Antonia Burrell on the do's and don't's of beautiful skin - and so much more #longread
She's the woman supermodels, celebs and princesses turn to when their skin is looking beyond rough, and with more than two decades of skin experience, I had to ask expert facialist Antonia Burrell what's really going on when it comes to our skin. With daily stressors causing a whole heap of issues for so many of us (in particular myself, my skin has taken a schizophrenic turn of late), I'm betting that you'll read every last word of Antonia's advice.This isn't the usual, 'drink eight cups of water a day,' kind of advice either.
Is there a specific diet or way of eating that you advise to people who want the best from their skin?
Supporting a stable pH in the blood is essential for skin health. I recommend eating a diet rich in alkaline foods which can help our bodies retain balance - both physically and mentally - which in turn works wonders for our complexion as unpredicted breakouts are kept to a minimum!
I recommend eating a 70 percent alkaline diet, however the emphasis has to be put on the joy you get from these simple upgrades. Piling your plate high with bright colours will in turn improve your wellbeing. Try alkaline-forming dark green veg, bright beets, blueberries and tomatoes - all packed with immune-boosting phytonutrients to keep your body and skin healthy.
What are the biggest day-to-day stressors our skin has to deal with?
It’s definitely oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a major cause of skin ageing, skin inflammation, skin allergies and skin problems. Oxidative stress (OS) occurs when the available supply of the body’s antioxidants is insufficient to handle and neutralise free radicals of different types. As the outermost barrier separating internal tissue from the environment, the skin is regularly exposed to UV radiation, pollution, synthetic ingredients, prescription medication, cigarette smoke and stress. The result is cell damage that can result in cellular mutations, tissue breakdown and immune compromise. We can’t get away from it as the source of free radicals is an unstable oxygen molecule that must find another electron to make itself complete. In order to do this, the free radical begins randomly bombarding the body’s cells, resulting in injury to the surrounding cell tissue and causing oxidative stress. It’s no wonder I’m seeing an increase in adult skin blemishes, allergic and sensitised skin!
In other words, free radicals are like little ghosts that try and destroy our healthy cells, only worse; when a free radical attacks a cell, it turns that cell into a free radical and then those two free radicals turn two more cells into free radicals and those four turn into four more and keep multiplying; this is known as cell mutation.
To counteract oxidative stress, the body produces an army of antioxidants to defend itself, so we must do all we can to rebuild antioxidant power up in the body through our diet, lifestyle and skincare regime.
If you could ban one 'bad beauty behaviour' overnight, what would it be?
NEVER sleep with your makeup on. It’s so important to take everything off at night to give the skin time to breathe and rejuvenate. It’s also important to take off moisturisers that contain SPF as they can become really sticky – a good way to do this is by deeply cleansing and exfoliating.
Tell me about your personal daily beauty routine - you have an amazing glow!
I double cleanse with my Natural Glow Cleansing Oil twice a day (look out for my review of this coming soon). I also exfoliate with my Luminous Light Polishing Powder every other day to remove dead cell build-up and promote new cell regeneration. Although on the oily side, my skin can also be dehydrated and sometimes I find dry patches developing during the day. To help keep my skin soft and supple, I use my Cream Supreme Facial Moisturiser twice a day, and also use a sweep of my Forest Dew Skin Conditioner that contains a French plant extract that hydrates the epidermis for eight times longer and deeper than hyaluronic acid. If I feel like indulging myself, I apply my Mask Supreme 7-in-1 – it delivers seven amazing skin benefits in just 10 minutes!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I usually wake around 6am and pop the kettle on for some hot water and lemon. I then make some breakfast of either fresh fruit and yogurt, or crumpets with fresh tomato, a poached egg and basil. I get to work around 8am in Marylebone, where my inbox is already pinging. I’ll often meet with my laboratory team to discuss new products. I bring a big salad from home to crunch on at my desk during the morning and I also chuck some rose petals into a cafetière of boiling water to drink through the day.
I like to get out of the office for lunch so I’ll usually take a brisk walk and then finish off my box of baby spinach with rocket, peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, feta, parsley and mint.
In the afternoons I’ll have various meetings with my suppliers, journalists and PR team to discuss product launches. I often pop to Whole Foods for a spinach juice: I don't want to feel sluggish. My diet has to keep me going through a high-energy day!
As a treat I like to have an early, protein-heavy dinner at Pizza East - my favourite is corn-fed chicken with broad beans, broccoli and spinach. I often work in the evenings too and speak at various beauty events.
I usually arrive home by around 10pm where I’ll have a camomile tea before bed, or fresh orange juice if I'm stressed and my body needs a dose of vitamin C.
Do you have a winding down/ready for sleep routine?
My favourite beauty ritual is to soak in a long, hot bath with some magnesium flakes, and mix myself up a salt scrub using sea or Himalayan pink salt, coconut oil and lavender and rosemary essential oils. I then massage this over my body, focusing on my feet, elbows and knees for silky soft skin. This definitely helps me to wind down.
Who are your fave Instagram accounts? Do you have any favourite bloggers?
I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and LOVE his Instagram feed for food inspiration. I also love fashion so I’ll keep a close eye on Vogue, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior for the latest trends. In terms of bloggers, I love londonbeautyqueen.com – she really knows her stuff when it comes to skincare and beauty!
What is your guilty pleasure, the thing you will always spend on, no matter what?
I will always spend on a cleanser as it’s one of the most important steps in any skincare routine. I’m always telling people that skincare is an investment and is as important as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The more time and effort you spend when you are younger, the better skin you will have in your later years. It’s just the same as maintaining a healthy diet in your younger years; you will be better off for it later in life!
With over two decades in the beauty industry, tell me one thing that you know for sure.
Cleansing is crucial! For me it’s the most important step in any skincare routine. It’s ideal for ‘taking off the day’; removing makeup, SPF, pollution and dust that sits on our skin and clogs our pores. It’s essential to ensure all makeup around the eye area is removed thoroughly, as any left over product will dry the skin. A thorough cleanse in areas such as the side of the nose and just above the chin are also important as these tend to produce more sweat and oil throughout the day, and gather more dead skin cells which will in turn block these pores and result in bumps under the skin or blackheads.
Do you have any favourite Antonia Burrell products? Let me know in the comments below!