most of it falls by the way side as we dash to work and slump exhausted with take-out at the end of the day. Multivitamins can help redress the balance and in turn benefit skin. "

Supplements are vital for general all round health and optimal skincare," says Kamiqua Pearce, spokeswoman for Perfectil. She recommends the UK's leading nutritional supplement for healthy skin, hair and nails. The vitamin and mineral complex contributes towards strong tissue growth, good blood circulation and a healthy complexion. ( Vitabiotics, tel: 020 8955 2600)
 
Ageing gracefully

City skin is at the mercy of a combination of negative elements – environmental pollution and second hand smoke, not to mention the stress incurred through the morning tube battle. And none of these, says City Skinklinic founder Sarah Payne, is conducive to helping you age gracefully.
 
"The 'city skin' phenomenon particularly affects working women in their 30s . This age group are probably the most stressed - under pressure both personally and at work," explains Sarah. "Women when they turn 30 notice their skin changing with their bodies producing less collagen and elastin.   This means they may turn to using products and treatments which are not necessarily correct for their skin and may in fact not be beneficial."
 
Naturally, no products can reasonably offer to turn back time and only surgical procedures can give a more youthful appearing nip and tuck. However, it is possible through a mixture of eating a healthy, balanced diet, sleeping well and exercise to help your body stay in optimum condition.
 
Non-invasive treatments at a medi-spa such as a glycolic peel are becoming increasingly popular and give visible results minus the pain associated with surgical procedures. Anti-aging formulas can fight back against free radicals and offer fine-line and wrinkle reducing properties. We like Madonna and Jennifer Lopez's skincare favourite Yon-Ka.

Their new range, La Baume has been designed to effectively protect against the effects of oxidative stress and harsh environmental elements, which accelerate the skins anti-aging process. (from £17, for stockists tel: 020 7518 8370)
 
Home benefits

Much as we all love a day of pampering, fitting it into the modern woman's hectic lifestyle isn't all that easy. That's why we love spa-in-a-jar treatments suited to a busy girls night in – slushy movie and good wine optional!
 
Skincare specialist, Dr Denese has developed an 8-week treatment programme in an easy to use at home kit. Working in three steps, the kit exfoliates, rejuvenates and illuminates.

Cleaning and firming exfoliating pads with beta hydroxy acid and glycolic acid first gently remove dead skin and unclog pores. The HydroSeal Recovery Serum softens fine lines and wrinkles whilst the Vitamin C packed Radiance Cream fills imperfections to give a radiant, silky finish with light deflective technology. (An eight week kit costs £69.95 www.drdenese.com tel: 0870 1900 003)
 
Spa stars

Drinking 1.5 litres of water a day has much publicised and renowned effects on improving skin condition through hydration as well as washing out toxins and chemicals from our digestive systems. Throw in the relaxing powers of a long, hot bubble bath and you'll soon recognise why one new Notting Hill salon has recognised the healing powers of water and gone one step further.
 
Recognising the power of water on our insides, as well as the outside, former pharmacists Vim Patel and Amo Khan have collaborated to set up the first urban hydrohealing spa. Using the natural properties of water, HydroHealing Spa aims to beat the stresses brought on by city living with tailored treatments targeting relaxing the mind, eliminating toxins from the digestive system and the skin. (www.hydrohealing.com tel: 020 7727 2570 )
 
One for the boys

Men shouldn't consider themselves exempt from skincare maintenance. They will find that treatments have been developed for them too in man-friendly packaging (think butch monochromes but with all the restorative effects of 'girly stuff').

Naturally, they will still pinch your stuff even if they do pretend otherwise! An all round family favourite is the 100% plant and mineral origin with organic extracts Solace Skin Active Day Cream from Barefoot Botanicals. It is particularly suited for out-doorsy types. ( £15.95 75g Stocked in Harrods, Selfridges and health shops nationwide www.barefoot-botanicals.com)