Skin diaries of a cosmetic and surgical dermatologist

While the word ‘routine’ has boring undertones – like being stuck in a career rut or a mind-numbing relationship – it’s actually really important when it comes to looking after your skin. A binge approach to skin care doesn’t have the staying power to do you any good, unfortunately. So if you’re curious about how a dermatologist takes care of their skin and themselves (in this case me!), then read on.  


I use all my own products because they contain clinical strengths of all the active ingredients I need to boost my skin’s immunity, fade pigmentation, combat acne and keep my skin young. Before I head out for the day, I cleanse my face with a few pumps of my Concentrated Cleanser and then step into the shower to wash it off. I towel dry my skin and apply my Concentrated Clarifier by using the eye dropper on my forehead, cheeks and chin. I then apply my Concentrated Moisturiser.


Like my skincare, I keep my makeup routine simple. If I know I won’t be out in the sun, for example, when I’m doing a press interview or I’m in the clinic, I use a Rae Morris brush to apply Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation.

Dr Natasha Cook makeup image

 If I know I’ll be in the sun, like on the weekend, I apply Shisheido sunscreen 50+ broad spectrum sunscreen. I like sunscreens that contain physical sunscreen blocking agents zinc +/- titanium dioxide. The downside is they can appear a little white on the skin, but the protection is so much better and there’s the benefit of no risk of allergic reactions. I use a teaspoon of cream on my face and neck. I wait five minutes for it absorb and then I put on a second layer.

Once dried, I use a CC cream with SPF 50+ (another zinc and titanium dioxide sunscreen) it’s called Your Skin But Better by IT Cosmetics. It evens out the whitening from the sunscreen and gives me a little bit of colour. I don’t like to rely on a tinted face SPF moisturiser product for protection though. I believe these types of products are best used in a layering approach over a sunscreen-specific product. Before I leave the house, I also apply sunscreen on my hands and arms – especially if I’m driving because UVA rays penetrate glass. Better still, I’ve recently added driving gloves and a long sleeved shirt into the glove box with a bottle of sunscreen.


I boil two organic eggs and have them with one piece of grain bread with organic butter and avocado for good fats. I pan fry tomatoes because they’re a great source of lycopene (a powerful anti-oxidant offering skin benefits that’s released in cooked tomatoes). I drink two cups of coffee a day. I make my first at home: a flat white coffee using full cream milk and no sugar. I get my second at The Rusty Rabbit, a café just up the road from the clinic. 


I like to take a pre-prepared cooked lunch to work. Usually it’s roast chicken and salad with pan fried vegetables: zucchini, capsicum, leak and tomatoes with garlic, olive oil and a hint of chilli. If I haven’t brought lunch, we order salmon and tuna sashimi and tuna rolls. For dinner I choose from fillet steak, lamb cutlets, chicken or fish – my favourites are John Dory, perch and snapper. I wrap the fish, along with lemon juice and butter, in foil and place it in the oven for a few minutes. I also eat lots of broccoli!


If you haven’t noticed, I’m all about antioxidants and anti-ageing! Green tea is rich in catechins (a disease-fighting flavonoid and antioxidant beneficial for protecting the body – and skin – from damage due to free radicals), so I drink four cups a day. I use Twinings’ green tea and mint with Pukka’s organic mint matcha green tea (that’s right – two teabags in one mug). Mint softens the bitterness of the green tea. I snack on organic activated almond and activated walnuts. I see over 25 patients a day, so I need brain food!

Dr Natasha Cook green tea image


I’ve always exercised for body strength, fitness, anti-ageing, posture and enjoyment. It’s good to have an exercise routine, like you should with skin care – our skin actually has its own metabolic system, just like our muscles. Around three times a week, I get up at 6am and go to the gym where I do a weight session to maintain core strength, flexibility and muscle tone. I’m on my feet all day so I don’t need much cardio. 

On the weekend, I love to ride my horses. I call it “vertical mobile pilates” because it works my glutes, abductors and abs (muscles you forget exist!).


If you’re someone that enjoys intensive exercise, it’s really important to keep your skin as cool as possible to minimise redness and flushing. Flushing can increase the chance of rosacea or permanent blotchiness on the face. Before you work out, wet a face washer, put it in freezer for a few minutes, and then take it with you in a zip lock bag. Keep it around your neck and use it on your face.


It’s important to remember that fabric is the best protection, so cover up. I keep hats and scarves in my car because I walk quite a lot. You’ll often find me doing the Bondi to Bronte walk or walking in Centennial Park. I wear a hat, scarf, and high-necked top if I’m outside.


I cleanse, clarify then illuminate to keep my skin tone even. (My new Illuminator product will be available to buy in February – I can’t wait to share it with you!) Lastly, I use my Concentrated Hydration+.


I believe there’s a place for vitamins in supporting healthy skin. I take Mediherb’s Curcuma (turmeric), BioCeutical’s CoQ10, Mega B supplement by Eagle, Eagle’s Beta A-C tablets and Vitamin D 1000 IU, and Metagenics’ MetaPure EPA Fish Oil (two to four daily).


For the last seven years, I’ve practiced transcendental meditation. It’s been life-changing. I do it at home for 20 minutes every morning and night; it rewires my brain and sets me up for the day ahead. Meditation changes my response to situations: it helps me to gain clarity, and to respond instead of react. Headspace is great mobile app for people who want to get started with meditation. 


The biggest myth is that you need to use a cleanser that leaves your skin feeling tight and squeaky clean. This sort of cleanser actually takes out too much oil from your skin, leaving it dry, and could actually increase acne. The second misconception – sorry, I couldn’t choose just one – is that you may use the sunscreen that’s in your makeup only. Most makeup simply won’t offer you adequate sun protection, and especially not in the small quantities that you apply it.


Routine is everything. Feed and nourish your skin daily with the right foods, supplements and skincare.