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Spring feature: Skincare Q&A with Dr. Katerina Steventon

This week, The Red Tree is delighted to feature an illuminating view on skincare for Spring and Summer, put together by Dr. Katerina Steventon (MSc. Phd.). Originally published in the Hull Daily Mail (20th May 2014), this article features practical tips and tricks on effective cleansing. Dr. Stevenson works with several major companies advising on skincare trends. For more on Dr. Steventon, visit

What is the best way to cleanse my face in spring and summer months?

We can all get a bit stuck in a rut with skin care – sticking to one brand of our favourite cleanser – but people don’t realise that we should adapt our cleansing regime as the seasons change. Good cleansing is the first step in any skin care routine that maintains healthy skin. All cleansing product types remove dirt and debris but efficient cleansing should follow seasonal patterns.

Change balms for a light gentle cleanser

The British like convenience and 7 in 10 are reported to use wet cleansing wipes on a regular basis. Wipes are very handy when travelling but insufficient for daily cleansing that should remove shedding skin layers, sweat and sebum that form the so-called “acid skin mantle”. Healthy skin has a strong barrier function that can be affected in spring – as a result of the skin adapting to changes in temperature and humidity. This manifests as simultaneous dry and oily patches. Rich melting cleansing balm – like the nation’s favourite Cleanse & Polish from Liz Earle – should be replaced by a mild facial wash in spring and summer months. Mild facial washes are usually light and non-foaming product based on mild surfactants – such as cocamidopropyl betaine and derivatives of glucosides – and often enhanced with moisturising ingredients – like plant extracts or glycerin – that are particularly beneficial to facial skin. Foaming facial cleansers containing sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) are harsh for facial skin, weaken skin barrier and can cause long-term damage.

Cleansing by skin type

Gentle cleansing is good for all skin types. Dry to mature skin types are an exception to the seasonal change rule, if they feel comforted by a rich texture or dislike washing with water. More than a half of European women assess their skin type as sensitive, particularly during the summer. Sensitivity is an abnormal sensory response to skincare – such as stinging, itching and burning – in the absence of visible signs of skin irritation.

Sensitive skin is typically fairly dry with low resistance to alkaline washes. People with sensitive skin can experience higher vasodilation and increased penetration of ingredients due to impaired skin barrier. For sensitive and also for oily skin prone to spots and blemishes, non-alkaline, non-irritating facial washes based on propylene glycol are highly recommended.

Cleanse with a massage and exfoliation

Many women use hot flannels, muslin cloths or mildly abrasive sponges, brushes and mitts to remove the cleanser and gently exfoliate uneven and congested skin areas. Alternatively, devices such as the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System cleanse effectively and deeply without abrasion and provide also gentle micro-massage. They are designed to remove makeup, cleanse and exfoliate but also to massage, stimulate blood and lymphatic flow, decrease puffiness and promote skin regeneration.

Both excessive and inadequate cleansing is bad for our facial skin. It is important to find the right facial cleanser with fragrance we like and use it twice a day with lukewarm rather than hot water. Skin cleansers allow us to start and end a day well, maintain our skin healthy and contribute to our sense of wellbeing.

Dr Katerina Steventon runs a private skincare practice and provides personalised skincare consultations and treatments in Beverley. As a member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (SCS UK) and British Association of Beauty Therapists and Cosmetologists (BABTAC), she combines her scientific expertise and clinical skills to specialise in skin ageing and difficult to treat skin types. She also writes a regular column for Cosmetics & Toiletries.

The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.

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