In Conversation With… Apothaka Skincare founder and owner Natasha Dauncey
Huge thanks to the very talented and lovely Natasha Dauncey for kindly agreeing to be first up in my newly launched feature, ‘In conversation with…’ I am truly honoured.
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Apothaka Skincare. Discovering Apothaka and chatting to Natasha has been like an epiphany! It’s the skincare I’ve been waiting for! Thanks to Natasha, my skin is calmer, happier and perkier than it’s been for years!
So without further ado, let’s chat!
Natasha, please could you give my lovely readers an overview of your brand?
Apothaka® is all about purposeful formulations which support a healthy skin barrier through a “less is more” approach to skincare. Where so much of the beauty industry is focussed on an unrealistic goal around “perfect” or “flawless” skin, Apothaka® is here to reset the goal to healthy, happy skin (and healthy ageing while we’re at it!) for everyone! By “less is more” I’m referring to the concentration of ingredients in products (i.e. dispelling the myth that more isn’t better!) but also the amount of products you need to build a solid skincare routine. My main aim with my brand is to cut through all the (often ridiculous) noise in the beauty industry to provide a range which keeps the skin functioning as it should. No overpromises or miracle cures, just simple, but effective skincare that suitable for everyone – regardless of their age, gender or skin colour!
As you know, my skin is perimenopausal. What happens to a woman’s skin around this time?
I’m sorry to say that even prior to menopause, our skin is sadly starting to age in different ways, so when you throw the menopause into the mix, it’s just adding to what’s already starting to happen on the surface and beneath the skin. It’s also worth highlighting that as skin ages, there are other anatomical changes associated with facial ageing – a loss of fat under the skin as well as changes to our bone structure. I mention this as it’s important to be aware that topical skincare can only do so much! We can work on the texture, fine lines, surface hydration and tackling pigmentation for example, but unfortunately topical products cannot help with addressing sagging skin. I’m just putting this out there in the hope that it stops people buying “miracle” products that claim to address skin sagging for example! With regards to the menopause specifically and changes that occur as a result of this, the main effect relates to a loss of oestrogen which is associated with the menopause. Oestrogen plays a key role in skin processes so its loss manifests itself in different ways for example:
- a reduction in skin hydration (dermal – the deeper skin layer and epidermal – the surface skin layer): Oestrogen influences water retention in the body’s tissues (anyone who’s been pregnant will attest to the fluid retention that occurs in late stages of pregnancy – which is due to rising oestrogen levels!). As oestrogen levels drop in menopause, this results in a loss of hydration in the skin, as well as a loss of hyaluronic acid (naturally occurring in our skin). We will see an increase in lines and wrinkles, a loss of “volume” or plumpness to the skin. We will also see something known as collagen glycation – due to the loss of hydration there is an increased concentration of sugars in the tissue fluid (and sugars aren’t metabolised as efficiently as we age), which bond to protein, collagen and elastin in the skin and causes them to crystallise and become brittle. This shows as a tell tale puckering of the skin in a criss cross network.
- a reduction in skin cell turnover: Oestrogen keeps epidermal cells active. Skin goes through a regular cycle of turning over / shedding to reveal new/fresh skin, but this process slows as we age. The reduction in oestrogen impacts cell renewal and the overall integrity of the epidermis. It also reduces the density of the tissue, making it thinner, and less resilient. This in turn increases sensitivity, the risk of inflammation and free radical damage. Skin can also take longer to recover from trauma (or rejuvenating techniques).
- changes in barrier function – both the physical and chemical barrier: The skin barrier is our main line of defense from the outside world. It’s a waterproof barrier which when working properly, stops the penetration of unwanted substances and through a series of complex and dependent mechanisms keeps the skin hydrated and healthy. If any of the mechanisms are regularly disrupted, this results in skin barrier dysfunction. Skin barrier function diminishes with age through a reduction of sebum production (causing drier skin) and loss of hydration (causing dehydration) and an increased susceptibility to infection and irritation, as unwanted substances can now get into the skin. This results in inflammatory reactions and increased free radical damage, contributing further to skin ageing, and reduces the healing capacity of the skin.
- changes in pore size: oestrogen regulates the size and action of the sebaceous glands (which produce sebum). In the absence of oestrogen, another hormone, androgen dominates and causes the glands to become inflated. This results in changes in texture, a coarse “orange peel” texture which can be seen as skin ages.
Which skincare ingredients or practices would you recommend to peri or menopausal women?
The things that I’d suggest are actually relevant to pretty much all ages as I’m all about prevention! It all centres around a gentle, consistent routine. The sooner you get into a routine like this, the better for your skin!:
- a daily dedicated sunscreen: I can’t emphasise enough the importance of protecting our skin from UV damage as this is the major cause of premature ageing. It accelerates all the changes I mentioned above which are associated with the menopause, so protecting the skin will give it one less thing to have to deal with! Whilst everyone is aware of the damage caused by sunburn (through UVB – the “burning” rays which are more of a problem in the summer months in the Northern hemisphere), UVA, the “ageing” rays are present all year around, even on cloudy days. If you spend a lot of time outdoors (and if you spend hours sat indoors next to a window), it’s good to get into the habit of applying a decent sunscreen with good UVA and UVB protection. I recommend a SPF30 with 5 star UVA rating (a UK rating) as a minimum, and if you have very fair skin and an active outdoor life, then SPF50 with a 5 star rating. FInd one you can commit to wearing daily and stick with it!
