The first of three instalments, we dot the I’s and cross the T’s on skincare, de-mystifying weird and wonderful ingredients and simplifying scientific jargon.
A is for Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to prevent cell damage caused by oxidants (free radicals produced both within the body and in the environment), and while there are thousands of antioxidant compounds, the most common in skincare include retinol, green tea and vitamins C and E. These ingredients are key to keeping skin looking more youthful, since they encourage cell renewal, reduce the appearance of fine lines and smooth out the skin’s surface.
Vitamin C-rich skincare is particularly effective on every skin type, but we suggest starting with a lower percentage (10% or less) if you have sensitive skin as it can be difficult to tolerate in the beginning. The effects of vitamin C are seemingly endless; from brightening the skin’s surface to boosting collagen production, it’s an industry favourite for a reason.
Try: Dr Dennis Gross’ C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm range, which delivers targeted vitamin C to support collagen production.
B is for BHAs
There is only one BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid); salicylic acid. Salicylic reaches the pores and lower levels of skin rather than just the surface and is therefore able to sheds skin cells. This effective exfoliant is best for clogged, oily skin that suffers with breakouts that require a deeper clean.
Many BHAs come as liquid exfoliants which can be directly swiped over the face with a cotton pad, making them easy to incorporate into your skincare routine. Begin by using a salicylic-based product bi-weekly as it takes time for skin to get used to such an active acid.
Try: The Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Bi-Phase Peel contains a blend of BHA and AHAs and works as a gentle peel to exfoliate and refresh the complexion.
C is for Collagen
Collagen is a protein that’s found in the skin’s connective tissue and is responsible for keeping us supple and youthful. As we age, our collagen supply depletes, meaning fine lines can appear; over-exposure to the sun can also kill off collagen and hasten the ageing process.
In skincare, collagen can be administered in one of two ways: topically or from within with products that help us stimulate our production. We recommend taking an inside-out approach for maximum impact.
Try: The Beauty Chef’s Collagen supplement will encourage collagen growth, while the Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen delivers a hit of topical vegan, plant-based collagen to keep the epidermis fresh.
D is for Dermis
The skin is divided into three levels, the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The dermis is the secondary layer which sits beneath your epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) and is usually around 0.3-3.00mm. It contains connective tissues, collagen and elastin protein and works to protect skin with immune cells. As this is where new cells begin and elasticity is controlled, the dermis plays a huge part in keeping the outer layers of skin looking nourished and youthful.
The best targeted treatment to reach the lower layers of skin is a serum, which is made up of smaller molecules so can penetrate deeper than other products. Because of this, they contain a high concentration of active ingredients, meaning they’ll have a more potent effect where needed.
Try: Oskia’s Super 16 Pro-Collagen Serum, which contains a long list of active ingredients for flawless skin.
E is for Essential Oils
Essential oils are “pure concentrates of mineral-rich botanicals”, notes Anita Kaushal, founder of Mauli. While there are some concerns essential oils can irritate sensitive skin, “a well-considered blend gives the skin exactly what it needs to heal, hydrate and repair”, says Anita. There is a seemingly endless roster of essential oils to try, but favourites include geranium, which helps to control oil production, and frankincense, which is known to help with pigmentation.
Stressed skin should opt for products containing lavender, as it helps with irritation, while mature or dry skin benefits from a dose of nourishing neroli.
Try: To discover which essential oils works for you, try brands such as Mauli.
F is for Fatigue
Skin fatigue is common these days; when we are tired or stressed, our adrenal glands release cortisol, which is a stress hormone that manifests itself through dullness, dehydration and breakouts. In short, our skin is as exhausted as we are. While getting a good night’s sleep, taking time to relax and avoiding stressful situations are all vital, it’s crucial that we look after our skin from the outside-in.
Treat skin to a wonder-mask that contains invigorating, uplifting ingredients to liven up tired complexions.
Try: The Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque will stop fatigue in its tracks.
G is for Glycolic Acid
“Glycolic acid is part of the group of active compounds known as AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids)”, explains Susanna Saiu, Technical Education Manager at Ren. Natural glycolic acid is usually extracted from pineapple or sugar cane, and it “helps to slough off dead skin cells, refining and retexturizing the skin’s surface, providing a brighter, more youthful complexion”, says Susanna. It’s therefore ideal for skin that suffers from blocked pores, blackheads or acne.
As with salicylic acid, it’s important to begin slowly with glycolic, applying once or twice a week to begin with so as not to overwhelm sensitive areas. Always apply an SPF following use, too, as acids make skin more photosensitive.
Try: Ren’s new Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic for a gentle yet effective dose of glycolic.
H is for Hyaluronic Acid
The beauty buzzword of the moment, hyaluronic acid is the ultimate wonder ingredient. “Its key arbitrate is that it can hold over 1,000 times its weight in water, making it an excellent hydrator”, says Georgie Cleeve, founder of Oskia. “It assists in the passage of nutrients throughout the skin and plays an important role in skin healing, particularly after UV damage”, she continues.
Hyaluronic is also key in reducing any fine lines caused by ageing, as it re-hydrates and plumps. What’s more it works with nearly every skin type regardless of whether you are dry, oily or normal.
Try: It is best applied topically within serums, which can reach the deeper layers of skin; we love the Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum