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Your best skin ever in 2021 – guaranteed!

It's wellness month on Muddy so let's say goodbye to dry, flaky winter skin and Maskne. Sussex beauty expert Gemma Phelan, founder of The Urban Sanctuary, is here to get you glowing.

How’s your skin looking these days? Dull and flaky, with a sort of ruddy flush, and liberally speckled with ‘Maskne’? (That’s the delightful breakout on your chin and around your mouth due to friction from your ubiquitous face mask, in case you were wondering) If you’re anything like me, you’ll have put your skin through the wringer over Christmas and dread the sight of your visage on those endless Zooms.

I caught up with the lovely Gemma, founder of The Urban Sanctuary in Haywards Heath, the ultimate beauty destination, to find out how to get the glow in January and beyond. Water bottles at the ready, ladies, we’re going in!

Why do I always enter January looking like a raddled old hag? Am I just dehydrated from overdoing it at Christmas?

Probably!! I do find many people haven’t tweaked their routine for the winter months, combine this with the Christmas period and we don’t stand a chance of getting the January glow. Over Christmas an increase in two of skins least favourite things , alcohol and sugar both can really affect it. Alcohol dehydrates your skin, combine this with a slapdash evening routine after one too many – its never great. All those extra chocolates and sweets over Christmas really don’t help either as too much sugar is an invite for wrinkles and it breaks down collagen.

What are the other common skincare issues over winter?

It varies for everyone but as a general rule during the winter months your skin will become drier and show signs of dehydration. The main reasons are harsher weather and central heating, both of which can wreak havoc on your skin. This is the time to switch things up a bit, rarely is your summer skin routine enough for the winter. If you need more layers of clothing you also need more layers of skincare or a richer moisturiser! Try adding in a skin oil, a good hyaluronic acid serum and look for moisturisers containing ceramides.

What’s the most important thing I can do to improve my skin….today?

Keep it hydrated.

This week?

Start to develop a good consistent morning and evening routine – and stick to it. I always like to take some time out once a week to apply a face mask and relax, treat it like a proper at-home facial.

And this year?

In the long term, try to seek professional advice on your skin and a good routine for you. There is a huge amount of fantastic advice online but remember building a relationship with a therapist who understands your skin will really help get you the results you want. This can include in salon treatments, and things you can easily maintain at home. As well as finding the perfect routine that your skin loves, another long term habit has to be finishing your morning routine with an SPF – 365 days a year.

I’m always reading I need to drink more water, is it that important? If so, how much should I be drinking to get that dewy glow?

Absolutely, we should be drinking 2-3 litres of water a day. It won’t all go directly to the skin, but it will help keep your entire body healthy and hydrated which will show in your skin. Protecting your skin topically is also needed to get the glow and prevent water loss which can cause issues with your skin.

What’s going to be the must-have skin essential for 2021?

I think skincare all round is going to be a huge focus in 2021, we have the many Zoom calls to thank for that and the dreaded ‘Maskne’ still causing issues for so many. When I was back in the salon between lookdowns more and more clients were requesting advice, and saying sitting on zoom made them study their skin more than usual. I think people educating themselves about their skin and things like the double cleanse in the evening will become the new normal. I also think skincare and collagen supplements will increase in popularity because of the known benefits of treating your skin from the inside, as well as creating fantastic results. When salons are back open I think the advanced skin treatments and multiple “tweakments” and injectables available will continue to rise in popularity.

Tell us a bit about you – your background and your philosophy on beauty?

I started my beauty career nearly 20 years ago and I can honestly say I feel blessed to still do a job that I love. Its so rewarding in so many ways from helping people improve skin issues to helping them have a much-needed moment of calm. Self-care has become so important, especially recently and its great to see people taking time for themselves. It’s something I’ve always believed in as for me beauty is all about looking after your skin, your mind and your body for overall wellness.

I started the Urban Sanctuary nine years ago after expanding from a one room set up in a local osteopath and health clinic, I started with three treatment rooms and one member of staff, its since grown more than I could ever imagined to now having ten treatment rooms and a team of 24. The team are fantastic and I love working alongside them everyday still doing treatments.. the passion is still there for me.

Tell us all about your bespoke range of products at The Urban Sanctuary.

Our very own product line launched in January 2020. It was created off the back of me wanting to offer the very best to our clients in the salon and really understanding the whole process from start to finish. I really wanted to bring back the luxury feel by creating something memorable for our clients and the enjoyment of using a product you love. The Urban Sanctuary range of natural products are produced in Dorset using artisan methods of production – traditional methods such as melting, blending and pouring are all done by hand. I loved being part of the process from start to finish and learning where the ingredients came from, many are fair trade and from small producers all over the world. The range is used in many of our treatments in the salon and includes body scrubs, butters, oils and more recently the addition of a facial cleansing balm and lip balm.

What’s your must-read beauty bible?

You should see my bookshelf, I have so many books on skincare and beauty! If I was to pick one it would have to be The Ultimate No Nonsense Guide to Skincare by Caroline Hirons. Its really relatable and gives great advice on developing good skincare habits and ingredients to look out for when choosing your products.

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