Paula Joye's skincare cheat sheet to help you invest in your future face.

What’s the biggest mistake women make with their skin?

Not wearing SPF50 sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. 90 per cent of premature ageing is the result of sun damage. This is called photoaging and appears as sunspots, pigmentation, dehydration, rough skin, patchy skin, flaky skin and wrinkles. The sun (given time and opportunity) will turn your skin into a crumpled-up piece of paper. Lying on the floor. Like a Taylor Swift love song.

So sunscreen.

Next to the SPF omission, the biggest mistake we make is not knowing WTAF we are putting on our skin or how it works. A good analogy: at the supermarket, we can read a label and understand the nutritional make-up of a product. This helps us make an informed choice. The same educated decision should be made in the beauty aisle because this is your face we’re talking about. Right?!

Watch: Some ways you can try to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Layering is so confusing. How many products can I put on at once and does the order matter?

There’s no magic number and no wrong number when it comes to layering products. You just have to ask yourself at what point is this redundant in terms of results and expensive in terms of budget?

The basic rule when layering is to work in order of consistency. Start with lightweight liquids - generally acid exfoliants, essences, and serums - and work your way up to thicker creams - generally moisturisers, oils and sunscreens.


For most of us, this looks something like this:

AM: serum 1 + serum 2 + moisturiser + sunscreen

PM: acid toner or vitamin A + moisturiser + face oil

If you have sensitive skin, you may need to reverse the equation and start with moisturiser. This will protect your skin against direct active ingredients which in turn helps prevent redness and irritation.

Finally, oil can penetrate moisturiser but not the other way around. So if you love a little bit of gleam, add a few drops of oil as the last step in your PM routine.

If I had to buy one serum and I’m not rich, what should it be?

This depends on your skin type and age. So...

Under 40 (normal, dry or combination skin): Go To Much Plumper Skin.

Go-To Much Plumper Skin. Image: Go-To/Mamamia.


It contains my favourite antioxidant Vitamin B, peptides and four types of hyaluronic acid. A great all-rounder that will work on bounce, radiance and hydration. All for $48.

Under 40 (sensitive skin): CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum.

CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Image: CeraVe/Mamamia.


It is action-packed with ceramides and hyaluronics which support the skin barrier (so important for sensitive skin) and increase hydration levels.

Over 40 (normal, dry or combination skin): Retinol.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane. Image: The Ordinary/Mamamia.

It's the gold standard in skincare ingredients. If you want to improve texture, tone and appearance then it’s Vitamin A. My pick: The Ordinary has a great range of retinol serums that start at .0.2 per cent all the way to 5 per cent. So you can start with a low percentage and then as your skin develops a  tolerance you can move to a higher concentration. The Ordinary Serums start at just $12.


Over 40 (sensitive skin): Avène DermAbsolu Recontouring Serum.

Avène DermAbsolu Recontouring Serum. Image: Avène/Mamamia.

A French classic, I love the serum-in-oil texture of this glow-giving serum. Excellent for dry, mature and sensitised skin. And just $60


Say, I’m intimidated or overwhelmed by skincare (I am a bit). Give me a basic morning and evening routine.

Skincare can be intimidating because the volume of information and conflicting information is outrageous.

This is a basic AM/PM routine that, when practised consistently, will make positive changes to your skin.


Step 1: Cleanse. Once only. Under the shower will do.

Step 2: 1-2 pumps of an antioxidant, hyaluronic or peptide-charged serum. 

Step 3: Moisturiser. To your preference. I like a lot.

Step 4: Sunscreen. SPF 50+. (Even in the rain).


Step 1: Cleanse. Twice. Once with a balm or oil cleanser to remove make-up, sunscreen, pollution and grime. The second time to prepare the skin for actives.

Step 2: 1-2 pumps of either a retinol serum or an acid exfoliant. Alternate days. I like to do three days a week retinol and one to two days acid and then one day off. All alternating. But you need to build up to this schedule. It might start once a week (of each) - watch how your skin reacts and slowly work on tolerance and frequency.

Step 3: Moisturiser.

Step 4 (optional): 1-2 pumps of face oil (love squalane, jojoba, rosehip).

What are the best chemist brands?

