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If you’ve been following along here for a while, you already know that I believe that putting goodness into our bodies means getting goodness out of them, and I try to live by that adage as broadly as possible in all areas of life, which means skincare too.
So I couldn’t think of a better fit to collaborate on my skincare journey with than the amazing and innovative team at Dermastore®, and I’m so excited to share my experience with you all.
Here’s a little more information on the Dermastore® story and their journey to becoming South Africa’s one-stop-shop for premium skincare solutions.
Dermastore® is an online skincare boutique founded by Dr Ian Webster and Greg Webster in early 2015. I recently got to chat to Greg (Ian’s son and Dermastore co-founder) about some of the behind-the-scenes and I was blown away by his passion for intelligent, holistic skincare solutions that are built on brands that epitomise integrity, top science and measurable results.
Dermastore® offers some of the best and most effective Dermatologist-endorsed cosmeceuticals in the world, and you can feel from your very first interaction with their team that their unwavering measurement of success is the well-being and satisfaction of their customers – the bedrock upon which their brand has been built.
Here’s a little more on Dr Webster
A visionary and innovator, Dr Webster underwent post-graduate training in laser surgery at Harvard Medical School, becoming the first skin laser specialist in South Africa. He then became the first skin specialist (and medical practitioner) to develop an online cosmeceutical store in South Africa.
His belief in evidence-based medicine and products have helped him to build long term relationships with his patients from all over South Africa and around the world, many of them spanning the number of years that he has been in practice.
Greg on Dermastore’s brand philosophy
“Access to Dermatologist-vetted skincare advice online, let alone products, wasn’t a thing in South Africa when we started. You could book an appointment with your Dermatologist for an annual check-up, but they’re using that 15 minutes to look out for serious things like skin cancers and not what everyday skincare you’re using. Skincare therapists and clinics typically stock a smaller range of items, so you can be limited off the starting block. You could go to a beauty counter at your local shopping mall, but you likely felt ‘sold to’ more than you felt empowered”, says Greg.
Dermastore® was founded out of a lead-principle to provide consistent, caring and sound skincare advice – for them, sales are considered a bi-product of a model he describes as ‘caring, conversational commerce’, which is supported by a team of highly-trained therapists who interact directly with customer throughout the working day via live chat on the website. This is a level of skincare support that did not exist before Dermastore’s time.
“An educated customer ultimately makes better buying decisions, which in turn leads to better outcomes – it’s a perpetual win-win. This is what fuels us as a team, we hear of transformative experiences from our customers literally every single day.”
Dermastore® has matured into the fortunate position where brands from around the world approach them for a listing opportunity. That said, it’s not an easy process getting listed as a brand on the platform.
“We won’t stock anything we don’t love using and can’t 100% get behind ourselves. We test a lot of products, which has made us pretty discerning – skincare sommeliers one could say 🙂 I feel like I spend my life writing rejection emails, but it comes with the territory of being clear-minded about a vision – our customers only deserve the best of the best.”
My Journey So far (And What You Can Expect from Yours)
Curated skincare products
My focus has been on sensitive skin + anti-ageing (yikes!), so my whole regime has been meticulously crafted around that, and I’ve honestly been completely blown away by the effectiveness of the products so far. It might seem trite to use the words ‘life changing’ around skincare, but that’s exactly how I would sum it up.
Throughout our conversations, I have felt empowered with new knowledge about my skin and skincare routine, rather than totally overwhelmed.
Off-the-Charts Customer Support
The Dermastore® team hand-holds you through the entire process of assessment, product selection, use and long-term planning, which makes it all a lot less daunting, and which of course also means better results.
Dermastore’s Approach to my Skincare Routine
Being a busy mum in my (very early!) 40’s who spends a lot of time outdoors with a sensitive, reactive-prone skin, Dermastore® broke my needs down into four key areas of concern and recommended a skincare regimen that holistically treats existing issues whilst also helping to keep them at bay in future.
1) Mild Exfoliation
As part of its natural renewal cycle, our skin is shedding dead skin all the time and as we age, it becomes less efficient at doing so. Exfoliation is a crucial step in an anti-ageing skincare regime (helping this renewal process along) and can make the biggest different in the skin’s appearance – not only giving you a glow, but also making it much easier for your other skincare products to penetrate and do what they need to do.
A great way to incorporate exfoliation into my routine without adding an extra step (time is at a minimum!) was to choose a cleanser that offered mild enzymatic exfoliation whilst also being gentle enough for my sensitive skin – promoting cell turnover and removing impurities without stripping my skin of moisture, disrupting my skin barrier or altering the pH balance. It leaves your skin feeling beautifully smooth, without feeling dry or stripped, which to me is the ideal result.
And, because I might sometimes feel like a bit of a deeper cleanse, Dermastore® also recommended a foaming cleanser as an additional option – also with Poly Hydroxy Acids to gently exfoliate and improve skin texture. (And I’m quietly becoming a little bit obsessed with it, partly because the botanical smell and also how gentle but effective it is. Also, Rob also loves this one and it’s been a nice way to introduce exfoliation into his daily routine. Such a goodie if you are wanting to get your partner excited about taking better care of their skin.)
