A scientist’s guide to life: 9 skincare tips from a dermatologist

Consultant dermatologist Dr Bav Shergill reveals how to keep your largest organ looking peachy.

Dr Bav Shergill is a consultant dermatologist who specialises in the treatment of skin cancer. He is a member of the British Association of Dermatologists. Here are his top nine skincare tips.

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1

Less is more

Most people don’t need anything more than a basic cleanser and moisturiser, and sunblock if you’re going outside.

2

Some skin needs more help

There are about 3,000 skin-related conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. If your skin is scaly, dry and red, then you may be advised to follow a particular routine. In this case, moisturisers can help to rehydrate the skin, and short bursts of steroids can ease inflammation.

3

Moisturisers don’t ‘give’ water to the skin

This is a common misconception. Moisturisers provide a protective barrier and work by allowing the body to transfer water from deep down in the skin to the top layers.

Need to know…

  1. A basic cleanser and moisturiser (and sunblock) is all that most people require.
  2. Expensive isn’t necessarily better, but look for key ingredients if you have certain needs.
  3. Eat healthily and don’t drink too much alcohol if you want your skin to look its best.


4

Expensive creams aren’t necessarily better

There’s some interesting psychology going on here. Sometimes, we pay extra for the branding, the packaging and the ethos, and we value things more because they’re expensive.

If you have specific needs, it might be worth paying a bit more. Products that contain vitamin B3, for example, are excellent for people with brown patches of skin known as ‘melasma’.

5

Anti-ageing creams can make a difference

Peer-reviewed studies show that vitamin A-based chemicals, such as retinol and retinoic acid, can improve the appearance of fine lines. They boost the production of collagen and can help to even out skin tone by banishing blemishes. Be careful, as strong doses can cause irritation.

© Joe Waldron
© Joe Waldron
6

There’s no difference between male and female skincare products…

…Apart from the packaging and the scent. That said, I like the blue colour of my products, so I’ve clearly been seduced by the branding!

7

You don’t need separate day and night creams

Although if you’re applying a cream that contains retinol, it may be better to apply it at night, as retinol can make the skin slightly more sensitive to sunlight.

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8

Avoid drinking lots of alcohol

If your body is dehydrated, your skin will be too. Keep hydrated and eat a healthy diet. Foods or supplements that contain vitamin C and E are good because they’re antioxidants that prevent damage from free radicals.

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9

Think about what you wear

Wear a broad-brimmed hat between 11:00 and 15:00 during sunny months. This is a good idea, especially for men who are losing their thatch on top. You see a lot of people who have sun damage because their hair is thinning and they thought they were still protected on top.