Dr Natasha Cooks 7 MUSTS for your best skin!

1. What are the latest exciting ingredients being used in skincare on the market?

    One of the latest ingredients is niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3. Pioneering Australian research back in the early 2000’s demonstrated this to be effective at preventing immune depletion of the skin when going out in the sun. When you go out in the sun, UVB causes your immune cells of the skin (the Langerhans cell) to run away and escape into the blood stream.

    This leaves you immuno-deficient or susceptible to getting skin cancers and the ageing effects of sun exposure.

    Wearing niacinamide in 5% or more concentrations preserves the immune cells in your skin, helping protect the skin from sun cancer and sun damage.

    There has been a plethora of research since showing that niacinamide is a true multi-tasking dermatological active ingredient. 

    It has comparative effects to topical antibiotics in helping acne.  It reduces sebum output.

    Helpful for sensitive skin by increasing ceramides levels, one of the key natural moisturising factors in the skin that contributes to strengthening the epidermal barrier and thereby supporting high functioning skin and reducing sensitivity. Its anti-inflammatory effect helps rosacea prone skin.

    It has been shown to even pigmentation and skin tone as it reduces the transfer of pigment/melanin from the pigment production cell, the melanocyte to the surrounding skin cells (the keratinocytes).

    It has a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect, so helpful in the prevention of skin ageing skin.

    Orally, it has been used internationally amongst dermatologists to treat a number of inflammatory, blistering diseases. Recent articles based on ten year studies published in international dermatology journals demonstrate a powerful effect in reducing the number/incidences of skin cancers when taken in oral doses of 500mg twice a day. This is now becoming mainstream treatment in transplant patients who get excess skin cancers due to immunosuppression. Oral Vitamin B3 slows down and prevents the skin cancers occurring.

    With such powerful evidence it’s an essential ingredients in skin care products. 

    Best applied in concentrations between 5-10% daily.

    It is extremely stable, unlike other dermatological vitamins and penetrates readily.


    2. Should you wear sunscreen even in winter and what are the best types and how much should you apply?

    Yes yes yes!!!

    You still get damage in the winter sun, in fact potentially more as you stay out longer as it is not so hot!

    I’m a fan of physical blockers, so zinc and titanium dioxide based sunscreens are my favorites. Some of these products are still a little whitening on the skin BUT technology is slowly improving. DON’T just rely on a make up or moisturizer with SPF.

    We subconsciously apply these FAR too lightly and in fact end up getting protection equivalent to about 25% of what is on the label.

    So invest in a sunscreen specific product. Apply after moisturising. Then put your SPF boosted make up product over the top.

    My rule is 2 applications, every 2 hours, if you are actively outdoors. One teaspoon to the face and neck.

    DON’T forget the hands, especially when driving. Or better still invest in some fab driving gloves.

    The other area not to under estimate getting damaged in winter is the décolletage. In this area prevention goes a long way. NEVER forget to add some sunscreen here!!!


    3.Should you wear an eye cream or would a normal moisturiser do?

    I am not a fan of eye creams.

    Mind you, before I studied dermatology, I was “lead” to believe I needed a separate product and believed every beauty counter rep I met and invested heavily, with money I didn’t have to spare. They always seem to cost so much more, for so much less??

    So, I did a lot of research whilst studying dermatology into facial anatomy, skin biology and physiology.

    Well, I discovered the skin around the eyes is fundamentally the same as the skin on your face except its thinner!

    It creases more readily due to the repetitive actions of the eye muscle known as the orbicularis oculi and the fact that it is thinner therefore more susceptible to creasing.

     Using an enriched moisturizer with good quality humectants (water binders) occlusives and emollients should suffice. A well formulated rich night cream can double up as an eye cream.  Saves time as well.  I like my products to be multi-purposeful. Hence, why I don’t like SPF in moisturisers as it limits them for night time use.


    Another dispelling myth is a lot of actives CAN be used around the eyes.

    Use your serums with actives like AHA/BHA and Vit B and C under your enriched mosituriser at night. The AHA/BHA and vitamins will do all the repair and rejuvenating work while the enriched moisturiser over the top will plump up and rebuild the epidermis.

    4. Should you wear a neck cream as well?

    See above for eye cream!

    More important to protect from the sun with a good SPF and scarves, both in summer and winter. Invest that cash into a few Alexander Macqueen scarves. Dresses up an outfit and is the best anti ageing treatment for your neck and chest!

    If you’ve got damage, first even out the colour and boost the collagen with some BBL treatments. Then look at skin tightening technology like radiofrequency.

    5. Do you need to wear a toner?

    No.  I’d rather see clients invest in serums that contain the right ingredients in bioavailable percentages to deliver real results.

    Think your exfoliating cell renewing acids (AHA / BHA). Collagen stimulating and skin brightening vitamins (B3, C, Retinol). One morning, one night. After cleansing and before moisturising.

    Get more bang out of your routine by replacing your toner with these. Cut down on the steps and the clutter.

    6. What are the key skincare products you need to use during winter?

    • A gentle hydrating cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin.

    Your skin is already struggling with moisture loss from low humidity and overheating in air conditioning. Do your skin a favour and cleanse with out stripping. One that also hydrates your skin. Look for glycerin in it.

    • Moisturise! Moisturise! Moisturise!

    You will probably find you will need a more enriched nourishing moisturiser than in summer due to the lower humidity and over heating. That’s why I’m not a big believer in skin type, as our “type” literally changes with the weather. If we are in a humid environment like Singapore we need a lighter moisturiser, but if we are in the Alps in winter we are dry, needing heavier moisturisers that contain more humectants (moisture/water binding ingredients, think glycerin, hyaluronic acid), Occlusives (things that stop water and moisture loss).

    • Don’t forget body skin. Oil up - literally. In the bath or shower, locking moisture in.

    If your skin is feeling dry and sensitive, combat with a soothing Vit B3/niacinimde serum, under your enriched moisturiser.

    Skin changes in winter. In fact, it changes constantly depending on the weather. That’s why I challenge the notion of “skin type” as its not fixed. You need skin care that works with you and the weather! 

    • Oh and always, sunscreen please.

    7. What do you see as the future of skincare?

    1. Better sunscreens!

    Less reactive, more elegant and feeling like your wearing nothing.

    1. Understanding active ingredients and their pathways at a cellular level.

    Topical ingredients that work on the cellular ageing mechanism. Just like oral resveratrol (the active anti ageing ingredient found in red wine) it works on slowing down the cell ageing cycle, finding topical ingredients that do the same. (Topical resveratrol DOES NOT work by the way. To get it into the right concentration, so it would be bioavailable to work the cream would be red!).

    New vitamins (like the B3 story) that we discover have a plethora of skin worthy benefits.

    Oral agents that assist in sun protection, boosting your immune system while minimizing burning.


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