Los Angeles-based facialist Melanie Grant had a very-VIP client write the preface to her book The Modern Guide to Skin Health—longtime client Victoria Beckham. “Melanie has established herself as one of the world’s leading skincare experts,” Beckham shares in the preface, crediting her two decades of working with skin as part of her expertise.
Here are some of her top tips, distilled from her book or from the “Skin School” section on her website.
Choose an exfoliant that suit your skin type
“Regular exfoliation (two to three times a week) is essential to maintain a healthy, functional skin barrier,” Grant says. Chemical exfoliants, particularly alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid, are best for combination skin. For oily, congested skin, physical exfoliants should be avoided. Instead? A gentle chemical exfoliant such as beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) and poly-hydroxy acids (PHAs) to penetrate deep into the dermis and remove all impurities. For those with sensitive skin, try a PHA like gluconolactone and lactobionic acid, which also have moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties and are less irritating. For dry skin, finally, the ideal is to turn to the gentlest formulas of chemical exfoliants once or twice a week, which don’t strip the skin. “I recommend a lactic acid-based product, as it is antimicrobial and one of the gentlest forms of AHA.”
Go easy on the active ingredients
One of Melanie’s credos when it comes to skincare is less is more. “Although I encourage the use of active ingredients, they must be handled with care. They should always be introduced in low doses, allowing the skin to gradually build up a tolerance.” How do you go about it? Add only one acid at a time to your skincare routine, and wait a month (the time it takes for the skin to renew itself naturally) before introducing other active products. At first, use a very low dose of product, just once or twice a week, before gradually moving on to more frequent use after a few weeks, or even months.
Put vitamin C under your SPF
The reason? Vitamin C increases the effectiveness of sun protection tenfold. Studies have shown that using the powerful antioxidant vitamin C protects the skin against the free radicals produced by the sun’s rays. If there’s one point on which Melanie is adamant, it’s the importance of using SPF every day, summer and winter alike. A hybrid makeup product that contains an SPF (think: foundations), is not enough. “If you only do one thing for your skin, wear sunscreen,” she says. It’s actually an integral part of the “anti-aging starter pack” routine she recommends: retinol, SPF, and LED Therapy. “Sun protection should be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going out, and need to be reapplied during the day, since their protection time is generally 4 hours.”
The one beauty tool you need
If there’s one tool she recommends having at home, it’s an LED mask. “They help boost collagen synthesis, hydration, heal the skin, diminish imperfections… LED therapy works wonders on all skin types and issues.” The best thing is to invest in a really good device and use it 2 to 3 times a week, in addition to occasional institute treatments with a more powerful LED machine. “There are three types of LED treatment: red light, white light, and blue light. Each light penetrates the complexion at a different frequency, allowing specific skin problems to be targeted and treated in different ways,” she explains. “Red light increases cellular energy to accelerate repair and renewal, stimulate collagen synthesis, increase hydration, and improve circulation to reverse damage. Red light is ideal for restoring skin vitality and radiance. White light targets deeper cells to trigger the healing process, calm redness and irritation, reduce pigmentation, and promote skin health. I like to combine it with red light for rejuvenating effects. Blue light destroys acne-causing bacteria and improves skin clarity while soothing and reducing skin redness and inflammation.”
The spa treatment you can easily do a home
Applying thin slices fresh from the fridge to the area around the eyes is an effective grandmother’s remedy for “deflating and rehydrating” the area. It also provides a moment of relaxation. “The cucumber remedy for dark circles is no joke. When applied cold, it helps contract the blood vessels that cause pigmentation. As long as you leave it on for at least 10 minutes. If you’ve run out of cucumber, tea bags soaked in hot water and placed in the fridge (minimum 10 minutes) is also an effective concealer, since the caffeine promises a fresh, awakened look.”