They’re the gatekeepers of flawless, glowing skin, but do the experts practice what they preach? We asked award-winning facialist Abigail James what her daily deal-breakers are for a radiant complexion.
In a world where we can Google our skincare routines and ask Instagram for the best serums, you only have to look at the visage of a facialist to see that they have skin health sussed. From years of wisdom, training and, at times, trial and error, their expertise shows up in the form of a firm complexion and fresh-faced disposition. So, of course it was only natural that we pumped renowned facialiast Abigail James for information and sought out the secrets to her glowing skin.
The skin needs a variety of nutrients to function at its best. There is no one single ingredient which provides the wow factor on its own. I look for antioxidant ingredients such as vitamin C and CoQ10 (a compound that protects our skin from environmental stressors), hydrators like ceramides, squalines and hyaluronic acid and then cell boosters such as vitamin A, baccuchiol and exfoliators for a 360 degree approach to my skin.
My skincare routine in the morning often has more steps than the evening. I like to start the day by waking up my face with a stimulating massage before cleansing. This gets fresh blood flow to the skin for a beautiful glow, boosts detoxification with lymph flow and firms and lifts the muscles. I then cleanse and layer two serums – first an antioxidant serum, followed by a hydrating serum. I finish with a day cream, eye cream and an SPF. In the evening I cleanse once or twice, depending on whether I’ve been wearing makeup throughout the day – first is with a cream cleanser or a balm to dissolve the makeup properly, followed by a wash to remove any excess oil. Then I apply an exfoliating or cell boosting serum, something targeted and quite active, followed by an oil.
I like using cold temperatures on my skin, it provides the skin with better protection from free radicals and is such a simple way of boosting circulation, glow, the lymphatic system and your mood. It’s also an effective way of de-puffing the skin, especially the eye area and always makes me feel more awake.
For me, my morning and evening routines are non-negotiable. They are just part of my every day life and have been for years. I enjoy the ritual of them, my skin loves it, it can be quick or long and it’s a moment to myself. Also, being physically active is a must for my wellbeing as well as my skin – I just feel better, mentally and physically. My exercise preferences have changed over the years, I’m a lot gentler with my body compared to the sweat-til-you-drop ethos when I was younger. Now, being menopausal, I have learnt that it’s less about the physical stress from an hour-long high intensity workout and more about what feels right for my body.
My diet is vital to my skin health. I love water and how it makes me and my skin feel plump and hydrated and I’ve always been a fan of juicing with vegetables as they’re full of phytonutrients which is great for the complexion. I now know what my body likes and doesn’t, it’s the difference between feeling well and not. A piece of cake might taste great but the extreme fatigue I feel after 40 minutes is just not worth it. I love the taste of pizza but it will put me to bed for a day because of my IBD, so eating foods my body likes is essential.
There are a number of things over the years that have made a huge impact on my skin. Face massage has been a game-changer for my skin health and structure, a comprehensive routine with a variety of ingredients that I mentioned earlier, good quality targeted facials with advanced technology, and every day sun protection (yes, even in winter and on cloudy days). A good diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and wholegrains has definitely improved my skin, fresh air, stress and anxiety management as these can increase inflammation and also, supplements.