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Life can be pretty tiring. Whether you’re only just about getting enough sleep, juggling childcare, homeschooling, working from home or lying awake stressing about the pandemic, tiredness can show on your skin. We asked Dr Malvina Cunningham, consultant dermatologist at Skin + Me, about her quick fixes for tired skin – regardless of whether the clocks are springing forward or falling back. We may not be able to give you back that lost hour of sleep, but we can help you look like you didn’t need it in the first place.

Start from within

Healthy skin starts from within, so it’s crucial to be looking after yourself before you get to work on your skin. Dr Malvina emphasises the importance of getting enough good quality sleep, not drinking too much alcohol, never smoking and having a healthy balanced diet. Make sure you’re also staying hydrated every day, as dehydrated skin can be a reflection of a dehydrated body. Finding ways to reduce your stress levels, because your stress hormones can have a big impact on your skin.

Protection is key

We all know we should be wearing SPF every day (yes, every day, even in the UK), but did you know that UV damage can actually make your skin appear dull? So wearing your SPF isn’t just protecting your skin from harmful UV rays – it’s also protecting you from tired-looking skin. If you’re looking to amp up the protection with an antioxidant serum, Dr Malvina recommends using Vitamin C, Vitamin E, ferulic acid and resveratrol.

But remember, always use a separate sunscreen as the last step in your morning routine – just before your makeup (if you wear any). Always choose a broad spectrum of at least 30, and try to opt for a hydrating one if you can. In summer, swapping your foundation for a tinted SPF will leave you with a fresh, glowing complexion.

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 your skin’s accumulated during the day, and if you’re wearing makeup or sunscreen, double cleansing is extra important to remove any residue from deeper down in your pores. Dr Malvina recommends choosing a gentle cleanser that doesn’t make your skin feel tight or irritated afterwards, and if your skin tends to be dry, try a hydrating one instead.

Cleansers that contain gentle exfoliators like AHAs or BHAs can be great for breakout-prone skin, but there are also many gentler cleansers that contain PHAs – which are also suitable for dry, and even sensitive skin.

Start using hero ingredients

There are few ingredients which are hero multi-taskers, able to bring about huge changes to your skin when used effectively and carefully. They can also bring some serious glow to tired skin.

Azelaic Acid: A glorious 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 wonder. 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.

Take care of your skin barrier

The skin barrier is a watertight barrier that keeps the outer layers of skin together. When your skin barrier is healthy, your skin feels soft, supple and plump.

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.”

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.” 


If you’re not exfoliating already, this is your time to start. Exfoliating will help to brighten your skin by sweeping away dull, dead skin cells, and giving your new ones room to breathe.

Don’t overdo it; as there’s no need to exfoliate every day, especially when starting out. Products containing PHA (polyhydroxy acid), which are gentler than AHAs or BHAs can be a great starting point even for dry and sensitive skin.

New to Skin + Me? Start your healthier, happier skin consultation today.

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