A FRIEND visited from the country this weekend and claimed to have blown dirty snot into a tissue after spending just two days in London. Like most long-term Londoners, I’m in denial about black phlegm, but she had a point. Living between the office, the Tube, the fumes of the street and the boozy, salt-and-sugar filled bubble of post-work revelry is like slowly beating your skin, lungs, hair and teeth. Add in the stress of a high-pressure job and you start to realise why you look a bit worse for wear. But a bit of common sense, an appreciation of a good diet, and savvy product selection can help carve off the years of wear and tear from your face.
Dr Talib Nigma, a naturopathic doctor at the Bowskill Clinic, says ingesting too much carbohydrate is treacherous for skin. “What happens in your gut will show up on your skin,” she says. Bad gut bacteria feed on carbohydrates (a form of sugar) and multiply. They then take over, causing malabsorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that then weakens the skin (the largest organ in the body) and causes breakouts. “Sugar is the worst,” says Dr Nigma. “It really feeds the bad bacteria, spikes your insulin levels, and makes you far more prone to acne and pimples.” COR products such as the silver anytime moisturiser (right), use silver, an anti–bacterial agent that helps banish spots and pimples. This man-specific one contains a special molecule that jump-starts collagen and elastin development, just the processes damaged by bad diet. £100, www.glowgetter.co.uk.
Because it’s so thin, the skin under the eyes is the first to show inflammation, which is the body’s way of dealing with problems: toxins, injury and infection. Again, an excess of carbs and sugar in the diet can cause puffy circles, as the gut does not have the enzymes to process all that sugar efficiently. As it sits and foments in the intestine, crucial nutrients are prevented from entering your blood stream. “People with bags under the eyes also tend to eat too many unhealthy foods. The depletion in vitamins and minerals from eating too much sugar and carbs creates allergenic look under the eyes,” says Dr Nigma. To tackle the grey colour, and any other facial blemishes, your best bet is YSL’s Touche Eclat for Men, which is a fragrance-free concealer pen perfect for post-bender bags. £23, Boots. For long-term use, try the Refinery’s gorgeous aloe vera-rich anti-inflammatory gel. £25, www.the-refinery.com.
Alcohol is the big culprit here. Cut down on this most dehydrating – and toxic – of substances and that redness in the face and eyes will go away. Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, says: “Alcohol dilates the small blood vessels in the skin, which can make it appear flushed. Repeated reddening in this manner can also lead to thread veins. Alcohol also causes the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the eye to widen, making them more visible and resulting in bloodshot eyes.” Of course, another big reddener is poor shaving care – have you spent years hacking at your face with a blade, unassisted by good, soothing balm? No wonder your skin looks a bit uneven. Help it along with Tom Ford’s After Shave Balm, a soothing mixture of citrus, grains, and amberwood that leaves you soft and fragrant. £25, Selfridges.
Dr Nigma blames thinning hair (as opposed to male-pattern hereditary baldness) on a lack of iron and deficiency in magnesium and zinc, nutrients found in foods such as leafy greens and oily fish. “A lot of us don’t consume good fats which are necessary for the health of the hair and to balance hormones,” she says. (Hormones regulate hair growth.) Stress is another major factor affecting hair thinning and loss: adrenal glands – your stress glands – are powered by vitamins C and B5, so overworked adrenals soak up your store of those goodies, which are vital for hair health. But apart from eating a healthier diet and trying to control stress, you can bolster your hair with a product such as American?Crew. It contains glycerin, which helps hair retain water, swelling each strand so it appears thicker. Tea tree and coconut oils lend softness and sheen. £9.95, www.carterandbond.com
Years of client lunches fuelled by Bordeaux, fags if you smoke and coffee to rouse you after a big night will have probably have taken a toll on your teeth. So long as they’re just superficial surface stains, you can make tracks on them at home with a good whitener. Some, though, cannot be removed by a simple scale and polish and you’ll need a prophyflex or airflow stain removal treatment, where a jet of compressed air, water and fine sodium bicarbonate particles are fired under high pressure at the surface of the teeth. Our pick of the bunch for at-home whitening is Hollywood?Smile, an inexpensive but effective tooth polish with a “micro-polishing” system and “micro-shine” pearls. Tiny particles lift stains and plaque from the enamel surface: the product claims to make your teeth two shades whiter in three weeks. £4.99 at all major pharmacists