- gentle cleansing – respect the skin barrier and avoid stripping the skin (and causing further dehydration) with a gentle cleanse that removes make up / sunscreen but leaves the skin barrier intact! If your skin feels squeaky clean after cleansing, it’s time to find a new cleanser! If your skin leans dry, I would personally avoid morning cleansing, and just rinse the face with water. Overcleansing is a big driver of barrier dysfunction and dehydrated skin
- keep skin hydrated – surface hydration will improve the look and feel of your skin. It will plump and improve the look of fine lines (albeit transiently). Find a combination of hydrating products that work for you – but look for humectant ingredients (ingredients that attract and hold water on the skin’s surface) – e.g. glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, urea, amino acids etc. You can use just a moisturiser, but if your skin feels tight / dehydrated, consider a hydrating toner / essence and / or hydrating serum with a variety of humectants. If your skin is dry, ensure you choose a moisturiser with some occlusive ingredients to reduce the loss of water from your skin e.g. mineral oil, squalane, caprylic triglycerides, dimethicone etc. Note that some oils have occlusive effects but they vary in this property considerably. Face oils are popular but for dry skin, they are not an effective substitute for a proper moisturiser! I prefer to use them as a “booster” for extra skin softening, nourishing benefits. Another wonder ingredient is niacinamide – a fabulous multi-tasking ingredient which supports a healthy skin barrier, regulates sebum production, brightens the skin and offers antioxidant benefits. Unless you are sensitive to this, I would recommend everyone incorporates it into their routine at a 2-5% concentration.
- consider a retinoid (Vitamin A) at night for it’s anti-ageing (or should I say, healthy ageing?!) effects – I have an entire 2 blog post series on this topic, but unlike a lot of other ingredients, there is a lot of data to support the use of (at least some) retinoids. They aid skin cell turnover and over time can help produce collagen (the skin “scaffolding”). They can improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and in some cases and prevent the formation of new lines. They do need to be used with caution – i.e. introduce them slowly and not when your skin is sensitised. My favourite retinoids are retinaldehyde and tretinoin (prescription strength but available in the UK through online subscription services – ironically I find this less irritating than some over the counter retinoids!). Make sure you do your research, and start low (concentration) and slow (frequency of use)! These are slow burners, they don’t give quick results (but then nothing good does, right?!)
- antioxidants – whilst sunscreen protects your sun from UV damage, antioxidants provide an additional safety net in protecting the skin from free radical damage. The most popular antioxidant is Vitamin C though I prefer the idea of a range of different antioxidants in one serum (I’m working on this!!). If you don’t like layering lots of products, look for a sunscreen with built in antioxidants (I love EVY sunscreens for this reason!).
- as well as topical skincare, our overall health will impact our skin. So a healthy, varied diet (including being mindful of your sugar and alcohol intake – sorry!), regular exercise, sufficient sleep and reduced stress will all contribute to keeping your skin at its best
- if topical skincare isn’t enough to address your concerns and you find yourself looking for more, you could consider things like microneedling, laser therapy, radio frequency, ultherapy. These can offer regenerating and lifting benefits. This is not my area of expertise but if you’re wanting to address skin sagging and other ageing effects which can’t be tackled with topical skincare, then it’s worth looking into. There’s also injectibles which will address the issues around loss of volume, and of course, a full on facelift!
Which skincare ingredients or practices would you suggest they avoid?
- as above, over cleansing and choosing the wrong cleanser for your skin type
- sun tanning!
- aggressive / harsh products (i.e. avoid high concentrations of active ingredients) and overexfoliation, which will compromise the skin barrier
- the use of face oils INSTEAD OF moisturiser for dry skin
- product overload, and inconsistency of using products – choose just a few products carefully and keep things simple
- the pursuit of healthy, flawless skin – it’s unrealistic!
- the search for miracle cures which don’t exist
If you had to recommend 3 Apothaka products to ladies with menopausal skin which would they be?
- comforting or rebalancing cleansing oil – will gently cleanse without stripping the skin
- barrier support serum (withh 5% niacinamide, HA and ceramide complex) – to hydrate the skin and support a healthy skin barrier
- skin quenching moisturiser (normal – combination / oily skin) or comforting moisturiser (normal – dry, or irritated skin) – hydrates and replenishes the skin with very gentle formulations
You’ve recently launched the incredible Skin Quenching Essence (which my skin adores) please could you tell us more about it.
Skin quenching essence isn’t a “must have” product but for skin suffering from dehydration, it provides a lovely, lightweight layer of hydration. It’s packed with a synergistic blend of humectants which mimic the Natural Moisturising Factor – our skin’s very own hydration complex which helps to maintain optimal barrier function. It also contains soothing panthenol (Vitamin B5) and cucumber extract to deliver a refreshing drink of water to the skin. I use it after cleansing and before my barrier support serum + moisturiser and for me it’s a winning combination of hydration, without any heaviness!
Thank you so much Natasha! This was so interesting and informative. A fantastic brand and gorgeous lady inside and out! To learn more or shop for incredible skincare visit www.apothaka.com