Literally, so so many. Some no fails:

Olay, CeraVe, Avène, The Ordinary, Sukin, L’Oreal Paris, No7, La Roche Posay, Cinch, Bioderma, Cancer Council, Embryolisse, Jojoba Company, Software Skin, and Dermaveen.


Those insane brands like La Mer and Augustinus Bader that cost hundreds of dollars per product - is that just marketing spin or packaging or what?

The marketing is brilliant but the juice is also really good.

The rub is that just because a cream is expensive and good doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for your skin. So I recommend asking for samples before investing in a super expensive face cream. Try it at home and see how your skin reacts. And if the results are great then I would argue that the spend is worth it. Stop buying lunch for a month and invest in your future face.

Do you get Botox? How much often and where (on your face)?

I have of course. On my forehead when my horizontal lines are super pronounced. I’ve also had it for migraines in the base of my neck - to great effect. I don't like it around the eyes or nose. A face that moves is the goal but Botox is the only thing that will actually diminish the appearance of a dynamic or frown line. So a combination of judicious botox and rigorous skincare is very effective in achieving natural results. 

Everyone seems to offer Botox now, from GPs to weird shops in the mall. Does it matter who injects your face?

F**k yes! This is your face. Seek out experts - Doctors or Registered Nurses. Ask to see before and after results. Ask to see qualifications. Read online reviews.  Ask how long they have been injecting. Ask, Ask, Ask. This. Is. Your. Face.

What are your thoughts on filler? 

New studies are showing that filler is more permanent than once assumed. In some cases it's undissolvable. Meaning you could end up with it forever. Too much faux volume can also look very ageing. I prefer a more modern combination of modalities to achieve a more natural result. Treatments such as skin needling, Emface, Profilo (which is an injectable anti-ageing treatment made from hyaluronic acid for skin that is losing its elasticity and firmness), lasers, Thermage and Botox.


Listen: Paula Joye on Working With Cindy, Christy, Linda & Naomi. Post continues after audio...

Are there some things skincare can’t do? What are they?

Erase a wrinkle.

Freeze your forehead.

Change a tyre.

Do I really need to wear an eye cream?

For me, it’s a no.

In most instances, the ingredients in your moisturiser will be the same as those in your eye cream. The difference is the consistency. So in truth, you can use the same cream sparingly around the eye area. Some experts will absolutely argue the opposite. So perhaps it comes down to budget. I believe this is an area you can save in.

I find masks so boring and time-consuming. Are they really necessary?

If you believe Professor TikTok then your skin needs masks. Lots and lots of different masks. Masks that bubble, peel, change colour, masks that blow dry your hair. But TikTok is not a professor, and your skin will not transform when you use them. Masks are a treat. Beneficial? Sure. But they’re a want, not a need.

I file masks under self-care. They make you slow down. Dermatologists would most likely file them under skin boosters.

Lots of foundations now claim to also be serums. This whole vibe of makeup as skincare, is that a real thing or just spin?

It’s real but I personally don’t trust the crossover. Particularly when it comes to sun protection. I like to control the ingredient dosage but with make-up, it’s difficult to judge this balance. So there is nothing wrong with these supercharged potions but I would look at them as extra boosters, not an ‘instead of’.


How do you know what strength of retinol to get?

My retinol mantra is: start low and go slow.

The key to effective usage is to start with a low concentration (.2-.5%) and a small amount of product (pea size). Be patient, watch how your skin reacts and then slowly build up your usage from once a week to twice a week as your skin adopts a tolerance. Once your skin is comfortable you can up the dosage and the frequency.

I recommend applying retinoid products at night after cleansing. Make sure your skin is dry as water will interfere with product efficacy.

Don't exfoliate on the days you are using retinol. I skip exfoliation altogether when using a higher strength (anything 0.05% and above). 

If you’re finding that your skin is tingling unbearably on application, try adding a buffer between your skin and the active vitamin A. This can be a moisturiser or, my favourite for dilution, a squalane face oil. It’s light enough to not compromise the ingredient but slippery enough to soothe and calm.

Avoid the eye area. Retinol and eyes are enemies. If you get it anywhere near your eyes, I advise washing it off and starting again.

You MUST wear an SPF50 every day not because retinoids make you more susceptible to burning but because the sun weakens the effectiveness of the retinoid.

Feature Image: Instagram @paulajoye.

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