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 natural 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 natural 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.