4 Steps to Smooth Skin – Cassandra Barns

Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns explains her top tips for keeping skin smooth.

Smoked salmon, anyone?

As well as being necessary for our heart, brain and eye health, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play an essential role in the structure and appearance of the skin. ‘They are incorporated into cell membranes in the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and form a matrix around the cells, helping to maintain the skin’s barrier function and prevent moisture loss.

They are also thought to have a role in the dermis – the lower layer of skin – by controlling inflammation and minimising collagen damage from UV rays.’ explains Barns.

So if you can, be sure to eat a good serving of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines three times a week. ‘It’s also good to take a good quality supplement. Go for Super Omega 3-6-9 by Quest Vitamins.’ adds Cassandra.

Stress: Guilty as charged

Not only does frowning all the time make you less attractive, but stress can actually affect the quality of your skin too. Anxiety can be causing wrinkles, blotchy patches and spots. ‘One reason for this is that high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood can contribute to other hormone imbalances – for example in oestrogen and testosterone – which can then lead to pimples and outbreaks.’ explains Barns.

‘Apart from triggering a number of other changes in your body, cortisol boosts sebum production, which can lead to blocked up hair follicle and acne. That’s why after an exam or a job interview we often end up with a few new spots the next day’ adds Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist.

Apart from breakouts, stress can also lead to dryness or even eczema. According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, women, who are experiencing high stress situations suffer with dehydrated and irritated skin.

Less is more

Every day the average woman exposes her skin to a multitude of chemicals and unnatural substances in the cosmetics and skincare products she uses. As well as having a potential impact on overall health and wellness, many of these chemicals can be irritating to the skin, even causing issues like eczema or dermatitis.

Thankfully, there are now plenty of natural products on the market. ‘Look for those made with the highest percentage of natural, organic, plant-based ingredients and that are free from some of the worst chemicals including synthetic fragrances, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate and harsh detergents.’ explains Barns.

Look no further than in your kitchen cupboard for extra help. ‘For sensitive and even acne-prone skins, natural pure oils such as extra virgin coconut oil or jojoba oil can be the gentlest option for cleansing and moisturising.’ adds Cassandra.

Essential oils

If you have irritated, dry or damaged skin, it has to be soothed first. Essential oils are your best friends – packed with vitamins, amino acids and anti oxidants they can not only smooth fine lines but also heal blemishes and irritation at the same time.

Which oils to chose? ‘Aloe Vera, often called a ‘miracle plant’, has been used in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years. It’s mainly known from its healing properties, as it kills certain bacteria and reduces inflammation. It is also a great anit-oxidant, which means it protects our skin from free radical damage. Tea Tree oil destroys bacteria as nothing else does – it penetrates the blockage between your skin and glands it clears clogged pores and dries out stubborn blackheads. Lemon essential oil can help to rejuvenate tired-looking skin and brighten complexion.’ Explains Skincare Expert at What Skin Needs, Sonja Dymalovski.

If you are not a big fan of oily texture, go for balms. ‘What Skin Needs Skin Balm is made from natural plant-based ingredients including olive oil, aloe vera extract and calming and anti-bacterial essential oils. It also contains an ingredient called Plantolin, an extract from an Australian indigenous plant. Plantolin may help to manage skin conditions by reducing inflammation and oxidative damage, and the formula as a whole is designed to reduce irritation, soothe and repair dry and damaged skin, and support cell renewal.’ recommends Sonja.