We’re sure you’ll agree that the world of skincare is overwhelming. New product innovation and contradictory advice makes navigating around ingredients, routines, and skincare products incredibly confusing and often conflicting too. Which is why we spoke to Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr Sam Bunting, who knows everything there is to know about skin, giving honest and professional answers to the ten most common skincare questions. Read and take notes…

How do I identify my skin type?
The easiest way is to wash your skin with a gentle, non-foaming cleanser and then wait 30 minutes. If there’s shine and visible pores in the T-zone with normal or dry cheeks, you have combination skin. This is the most common skin-type, affecting around 2/3 of us. If there is oil all over, your skin type is (unsurprisingly) oily. If your skin is comfortable, your skin type is normal. If it’s tight or flaky, it’s dry.

Is double cleansing really necessary?
No, I’m not a fan of double cleansing – if you get cleansing wrong, it’s hard to get skincare right. I advocate an effective single cleanse, something I recommend to my patients and use myself. Double cleansing became trendy with the development of longwear cosmetics but in my experience the combination often leaves skin clogged-up and prone to breakouts. In addition, elaborate cleansing regimes can leave our skin barrier depleted, allowing less room for use of active ingredients.

How do I apply retinol without it stripping my skin?
Firstly, I recommend that you always use retinoids at night; UV radiation breaks most retinoids down, rendering them ineffective. Start slow – apply a pea-sized amount of your retinoid every third night, and build up to using every other night, and then nightly over the course of six weeks, as tolerated. Use a lower potency product if skin is sensitive and try applying it over moisturiser, rather than directly onto cleansed skin, to reduce irritation. This can be especially helpful in winter when low humidity can make retinoids harder to tolerate. And consider simplifying the rest of your routine when first starting a retinoid. By introducing just one active ingredient at a time, it’s much easier to manage and reduce the risk of irritation as there’s only one variable at play. Further Actives can be added in once your skin has become tolerant to your retinoid. I developed a really useful Routine Finder to help people starting out on their retinoid journey find the right routine for them.

At what age should I introduce an eye cream?
The most important first eye cream is sunscreen. It’s amazing how many people don’t use SPF around their eyes and yet this is the very first place the signs of ageing show up. UVA rays cause skin to thin and lose its snap and sunscreen protects us against this. 25+ is a solid age to start taking specific care of the skin around your eyes.

What is the correct order I should apply my basic skincare products?
Apply your serum after you cleanse, then moisturise and finish with your SPF. At night just leave out the SPF. Your eye cream should also be applied after you cleanse and before moisturiser.

Does SPF need to be applied indoors or when it’s cloudy outside?
One word. YES! For all-year round suncare protection, check out 8 Of The Best Face SPFs For Great Protection All Year Round.

What’s the best way to get rid of a spot or blackhead without causing scarring?

Use an anti-inflammatory ingredient like azelaic acid or salicylic acid in the morning to reduce blemishes and limit any post-acne marks. Then use a retinoid at night to unclog pores and prevent further blemishes.


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How do I permanently get rid of dark under eye bags?
This requires surgery – an oculoplastic surgeon is the specialist you need to see for an opinion on what can be done. No product alone will erase under eye bags. Dullness however can be dealt with as its own separate skin issue.

How can I prevent my skin from ageing? And when should I start using anti-ageing products?
Start sunscreen daily and use the correct dose. This single step will help prevent up to 80% of why we age. Then use a retinoid every night. I like to combine this with niacinamide which works with the retinoid whilst also protecting the skin barrier by boosting ceramides. Aged 25+ is a good starting point.

Do I really need an evening skin routine?
Yes – retinoids should only be used at night and they are the most powerful ingredients for tackling the signs of premature ageing and treating acne and pigmentation. If you care about achieving bright, glowing skin you’ll have a separate routine and different skincare products for the morning and for the night. To elevate your evening routine, try some of these overnight skin heroes.

Your Skincare Prescription Recommended By Experts

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