This skin specialist shares her expert tips for a healthy and glowing complexion

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1 January 1970

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Laura Duggan works as an Advanced Skin Specialist and Trainer at Skintopia in Commercial Bay. Here she shares her absolute wealth of knowledge on how to get your best skin ever.

What are your three top skincare tips for NZ women?


I like to refer to it as daylight cream, needed every time there is daylight! Coming to terms with that, even when you spend most of your time indoors it is still super important. Also it is very important to reapply when spending more than 2- 3 hours outside. I often recommend Dermalogica’s Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30 because it is a physical SPF formula that provides added blue light protection and helps soothe away the effects of environmental aggressors.


I always recommend eating fresh plant-based products and try to eat the rainbow every day. It’s good to educate yourself about your country’s soil and the deficiencies it may have. In New Zealand there is little zinc or selenium in our soil, so it is something we do need to supplement. A Zinc deficiency may manifest as acne, eczema, xerosis (dry, scaling skin), seborrheic dermatitis, or alopecia (thin and sparse hair). It may also impair or possibly prevent wound healing, which plays a vital role in skin health.


How well are you cleaning your skin? Like really? In today’s busy world we tend to rush. I love telling clients that your skincare routine is YOUR time, not your kids, not your partners, not the dogs, YOU! So enjoy it. I will always recommend starting your evening routine with Dermalogica Precleanse. Spend 1 minute massaging your face, eyes area, cheeks, lips, ears, neck and décolletage, use small circular motions uplifting strokes to take off the day, physically and mentally! Once you feel like you’ve spent the minute, add some lukewarm water and repeat, lifting all the dirt and oil under the water. Remove and repeat this massaging technique with your skin treatment cleanser.

Dermalogica Precleanse, $82

How can we best protect our skin’s barrier?

Skin barrier health is one of my main passions. Anyone who has experienced an impaired or damaged skin barrier will attest to the adverse effects, which include redness, dryness/flaking skin, dull, tight feeling, dehydrated, inflamed and sore to touch. It can make skin reactive to ingredients and heat and experience acne, eczema, dermatitis flare ups as a result.

The best thing to do for this is to really simplify everything. Simplify your routine to just your cleanser, toner, treatment serum, moisturiser and SPF. Less touching of the face, which is easier said than done! Rinse with cold water rather than warm and I do find avoiding excess cardio, saunas, spas, and heavily chlorinated swimming pools also works well.

Ingredients to look at are ones that will repair heal and calm the skin.

  • Hyaluronic acid: It’s an essential humectant, which means it holds x1000 its weight of water in the skin. This will help with trans epidermal loss which makes us dehydrated and gives us that tight feeling, generally felt on the cheeks.
  • Ceramides: A.k.a. good fats. They make up our natural skin barrier. They lock in moisture and give a layer of protection to the outside world and triggers.
  • Fatty acids: Especially omega 3 oils which keep your cell membranes flexible and allow good nutrients into the cell, while allowing unwanted toxins to be expelled from your cells. Unfortunately, our body can’t make omega 3 so it needs to come from food or supplementation.
  • Squalene: A natural lipid found in our barrier.
  • Probiotics: Balanced microbiome is the skins best defence, as it functions something like an immune system for your skin. Maintaining a healthy gut flora with probiotics is crucial as studies have shown a direct link between your gut and skin flora. Today’s modern population doesn’t eat 1-2 serves of fermented foods per day and we also see antibiotic use is more prevalent than previous generations. Unfortunately, they wipe out all bacteria: good and bad. Also, our lifestyles are more sanitary than those of our ancestors. We are exposed to fewer strains of helpful bacteria due to household cleaners and sanitisers.
  • Colloidal oatmeal: Creates a protective seal on the skin, calms inflammation and start to treat and heal the barrier.
  • Antioxidants and SPF: Protect the skin especially when it’s under a state of inflammation.

Once we have a nice balance of these ingredients in our skin care, diet and lifestyle we see a barrier return to health within 4-8 weeks. Then we need to make sure we keep supporting our skin with these ingredients and slowly begin to add back in gentle exfoliation and active serums under the guidance of a skin therapist. It is a journey and can happen at multiple stages in our lives, especially as women with hormonal changes and antibiotic use throughout lifetime.

What is the most common mistake women make with their skincare regimes?

I think at the moment it’s over doing it. There is so much on offer – new ingredients and formulations are frequently being developed so it’s very easy to get carried away. The best advice is chat to a skin therapist about what your concerns and goals are. Get the recommended ingredients right for you.

What is one skincare myth you’d like to debunk?

You only need sunscreen while outdoors = MYTH! Wearing SPF30 or higher should be a daily habit. Not only are we exposed to sunlight even when we spend most of our days indoors, but research shows that artificial blue light from computers and phones can also age our skin. Find a moisturiser/ SPF/ antioxidant combo that feels good on the skin.

What are your best tips and treatments for get skin looking its best for a big event?

A clean healthy diet in the lead up. Avoid processed sugars and greasy food as this can show on the skin. Have your skin at optimum hydration by incorporating Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Lactic Acid, Algae Extracts and Peptides daily in your routine.

Treatment wise I love Skintopia’ s OxyGlow. It’s perfect for achieving event ready skin with optimum hydration. If you can schedule a few treatments two weeks apart you will get that long lasting hydration resulting in exceptionally glowing skin.

Skintopia OxyGlow treatment

Do you recommend any internal supplements for great skin?

YES YES YES! As I’ve spoken about for barrier repair, the gut and skin flora are connected. Having the right balance of probiotics, omegas, antioxidants and zinc will support your gut and in turn your skin. It’s not something that happens overnight so be patient. Trust the process.

BEPURE offer so many incredible ingredients including some natural hormonal support herbs which my clients have seen incredible changes in their acneic conditions.

BePure Two Probiotic 60-Day, $89

What’s the best plan of attack for a breakout?

DO NOT PICK. Please if I could be the angel on your shoulder and remind you a spot will heal in a few days while a ruptured oil follicle, full of bacteria and now an open wound will take a lot longer! With potential to scar and cause more breakouts.

The best plan of attack is to prepare, stay strict with your double cleansing and exfoliation routine. Make sure you have enough hydration in the skin. Then once it rears its head start with a spot treatment. Ingredients like, Salicylic acid, Niacinamide and green tea will help kill any bacteria, clean out the follicle and also calm inflammation and start the healing process.

Also it is a great time to have a skin treatment. Blue and Red LEDs will be great to support cleaning and clearing the bacteria in the follicles, detoxify and start the healing process. Breakouts are normal, everyone gets them. Especially related to our monthly cycle but keep on top of the above and they should remain small and heal within a few days.

What skincare items should we splurge on and what should we save on?

Splurge on serums and SPF. Serums will treat your main concerns and create changes in the skin. A good SPF will make sure you wear it, have full protection against accelerated ageing, free radical damage, inflammation and most importantly won’t congest the skin and turn you off SPF forever.

Save, cleanser. Still make sure it’s the right texture for your skin type and double cleanse at night but please no wipes or harsh apricot scrubs!

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