When it comes to achieving and maintaining healthy, beautiful skin – we have a lot to contend with. One minute it’s the sun and heat, the next it’s A/C and pollution, and somewhere in between we need to figure out what product to put on and how. Savoir Flair sat down with Dr. Tom Mammone, Clinique’s Vice President of Skin Physiology, Research and Development, to pick his brains on all things skin. Read on to discover his top tips to help you look after your skin from the inside out.
Are there any key ingredients we should be looking out for in our skincare?
Oh absolutely, and I have a handful that are my hero ingredients. I’m a huge fan of things like vitamin C – which is really powerful on multiple levels. It has three major effects on the skin so it’s really useful. Also, sunscreen (obviously) – sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! I’m also a fan of salicylic acid because the more we find out about it the more we learn how powerful it is. It’s not just an exfoliator, it’s also good for soothing and calming the skin and reduces a lot of inflammation that can cause the things we don’t want on our skin! I would probably add vitamin A – retinol – as it’s a powerful, de-aging nutrient for the skin.
Does diet really affect skin?
That’s a great question. I’m a huge fan of nutrition, diet, and exercise – and I really believe that your skin represents your health. It’s a mirror of your health. We worry about taking the right healthy fats for our insides and our heart etc., but it also influences our skin. A healthy diet, exercise, and hydration is represented in healthy skin.
Are there any other lifestyle factors that affect our skin?
The two big ones are sun protection, especially in this market, and pollution. We’re curbing pollution levels in our cities, but the levels are still very high and we need to worry about it – both in the atmosphere and in our water supplies. Obviously, we don’t want pollution in the environment, and we don’t want it on our skin!
What’s the best anti-aging skincare regime to follow?
I would start simple, as sometimes the simplest things are the best. Start by cleansing skin properly to remove pollution particles and dirt on the skin and follow by clarifying to further remove things that are residual. Then moisturize, and when I say moisturizing and hydrating it’s because dehydration of the skin is the number one initiating sign, and it can lead to deep, structural changes and aging to the skin. Continuous moisturization is essential. And obviously then use sun protection and sunscreen.
If somebody has a specific concern, whether that’s hyperpigmentation or whether they’re prone to lines and wrinkles or sagging, there are different products that really address those – so you can go into specific targeting.
What’s the biggest mistake women make with their skin?
I think not having a regimen – not having a routine and taking care of their skin. It’s amazing how many women I meet who go to the gym and watch their diet, and then they don’t cleanse their skin and use a sunscreen every day! We need to continue to educate, and I’m happy to say more and more people are educated and going on the internet to learn more. We need to keep teaching!
What’s your top tip for women in the Middle East who have to contend with heat, humidity, and A/C?
The sun is probably the biggest challenge. I see that a lot of women do cover their skin in the sun here, which is great, but you do need sunscreen and protection, and a moisturizer. This environment is very challenging, so moisturizers are great not just for when we’re outside, but inside too. You go from dehydrating air-conditioning to sun exposure, and that quick change from heat and humidity to A/C creates trauma to the skin. So you need good hydrators, like the new jelly that we have. That helps meter out those big swings in hydration levels.
It’s amazing how many women I meet who go to the gym and watch their diet, and then they don’t cleanse their skin and use a sunscreen every day!
Pigmentation is also a huge problem for women in the Middle East. What can we do about it?
The best way to prevent it, again, is sun protection! Most people don’t realize that a lot of the hyperpigmentation we see is due to sun exposure, but also due to pollution. There have been a lot of great studies coming out from our collaborators in Germany that show people who live near highways and near heavy pollution have more hyperpigmentation. So, we need to keep that in mind and educate our consumers. To resolve pigmentation there are some really great products, like our ‘Even Better Clinical’ which is fabulous and can really help resolve pigmentation when it comes about. You need both protection and repair.
Are there any application techniques that maximize the benefits of skincare products?
That’s a great question, and something that I’ve been interested in for a long time. I don’t think there’s much evidence on it, but I do think it makes a lot of sense. The simplest philosophy is where we apply products – which should be all over the face and on the neck and hands. The biggest challenge we face is how much product people put on, and the best example is sunscreen. In the States the FDA says you need to apply 2mgs per square centimeter – which is a large amount. That’s a golf ball size for your whole body, which we can see from consumer studies is a lot more than what most people apply.
It’s like when you give someone a super powerful serum and they use a tiny drop of it because it’s so precious, but what they don’t realize is it’s really designed to have a much larger delivery load. I run a pharmacological lab and we measure how much people apply how much they should, and we see that most people do not apply enough. More isn’t necessarily better, but it is going to help!
Debunk the biggest skin myth you’ve ever heard.
Oh wow, that’s a good one! The one I think of is that chocolate causes acne, and I think that’s largely been disproven – or never actually proven. Food can cause skin oiliness and acne when it’s high in calories and glycemic index, but the common myth about chocolate is false, which I’m happy about because it means I can enjoy my chocolate!
What’s your top tip to get that youthful glow?
That again is going back to basics – cleansing and clarifying and then moisturizing the skin. Moisturizer at the end is what will hydrate the surface and the deeper layers and will give skin that ‘light scatter’. People who have dry skin have very whiteish reflecting cells, so skin looks dull. When you get out of the shower or have hydrated skin you have that much more translucent, deeper light scattering and color to it, and that’s all about how much water it has in it.
Think about a baby. A baby’s skin is thick and plump and full of hydration, so babies usually always have beautiful skin. But when you get older, skin gets drier and duller. So hydrate and exfoliate in a nice, gentle way.
What do you think will be the next big thing in skincare?
I think in the next year it will be about mergers. Innovation is not about single ingredients, it’s a merger of different technologies. How we design a formula is critical. They’re not simple mixes – they’re actually complex little machines, and our ingredients are never single, hero ingredients, they’re always a team.
Sometimes we put ingredients together and they don’t work well together and actually hurt each other, but other times we put another team together and they work much, much better than the individual ingredients. For example our new ‘Fresh Pressed’ products have amazing innovation. We can separate two ingredients that don’t really go well together, but you make it up fresh – which activates them and makes them really, really powerful. I think we’ll definitely be seeing more of these synergies.
Complete the sentence: To me, beauty is…
Healthy skin. When I see healthy skin with a great glow, that’s what – to me – is beautiful. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s the whole package, but I’m a skin guy. When I meet people, I look at their skin and when I see someone who has acne it breaks my heart, and I want to help them have healthier skin. We all want to live long, happy, healthy lives – and our skin is a representation of our health.