Popular Actives and How to Use Them!
Skincare products that focus on one ingredient (usually referred to as an active) are becoming more and more popular these days. The good news is we can customize our own skin routine. The bad news? If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could make your skin worse.
When using actives there’s a fine balance to get the maximum benefits without overdoing it. Layering more actives does not equal better skin, nor does it mean your skin concerns will be treated faster.
Let's talk about the most popular actives and how to properly use them.
Alpha hydroxy acids are actives that include glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids. They are water soluble and work on the skin’s surface, making them a gentle chemical exfoliant and suitable for dry and sensitive skin types.
AHA’s are great at reducing sun damage, treating fine lines, and can help fight acne. They are also popular for their powerful effects on smoothing out skin texture.
AHA’s should be applied on dry skin, preferably at night, although some people do use them in the morning. I prefer night time because if you suffer from dry skin you can follow with a heavier moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
Some popular AHA products:
The OrdinaryLactic Acid 10% + HA
PETER THOMAS ROTHGlycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer 63ml
The OrdinaryMandelic Acid 10% + HA
A BHA, or beta hydroxy acid, is an oil soluble acid that works by penetrating the top layer of the skin and breaking up excess sebum and clearing out the dead skin cells. It’s a chemical exfoliant, so your skin may appear dry and flaky as it does it’s job. One of the most well-known BHA’s is salicylic acid. It’s been around forever and is most likely an active you’ve already used.
Salicylic acid is mostly known for treating pimples, but has a multitude of benefits. It works to treat psoriasis, hyperpigmentation, and can help improve skin texture.
To use salicylic acid and get it’s maximum benefits, you want to apply it to dry skin and follow up with a good moisturizer at night. While you can layer BHA’s with AHA’s I do not recommend it, even for the toughest skin. Using AHA actives and BHA’s alternating nights is the safest way to get the benefits of both without irritating the skin.
Some popular BHA products:
PAULA'S CHOICESkin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliator
Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A and there are a few different types used in skincare. Retinol is available over-the-counter and is commonly found in serums and moisturizers. Tretinoin (brand name Retin-A) is available as a prescription and considered the gold standard, not just of retinoids but all skincare actives. Adapalene (brand name Differin) is another prescription-grade retinoid that’s now available over-the-counter.
Retinoids work by penetrating the skin deeper than other actives and stimulate cell turnover, essentially creating new skin and shedding the old. Because they penetrate deeper than other actives, they’re known for fighting wrinkles and are often prescribed for anti-aging. They are also fight acne, help resurface the skin, and can even out hyperpigmentation. They basically do it all!
Because they are so powerful, it’s imperative to build up your skin’s tolerance and wear sunscreen. It’s recommended to start with an over-the-counter retinol before moving onto something that’s prescription-grade.
They should be used on clean, dry skin. You can also use them over a moisturizer if you have dry or sensitive skin as a buffer. They shouldn’t be used with anything else. When your skin’s tolerance builds up, you can experiment with alternating your retinoid and an AHA or BHA.
PETER THOMAS ROTHRetinol Fusion PM Night Serum
Go slow and listen to your skin. With all the hype over new products, it's easy to get carried away and want to try it all. Always incorporate one active at a time and watch your skin's reaction. Remember that it can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks to see the results of actives.
