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Life can be pretty tiring. Whether you’re only just about getting enough sleep, juggling childcare, working hard, or doing all three at once, sometimes tiredness can show up on your skin.

It’s perfectly normal and there’s nothing wrong with it – who hasn’t felt like their skin is a little lacklustre when they’re short on sleep? But how can you minimise the impact?

We asked Dr Malvina Cunningham, Consultant Dermatologist at Skin + Me, about her best fixes for tired skin. We may not be able to give you back that lost hour of shuteye, but we can help you look like you didn’t need it in the first place.

Start from within

Healthy skin can be boosted from within, so it’s crucial to look after yourself from the outside before you start on the inside. Dr Malvina emphasises the importance of not drinking too much alcohol, never smoking and having a healthy balanced diet. Make sure you’re also drinking enough water, as dehydrated skin can be a reflection of a dehydrated body.

Although easier said than done, finding ways to reduce your stress levels can also help. Your stress hormones can have a big impact on your skin, so take the time to talk through your problems, do some journaling and enjoy some light exercise when you can.

Protection is key

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen every day (yes, every day, even in the UK), but did you know that UV damage can actually make your skin appear dull? So your sunscreen doesn’t just protect your skin from harmful UV rays – it’s also protecting you from tired-looking skin.

Always use a separate sunscreen as the last step in your morning routine – just before your makeup (if you wear any). Choose a broad spectrum of at least 30, and try to opt for a hydrating one if you can. Our Skin + Me Daily Defence SPF 50 Sunscreen covers all these bases and dries down clear so it can suit every skin tone.

Cleanse, and cleanse again

For a bright, glowing complexion, double cleansing at the end of your day is your friend. Cleansing helps to remove all the sweat, dead skin cells and bacteria that your skin has accumulated during the day. If you’re wearing makeup or sunscreen, double cleansing is extra important to remove any residue from deeper down in your pores.

Start with a micellar water, cleansing balm or cleansing oil, depending on your personal preference and skin type. Work it into your skin and remove with a soft cotton pad.

Dr Malvina then recommends choosing a gentle gel or foaming cleanser that doesn’t make your skin feel tight or irritated. Our Skin + Me Purify + Prep Cleansers come in two formulations, hydrating and clarifying, so you can pick the one that best suits your skin. Wet your face and apply your cleanser, gently rubbing it all over the skin, before rinsing thoroughly with water and patting your skin dry with the clean, soft towel. For more cleansing tips, check out our guide here.

Start using active ingredients

There are countless skincare ingredients out there, and they all claim to work wonders. However, here at Skin + Me we’re particular fans of a few that can actually penetrate your skin to work deeply on a cellular level. It’s these active ingredients that can bring some serious glow to tired skin.

Azelaic Acid: This antioxidant is a chemical exfoliator which unblocks pores, targets acne-causing bacteria, fights inflammation, fights pigmentation and improves skin texture.

Tretinoin: A prescription-only ingredient, tretinoin is a twenty times stronger than over-the-counter retinol. It accelerates new skin cell growth which speeds up the removal of dead skin cells, repairs sun-damaged cells, boosts the production of collagen and helps to even out skin tone, discolouration and any inflammation. What a hero.

Vitamin C: This nutrient protects your skin from external stressors like pollution and free radicals. It’s antioxidant properties help to even out your skin tone by reducing dark spots and boosting collagen for an enhanced glow.

Take care of your skin barrier

The skin barrier has been getting a lot of press recently, and for good reason. It’s the watertight barricade that keeps the outer layers of skin together, so it’s pretty important. When your skin barrier is healthy, your skin feels soft, supple and plump, but it can be compromised by mechanical or chemical damage.

Dr Malvina emphasises that, “Looking after your skin barrier is important, so that it does not lead to dry, irritated dry skin which will look dull. Don’t overuse multiple active ingredients that lead to irritation – use one at a time and choose the one that targets your skin’s needs the most. Start with your active ingredients slowly and titrate up depending on your skin tolerance, and if you can’t tolerate a particular active ingredient don’t use it. There are plenty of others with benefits so that you don’t need to feel like you are missing out.”

Regularly moisturising will also help to keep your skin barrier in check (more on that in a second), and a gentle routine that supports your skin rather than strips it will help.

Ditch the heavy moisturisers

If you’re guilty of always opting for the thickest, richest moisturiser, no matter the weather and your skin type, you might be doing your skin more harm than good.

Dr Malvina says that using heavier moisturisers than you need can make your skin appear dull. Instead, she recommends using skin-type specific formulations which will hydrate your skin without being heavy. “Look for ingredients like glycerin, urea, ceramides and natural moisturising factors, which are now commonly found in many great products, which will hydrate and soothe your skin without feeling heavy,” she explains.

Our Skin + Me Soothe + Smooth Moisturisers are available in rich and regular formulations, so if you can opt for the version that suits your skin, without overloading your skin .

Exfoliate your skin

Exfoliating your skin is a great way to help to brighten your skin by sweeping away dull, dead skin cells, and giving your new ones room to breathe.

Products containing PHA (polyhydroxy acid), can be a great starting point even for dry and sensitive skin as they’re relatively gentle. AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) are more powerful, but can help to smooth out your skin and improve its texture. Tretinoin and azelaic acid also work as exfoliants, so if you’ve incorporated them into your regime then they’ll already be hard at work exfoliating.

However, don’t overdo it. There’s no need to use AHAs or BHAs every day, and be careful not to use too many exfoliating products as this can make your skin worse. Our dermatologists don’t recommend mechanical exfoliation (products with gritty pieces that can damage the skin), and those with sensitive skin should approach all exfoliation with extra caution.

Final thoughts

It’s not unusual to feel like your skin is looking a bit on the tired side. However, if you want to give it a boost, then you can easily adapt your skincare routine. Double cleansing, ditching the heavy moisturisers and using exfoliative active ingredients can help brighten your skin without damaging your skin barrier. And, don’t forget to take care of yourself from the inside too – now you’re ready to glow.

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