Hello my loves!
I hope you’re all feeling well rested following the festive break and are tackling 2018 with some punch and pazazz! Today’s post is going to be based upon something that I’ve found particularly confuzzling over the past few months, and that is the jargon that is related to skin care. Now this is going to get a bit wordy I won’t lie. We’ve been spoilt for choice throughout 2017 when it comes to effective, affordable skin care, seeing more and more revolutionary and nutrient rich products popping up on the market, especially on the high street. There have also been a lot of buzz words flying about when it comes to ‘active ingredients’ within our skin care. We’ve been going silly for salicylic, gaga for glycolic, and hooie for hyaluronic. Brands like Deciem’s The Ordinary really seem to have struck a chord in bringing the consumer affordably closer to those scientifically super lotions and potions that claim to suppress, and even reverse the signs of aging. The crazy thing is that these active ingredients have been around for years, hidden away in beautifully packaged, high-end bottles and tubes, but it’s only been within the last couple of years that these ingredients have become the trendy must haves we’re all itching to get out hands on.
Now I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent a good number of hours ogling over YouTube videos (Caroline Hirons is queen!), exploring and learning about not only what products are out there, but also about what our skin actually NEEDS to stay healthy. Of course diet and lifestyle play major parts in this subject, but there are hundreds and thousands of topical creams, serums, mists and masks that promise to provide our skin with what it needs to thrive. Acids and retinoids seem to be the major players. But what are these ingredients, and what do they do? The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines an active ingredient as ‘any component of a product that has an effect on the diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease, or that affects the structure or function of the body‘. Pretty self-explanatory. I actually found a brief yet interesting article on Livestrong.com which gives an overview of active ingredients and their role within the skin care industry.
So let’s move on to some of these skin loving ingredients, and take a look at who they are and why they are used…
Glycolic Acid – A natural plant-based chemical exfoliant that breaks down the outer layer of the skin (epidermis), weakening dead skin cells and allowing them to be removed. This process exposes the live skin cells below, brightening and smoothing the skin’s appearance. It is able to penetrate deep into the skin and supposedly helps to boost collagen production making it effective for reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and even scars. Daily skin care products that contain glycolic acid often provide a low percentage of this ingredient (10-20%) and are said to be gentle even on sensitive skins. Higher percentages tend to be found in chemical peels. Glycolic Acid can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so SPF’s are often recommended to be used alongside it. This active ingredient is often found in cleansers, liquid exfoliators and overnight treatments.
Hyaluronic Acid – The hydrator! This ingredient occurs naturally in the body, but as we age our skin looses the ability to hold onto moisture which is why the skin tends to lose firmness and wrinkles seem more defined. Known as a ‘water loving molecule’, hyaluronic acid has the ability to attract and preserve large amounts of water leaving the skin feeling more hydrated. It is often seen in moisturisers and serums and the visible effects can be almost instantaneous. I’ve also read that hyaluronic acid can provide an antioxidant defence against environmental factors. Again percentages in daily skin care products tend to be relatively low, and whilst it is a gentle ingredient it is great for sensitive skin and an ideal first layer of moisture within any skincare routine.
Vitamin C (or Ascorbic Acid) – As well as being an ambassador for a healthy immune system, vitamin C is very beneficial in the realms of skincare. Its anti-oxidant properties help boost the production of collagen, prevent and treat UV damage, brighten and smooth the skin. This is a golden anti-aging ingredient that comes in many forms such as cleansers, serums and moisturisers so it can be easy to integrate into your routine.
Salicylic Acid – The acne fighting ingredient. Known for gently exfoliating the top layer of the epidermis, whilst simultaneously unclogging blocked pores. Similarly to Glycolic acid this can be prone to making the skin more sensitive to the sun so SPF’s are recommended to be applied. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties which is great for reducing redness and calming angry, blemished skin. Do to its exfoliating and hydrating qualities skin can feel smoother. Upon first application this one might sting a little or even cause mild peeling but this is quite normal and safe. Percentage wise standard over the counter products appear to contain somewhere between 1.5 – 4% depending on the formula, and this skin loving acid is typically found in serums and specific spot treating solutions.
Retinol – Retinol creams (or retinoids) are the anti-aging weapon in skin care! A derivative of vitamin A, this ingredients is known for fighting fine lines and wrinkles by speeding up cell turnover and can even reverse side effects of sun damage. Wow! Retinol is however not for the faint hearted or sensitive skin types as it can cause flaking and be drying, along side this retinol should be slowing introduced in skin care routines to give the skin chance to get used to it. But another pro to note is that discolouration can be evened out, and skin conditions such as eczema and acne benefit from this ingredient. Retinol products are best purchased in air tight, opaque containers as vitamin A can degrade if repeatedly exposed to light or air. From my research, retinol products seem to often come in forms of overnight treatment, giving the cell renewal process chance to get to work whilst you sleep. This is another product that should be followed up with a moisturiser and SPF.
So these are just a few of the skin loving active ingredients I’ve seen popping up more so over the past year. Not only because they are being flung all over social media but because brands are going to town promoting these ingredients on their packaging, really highlighting them as the stars of the show. It certainly makes me think a little more about the products I’m investing in, and as to which are the key ingredients to look out for. I hope this wordy post has been of interest, and maybe you’ve learnt a little something along the way. I know I certainly have whilst doing my research! If you enjoyed this then don’t forget to give this a little like, and leave me a comment as I always love to hear from you.
How For Now