With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Dr Qian Xu, Founder and Medical Director of Skin Aesthetics explains how date night beauty is all about the preparations.

In this countdown checklist, she offers some tips on how to perk up your skin in time for the big day.  

Ditch alcohol and drink plenty of water 

In the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, ditch alcohol as it can dehydrate your body and dry up your skin. You’ll find that your skin when pinched, may not bounce back or may tent up in a wrinkly shape or fine lines if it’s dehydrated. So try and drink plenty of water as well as drinks containing antioxidants like green tea or green juice to help brighten up your complexion. Hydration is key to achieving healthy-looking skin.  

Make your own lip scrub for kissable lips 

If you want a kiss at the end of the night then soft kissable lips are a must. Whether you suffer from dry, cracked, and chapped lips, or want to keep flakiness at bay so that your lipstick sits on nicely, a lip scrub is a beauty essential.  You can make your own lip scrub using sugar which is a natural exfoliator. When combined with honey and coconut oil, it makes a very effective lip scrub. Depending on your skin’s needs, you can use a lip scrub daily, every other day, or even once a week. 

Instant eye de-puffer 

If your under-eye bags are looking as soft as pillows or you suffer from dark circles under your eyes, then you will be looking tired. This is the last thing you want to look like for your hot date. To perk up your eyes, it’s worth investing in eye care products that contain plenty of peptides, antioxidants, and ideally a low concentration of retinol. Although these ingredients won’t give you an instant result, they are essential in maintaining healthy, glowing skin in the delicate eye area. 

If you’re looking for an instant fix then brew two caffeinated green tea bags. Once they have cooled place them over the eyes for 15 minutes. The caffeine reduces puffiness, while the antioxidants tighten and smooth skin.  

Another de-puffing option is to use a spoon as a cold compress to your under-eyes. To do this you need to place the spoon in the freezer until it feels ice-cold, wrap it with a piece of paper towel, and then apply it to your under-eye area. 

Cleanse the day away 

The foundation of great skin is cleansed skin. Don’t even think about going to bed without washing your face. Think about all the sweat, grime, oil, bacteria, and makeup on your face.  Washing with a gentle face wash (one that will not dry the skin) will help to unclog pores and dissolve the residue that has built up. It’s also important to wash your face in the morning too. The main thing is not to overdo the cleaning because it will make your skin dry and will cause the oil glands in the skin to produce extra sebum. To keep the skin’s natural barrier unharmed and glowing, I recommend using a simple, non-exfoliating face wash. 

Remove dead skin cells for a polished look
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the top surface of your skin. Although too much exfoliation can weaken the skin barrier, leaving it more sensitive, doing SOME exfoliation is essential in maintaining skin health.  

Your skin is constantly regenerated from the deeper layers, and the new skin cells push the older ones to the surface, which eventually die and shed off. This cell turnover is around 4 weeks in children and can slow down to about 8 weeks in our mid-thirties. This leads to a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin making it look dull, and further reducing the activity of the skin cells. This is why a good exfoliation is needed to reveal the healthier, more radiant skin beneath. 

As we are still in winter, I would recommend exfoliating about a week before Valentine’s Day. You can either use a face scrub for some mechanical exfoliation or a mild, at-home chemical peel for chemical exfoliation. Do this and you will have a smooth complexion, and a perfect foundation for your makeup, or better yet, you may feel confident enough to go without makeup. 

Dealing with problem skin  

If you’re feeling a bit stressed and anxious and it’s showing on your skin in the form of spots and blemishes then one easy and the cost-effective fix is Aloe Vera gel. Aloe Vera is known for its healing properties. It can be applied topically on the skin to help soothe and reduce conditions like pimples and blemishes. This is because it contains two hormones, Auxin, and Gibberellins that provide anti-inflammatory and healing properties that reduce skin inflammation.  

For those of you who suffer from problem skin, it’s important to get the correct diagnosis of your skin condition. Not all spotty skin is caused by the same thing, and nor should it be treated in the same way. Good products plus the correct advice are what will give you the best results. 

Steaming for a plump look 

It’s well known that steaming your face is good for clearing out your clogged pores but did you know that it also gives your skin a plump bouncy look? This is because it increases blood flow.  If you don’t have a facial steamer you can create your own one. All you have to do is place hot water in a bowl and drape a towel over the back of your head. The towel will trap the steam so that you can enjoy a mini spa. Just make sure the steam is not too hot that it feels like it is burning your skin. Steaming should be avoided if you suffer from sensitive or inflammatory skin conditions. 

Enhance your natural glow 

With not much time to go, your skincare should focus on delivering layers of hydration and soothing ingredients to your complexion. The ideal base for makeup is calm, moisturized, and firm skin, that way you can focus more on enhancing your natural glow rather than concealing or correcting it. Look for products with ingredients that support your skin’s natural barrier—I always recommend products containing vitamin C, peptides, and niacinamide. Together, these are powerful antioxidants, and also help to build a strong, healthy skin barrier. A moisturiser containing hyaluronic acid will give some instant smoothing and hydration, perfect if you’re feeling especially dry due to the effects of winter. Also, don’t forget to moisturise your neck and then use the excess cream on the back of your hands. 

Downtime for regeneration and repair 

Besides using the treatments and following the hacks that I’ve recommended, your skin will benefit from having a good night’s rest. Not only are the recommended eight hours of sleep important for your wellbeing, but your skin will also reap some overnight benefits too as it switches into recovery mode. Your freshly cleansed skin is able to breathe during the downtime from sun/harsh winds/rain exposure, pollution, and blue light. It is also during this time that our body produces growth hormones. This cell turnover and collagen production will keep your skin looking plump and radiant. 

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