Want Skincare That Works? Try Adding These Two Actives Into Your Routine

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We’re looking at non-fluffy formulas that actually work …

In our October issue, we examine some of the key active ingredients in skincare to look out for. Because there’s no point having shelves full of beautifully fragrant skin lotions if they’re not actually doing anything for your skin. We’re not talking about “anti” ageing – more, what really helps to enable your skin to be as healthy and glowing as it possibly can be.

I was interested to find out what skin experts are most interested in at the moment in terms of actives. Facialist and salon owner Nuala Woulfe cites Tranexamic acid, which I’ve spotted in my SkinCeuticals Custom DOSE, a customised serum that Woulfe tailor-makes for your own skin’s needs (I’m on my second bottle and have found it makes a real difference to skin, even during lockdown). So what is tranexamic acid? “This is a relatively new topical ingredient which helps to break down stubborn pigmentation. It interferes with the interaction of pigment-producing melanocyte cells and regular keratinocyte skin cells. Some studies show that tranexamic acid at 3-5 per cent is as effective at fading melasma as 2-4 per cent hydroquinone, with fewer side effects.” It features in SkinCeuticals’ Advanced Brightening UV Defense SPF 50 €45 at www.nualawoulfe.com), together with another hard-working active, Niacinamide, to help reduce the appearance of discolouration. Find it also in The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Overnight Treatment, €17.30 at www.cultbeauty.com.

Jennifer Rock, CEO & founder of The Skin Nerd and Skingredients cites vitamin A as her “can’t-live-without rock star ingredient. It’s nothing new in the skincare world, with retinol being a household name, however it has true lasting power and many are playing with different types, different delivery methods (as in, how the ingredient is delivered into the skin) and how to make vitamin A products that don’t irritate the skin. Vitamin A is a building block of skin health – it’s found in the skin naturally and is integral for normal skin function. When applied topically, our skin converts retinyl palmitate into retinol and then retinoic acid, so it’s a longer conversion process than directly from retinol, which means it’s a more progressive approach. When applied topically, the fat form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, can assist with regulating oil (thus helping with oiliness, dryness and the formation of blackheads), skin cell renewal and skin hydration. It helps to reduce the breakdown of collagen whilst simultaneously stimulating the synthesis of new collagen, meaning it’s a key anti-ager. Vitamin A works incredibly well arm in arm with vitamin C and vitamin E, which is why our very own Skingredients Skin Protein serum contains all three. In summary, vitamin A is an all-rounder that has benefits for essentially all skins. One thing to note – high amounts of vitamin A are not recommended for use during pregnancy.”

Rock is also big on the power of acids, and has this one on her radar at the moment: “The ingredient that I always look out for these days is PHA, or polyhydroxy acid. PHAs are a category of exfoliating acids considered to be the next generation of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), and the two main PHAs you’ll find in products are gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. PHAs work to very gently exfoliate the skin, help your other ingredients and products to penetrate and quite often act as antioxidants and hydrators too. Products with PHA help the skin to appear smoother and fresher. They are much, much gentler, essentially non-irritating, meaning that the most sensitive of sensitive skins can use them and that they can be used daily and nightly. The same cannot be said for glycolic acid, for example, and if you have more sensitive skin, you may find irritating.”

PHA was one of the core inspirations behind Rock’s Skingredients Skin Veg [€42] being a pre-serum. “Skin Veg contains hyaluronic acid, a peptide and tonnes of antioxidants, but the inclusion of PHA means that it is a penetrant enhancer that allows the ingredients that follow, such as vitamin A, to absorb into the skin optimally. The reviews that Skin Veg receives say that it is unlike anything else people have used, and I think PHA has a lot to do with that!” says Rock.

Don’t miss THE GLOSS October issue, out on October 1, to read about the other key active ingredients you need in your skincare routine now.

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