The science behind skincare and the ingredients that deliver

Posted on Sep 28 2016 - 11:00am by Ashlea Curley
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Skincare has a pretty important role in our lives – and if it doesn’t, you best listen up! With such a huge variety of skincare products, it can be a little daunting to know where to start. Science is everywhere when it comes to anti-ageing and there’s a range of ingredients in skincare that all help encourage healthy skin. We just need to know exactly what to look for and how it affects our skin. So we’ve looked into it for so you can look know what you’re putting on your skin and whether it’ll help you achieve those desired results

GLYCOLIC ACID is a natural ingredient extracted from sugar cane. It is the most common and safest form of alpha hydroxyl acids, a set of active compounds used within skincare. You will usually find glycolic acid in exfoliators and facial peels as it safely removes the outer layer of dead skin to unveil fresh, new skin. It can also help lighten discolouration of the skin, such as sun or age spots, as well as those with acne prone skin. It works by sinking deeply into the skin to break down the glue between the skin’s cells between the top layer of skin to leave you with smoother, brighter and younger looking skin. However, it’s not all fun and games with glycolic acid as our skin takes some time to get used to it and a percentage that is too high can cause redness, itchiness and, in some cases, skin can become flaky and crusty. It also makes skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s very important to wear sunscreen all day every day, even if using glycolic based products at night, to avoid pigmentation and sun damage.

SALICYLIC ACID is commonly used for acne-prone skin. It works similarly to glycolic acid as it breaks up cells to unblock blackheads and whiteheads to leave your skin free of blemishes, promoting clearer skin. It is also an anti-irritant, which reduces redness and calms breakouts with its anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid also aids with anti-ageing, as it helps to firm and plump the skin by encouraging new cell turnover. Much like glycolic acid, salicylic acid makes skin extra sensitive to the sun, so protection from the sun is essential.  The shedding of the cells could also result in irritated, dry, peeling, flaking and stinging skin.

VITAMIN A is found in many skincare products targeted at acne and anti-ageing. It works by thickening the dermis to boost collagen, elastin and blood vessels to reduce wrinkles and increase blood flow to the face. It also reduces brown spots and pigmentation by decreasing the clustering of melanin granules, and overall promotes healthier skin. But like most skincare ingredients, vitamin A takes a while to get to work as they need time to sink deeply into the skin. Vitamin A also has other side effects including sun sensitivity, irritation, redness and drying of the skin.

RETINOL is a type of vitamin A and it is the number 1 anti-ageing ingredient that dermatologists recommend. It can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps collagen-depleted skin while reducing the appearance of pore size. It may seem like a little miracle worker but retinol needs time to adjust to your skin and should be used in conjunction with your moisturiser or serum to avoid irritation as well as a helping of sunscreen to further protect your skin. What’s more, it may not be suitable for your skin type/age. If used before required or if it’s just not suitable to your skin; you’ll end up with red, raw, flaky skin as it is an ingredient designed to work in a way your body no longer can. Used too soon and it’ll strip your skin of the essentials oils it needs.

CAFFEINE not only wakes us up in the morning but it is becoming a popular ingredient in skincare. Caffeine can reduce wrinkles, shrink fat cells and smooth cellulite. It works by constricting blood vessels, which minimises the look of puffy eyes and creates tighter skin. The ingredient has also shown to have antioxidant properties as it protects skin cells from UV rays. You will mainly find caffeine in eye creams and facial products to help reduce the look of tired eyes and redness, to help give you naturally firm skin. The main problem with caffeine is that studies have shown that it is a temporary fix. Once the caffeine is out of the system, your blood vessels will return to normal and could make skin look saggy.

This is just a taster of the many ingredients available out there that are added into our skincare products which all have different powers to aid our skin. However, we should always know what it is that we are putting on our face and how it should be stored to get the best results and, even more importantly, save our money so research in this area is essential. If you’re seeking a more tailored recommendation suited to your skin type and current state, an appointment with a dermatologist or specialist clinic would certainly prove beneficial as they’ll be able to advise and potentially prescribe correct products (and strengths) to help you achieve your desired results whether that’s acne prone skin, scarring, rosacea or to seek advice about anti-ageing products/ingredients that are suitable for you.

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