Hyaluronic Acid 101 x DermDoctor
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a humectant that famously holds 1000 times its weight in water. It pulls in water from the environment and from the deeper layers of your skin. This ingredient seems to be ubiquitous in skincare products nowadays and it can be found in a lot of moisturizers. Benefits: -Immediately plumps the skin, softening fine lines and wrinkles -Hydrates the skin (specifically high-molecular-weight HA) -Assists in wound healing Dermatologist Tips: -Hyaluronic acid is your first step after cleansing -Must be applied to damp skin! -If you live in a dry climate, make sure to moisturize immediately after -Can be used once or twice a day -Safe to layer with most other skincare ingredients My Top Picks: VICHY - Minéral 89 Face Serum This contains a high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid, which has moisturizing properties and sits on the surface of the skin without causing inflammation. It contains only 11 ingredients making it ideal for people with sensitive skin (like me). Also, Vichy’s proprietary volcanic water has actually been studied and proven to have skin protective and healing properties THE inkey LIST - Hyaluronic Acid Serum The price point here is unbeatable. Again, with a simple ingredient list, you’re unlikely to run into issues with allergy or irritation. This contains a multi-molecular-weight HA, which allows you reap additional benefits, in addition to hydration and plumping. This also has matrixyl 3000 peptide, which can stimulate collagen synthesis Neutrogena - Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum Both high and low-molecular weight hyaluronic acid for added benefits. This also contains glycerin (another amazing humectant) and vitamin B5 (an amazing anti-oxidant) NATURIUM - Quadruple Hyaluronic Acid Serum 5% A great option fragrance-free, cruelty-free option from Naturium! This contains multi-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid that hydrates, plumps, and repairs the skin. #CheriePartner
Dry Shampoo white residue? Don’t worry I got you
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🧡Creator Roundup 🏷 Beauty Year-in-review
Check out these creators’ profiles to see their beauty journeys in 2020! Creator: @Ren14 “What Stayed🍾Cooluli - Classic 4 Liter Small Mini Fridge Cooluli Skincare Fridge: I adore my little fridge! It feels so good to have chilled serums, especially in the morning! I love it so much that I’m thinking I’m going to get a bigger one so I can add more products in! Truly a must have for a skincare lover! Also, the fridge can warm up products too!” Creator:@LindseyRR “2020 is the year I think we all will remember forever. Everything in our lives changed and things have been incredibly difficult. The entire world had a health crisis, so many of our loved ones are no longer here. I myself am taking a journey with a health crisis of my own but as hard as 2020 has been, it has also been INCREDIBLE.” Creator: @briordan2000 “This year has definitely been a wild ride. I’ve learned so much more about my hair and skin in this last year than I ever thought I would or needed to know!“
Why pH of skincare products is important?
The pH is defined as the negative logarithm (base ten) of the concentration of free hydrogen ions in aqueous solution. The pH of skin surface ranges from 4.5 to 6 making it slightly acidic. The acidic nature of the whole skin surface was first claimed by Heuss in 1892; however, the first scientific study was carried out by Schade and Marchionini in 1928, who called it the acid mantle. The “acid mantle” protects the skin by inhibiting the growth of pathogenic organisms, regulating keratinization, desquamation and wound healing. Any disruption in the acid mantle disrupts the activity of enzymes involved in barrier function and anti-microbial protection. The skin pH and the buffering capacity of the skin surface are made up of the components of the stratum corneum as well as the secretions from sebaceous and sweat glands. Sweat is an important contributor towards skin acidity owing to its content of amino acid, lactic acid, and urea, which supplement skin NMF levels. The formation of stratum corneum barrier requires enzymes that are pH dependent. Two lipid-processing enzymes β-glucocerebrosidase and acidic sphingomyelinase require a pH of 5.6 and 4.5, respectively. An increased skin surface pH activates enzyme serine proteases, which causes degradation of corneodesmosomes and affects the skin barrier. pH also has a big impact on the skin microbiome. The bactericidal activity, because of dermicidin and nitrites in sweat, occurs optimally at pH 5.5. The resident bacterial flora changes as pH increases causing increase in population and activity of P. acnes and Staphylococcus aureus which are responsible for acne and eczema. All these result in contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis, acne vulgaris and Candida albicans infections. Products with high pH cause swelling of skin follicles affecting the permeability of the skin making it dry, sensitive, and susceptible. Most of the skincare products are formulated within the pH range of normal healthy skin except the exfoliating products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA’s), Vitamin C products and chemical peel which work at low pH. Facial oils, cleansing oils, balms are not pH dependent.
The Ordinary Empties and final thoughts!
I believe it’s been almost 10 months of me using The Ordinary products and wow! I can’t believe so much time has passed! These 3 products are the very first products I ever bought to try and here’s what I think! The Ordinary - Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% This serum I would buy again and again. And I do! I’m on my 3rd bottle! Because I usually wear glasses, my nose gets really really oily under the nose pieces which causes them to slide around my face A LOT. After using this serum, I’ve noticed that I really don’t get oily in that spot anymore thank god! My T zone is balanced and because of my oil production going down, I’ve also noticed my pores around my nose have shrunk dramatically. The Ordinary - Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 This one I’m really on the fence about. I have definitely seen improvement in my face in terms of “wrinkles” which really were just a way of my face telling me I needed more moisture! However, the formula is soooo tacky that when I try to use it during the day it makes my sunscreen pill no matter how long I wait for it to settle in. Even though I hate the tackiness, I still bought a 2nd bottle! The Ordinary - Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG There’s nothing wrong with this product. I just feel like it didn’t do much for me! I got it to help with my dark under eyes and puffiness but I don’t think it did much. If it did do anything, it was too gradual of a change for me to notice. Also, does anyone know what all this buildup is around the cap??? I guess we will see how long it takes me to realize it did help and I run to get a new bottle! For now, I think one bottle of this was enough for me.
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