Skin can be complicated. Hannah English, beauty scientist and author of Your Best Skin, realized early on how much her skin impacted her self-confidence. “Growing up, I had a lot of skin issues, and I read [Paula’s Choice founder] Paula Begoun’s book when I was a teenager. It changed everything for me,” says English. Reading Begum’s book allowed her to learn more about the science behind skincare. It created such an impact that she went on to study science and further learn about skin. “Studying gave me the confidence to know what I was meant to do. So I wrote this book for people like me when I was younger, who keep hitting a wall with their skin,” explains English. Here, English dives into some of her favorite must-haves and her #1 skincare mantra.
What was the most important thing to include in your new book?
The first chapter I wrote was the sunscreen chapter. That was the most involved scientifically. I wanted it to be well referenced and backed up. I had to send a few chapters off, and the publisher said it was like a textbook, ha! Sunscreen is the cornerstone of your skincare regimen. So the sun and the radiation from the sun are responsible for 80% of the changes we see in our skin over time. For example, if you look at the skin on your stomach vs. your hand, you can see those changes early. It destroys collagen and elastin, which makes skin look plump and supported. For those who experience pigmentation and rosacea — redness is also related to sun exposure. When skin is inflamed and the sun causes inflammation, it can cause redness over time. Not every skin tone will experience redness, but darker skin can experience hyperpigmentation. Sun damage can also cause wrinkles, skin cancer, and more. Many people don’t know this one, but the sun hitting your skin can oxidize sebum, so it can also clog pores! Avoiding the sun can help prevent breakouts as well. The trick is to find the right sunscreen.
What do you think is the hardest thing for beauty consumers out there right now?
There’s so much on the market now, so much skincare. So many people are shouting information. When I was younger, there weren’t as many good products, but it wasn’t as confusing. People don’t know where to start and think they need everything. Get to know your skin.
What do you think is essential for a basic skincare regimen?
I think getting the right cleanser is a good start. It’s important to use one that’s gentle as possible while still being through. And please, no makeup wipes! People tend to scrub too hard with wipes, and it can irritate. Also, it doesn’t always get everything off. Micellar water is similar but much more effective. A good cleanser is #1. Then, find a sunscreen you can wear year-round. And lastly, a good moisturizer. People think if you get breakouts, you shouldn’t use moisturizer, but your skin needs water to have a stronger skin barrier. So these three things are the foundation.
What are your favorite skincare products at the moment?
I love Sunday Riley June Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil. It’s very lightweight and healing. It gives such a beautiful glow. I also love recommending Juno because it can work for most skin types. It doesn’t have fragrance. I also love C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C and Turmeric Face Oil — it gives such a gorgeous sheen. The vitamin C derivative makes skin look brighter without being irritating. When they come into skincare, a lot of people might be sensitized from over-exfoliating, etc. So I try to keep recommendations to things that won’t irritate me.
I also love La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Facial Sheet Masks. It helps reinforce the skin barrier. It helps to calm the skin. If your skin is reactive or you have had a procedure, it helps calm the skin down and put moisture back in.
If you had to pick your favorite skincare ingredient, what would it be?
I love vitamin A; it has done wonders for my skin. It keeps my breakouts away. It helps with pore size and fine lines; it helps with all of it. But then you need to use the supporting ingredients to go along with it. If you go too hard, it can cause flaking and dryness. So you want to be careful with it. You also don’t want to introduce it too quickly, so slow and steady is the best way to approach it.
What is your biggest piece of advice when it comes to skin?
My mantra is to give back to the skin instead of just taking away from the skin.
My mantra is to give back to the skin instead of just taking away from the skin. That was a game changer for me. People love to attack their skin with a lot of activities. They think the stronger, the better. Over-exfoliation can cause damage to the skin barrier, though. Many people may not reach for the rebuilding items because it seems boring or doesn’t seem results driven. When I went to get my first facial, the esthetician said you should always give back to your skin, not just take it away. That stuck with me. That mindset to not attack and punish your skin and instead try to work with it so it can heal is major. It’s really about hydration and protecting the barrier.
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