6 Ways Melbourne Is Wrecking Your Skin (and How to Fix It)
Melbourne girls may be big into fashion but they're also into beauty. (Want proof? Peep these 5 chic hairstyles every Melbournite knows.) The New York to Sydney's L.A., this city is all about understated polish with a focus on quality and condition. While you'll certainly find as many statement lips and smoky eyes here as anywhere else, Melbourne is a place where flawless skin seems to be a given. Keen to learn the secrets of Victorian women, we reached out to Dermal therapist, James Vivian of The Cosmeceutical Curator for his hot tips. Vivian says that despite the glowing complexions that abound, living in a 3000 postcode doesn't guarantee blemish-free perfection. In fact, it can work against it. From Melbourne's world-class coffee culture to its unpredictable weather, keep reading for the DL on how this city could be wrecking your skin.
Melbourne's coffee culture is a delight for the tastebuds but not so much for the face. Excessive caffeine consumption can cause dehydration which shows up as fine lines and dullness. "Symptomatically different from dry skin, dehydrated skins feel tight deep within the skin, regardless of how much moisturiser you use," says Vivian. Vivian says adequate water levels are essential for keeping the skin looking hydrated in addition to transporting essential vitamins and nutrients into and throughout the skin. "In addition, coffee is often accompanied by baked goods which increases the prospect of glycation and other sugar related-skin issues." Yikes. Vivian recommends decreasing caffeine consumption by substituting with decaffeinated options, and replenishing water levels immediately following caffeine consumption. Skincare-wise, it's a good idea to layer a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid underneath your moisturiser to boost water levels. "A lactic acid-based exfoliant can also help activate natural water levels in the skin to reduce the appearance of dehydration," says Vivian.
Melbournites are used to embracing four seasons in one day (there's a reason they all know how to layer like pros), but inconsistent weather can confuse the skin. Vivian says this can make it difficult to adequately choose products to protect your face for the day ahead: "In addition, a reliance on heaters and air-conditioners can confuse and dry-out the skin." You'll know if inconsistent temperatures are affecting your skin if it appears oily underneath makeup, flaky, sensitised, congested or dehydrated. Vivian's advice? Check the weather daily. "Whilst not always reliable, especially in Melbourne, try to look ahead at forecast and prepare the skin accordingly." Depending on your skin this may mean switching between two different moisturisers (something sheer as well as a richer formula), or skipping your usual mattifying primer on chilly days. To further minimise dehydration, no matter the weather, avoid climate control as much as possible in the car and at work.
Whether it's soft sand running at St Kilda Beach or bootcamp in Albert Park, outdoor exercise is often the Melbourne girl's workout of choice. (Especially when the weather's playing nice.) Spending extended periods of time outside can result in sun damage—especially if you're sweating off your sunscreen. "This can accelerate skin ageing and heighten the risk of skin cancers," says Vivian. Symptoms include; hyperpigmentation (e.g. sun spots and darkened freckles), uneven texture, redness and dilated capillaries. Not cute. Vivian suggests regulating the amount of time you spend exercising outdoors, and ensuring you apply waterproof sunscreen *and* antioxidant protection when you do. To improve existing symptoms, you're looking at in-clinic treatments like peels, IPL and resurfacing procedures as well as targeted cosmeceutical homecare. Vivian stresses that medical intervention is required for all skin cancers and regular skin checks are recommended.
Think Sydneysiders girls are the only ones with a juice detox habit? Not so. Melbourne girls are also big fans which makes them prone to skin freak outs caused by aggressive detoxification too. During a cleanse, toxins are excreted via the skin which can manifest as breakouts and rashes. "Juice detoxing can yield magnificent results for both skin and body, however, over-detoxification and temporary side-effects can make skin look worse before it gets better," says Vivian. As these symptoms can be part of the detox process, it can be tricky to prevent them, and for this reason Vivian says it's preferable to keep your toxic load low 24/7 rather than embarking on intense cleanses. Treat symptoms as they arise, and consider undergoing a corresponding 'skin detox' by way of a makeup cleanse or in-clinic treatment. Adds Vivian: "Don't put too much pressure on the body by way of over-detoxication and always consult a professional before undertaking a cleanse."
Vivian calls Melbourne a "culinary epicentre" but we'd probably describe it as "the city in which we wear elasticated waistbands". Locals love eating out, and all that top-notch nosh can cause more than just weight gain. "With a limitless amount of restaurants to experience—and new venues opening almost weekly—the state of your complexion can be a reminder of too many dairy-, sugar-, spice-, and gluten-loaded foods consumed," says Vivian. Eating-out also has a close relationship with alcohol (more on that below). If you find yourself with puffy skin, blemishes, dark circles or redness, you may want to consider getting checked for a food intolerance. "Generally, if the body doesn’t like something you eat, it will creae a negative response within 72-hours of consumption," says Vivian. Food intolerances can be hard to isolate, however limiting potential trigger foods can prevent reactions. "If you have no plans to stop eating these foods, work with a skin therapist to target the symptoms until you do stop," says Vivian. Adding: "As therapists we appreciate there are more important things in life than your skin, however in this instance the skin can be a potential looking glass into the health of the body and should be considered as a motivator in making some changes."
Whatever your feelings on Sydney's lock out laws, they potentially have one upside in that they force a reduction in inflammation caused by boozing. On the flip-side, Melbourne's prolonged drinking hours can be bad news for anyone seeking glowy skin. "Lengthy drinking sessions flood the body with toxins and cause dehydration," says Vivian. "The foods often consumed to assist the next day's hangover aren’t that great for the skin either..." (Fact: cheeseburgers aren't exactly a known skin food.) Excessive alcohol consumption can result in a condition known as "wine face", marked by dehydration-induced fine lines and wrinkles, and dark circles under the eyes. Prevention is better than cure, with Vivian recommending limiting both quantity of alcohol as well as the length of time spent imbibing. "Maintaining hydration levels whilst drinking can also help counteract the physical effects of alcohol," says Vivian. Consider making most weekdays alcohol-free, and opt for sugar-free mixers (such as mineral water) when you do drink. Vivian also stresses that properly removing makeup before you hit the pillow is crucial in keeping your complexion clear.