Monday, 27 January 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to Skincare Ingredients

In this day and age we are lucky to be given so much information, however sometimes information can be dangerous. In skincare, companies sometimes take advantage of this, hyping up ingredients to generate more sales. In todays blog I wanted to clear the air with the most common ingredients you might be aware of and what they actually do. I will be adding a few links to products which feature the ingredient in question if you are interested in finding out more. 

1) Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid is a substance that is naturally found in your body, helping to retain water and moisture. Hyaluronic acid, when applied topically can help to hydrate the skin, and retain the moisture levels in your skin. It's commonly said that Hyaluronic Acid can retain 1000 times it's own weight in water, which shows how well this ingredient works. Hyaluronic Acid works well with humid weather, as it attracts the water in the air and binds it to your skin, so people in drier weather may have varying results. Personally, I view Hyaluronic Acid as a booster to your normal moisturiser, when applied to bare skin it can heighten the effectiveness and hydration of any moisturiser you add on the top of it. You can buy Hyaluronic Acid as a standalone product for a few pounds, however it is now commonly an ingredient that is formulated within moisturisers and serums.

1. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% and B5 (£5.90/30ml)
2. The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum (£5.99/30ml)
3. L'Oreal Paris Hydra Genius Aloe Water (£9.99/70ml)

2) Vitamin C

Vitamin C, great for your body, but also your skin. Vitamin C is high in antioxidants, which means that it helps to protect the skin from 'free-radicals' (a naturally occurring unstable atom that prematurely causes ageing and diseases). So 'free-radicals' are something that we want protection against, and Vitamin C can provide this protection. Vitamin C is also proven to brighten the skin and also helps to even out skin-tone. Vitamin C can be viewed as 'anti-ageing' due to being high in antioxidants and so this is why brands try to include Vitamin C in their products. What is important to know is that Vitamin C is a highly unstable ingredient, which isn't a cause for concern, but brands may make the Vitamin C in their products less potent for this reason, or they might have a solution of Vitamin C suspended in an ingredient to make it more effective. The reason for this is that Vitamin C doesn't react well in water, or with oxygen and so brands will keep this in mind. I recently did a post around the Vitamin C collection by The Body Shop, which doesn't have a high concentration of Vitamin C, however can be viewed as a good introduction to the effectiveness of Vitamin C. 
Vitamin C can be used by all ages, however I believe it is important to do research to see how Vitamin C can fit into your regime and whether it may interact with other products you might already be using. I would urge you to read The Ordinary Guide to Vitamin C , I find that this website is informative around the products in their range, and outlines how the products may interact on your skin. 

3) Retinol
Retinols have revolutionised the skincare game utterly and completely. I first heard about retinols around 5 years ago, when Sunday Riley brought out her famous Luna Oil. So what is retinol? Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A and also one of the proven anti-ageing ingredients out there (alongside Niacinamide and SPF). Retinol is an anti-ageing ingredient because it increases the cell turnover in the skin, stimulates collagen and elasticity in the skin which keeps it looking more youthful. Sounds perfect, however retinol comes in different strengths and so it is important to acclimatise your skin to retinol, so this means not applying it every single day. Retinol is known to irritate the skin, and so it is not for everyone. Brands like Sunday Riley and Elizabeth Arden ensure that the retinol is applied with ingredients that will also soothe the skin, so the product is not as irritating, helpful because one product can do it all, however this is also why products may be more expensive. Like Vitamin C, you can buy retinol as a single ingredient however again research is important as correct usage and aftercare is key. Applying SPF in the mornings following retinol is a must as you are uncovering new skin and you don't want this to become pigmented by exposure of UVA/UVB rays. 
If you are pregnant or currently breastfeeding, you should consult a dermatologist/physician prior to using retinol. 

