Dr Emmaline: Are You Over Complicating Your Skin Routine?

We all want to achieve the ultimate glow and nail down an amazing skincare routine, but how do we know when we are over complicating our skincare routine, and does this do more harm than good?

We were lucky enough to chat with founder of Ashley Aesthetics and The Aesthetics Edit, Skin Clinician Dr Emmaline Ashley*, to talk about all things skincare and the common skin care mistakes she often sees or hears of. 

How should you approach your skincare routines?

With skincare I always say the earlier you start the better - but that does come with some caveats! Sometimes there can be a big push to chase skincare trends, use really powerful active ingredients, and follow advice from influencers who do not necessarily know much about skin health.

 Recently, I’ve been seeing a group of patients who are young with generally good skin, who have been pressured into spending lots of money on overly expensive and overly complicated skincare routines. Unfortunately, not only is this a waste of money, but they end up using products that are unnecessarily strong for their young, healthy skin - damaging the skin barrier and ending up with increased sensitivity, dryness, and poor skin texture.

 I want to break it down for you that if you’re in your teenage years or early 20s, you can use great skincare products that will provide you with the protection you need while looking after your skin’s health - all without breaking the bank!

So what are some of the common skin care mistakes I’ve seen?

  1. Chasing the percentages

A high percentage of something doesn’t necessarily make it better or stronger. In fact, the percentage at which an active ingredient may be best for your skin is very variable, and skincare chemistry is a complicated subject that doesn’t translate to a simple more = better equation. Don’t be sold on a product just because you’re told it has the highest percentage of an active ingredient. This can be a marketing trick. Often if you’re using something unnecessarily strong, you will notice by feeling an unpleasant stinging and burning that lingers after you’ve used a product.

  1. It’s expensive, so it must be good

 I’ve seen people sell skincare products for hundreds and hundreds of pounds, and sometimes the hefty price tag makes you feel like you must be getting something really special for the money. But if you’re young with healthy skin and very few skin concerns, please save your money for when you hit your mid- to late-twenties. There are products that will do everything you need for your skin, and they won’t cost your thousands of pounds over the course of a year.

  1. Using more than one active every single day

 There are definitely benefits to using active ingredients like chemical exfoliators (these are often the alpha-hydroxy acids), retinoids, and vitamin C. Do you need to use all three every single day? Absolutely not. In fact, I would argue that until you hit your mid twenties you really don’t need to be spending money on an expensive retinoid product. Exfoliate once a week and use retinoids when appropriate every other day. If you find yourself lost in a ten-step skincare routine with lots of powerful ingredients, leaving your skin uncomfortable and often looking worse than it did before, it’s time to take a step back!

So after all of that, what would I recommend? Look - I am a huge fan of many cosmeceutical skincare brands, and there are great products out there that are worth spending some extra money on.

But if you’re still in your teenage years or early twenties, keep it simple and save your money. I tell people that they need to cleanse, hydrate and protect their skin. To that end I recommend you build your routine up in a few simple steps.

  1. Cleanser
  2. Antioxidant
  3. Moisturiser
  4. Sunscreen

You can pick up gorgeous cleansers at most pharmacies. I recommend brands like CeraVe or Cetaphil, which will protect your skin barrier and are beloved by many clinicians. 

I always recommend Clinisoothe+ as a wonderful all-in-one product for patients (it is a permanent part of my own skincare routine). It has the effect of acting as an antimicrobial while protecting your skin from a multitude of environmental pollutants. While your sunscreen will protect you from UV radiation, Clinisoothe+ will protect your skin from all the other multitude of stresses you will encounter. Like many people, I’m stuck underneath a mask most days, and it’s a great product to keep in your bag and spritz on your skin throughout the day to keep you feeling refreshed. 

Find a moisturiser that works for your skin type. For moisturisers, I have to recommend CeraVe again as a great option for hydrating.  Most importantly, find a sunscreen that is 50+ and broadspectrum. La-Roche Posay makes some great sunscreens, but the most important piece is that you are comfortable wearing a product (and will wear it!) every single day.

Try Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier, a gentle product to add to your skincare routine. Simply spritz your skin after cleansing and allow the product to soothe redness or irritation.

Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier  £14.95/100ml


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*Dr Emmaline Ashley BA (Biology), MCh (Surgery), MBBChBAO (Honours), PGCert (Clinical Dermatology) 

Dr Emmaline Ashley was born and raised in the United States, where she completed a science degree in Biology from the prestigious Carleton College, graduating magna cum laude with distinction (1st class honours). She then moved to Dublin, Ireland where she completed an honours degree in Medicine with University College Dublin School of Medicine and Medical Sciences. Dr Emmaline spent her first years of training as a junior doctor in London, then subsequently worked as a clinical lecturer and tutor in surgery. She has focused on extensive post-graduate training, including a Master of Surgery (Hons) with a research dissertation in plastic surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland and a Professional Certificate in Clinical Dermatology from University College Dublin. She is currently fulfilling her Level 7 Diploma in Clinical Aesthetic Injectable Therapies with Acquisition Aesthetics, the highest standard for aesthetic training available in the UK.

The culmination of this extensive education and training was the founding of her private aesthetics practice in Mayfair, London - Ashley Aesthetics. As part of her practice she runs her own educational platform on her website, The Aesthetics Edit, as well as writing extensively about skincare and medical aesthetics for numerous websites and publications. Finally, Dr Emmaline is delighted to have joined a permanent position as a Doctor of Facial Aesthetics at the DRVICTORIA clinic in Edinburgh.