Our Willowberry Age Without Apology Insta Live Series is held bi-weekly on our Instagram page. These live chats with expert guests are designed to help you navigate age with confidence and style. Here are the highlights of our recent chat with top facialist, Abigail James.
Abigail James is a top international facialist and skincare expert with over 20 years’ experience. She has been hailed as the ‘Queen of Skin’ by The Times and the ‘Beyoncé of skincare’ by OK! magazine, working her magic on faces (including celebrities such as Cher, no less) from her clinic in London’s Mayfair.
Here we share Abigail’s knowledge on how to get that longed-for glow; how confidence is the most important beauty ingredient; and why we all need to get our heads around psychodermatology.
Top of everyone’s skincare list
With most people, the first thing they request [at my clinic] is glow. Nine out of ten times glow is mentioned, while wrinkles are further down the line. Smoothness, radiance, lift often crop up. Everyone 40+ wants lift! I’m also seeing more adult acne and skin issues that crop up around the menopause, but whatever your age and whatever stage you are at, glow and radiance seem to be at the top of the list. Often they will say ‘I’m ok with a few wrinkles’. Which is interesting when you think of all the skincare that is targeting the wrinkle side of things.
How to achieve that elusive glow
There isn’t one magic product, you have to look at the whole routine. Cleanse morning and night; invest in a serum because serums are your powerhouse products; I’d want some kind of tonic for hydration; and definitely moisturiser and SPF. I’d then throw in some exfoliation in whatever form you prefer, whether a night time product or a weekly mask. And finally, don’t underestimate what we eat, the lifestyle we lead and our stress levels. It’s a complete, holistic package.
Treatments that get results - at home and in the clinic
There are so many gadgets that you can add in to your skincare routine at home, such as an LED mask, a microcurrent gadget or a gua sha tool. Face massage to me is amazing as it works on a physical level: blood flow, lymph flow, muscle.
From a clinic treatment point of view, it depends on the technology and brands that your therapist has. I take a holistic view to ageing and that makes it sound like it’s lots of massage and all oil-based. As much as I’m known for a holistic method, I’ve got some hardcore treatments too! I’ve got the peels, I’ve got the lasers, I’ve got the hardcore! For example, with lasers, you immediately think lasers is next level stuff, but it’s fundamentally just working with light and there’s nothing more natural than working with light. It’s just a really targeted form of light in certain wavelengths or certain colours: blue light has an anti-bacterial impact; red light stimulates collagen production; with the infra-red we have anti-inflammatory going on. These kinds of treatments totally back up your home care products.
The trend for single ingredient products
A trend at the moment is for brands to pick out single key ingredients such as a hyaluronic serum. But there is not one ingredient that’s going to do everything for the skin. I always describe skincare like a plate of food. Brown rice and avocado are good for us, but if that is all we ate we’d be ill. So, when it comes to the skin, we need something to stimulate collagen production, an SPF to protect, anti-oxidants, hydrators. Keeping the skin healthy and getting that glow is a complex thing.
The next big thing in skincare
Something that is becoming more widely known is psychodermatology, the interaction of our minds and skin. For example, if you think of someone with eczema, it’s a physical, external condition that is made worse by stress, which is internal. If I do something to embarrass you, you might blush. That’s an emotional response that immediately shows on the skin. The power of the mental state on the skin has been underestimated for decades.
The power of confidence
It’s human nature to focus on the one thing that’s bugging us. When it comes to ageing positively, look at what you like about yourself, maybe your hair or your jawline. There’s always something we don't like about our appearances, while someone else is probably looking at you and thinking ‘wow!’.
Magnifying mirrors are the worst invention ever, by the way, as nobody ever sees us like that! If you are confident, you are going to look beautiful. Yes, there might be an archetypal beauty and we all appreciate that. It’s human nature. But then there’s that sass and that confidence that we are all drawn to in a room. Even if you don’t feel it, fake it ‘til you make it. Remember that cliché: a happy face is a beautiful face.
The trick to finding your best skincare routine
Get your advice from a skin expert. The experts have had the training and they know the science behind it all. Try some products and stick with them to see the results. You need a month for the product to impact and then a month for it to get to the cellular level for you to be able to see what it’s doing to the skin.
How to Age Without Apology
Confidence. If I think back to my mother, her skin wasn't great, but her confidence just shone through! If it’s a case of where to put your budget, get your home care routine zipped up. You can do so much at home these days. Then, just put on a smile, a bit of red lippy and you’ll be good.
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