4) Acids
There are a lot of types of acids which can be confusing at first however I will group them and outline their functions. 
Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is a water soluble acid which can help promote collagen, chemically exfoliate the skin which helps even out the skin-tone, and increases absorption of products.  Types of AHA's include Glycolic and Lactic Acid and only work on the surface of the skin.
1. Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads (£14.95/60 pads) 

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is oil soluble, and so can gravitate deeper into pores to help remove impurities, and so works both on the surface and at pore-level. BHA's has good anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and may be more suited for those with congested oily skin.  Types of BHA's include Salicylic Acid.
2. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion (£16.00/29ml)

5) SPF
Lastly, I want to talk about Sun Protection Factor (SPF) which I believe is the most important skincare ingredient that I could talk about and one that everyone should be using. There are two different types of rays emitted from the sun, UVA, which causes the skin to age and UVB, which causes damage to the skins surface and associated with sunburn and skin cancer. The SPF rating  (15, 30, 50 etc) tells you how long you are protected from the UVB rays before you begin to burn. Measuring UVA protection occurs through a rating scale from PA+ to PA++++, PA++++ being the most protection. Ensure that your SPF protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, this is sometimes called 'broad spectrum', however having the rating and SPF outlined clearly is optimal. 
The benefits of SPF are that it protects your from the sun, which accelerates the signs of ageing and  can darken hyper-pigmentation. Applying SPF on a daily basis can maintain an even skin-tone, especially if you are using Vitamins C, acids and retinols which are trying to uncover newer skin and so protecting this consistently is important. 

That completes my comprehensive guide to the mainstream skincare ingredients you might come across! I hope that this post makes sense. I really enjoyed compiling this post, I am by no means an expert but I love learning about skincare and how ingredients interact with each other. Let me know if you found this helpful and if there is any ingredients that you would like me to feature. 

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Monday, 20 January 2020

The Body Shop Vitamin C Range

Vitamin C is a skincare product that goes in and out of mainstream skincare. Vitamin C is an ingredient which is packed with antioxidants and ultimately protecting your skin from the environment, which can prematurely make the skin show signs of ageing - wrinkles, sagging, pigmentations you name it. Vitamin C is a great addition to any skincare regime. 
I was given some of The Body Shop Vitamin C range as a gift from friends, and after using it for a few months, I wanted to share my thoughts. 

The Cleanser:
Vitamin C Glow Boosting Facial Cleansing Polish (£11.00/125ml)
This cleanser was the first thing I tried from the range, and I'm around halfway through using it. This is a gel cleanser which contains Vitamin C, and also contains micro-beads to gently exfoliate the skin topically, helping to brighten the skin on two levels. A pea-sized amount of product is enough to lather the skin and as a whole this cleanser doesn't strip the skin. I use this product as my second cleanse in the evening with my Foreo Luna 3, and I find this combination is a really nice mix. 
The exfoliation is minimal which makes this a great daily cleanser, and if you are sensitive to smell, this product is not scented a particular way which I love - it just smells fresh. I like the packaging too, it's just simple, however when you have both the cleanser and the scrub, it's easy to grab the wrong bottle as they are almost identical!

The Scrub:
Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion (£18.00/100ml)
I use this scrub daily (which I know isn't the best for your skin!) but it has fine particles and isn't as harsh as your typical St. Ives, imagine salt versus coffee granules! 
With this product I find that I need to use quite a lot of product if I want a 'proper' exfoliation so this product was my least favourite product from the range because I find that there are other products that are similar to this type of scrub (No7 do a very similar one for £11.00). I think I would want a higher concentration of Vitamin C and perhaps an element of a 'leave-on mask' if I was paying £18.00 so I wouldn't purchase this again. 

The Moisturiser:
Vitamin C Glow Protect Lotion SPF30 (£15.00/50ml) 
This moisturiser was one of my favourites from the range. I like this because it has Vitamin C and you leave it on the skin. I don't get when scrubs and cleansers have Vitamin C, because it's on the skin for less than 2 minutes, and I'm not sure how much of an effect that will really have in the long term. This product however works on three levels: first it's a moisturiser, a physical barrier on the skin to protect it from your daily life, secondly it has Vitamin C, an ingredient proven to brighten and tighten the skin and thirdly, this contains SPF, my holy grail that works to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays that can cause pigmentation to the skin, even if it is not sunny outside. If that's not enough, the formula is rich but also light on the skin, absorbing nicely but also moisturising the top layer of skin which is perfect for these winter months. I think the combination of the Vitamin C and the SPF has made my complexion brighten, and also has helped to keep it that way too. 

All in all, I am a convert to Vitamin C. I think it has so many benefits, and after I am finished with these, I want to purchase Vitamin C as a standalone ingredient with higher potency and try and find a place for it in my routine. I think if you are on the fence about using just Vitamin C,  The Body Shop's range is a good place to start. 

I would love to know if you have tried this range and what you thought about it? Have you tried Vitamin C and are there any products you would recommend?

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