In Conversation: Dr Sophie Shotter.

“In Conversation” is a series which offers advice and knowledge from trained professionals within the beauty industry. Delving deeper into the journey of Aestheticians and Dermatologists is the aim, alongside this delivering knowledge and highlighting noteworthy individuals who are sparking conversations and pushing boundaries is also a focus of ours here at PF. The series was curated for the Paradise Files community to learn and discover from real skin experts.

Meet Kent based Aesthetician and skin expert Dr Sophie Shotter. A previously trained anaesthetist for the NHS, who took a leap of faith and founded what is today, the Illuminate Skin Clinic. With a passionate drive to achieving natural and balanced results, Sophie has been able to imprint her skin philosophy to a wide range of clients across the world. We were able to gain further insight into her favourite skincare ingredients to her most popular treatment, not forgetting her extensive list of skincare products that we’re sure you’ll be intrigued to discover.

Tell us about your journey as aesthetic doctor, how did it begin? 

I first trained in aesthetics in 2012. I worked in the NHS as an anaesthetist, and found I was the ‘yes’ person on the rota – working far too many hours. I’d always been intrigued by aesthetic treatments, so decided to go on a training course with the intention of giving myself a sideline business that meant I wouldn’t work as many hours in the NHS. But from the first course I just fell in love with aesthetics – I loved the cross over of medicine and art. From then on I attended as much training as I possibly could to develop my skills further, before leaving the NHS and setting up my own clinic in 2014. 

What is your first beauty memory?

I was maybe 12 when I first became more interested in make up. My mum wasn’t really a ‘girly girl’, but I was desperate to know more. My dad worked for Boots at the time, and he arranged for me to have a make over at the No7 counter. I went home with some lovely products, and it gave me a little more confidence through those tricky teenage years!

What is your overall philosophy on skin?

Healthy skin is radiant skin. I love it when people have enough confidence in their skin to let its beauty shine through, rather than wearing layers and layers of heavy make up. I’m all about helping people address their skin health and giving them more confidence in it. 

Talk us through your day skincare regime?

Cleanse – SkinBetter Science Daily Enzyme Cleanser

PHA Toner – Medik8 Press & Glow

Antioxidant – SkinCeuticals CE Ferrulic

Hyaluronic Acid – Neostrata TriTherapy Lifting Serum

Eyes – Dr Levy Eye Booster Concentrate

Sunscreen – Heliocare Water Gel or Institut Esthederm Bronz Repair

And night? 

Make up removal – Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water

Cleanse – SkinBetter Science Daily Enzyme Cleanser

AHAs – Neostrata Citriate Home Peeling System (twice per week) 

Eyes – Dr Levy Eye Booster Concentrate

Retinol – SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Intense Overnight Cream

Ceramides – SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 (2-3 times per week)

Neck cream – SkinCeuticals TriPeptide R Neck Repair

Decolletage – Dr Levy Decolletage Regenerating Silk

What is your favourite anti-ageing product?

It’s so hard to pick just one! But it would probably have to be the SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream. It’s a patented formula combining AHAs and a double conjugated retinoid. It gets the ingredients deep into the skin, where they need to be to get results. And I have had brilliant results on myself and on patients with it, without the irritation often associated with retinol. 

Which skincare ingredient excites you the most?

I guess in terms of excitement, I think of new ingredients that are emerging more and more. Probably top of this list for me is Bakuchiol – it’s been shown in studies to have a similar efficacy to retinol in terms of anti-ageing, but without irritation and it’s safe to use in pregnancy!

What change have you seen with the way people are viewing beauty post-quarantine?

I’ve found people are much more beauty conscious post quarantine. I think this is partly due to having spent more time looking at their own faces on video conferences during lockdown. I also think that many people have been so excited to simply have a social life again, that they’re taking extra care over their appearance and enjoying the beauty rituals that go with that. 

What is the most popular treatment that clients have asked for since you were able to reopen?

 In my clinic it’s largely been the injectables that have been hugely in demand since re-opening. We have many patients who are very regular with their Botox treatments, who really didn’t like their routine lapsing during lockdown. Fillers have also been hugely popular, both with new and existing patients. I think this has been largely driven by wanting to boost their self-confidence post-lockdown. 

What are the most common-skin related questions you have received lately?

Overwhelmingly, the most common skin question I’ve been asked recently has been about Maskne. So many people are struggling with their skin in ways they never have, thanks to having to wear face masks. People want to understand what’s going on with their skin and what they can do about it. I’ve also found a lot more people interested in and asking me about how to address menopausal skin – it’s great that the conversation around menopause has opened up, and people are more comfortable addressing it. 

How often do you think people should revaluate their skincare regime? 

Our skin changes regularly throughout our lives, and so what you use when you’re 20 won’t be right when you’re 50. Personally I think best results are achieved for your skin through working with a skin care expert, who can guide you. Some ingredients are best used only over the winter, and others are best in the summer months. So I think a mini re-evaluation every 6 months is good, to ensure you’re addressing your skin’s changing seasonal needs. You may need more major regime overhauls every few years. Your skin does like to be challenged, and sticking with the same regime month in and month out isn’t always the best thing!

What is the one facial treatment you personally couldn’t live without?

For me it’s definitely a chemical peel. Many people have been historically afraid of these, after Samantha’s Sex & the City scene. However most chemical peels are much lighter than that, and will cause an invisible shedding of the dead, dull outer skin cells. Simultaneously they will stimulate the active portion of the skin to become thicker and healthier. So skin will be more radiant, firmer and healthier. 

For somebody that didn’t want to revert to botox, which anti-ageing product or facial would you highly recommend that would mimic the effects?

There is no alternative to Botox, unfortunately. However the product I’ve found that comes closest is the Meder Beauty Myo-Fix Concentrate. This contains muscle relaxing peptides, which will provide a gentle effect to minimise movement related lines and wrinkles. 

What do you think is the biggest skin related misconception people have? 

So many people think perfect skin exists – that whole concept of flawless, poreless skin. It’s simply not true. Pores are a crucial part of skin, as they’re the opening of a hair follicle at the skin’s surface. We can keep them tighter, and we can keep our skin healthy, but that ‘glass skin’ just doesn’t exist without filters. 

What is the one thing you would love for people to stop doing when it comes their skin?

Using make up remover wipes! They’re evil for our skin. I know they’re convenient, especially when we are exhausted at the end of the day. But they contain lots of chemicals which can cause dryness and inflammation within the skin. 

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