Over-the-counter skincare has come incredibly far in the past few years and is continuing to develop even further. Long gone are the days when skincare was just about cleansing and moisturising your skin.
Good skincare can not only make skin look better, but also function better. Skincare has these four main functions:
- Protection (eg from sunlight, pollution and other environmental harms). Sun protection moisturisers and topical antioxidants fall into this group.
- Bio-Stimulation of collagen and elastin production to slow down age related decline and counteract lines and wrinkles. Bio-stimulation is also relevant for supporting a healthy epidermal turnover, so the dead skin cell layers on top of the skin don’t get too thick (which makes our skin look dull).
- Evening out irregular pigmentation – because an even skin tone is seen as not only more attractive, but the person is also judged as being healthier (science proven).
- Hydration. While this is important for skin with impaired epidermal barrier function, we should be careful not to overdo it. The current obsession with hydration is not helpfulin my opinion, as healthy skin can do this quite well on its own, if we let it.
In any case, everybody should use good skincare on a daily basis, because it will make a big difference for your skin long-term. It is an investment, yes, but it’s an investment into your skin’s future. Remember – good skin never goes out of fashion!
When you are young, skincare is to protect your skin and prevent premature decline. And when your skin become more mature, good skincare can support healthy skin regeneration and rejuvenation.
It always amazes me to hear some people say “I don’t use anti-ageing skincare, because I want to age gracefully and naturally”. No offence, but that just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Let me explain.
As we get older our fibroblast skin cells get a bit lazy and produce less and less collagen and elastin. That’s one of the main reasons why our skin becomessaggier and wrinklier looking. Good skincare can help prevent and reverse some of those changes and stimulate your fibroblasts to behave more like younger cells and produce more collagen and elastin.
Similarly, our muscles also tend to get lazy as we get older and will atrophy and get weaker –unless we keep challenging them with regular physical exercise to help slow downthis age-related decline. We all accept without doubting that we should not just sit back and accept weakening muscles as one of those things. No, we do whatever we can to keep our body and muscles healthy. And nobody would ever say “I don’t exercise because I want to age gracefully and naturally”.
So why would you ever say that for your skin?
Decline in your skin’s collagen and elastin is as much something you should work on and help prevent as much as possible as you do it with your muscles! There is no shame in exercising to support your muscles to stay fit – and there is no shame in supporting your skin to stay fit by using good skincare. Amen…
But what I understand very well is that you may not want to spend time using a16-step, Korean-style skincare routinemorning and evening, but that you may want to streamline your skincare regime – while maintaining maximum benefits. That’s a bit like high-intensity-interval training for your skin – working harder to save time. I am with you on that.
With that in mind, let me tell you the three hard working ingredients everybody should be using.
So, if you want to protect your skin, slow down skin ageing process and keep it healthy and beautiful long-term, these are the three most important skincare products everybody should be using (plus, of course cleansing twice daily – that goes without saying):
- a) An antioxidant serum and an SPF 30-50 moisturiser in the morning
- b) A collagen stimulator such as a retinoid in the evening
I am really happy to observe that there has been a shift away from fancy jars, elaborate smells and a purely marketing driven development of new ingredients. New-new-new is not always better and my recommendation is to stick to what we know works rather than constantly jumping onto the next best band wagon! Gold particles, caviar, diamonds sprinkle and even space dust – I have seen it all…
I am also in favour of expert-developed, multi-functional products that have been designedto work in concert rather than putting together your own combination of single ingredient skincare products.
In my professional opinion as a cosmetic dermatologist, single ingredient products are a lazy, mindless way of formulating skincare, which is I fear often driven by business interests rather than an authentic passion and expertise for skincare.
There are many reasons why I would not recommend self-layering of single ingredient skincare. One of which is that you may compromise optimal absorption of active ingredients into the skin. Another reason is that you will simply not be able to predict how exactly these different products will interact with each other. It may be, for example, that one ingredient prefers a different pH from another, so mixing two formulations may not be a good idea, as you will be altering the pH of the original products.
There really is a reason why we don’t formulate our own skincare at home but trust the expertise of genuine experts. Why go back to essentially ‘cooking’ your own skincare at home by mixing and/or layering multiple single-ingredient products?
What comes next – mixing honey with milk and yogurt and apply this on your skin for anti-ageing purposes, like the ancient Greeks did?
Also, the more layers, the higher the risk of clogged pores, with the possible consequence of breakouts (I see this in clinic every single week). Overloading the skin with layer upon layer of skincare will in my opinion also make the skin appear dull over time. The latter can happen if you prevent healthy exfoliation by essentially ‘sticking down’ the stratum corneum (the top layer on the skin, containing dead horn cells) again and again with thick skincare, rather than letting is shed off naturally.
My advice to you is to not try to be your own beauty ‘chemist’ but rely on evidence-based combination products.
Churning out a ton of mindless products, each containing a single ingredient and leaving the rest to the consumer (good luck with that…), is in my opinion a huge step back and a real shame.
Am I the only one thinking that?
Anyway, I hope this was helpful.
Take care of yourself and your skin.