Skincare cocktails (a blend of different products targeting a single concern) can really boost the efficacy and results of your skincare products – allowing you to target your skin’s multiple needs in one simple routine. However, it’s more of a science than an art and experimenting can be tricky as some ingredients layer better than others, while some do not mix at all. With that in mind we asked skincare expert and product trainer here at Space NK, Niamh Butler, for her advice on creating your very own bespoke cocktail.
“First of all, consider the order in which you cocktail” explains Niamh. “As a general rule it’s best to layer products from lightest to heaviest.” It’s also important to remember what doesn’t combine well, Niamh explains “retinol is very active, so I wouldn’t usually recommend using it together with an acid, however if both acids and retinols work for you then use acid in the morning and retinol at night.” We always recommend a daily sunscreen but it’s essential when using active ingredients as skin can become more sensitive to UV light. “What’s really important” says Niamh “is to listen to your skin and get to know how it reacts to different ingredients. Always give it time to acclimatise to new products and always introduce active ingredients one-by-one.”
Skincare Cocktail Recipes
Target: wrinkles and dehydration with Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol + Facial Oil
“Retinol is the anti-ageing hero” explains Niamh “it increases cell turnover and this in turn increases collagen and elastin production. However, it is very active, and can sometimes cause a little dryness or dehydration on the surface of the skin.” To combat this side-effect, it’s a good idea to use retinol in conjunction with nourishing hyaluronic acid and oil.
“Hyaluronic acid binds water to our skin, helping to balance water levels, whereas oil is the cement that keeps skin firm and replenished” says Niamh. Try a retinol serum at night such as Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum and follow with a hyaluronic infused moisturiser like Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion. If dryness is a concern, boost this pairing with a nourishing face oil like Votary Super Seed Facial Oil.
Target: protect against premature lines and wrinkles with Antioxidants + Sunscreen
The first cause of ageing is environmental damage – free radicals including pollution, chemicals and naturally occurring elements are damaging to our skin, causing collagen and elastin to start breaking down. This is where antioxidants step in, “antioxidants neutralise free radicals, so they’re really important for protection against fine lines, wrinkles and loss of volume.” Niamh reveals, “vitamin C is one of the most celebrated antioxidants and it also has the bonus of brightening and evening-out skin tone as well as helping to boost collagen production.”
We recommend applying Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum every morning before your moisturiser and then following with an SPF. UV rays are one of the biggest causes of free radicals and says Niamh “these rays also damage the skin in other ways, causing the degradation of collagen and hyperpigmentation.” Damaging UVA light is present all year round even on cloudy days, so it’s important to make sun protection part of your everyday routine. “The biggest issue with SPF” says Niamh “is usually texture – getting this right will mean you apply enough product- half a teaspoon for face and neck.” Apply sun protection as the last step in your skincare regime – before your makeup. We like the light gel-texture of Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Aqua Gel SPF 50, or for a hydration boost try Eve Lom Daily Protection SPF 50.
Target: balance combination skin with Salicylic Acid + Niacinamide
If your skin can’t make up its mind and can be both oily and dry, then this regime will help to both calm and nourish. “Salicylic acid is a BHA, meaning it is oil soluble and will exfoliate inside the pores where oil collects. It is also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial making it the perfect product to prevent and treat breakouts,” says Niamh.
Skin becomes inflamed, red and sore when breakouts hit, so to help soothe we recommend niacinamide which also works well on any dry patches, making it ideal for combination skin. “Niacinamide” reveals Niamh, “is a version of vitamin B3, which can brighten the complexion, reduce water loss through the skin and fight inflammation.” Try Herbivore Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner every evening after cleansing to gently exfoliate pores, followed by Verso Hydration Serum with Niacinamide – either all over or just focusing on dry areas.
Target: fight pigmentation and dullness with Glycolic Acid + Vitamin C
When skin lacks radiance and has an uneven tone, turn to this regime to reveal a brighter more unified complexion. AHAs work to slough away dead skin cells, revealing the younger, newer and brighter skin cells below. “Glycolic is the smallest AHA molecule meaning it refines the skin more than any other acid” advises Niamh, “it will work to refine the skin, helping to fade excess melanin while revealing more glowing skin.” Vitamin C is a great antioxidant “and also helps to brighten skin and even-out hyper pigmentation,” says Niamh, “it inhibits enzymatic processes that produce melanin in the skin and only targets areas where there is excess melanin.”
As both glycolic and vitamin C are acidic, it’s best to use them at different times of the day. Try a Vitamin C product such as Natura Bissé C+C Vitamin Cream in the morning, and a glycolic-rich serum such as Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum at night time. Always follow with a daily SPF, as Niamh explains “all hyper-pigmentation damage is permanent, even if it is faded – so sun protection is the only way to prevent it reoccurring.”