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Skin Care: An Introduction To Anti-Ageing With Actives

 

WHAT ARE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS?

Actives are specific ingredients in skincare products that address problems such as: acne, hydration, brightening or wrinkles. For instance, if you're buying a cleanser that is supposed to treat the problem of acne, then the active in the cleanser may be salicylic acid. Not everything has active ingredients in it - for example you may use a general moisturiser without using it with the intent to solve a skin issue.

Actives are so important for getting anti-ageing results from your skincare. Moisturising your skin alone will not prevent wrinkles! From Vitamin A to Q10, there are SO many actives in skincare that help you with anti-ageing. I thought it would be a great blog post to introduce you to some of my favourite anti-ageing active ingredients. 

So without further ado, here we go! 

RETINOIDS -> VITAMIN A

Retinol is an amazing work horse when it comes to anti-ageing. When we think of retinol - anti-ageing is the first thing that comes to mind, however, it also helps with acne and Psoriasis.

Retinol works by 

Retinoids can irritate the skin, this can include peeling, especially if you’re new to them. When you start using retinol - there are a couple of things you do to prevent irritation:

  • Mix the retinol with moisturiser
  • Moisturise before/after using the retinol
  • Don't use everyday. Use every "other" day.

 

There are so many different derivatives of Vitamin A so read "Everything You Need to Know About Retinol" to learn more about the different types of Retinol and the chemistry. 

VITAMIN B

 

L-ABSORBIC ACID -> VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is great for for anti-ageing. This is for a couple of reasons:

1. As an antioxidant Vitamin C is able to soak up free radical damage which ages your skin.

2. Vitamin C has been found to prevent sun damage that is responsible for photo ageing in the first place.

One of the biggest cons of Vitamin C is skin irritation. It is wise to trial it on a small area of your skin before applying it to your whole face. The main thing is that Vitamin C can cause a lot of irritation when using it. Do avoid using Vitamin C if you have eczema, rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis. I dilute Vitamin C in moisturiser as it burns my skin if I use it alone. You can also reduce irritation by applying moisturiser before or after the Vitamin C. 

To be honest, it's not that great when it comes to treating hyperpigmentation despite it being known for treating hyperpigmentation. 

Vitamin E is often added to many skin care formulas because it has the ability to help stabilise the unstable Vitamin C. Vitamin E is naturally found in our skin but it’s depleted due to UV exposure.

LET'S TALK ABOUT CHEMICAL EXFOLIATION WITH ACIDS

When you imagine acids on your skin - you imagine a mad scientist getting a bad ass acid burn!

The special thing about acids is that they induce the necrosis of cells, aka cell turnover. Acids do this by dissolving chemical bonds between the cells enabling cells to break apart and then fall off.  In contrast, physical exfoliation is when you physically remove the top layer of the dead outermost layer of skin.

A lot of useful ingredients that we have in skincare are hydroxy acids such as alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxyl acid (BHAs). 

When it comes to BHAs, salicylic acid is  the only BHA that is found in skincare products. So often, when many skincare experts discuss BHAs, they are discussing salicylic acid.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AHAS AND BHAS?

In a practical sense, the main difference between AHAs and BHAs is that AHAs dissolve in water while BHAs dissolve in oil. 

There is also a different in the chemical structure of AHAs and BHAs. The 

 

WHICH AHA OR BHA SHOULD I USE?

1. For people with dry skin, look to AHAs for restoring moisture. AHAs are also what is called "humectants". Humectants are water loving ingredients that draw in moisture from the air into the upper layers of your skin. 

There are three main types of AHAs:

  • Glycolic Acid: the most popular AHA
  • Lactic Acid: milder than glycolic acid
  • Mandelic Acid: a very gentle AHA

2. For people with oily skin and clogged pours, Salicylic acid (AKA BHAs) work best. Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring chemical that is extracted from the bark of a willow tree. Salicylic acid is fat soluble thus it is able to enter the sebaceous follicles and unclog you pores by loosening up the oil! I'm currently using Paula's Choice "2% BHA LIQUID EXFOLIANT" and I love it! 

When applying acid products - don't apply them to irritated areas - avoid these areas as the acid products may burn irritated areas. Also, remember that acids can be amazing products but if you apply too much, you can cause bad irritation. 

When trying any new products - especially acids. Be very careful with not trying too many products at the same time as this will irritate your skin. Slowly introduce products one-by-one. 

DO AHA'S AND BHA'S CAUSE SUN SENSITIVITY?

Unfortunately, there has been little research performed on the effects of the use of AHAs and BHAs on sun sensitivity. It has been found that AHAs are associated with some sun sensitivity - even when they are not directly on your skin while BHAs don't seem to increase sun sensitivity.

 HOW IMPORTANT ARE ALL OF THESE ACTIVES?

There is a lot of hype about actives but good skincare is not just about the actives. Don't forget your building blocks of skincare such as sunscreen as this forms the most important foundation of your anti-ageing regime. Not wearing sunscreen but using actives is like eating McDonalds everyday but taking multivitamins. So the basics should not be forgotten in favour of fancy sounding things!

The same active ingredient may be in two products with one costing $10 and another costing $200 that is endorsed by a celebrity. Just because a celebrity uses it and it costs a lot more doesn't mean it works any better.

Remember to always seek the advice of a dermatologist when changing your skincare routine. The actives that you use are the ones the address your individual skin care goals such as anti-ageing, acne and so on!