Navigating the world of skincare can be daunting at the best of times, let alone if you have an active skincare condition that needs immediate attention. We’ve called upon the experts in the field of dermatology to provide a no-nonsense break down of the precise ingredients to incorporate into your regime for the most common skin conditions.
INGREDIENTS FOR ACNE
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions and one of the most debilitating. Not only can the condition itself be painful but it can also negatively affect self esteem and confidence. With so many products available, it’s worth noting the key ingredients that are proven to help soothe existing breakouts and help to prevent future ones from forming.
“Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that can penetrate deep into pores to help fight acne,” explains Dr Cristina Psomadakis (also known as Dr Soma), expert dermatologist . Not only that, but the multi-tasking ingredient also helps to exfoliate the uppermost layers of skin, which can contribute to breakouts by blocking pores.
“It’s made from the same family as aspirin, which is an anti-inflammatory, and works to reduce excess oil in the skin,” explains Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, medical director of Adonia Medical Clinic and a NHS medical consultant in Acute Medicine. “Add a 2% strength serum into your evening skincare regime, after cleansing.”
Available over the counter, Benzoyl Peroxide is an effective treatment for acne and breakouts. “Benzoyl peroxide helps to kill the Cutibacterium acnes bacteria associated with spots and reduces inflammation,” says Dr Soma. “It’s worth noting that Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid can be quite a drying combination, and not everyone will require both in their regime. It is about discovering a combination that works for you whether that is sticking to one ingredient, or using both in different formulas or at different times in the day.”
“Retinoids are excellent for oily and acne prone skin,” says Dr Ejikeme. “Make sure to incorporate it into your regime slowly – initially only three times per week, and build up as your skin can tolerate. Also, always apply it at night as it makes skin more sensitive to UV rays.”
Lookout for the words non-comedogenic on all of your skincare products if you experience acne, breakout or easily blocked pores. “Comedogenic ingredients, like heavy oils and butters including coconut oil and greasy sunscreens, increase the oils in the skin and are going to make the acne worse,” explains Dr Ejikeme. Non-comedogenic means the ingredients are less likely to clog pores.
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of areas of skin leading to an uneven skin tone, caused by damage from UV rays or as a result of scarring. “There are lots of causes of hyperpigmentation – some are genetic, some are secondary to the sun and some are following episodes of inflammation to the skin – a dermatologist can diagnose the cause in individual circumstances,” explains Dr Minal Patel, part of the dermatology team at Dermatica.
“It is important to control whatever underlying process has led the pigmentation issues in the first place,” says Dr Soma. “Without question, the most important product for those with hyperpigmentation is sunscreen. I’m talking minimum factor 30, broad spectrum, rain or shine, all year long.”
“All of the tyrosinase inhibitors, including liquorice extract, alpha arbutin , kojic acid, tranexamic acid, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), niacinamide and glutathione, are great for the treatment and prevention of hyperpigmentation,” says Dr Ejikeme. These ingredients help to control how fast the skin is able to produce pigment, which could then lead to hyperpigmentation, so are an important part of prevention.
According to Dr Ejikeme, glycolic acid (an Alpha Hydroxy Acid) is great for brightening the skin. However, it’s important to use glycolic acid sparingly and for a short period of time, rather than a staple in your regime. Also, unless your dermatologist says otherwise, always opt for a product that contains less than 10% glycolic acid.
Dry skin is characterised by skin that feels tight and appears flaky, and in more severe cases, the skin may itch, crack or become inflamed. Luckily, there are a number of readily available skincare ingredients that help to soothe and ward off dryness.
“Niacinamide is a type of Vitamin B, which helps to hydrate the skin and strengthen the skin barrier,” explains Dr Patel. As a result, the skin will be able to retain moisture more efficiently.
Glycerine is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture to the upper layer of skin when applied.
According to Dr Ejikeme, hyaluronic acid is a helpful ingredient to incorporate if you experience dry skin. Hyaluronic acid is known as the miracle moisture molecule for its ability to retain up to 100 times its weight in water, meaning it attracts moisture where it is applied. For best results, opt for a product that contains multiple weights or different sizes of hyaluronic acid to make sure the ingredient is penetrating all layers of the skin.
Treating sensitive skin can be a matter of excluding irritating ingredients, especially fragrance, essential oils and active ingredients like retinoids or acids. “People with sensitive skin should stick to a simple and regular routine, and avoid testing lots of different products,” says Dr Soma. “It may feel like a snoozefest while everyone else is off doing vampire facials and ripping off pore strips, but the goal is to avoid disrupting the skin barrier. “ Here are a number of soothing ingredients worth adding to your regime…
“It’s worth including aloe vera in your regime if you have sensitive skin as it’s a soothing ingredient,” suggests Dr Ejikeme.
Sunscreen is an everyday essential for all skin types, but those with sensitive skin can find some formulas aggravating. “Mineral-based sunscreens are gentler for sensitive skin,” recommends Dr Soma.