Exuviance Total Correct Wash (Above back right)
2) Skin Barrier & Cellular Damage Repair
Skin barrier function is the most important aspect of maintaining healthy and resilient skin, so the next key area of concern was to rebuild my skin barrier with a bland, ceramide-rich cream that wasn’t greasy and absorbed beautifully. I noticed an almost immediate difference in the general sensitivity of my skin – it actually felt ‘numb’ a few days into using this moisturiser (morning and evening, after cleansing), which is a telltale sign that my skin barrier was strengthening and my skin wasn’t feeling as sensitised as it was before.
Once my barrier had been repaired and strengthened, Dermastore® recommended an AM/PM moisturiser more focused on anti-ageing and antioxidant protection, which would work to plump and firm my skin in addition to maintaining my skin’s resilience that I’d built up. Enter cult favourite Huxley. And man oh man, will you fall in love. Rob and I already can’t imagine life without this stuff (he says the smell reminds him of the bush and it just makes us both instantly happy) but it’s also rich enough to feel like it’s doing a proper job, without feeling heavy or greasy). Magic in a jar.
Finally, as part of repairing my skin barrier and cellular damage, Dermastore® identified that I have accumulated UV-induced damage – this as a result of living in Africa and having spent a lot of time outdoors coupled with my very fair skin.
Because I already see a skin therapist for micro-needling every 6 weeks, the team suggested I use a serum containing growth factors post-treatment for its reparative and regenerative benefits. This helps to repair some of my existing cellular damage whilst boosting generation of new and healthy cells – all contributing to my skin looking plumper and firmer whilst improving my fine lines and wrinkles. You guys know that I never push products I don’t 100% believe in or feel sincerely about, and I honestly can’t recommend this treatment enough.
3) UV Protection
Prevention truly is better than cure when it comes to skin health, so sunscreen is absolutely essential – rain or shine, indoors or outdoors. The team recommended a hydrating, pure mineral-based formula for my sensitive skin that is both high-factor and broad-spectrum (I also prefer a minimal morning routine, so the sheer dewy and skin-perfecting tint in this one is the ideal final step).
It’s important to mention that sunscreen is so personal and can often be the least desirable step in a skincare routine – one often thinks of the sticky, old-fashioned sun cream with a thick white cast from a bygone era! Thankfully, things have advanced dramatically and we now have so many elegant, highly effective sunscreen options to choose from (seriously, you will even look forward to applying it every morning!). This glides on effortlessly for perfect blemish-free coverage, and it’s just the perfect balance between moisturising and nourishing. Bingo, we’re destined to be forever friends.
4) Oxidative Stress Prevention
In addition to a high quality, Dermatologist-recommended sunscreen, it was advised that I use a dedicated antioxidant serum in the morning. Vitamin C is a widely-acknowledged skincare ingredient that has so many benefits for early ageing skin. It’s one of those ingredients where you’ll notice a healthy difference in the brightness, quality and resilience of your skin soon after using it for the first time.
But there is a huge kicker for me in this area. Being in the kitchen as much as I am, we identified that my skin is exposed to additional aggressors in the form of heat and pollutants from cooking. Heat can cause skin to become dry, reactive and sensitised, and even cause pigmentation! Cooking with oils and other ingredients can cause my skin to accumulate unnecessary environmental build-up, leading to what is called free-radical damage or oxidative stress within the skin.
Essentially, these additional stressors can accelerate the ageing process faster than it normally would occur.
Using a medically-backed Vitamin C serum daily in the morning (ideally combined with Vitamin E) is one of the most proven measures you can take to prevent oxidative stress (Vitamin C slows the movement of free-radicals, so they cause less cellular damage). Vitamin C also speeds up skin recovery time (allowing skin that is exposed to the elements to recover faster), it stimulates collagen production, and brightens. So, in swaggers SkinCeuticals Serum 10, another global phenomenon that has taken the skincare world by storm. And now that I’ve tried it, I have seen all the results to back up it’s impressive reputation.
And no anti-ageing skincare routine would be complete without Retinol – a gold standard ingredient with numerous amazing benefits. Stimulating cell turnover, it reduces wrinkles and firms the skin – contributing to my goal of keeping my skin as healthy, youthful and radiant as I can.
In summary, the four key areas we’ve focused on with my new skincare routine are Exfoliation, Repair, Protection and Prevention.
The Dermastore® team also recommended a couple of additional products that are less fundamental like a redness relief serum to help alleviate some of the redness I experience (NeoStrata® Redness Neutralising Serum). They’ve explained that this redness (and thus the need for this product) should subside once I’ve given the rest of the routine enough time to address the fundamentals.
The final concern on my list was the appearance of my hands and the signs of ageing on them (thanks, COVID and endless sanitising + cooking and hand washing all the time + driving kids around on school runs with hands in the sun). To address this, I’ve started using the Elim Medihand Age Reversal Hand Cream SPF 30, which offers both hydration and UV-protection. I’m really fussy about hand creams, as a lot of us are, they need to be rich and nourishing without being super greasy, and this is exactly that. It smells amazing as well.
We so often forget to apply sunscreen to our hands, but our hands are so exposed. A brilliant tip from the team is to rub any remaining facial skincare into your hands after completing your routine to make the most of the anti-ageing ingredients and treat your hands too.
Get Your Skin Assessed
Dermastore®’s team are on-hand to help kickstart your skincare conversation, simply head over to their Member Registration page for a completely free skin assessment. In the meantime, feel free to comment with any questions or just to chat skincare with me! I’ll happily share my ongoing Dermastore® experience with you.