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Myth Buster: Getting The Best From Active Ingredients In Skincare

Do some basic skincare research and you’ll learn the importance of incorporating active ingredients into your routine for visible results. The issue here is around education and accessibility – knowing which active ingredients will deliver on your skin goals, how and when to use them and in what concentrations. 

After a successful consultation at Skin + Me, you can hand a lot of this guesswork over to the experts. You’ll get a custom-made personalised treatment that starts at a low concentration to build your skin’s tolerance to powerful active ingredients (known as microdosing) that evolves with your skin. Your Daily Doser personalised formulation may include the retinoid tretinoin (more potent than retinol you can buy over the counter), niacinamide, azelaic acid, clindamycin or more. 

In this feature, we talk about active ingredients with broad brushstrokes, explain how you can get the best from these in your skincare and bust a few myths around specific ingredients to boost your routine confidence.

Active ingredient myths

Let’s start with a few basic myths about introducing active ingredients – specifically retinoids like tretinoin that increase cell turnover into your routine:

MYTH 1: You can’t start using active ingredients during summer.

FACT: This myth arises from the fact that tretinoin can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun damage. Don’t worry though, you can use active ingredients to reach your skin goals all year round – just make sure you use a high factor (SPF 30+) every day.

MYTH 2: Retinoids thin the skin.

FACT: Retinoids like tretinoin get to work by accelerating new skin cell growth which speeds up the removal of dead skin cells and debris that can block your pores. It actually boosts collagen, a naturally-occurring protein that acts like scaffolding for the skin.

Tretinoin actually boosts collagen, a naturally-occurring protein that acts like scaffolding for the skin.

MYTH 3: Actives shrink your pores.

FACT: Pore size is genetic! Active ingredients can prevent the appearance of enlargement by declogging them of debris, excess oil and dead skin cells. This can give the temporary appearance of smaller pores.

Active ingredient tips from a dermatologist

Don’t double up

If you’re seeking active ingredients over the counter, first address the skin goals you want to work on. For example, hyaluronic acid will hydrate, vitamin C will brighten and glycolic acid will fight acne and clear out blocked pores. Single-ingredient actives alongside a simple skincare routine can deliver targeted results but take a little know-how. Blended or combined ingredient formulations (like the Daily Doser) take out the guesswork.

If you go for a personalised solution like the Daily Doser, it’ll start off on the right strength for your skin, taking into account your previous experience with active ingredients. Dr Malvina Cunningham, Consultant Dermatologist,  explains, “The formulation starts at low concentrations to ease you into the ingredients with minimal irritation. The formula contains everything you need to tackle your skin goal, so avoid any other active ingredients and do not double up”.

Don’t double up

If you’re getting your active ingredients off the shelf in lower concentrations, timings and consistency still matter. Barrier-defending and protecting ingredients (think vitamin C) are best used in the morning and restorative ingredients that boost skin cell turnover (think retinol or powerful retinoids like tretinoin) are best used as part of your evening routine.

Your personalised solution is designed to be used every night, just before bed. Each dose from your Daily Doser dispenses the exact amount you need for your nightly application – which should cover your whole face. Just like any medication, exercise or diet – consistency is key to your success. A regular nightly application of your combination of active ingredients will lead to the best results. 

Simplify your routine

A simple, supportive skincare routine will make a huge difference to getting the most from any active ingredients. Make sure there are no conflicting ingredients in your routine and don’t overcomplicate things. Remember less can be more, using multiple AHAs and BHAs alongside retinoids can play havoc with your skin barrier!

A simple, supportive skincare routine will make a huge difference to getting the most from any active ingredients. 

Use a gentle cleanser, moisturiser and a daily sunscreen. If you’re struggling with sensitivity from your Skin + Me Daily Doser, apply your moisturiser before your evening dose as a buffer. 

Treat from within

Our skin is often a reflection of our physical health, and we can help improve the condition by taking care of our bodies. That means (deep breath!) getting enough sleep, healthy eating, drinking enough water, not smoking, minimising your alcohol intake and exercising regularly. We promise it makes all the difference.

Talk to the experts

If you’re on your Skin + Me journey, your Prescriber is here to guide you through, if you need support, have questions or you’re experiencing irritation or side effects. Everyone’s skin is different, and not everyone’s skin reacts in the same way. Your formula, the concentration and blend of your active ingredients will evolve as you meet your skin goals. Your Prescriber can tweak and reformulate your personalised solution whenever you feel the need.

Think long-term

Consultant Dermatologist Dr Ben Esdaile likes to compare skincare to physical fitness. While you might get fit and strong at the gym, if you don’t keep it up you’ll gradually lose that strength and physique. The same goes for skincare. 

Treatment doesn’t stop once you’ve reached your skin goal – whether that’s clearing your spots, tackling your wrinkles or improving your pigmentation

Identifying the active ingredients that will deliver your best skin is how you begin. Alternatively, ask the experts to make that plan for you.

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