LA-based Dr Howard Murad is no ordinary skin specialist. For starters, he's a bit of a visionary who's tad fond of using ingredients like goji berries and durian fruit in his science-based, award winning skincare line, Murad, and secondly, he's the guy all the other derms look up to. Responsible for the discovery of moisturiser-stalwarts like alpha hydroxy acids, he's also pushed and pioneered research into antioxidants and pomegranate technology.
It should come as no surprise, so, that his approach to getting - and keeping - great skin is a little different to what you may have been told before. Read on for what Dr. Howard Murad sees in his crystal ball for the future of our skin.
Getting water into the cells is the key to both good health and young-looking skin, says Dr. Murad. "Cells are like tyres", he posits. "When they're plump and full, they work perfectly. When they go flat, they don't".
He's got proof: a study of 3,000 adults showed that, as we age, we suffer a decrease in intercellular water as a result of factors like illness, stress and sun damage. But add it back, and the results are remarkable, says Dr. Murad: "If I can even encourage a tiny, two tenths of a percentage of an increase in intercellular water, people loose their wrinkles, they have shinier hair, they sleep better, they have more energy and their digestion is improved", he reveals. It's about quality, not quantity, so forget the received wisdom about drinking eight glasses of water a day. "All that'll do is send you running to the toilet a lot", he says wryly.
GET YOUR FIVE A DAY
Plumping cells is all well and good, but they won't hold that water if they're weak. Repair is crucial, and it's all about diet. "Eat foods rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and amino acids", Dr. Murad advises. His favourites, goji berries, get a look-in here. "They are the most nutritionally dense food on the planet - they contain 21 amino acids, plus they're packed full of anti-oxidant and anti-irritant properties", he says.
EAT MORE EGGS
The humble egg, much maligned in recent years, may save us yet. "If you think about it, eggs have all the nutrients we need - they're liquid life", says Dr. Murad. One of the most important constituents of an egg is lecithin, which is essential for the creation of a healthy cell membrane.
POP SOME PILLS
Ideally, you should be getting all you need through a balanced diet, but Dr. Murad is smart enough to realise that getting people to change their eating habits can sometimes be nigh-on impossible. His solution? Supplements, like his Youth Builder Dietary Supplement, €60. "It's easier to get people to take them", he reveals, acknowledging that while it's healthier to get nutrients through good, organic food, he's happy if a patient does it this way too. "It's a workable change", he confirms.
STAY CALM AND COLLECTED
Dr. Murad points the finger at cultural stress as the biggest challenge facing well-being - and good skin - today. "It's different from regular stress as it's pervasive and constant. There's endless traffic; we're always on our mobiles; we're working 24/7; we're expected to know more now than we ever knew, and every day we have to be better. This is constant and getting worse and worse - and that's a real issue", he says.
Add global warming and an increase in pollution the mix, and you've got an alarming trend. "People may think that these things are not related to their skin, but they absolutely are", he insists.
"Look at your lifestyle", Dr. Murad urges. "Write down three things that were positive in your day - a bit like affirmations - and do it every day so that it stays with you". The reasoning? "Thinking positively, not negatively, impacts on your general health and therefore your skin", he advises, adding, "put yourself first, I encourage that."
RELAX AND SEEK COMPANY
"Take a bath. Get a facial. Read books, look at art", is his down-time mantra. But don't do it alone. "Do these things with a friend and battle isolation", Dr. Murad says. Why? Being around others is good for us, he reckons, and adds, "when you're healthy and feeling good about yourself, you're more likely to do your exercise, and you take more care of yourself. When you're not happy, you eat badly, and you turn into a couch potato."
Anti-depressants are hugely prevalent in western society, and Dr. Murad sees it as a real issue that affects well being. "Some people have true depression which absolutely needs to be treated", he confirms, adding, "but there are a lot of people who don't feel so hot one day and go and get a pill." He's worried about the knock-on effect: "you rely on the medication and not on yourself."
TRY A NEW PRODUCT
In Dr. Murad's newest launch, Age Reform, an intensive anti-ageing line, durian cell reform technology works alongside glycolic acid to aid the penetration of ingredients into the skin, as well as helping to reverse the signs of ageing. The Intensive Resurfacing Peel, €180,(right) is tri-weekly treatment delivered in individual ampoules. It's ideal to use for a month once or twice a year, as the seasons change or skin needs extra help. Used daily, Intensive Wrinkle Reducer, €225 and Intensive Wrinkle Reducer for Eyes, €90, (left) provide skin with a boost of good-for-it sugars and lipids, while encouraging the proliferation of plump, water-filled cells.
Murad products are available at Carter Beauty, Dun Laoghaire, Nue Blue Eriu, selected spas and salons nationwide, at at www.murad.ie