In Conversation With Kate O'Brien

Kate is a qualified dietitian with a post-graduate diploma in Cosmetic Science and through her career in London, Dublin, Singapore and Hong Kong, she has become a respected writer on lifestyle and spa culture.

She has written nine lifestyle books, her latest being 'GLOW: Your Complete Four Week Plan to Healthy Radiant Skin.' This combines her joint passions for nutrition and skincare, with science-supported advice and delicious skin-nourishing recipes for healthy glowing skin and a vibrantly strong body and mind.

Top Winter Skincare Tip?

It's impossible to just give one but if you do the following, the rest might just fall into place. My three non-negotiable ones are: Cleanse, Tone and Nourish. Then, I would say prioritise sleep- the term ‘Beauty sleep’ isn’t thrown about for nothing, with continued research proving how important adequate restful sleep is for our skin.

Top GLOW Foods?

Coincidentally, most of my top GLOW foods are also those foods that come centre stage in the Mediterranean Diet (which is at the heart of Irene Forte Skincare). My favourite GLOW foods are:

Avocados- have numerous benefits, including being loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids that work to keep the skin moist and protect it from UV damage. Used as a skin mask or an oil applied directly on the skin, avocados help soothe sensitivity and curb skin inflammation.

Blueberries-  are overflowing with antioxidant-rich Flavonoids and Vitamin C to help protect the skin and support the connective tissue by keeping it supple and taut. Just a handful of blueberries on their own or with breakfast will make your skin smile.

Nuts and Seeds- Most nuts are beneficial to the skin due to their high content of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. That being said, walnuts and almonds have claimed superior status as they both come with hugely impressive credentials. A handful of almonds eaten as a snack, chopped into smoothies and salads or enjoyed blended as almond butter spread is guaranteed to keep your skin glowing. 

My Skincare Routine?

At this stage in my life, I really do own my skin. I know what works and I switch up my regime with the seasons or when I feel necessary. This is what I am doing now and generally through the winter months:

Cleanse

Cleansing the face every morning and night is an absolute must for healthy skin. Use a cleanser suited to your skin type and how your skin is feeling. I am loving the Irene Forte Almond Cleansing Milk – it's gentle yet extremely effective on my skin.

Tone

A spray of mist or toner on thoroughly cleansed skin gives a dose of moisture to support the skin’s protective barrier. Always choose alcohol-free toners (alcohol dries the skin).

Nourish (Moisturisers, Serums & Oils)

In my experience, serums are generally more active than moisturisers and are specifically designed to treat and repair the skin. Think of it as a concentrated supplement boost for the skin. They should not be overloaded with additional ingredients (like sunscreens, for instance) as these can weaken the activity of the key ingredients and thus compromise overall performance. I never miss my serum boost, morning and evening. 

Following the serum, while I use moisturisers, I am loving the Irene Forte Orange Blossom Face Oil . This is overflowing with Sweet Almond, Sunflower, and Pistachio oils, which replenish and protect, with added Vitamin E, Orange Blossom and Calendula to brighten. When using oils, I try to spend 1-2 minutes massaging it deeply into my clean skin – your face will glow every time.

Masks

Face masks are ideally used once or twice a week, after a thorough cleanse. I adore the Irene Forte Pistachio Face Mask – a quick peep at the ingredients is reason enough as it’s packed with skin repairing and nourishing essentials! When applying a mask, always include the décolleté, as it's especially sensitive and if not cared for will quickly show the signs of age.

Favourite Recipe From GLOW?

I have two! The Courgette and Almond Soup is my winter staple and the Pea & Edamame Hummus is my year round one. 

Courgette and Almond Soup (Serves 2–3)
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 medium courgettes, chopped
80g flaked almonds
600ml homemade or low-salt vegetable stock
Large handful of spinach (optional)
Pinch mixed herbs
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Natural yogurt

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, leek and courgettes and sauté for about 5 minutes or until they start to soften.

Add most of flaked almonds (reserving a small handful for decoration), the vegetable stock, a pinch of mixed herbs and some salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. I often add a little spinach here if I have it to bump up the nutritional goodness.

Remove from the heat and cool a little before blending until smooth. Reheat over a low heat. Season to taste and top each bowl with a generous dollop of natural yogurt and the remaining flaked almonds.

 

Pea and Edamame Hummus (Makes 1 Medium Bowl)
150g frozen peas, defrosted
150g edamame beans, defrosted and shelled
1½ tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
Juice of ¼ lemon
½ tsp ground cumin
Large handful fresh coriander

Put all the ingredients in a blender/mini food processor and blend into a coarse paste. Spoon into a bowl, cover and leave to chill in the fridge. Serve with salads, on the side, as a dip for vegetable sticks or on bread/crackers.

 A Few Rules I Try To Live By....

  • I switch up my regime seasonally and also if my skin is feeling it needs it.
  • I try to get at least 7 hours sleep at night- research has shown how important adequate restful shut eye is for our skin.
  • The older I am growing, the more gentle I am becoming with my skin- harsh doesn’t work for me anymore. I have reduced the amount of acid-based product and am choosing more gentle, nourishing ranges that are kinder to my skin instead- and it’s working!
  • I drink lots of fluids (water, herbal teas and my coffee that I cant live without!).
  • I eat GLOW foods every day! Primarily plant-based Mediterranean style diet– with oily fish, eggs and an occasional serving of free range meat or chicken.
  • I move my body – a lot! For me it's yoga. Find something you love and do it.
  • My day begins with a turmeric tonic: mix ½ fingernail size finely chopped turmeric (or less than ½ tsp turmeric powder) with a pinch of black pepper and a slice of fresh lime (or lemon) in a glass of hot water.
  • I am trying to laugh and smile more– we can learn much from our children for whom laughing and smiling is a big part of their every day!