The science of skincare

4 minutes reading time

The shelves of every supermarket or beauty store are laden with products claiming miracle ingredients to fight all manner of beauty bloopers. There’s anti-acne, anti-ageing, hydrating, replenishing, collagen creating and many more.

With so much science on the shelves, the chances are that your dressing table probably contains creams, cleansers and serums with all sorts of active ingredients.  The question is, do they all work together to have the overall beauty boosting effect you’re after, or does the complicated mix leave you with nothing more than a lighter purse!

Pretty products don’t automatically mean skin perfection

Whether you stick with your favourite skincare brand or are free and easy with your loyalties, the important thing to remember is that good skincare is about finding the right ingredients for your skin.  It’s about quality, not quantity.

Loading up on all of the most powerful products isn’t a sure-fire way of finding that peachy skin you’re after. Instead, this kind of hybrid of formulas is more likely to leave you with breakouts, dryness or inflammation.  This is because some of the active ingredients used in skincare products can act as irritants when mixed with others, particularly if you have sensitive skin.

This doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match your products, but rather than using the surface of your face as a mini science lab, it’s better to check out the ingredients first!

Poor performers

These skin care favourites may promise great things, but in combination they may have the opposite effect.

Don’t mix: Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinol

Both of these ingredients, individually, are great for treating acne and helping to prevent breakouts.  But when used together, they cancel each other out.  Benzoyl Peroxide is great for treating inflammatory acne, but it can inactivate any retinol based product you apply to the skin.

If you want to get the benefits of both products, don’t layer them on top of each other.  Instead, use Benzoyl Peroxide in the morning and a retinoid at night.

Don’t mix: Vitamin C and Retinol

Retinoids are powerful for a number of skincare concerns, ranging from tackling fine lines and wrinkles, to skin pigmentation, acne treatment and collagen production. Vitamin C can also help with a number of these same issues, due to it’s antioxidant properties. Retinol is a fairly potent ingredient, however, with a risk of irritation. So, combining it with any other active and acidic ingredient, such as Vitamin C, can upset sensitive skin.

Don’t mix: Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Retinol

As with the Vitamin C scenario, Alpha Hydroxy acids could also fuel the irritating effects of Retinol.  You often find glycolic acid, lactic acid and/or salicylic acid in face washes, so it’s best not to follow these directly with a product containing retinol.

Instead, if you want to get the benefits of alpha-hydroxy acids (which include minimising pores, preventing pimples and improving the skins texture) consider using those products in the morning and your retinol product and a gentle moisturiser at night.

Don’t mix: Vitamin C and Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Separately these ingredients both offer antioxidant benefits, but as they are both acidic, combining them can upset the pH balance of your skin.  You probably won’t suffer too much of an irritation or any inflammation as a result, but the high levels of acidity in something like glycolic or salicylic acid, is likely to reduce the effectiveness of the Vitamin C to the point where it’s almost not worth having.

Consider getting your Vitamin C through other means, or just using these ingredients separately to maximise their effect.

Don’t mix: Vitamin B3 and Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Vitamin B3 is a skin-conditioning agent that helps to repair and refine the structure of the skin.  It works best in a neutral pH environment. So, combining it with an acidic ingredient will simply cancel out any of the benefits.  It won’t do you any harm, but it’s unlikely to have any useful effect either.

Winning combinations

Here are some handy hints to help you find a combination of ingredients that pack the right punch.

Winner: Retinol and Glycerin, or alternatively, Hyaluronic Acid

Retinol is a brilliant ingredient, but it’s quite potent and can be very drying, so it should be used sparingly.  Glycerin, on the other hand, is a powerful humectant, meaning that it is great at drawing moisture to the skin.  These two products work well together to combat the signs of ageing, because the glycerine moisturises the skin and works to minimise the irritating effects of the retinol.

Similarly, Hyaluronic Acid is also a fantastic humectant, holding up to 1000 times it’s weight in water. This ingredient will work wonders at drawing moisture into the skin and locking it in, to combat the drying effects of Retinol.

Winner: Vitamin C and Ferulic acid

If you want to boost the antioxidising effects of Vitamin C, and tackle those fine lines and wrinkles, try to find a skin care product that mixes the vitamin with glutathione and ferulic acid (both of which are also natural antioxidants).  This will act as an environmental shield and anti-ageing armour for your skin.

Winner: Vitamins C and E

Both of these vitamins are antioxidants that can help protect your skin from free radicals in the environment and the ageing effects of sun exposure. Combining these two ingredients will boost their skin protecting magic.

The best way to ensure your skin benefits from these popular beauty-boosting ingredients and not suffer a scientific breakdown, is to take it slowly.

If you’re going to combine products, try one first and allow your skin to adjust to it before introducing another.  If you have sensitive skin, take particular care with any products that could cause dryness.  And, if in doubt, leave the chemical complexity to an expert and seek the help of a dermatologist.

Breaking wellness news and personal stories
Subscribe now - it's free!

Comment below

Read more:
Guest Spot: Reiki and modern life

We live in a world today where the traditional 9-5 no longer exists; we are constantly engaged and accessible because...

Close