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5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Skin This January

If the dawn of January has you looking (and feeling) several shades of gray, regaining any kind of glow before April might feel like an impossible task. It’s not. Here’s Vogue’s guide to rediscovering radiant skin – with minimal effort.


Vogue Arabia, May 2022. Photo: Suzana Holtgrave

Prioritize your gut health

While we’re all more aware of why our gut health is important these days, 2024 looks set to be the year that maintaining it goes mainstream. According to research carried out by Marks & Spencer, who this week launched a Gut Shot drink in collaboration with Zoe, the personalized nutrition science company, Ocado has seen a 247 per cent increase in searches for “gut health” on its site since 2021. Although you might associate poor gut health with bloating and general digestive discomfort, poor skin health and increased inflammation are also big red flags indicating that all is not right. That’s thanks to the gut-skin axis, a connection that runs between the two facilitating a constant dialogue, and the fact that 70 percent of the immune system lies in the gut. In other words, the health of the two is inextricably linked. To ensure both are functioning as they should, stock your fridge with plenty of gut-friendly foods like miso, kefir and sauerkraut which are full of probiotics, which contribute to good gut health. To feed the good bacteria you’ll also need lots of prebiotics, which means adding onions, bananas, oats and apples to your diet.

Back to basics skincare

If you’re lacking radiance it’s tempting to add more products to your routine in an effort to restore it. But instead of over complicating things, the right approach is to go back to basics and get on top of good cleansing and simple exfoliation. Cleansing might seem like a given, but proper cleansing for around two minutes at a time (and a second round afterwards if you can manage it) is crucial if you want to get everything off and have a scrupulously clean base for your skincare to take effect. Texture preference is personal but cleansing balms are generally revered for their compatibility with most skin types and ability to melt into skin and remove all traces of dirt, pollution, make-up and sweat. We like Sarah Chapman Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse for a luxurious and thorough cleanse, while The Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm has a rich texture and impressive formula that belies its affordable price point. When it comes to reinstating a glow, exfoliation is paramount for removing the build-up of dead skin that causes dullness, as well as clearing clogged pores and keeping breakouts at bay. Aim to use an exfoliant between one and three times a week depending on your skin type and concerns, and opt for chemical exfoliants like Paula’s Choice 2% Liquid Exfoliant BHA which are non abrasive and absorb quickly, meaning they’re easy to incorporate into an existing routine.

Think positive

It might sound a little out there, but the power of positive thinking has a role to play in improved skin. According to one study that focused on a group of dermatology patients with conditions including acne and ezcema, mindfulness interventions not only helped improve levels of social anxiety, but also resulted in a visible improvement in the severity of psoriasis in particular. Positive thinking in the face of stressful times (like, say, the start of January) can also help to lower levels of stress hormones including cortisol, which if secreted in excess can cause inflammation and worsening of skin health. Instead of focusing on what you see as bad, adopt a gentler attitude to your skin health, thinking of it as a work in progress. As well as embracing a positive approach, having realistic goals and appreciating that any changes take time to occur is vital.

Eat well

It’s highly likely that you’ve just spent the entire festive period not thinking much about what you’re eating, but now is the time to hone your focus if you want your skin to rediscover its glow. Things to stock up on this month include lots of leafy greens, which contain skin-plumping and brightening vitamin C and vitamin K, which helps improve blood circulation and reduce dark circles. Getting enough protein in your diet is key if you want to support healthy, supple and glowing skin. As well as aiding with tissue repair and construction, protein-rich chicken, beef and eggs contain important amino acids that contribute to proper collagen synthesis. If fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are your protein source of choice then all the better, as they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids which keep skin lubricated and inflammation at bay.

Consciously hydrate

At this time of year it’s very possible that excess alcohol consumption is contributing to the grey pallor and dull complexion that you see in the mirror. As well as being very dehydrating, alcohol also increases inflammation and redness. All of which means that ensuring you stay adequately hydrated is more important than ever. If you have overdone it with the booze, it might be worth adding electrolytes, a blend of essential minerals like calcium and potassium, to your morning routine. Although experts don’t condone drinking them daily, they do come in handy when skin is particularly dehydrated, as they help supercharge the absorption of water enabling skin to hold onto it better. They also replace the salt and potassium you lose from drinking and help to maintain proper fluid balance.

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