Find the ideal cocktail of ingredients for your skin type or concern.
Ingredients to look for: Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs), Hemp Seed Oil, Rosehip Oil, Squalene, Ceramides and Linoleic Acid.
In the morning: Use a serum that’s sole purpose is to hydrate the skin. A low-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid is great for this.
It’s important to ‘cocoon’ the skin in the morning and lock in as much moisture as possible. Moisturizers that have ceramides and glycerin are what you are looking for. Try using a cream with omega fatty acids morning and night to revitalize the skin’s moisture.
In the evening: Gently exfoliate two to three times a week if you have dry skin. When the complexion is dry, you will have a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface as your cellular torn over has likely slowed down. Stick to gentle chemical defoliants, like PHAs that are less likely to irritate. Exfoliants that feature combinations of PHA, AHA and BHA acids exfoliate gently without irritation.
If aging is a concern, add a retinol (vitamin a) into your nighttime routine on the nights when you aren’t exfoliating.
If it’s redness, try an anti-inflammatory serum. It really depends on the specific concerns, but with dry skin, being gentle is key.
On the nights when you’re not using retinol, apply your morning hydrating serum that contains hyaluronic acid and layer a moisturizer on top to lock in that moisture.
Ingredients to look for: BHA (salicylic acid), azelaic acid, vitamin c, rosehip oil, hyaluronic acid, kaolin clay.
In the morning: An antioxidant serum that contains vitamin c can be really beneficial in acne-prone skin. In fact, vitamin c is anti-inflammatory; it can boost wound healing, calm down redness and prevent hyperpigmentation. The powerhouse antioxidant has also been proven to help fight free radicals and brighten your overall skin tone (including any marks leftover from acne scarring). Follow with an oil free moisturizer and SPF.
In the evening: A couple of times a week, use a chemical exfoliant to get rid of dead skin and allow your new skin to grow. BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) are great for exfoliating acne-prone complexions, since their smaller molecules are able go into the pore to exfoliate, rather than just exfoliating the surface of the skin like AHAs do. BHAs also help by removing excess oil and calming down inflammation.
Acne-prone skin can become dehydrated so look to a serum with hyaluronic acid and finish with a light moisturizer. Rosehip oil can also help acne-prone skins by boosting cell regeneration. Keep in mind that each skin is different and that acne can be triggered by so many different things; therefore an oil might work for one person and might make others condition worse.
Pro tip: Topical retinoid and azelaic acid can be also great to treat acne. Retinol stimulates skin cell turnover, while azelaic acid helps to unclog pores and even out the skin texture. Both of these activate skin cell turnover, which is why, when choosing the correct products, it is essential to add these ingredients to the skin slowly and not use them all at the same time. If irritation develops and you have added numerous products to your regimen, you won’t be able to identify the culprit.
Sensitive or Redness-Prone Skin
Ingredients to look for: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, CoQ10, lactic acid or PHA, green tea extract, centella asiatica (otherwise known as cica), niacinamide and caffeine.
In the morning: Sensitive skin means it has an impaired barrier function. Antioxidants applied first thing in the morning will protect against potential irritants and free-radicals we come in contact with throughout the day. Sensitivity often goes hand in hand with dehydration, since the skin will be losing moisture.
A gentle hydrating serum can be used in lieu of a moisturizer followed by an SPF if you have sensitive, oily skin. If you are dry and sensitive, then opt for a moisturizer on top of your hydrating serum. Try applying a cream with hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Products containing caffeine also help to reduce redness since caffeine causes a temporary narrowing of blood vessels.
Pro tip: Just because products say they’re for sensitive skin does not mean that this is the case. Check the ingredients on the back and avoid alcohols, fragrances and essential oils.
In the evening:
Look for ECGC from green tea extract as it can calm the redness at night. Even with sensitive skin, you will need to exfoliate in order to aid in the cellular turnover cycle of the skin. This could be with a gentle microfiber cloth if the skin is too sensitive to take any chemical exfoliants, but PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) are a good option here too.
Pro Tip: If your skin is always red and blood vessels are dilated, you may have rosacea. The specific cause of this skin condition is still not known, but it is more common in light skin types and is triggered by sun exposure, spicy food, alcohol, changes in temperature and harsh skincare (i.e. soap cleansers, fragrance, essential oils, drying alcohols). Once diagnosed by a dermatologist, it’s important to know your triggers and try to avoid these to calm down redness.
Skin with Hyperpigmentation (dark spots)
Ingredients to look for: Glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, vitamin c, retinol, niacinamide, SPF (UVA & UVB), licorice.
In the morning: Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, but also improve the signs of aging, like lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. In fact, vitamin c is also considered to be a great treatment for pigmentation. To make sure that the vitamin c is complimented, search for a serum that also contains licorice and/or niacinamide. They are great ingredients to fight brown spots.
The key to avoiding hyperpigmentation is to apply SPF daily, but this is even more important for anyone who already experiences hyperpigmentation. What’s important to understand is that UV daylight (even on a cloudy day in January) will keep pigmented cells active whenever it sees the skin. The goal with discoloration is to put pigment cells to sleep, and if they are woken up due to daylight (or sunlight), they will remain on the skin longer. Without a doubt, sunscreen will greatly reduce how long the hyperpigmentation, whether caused by the sun, heat, or a blemish, will stay on the skin.
Try carrying an SPF face mist in your handbag, so you can top up throughout the day. I love Coola make-up setting spray, that has the added benefit of being SPF 30 and contains hyaluronic serum for added moisture.
In the evening: Most pigmentation treatments will contain retinol, since it’s an amazing ingredient to manage this condition. Retinol helps to stimulate skin cell turnover, so dead cells fall off and new skin will rise to the surface. It also helps to disperse the melanin in the epidermis, making the pigment less visible over time. Long term, it decreases melanin and dramatically improves skin tone. When using retinol, it is important to have a soothing step to follow that will allow your skin to rest.
Try a hyaluronic acid serum to soothe your skin and keep it healthy and balanced. If you’re using lots of active ingredients, keep your moisturizer simple; use one with peptides to strengthen the skin barrier function. If your morning routine is very simple and you’re not currently using any retinol or pigmentation treatment, you could include a product with niacinamide or azelaic acid, which can reduce inflammation and pigmentation, especially on acne-prone skin, as your nighttime moisturizer.
Salicylic acid is known for its acne-fighting abilities it also helps after the spot has gone. Since salicylic acid is an exfoliant, it will break down scarred cells leftover from blemish marks and will help PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) go away faster.
Pro Tip: Hyperpigmentation can be related to hormonal imbalances, the contraceptive pill, medication, stress, and UV damage. It can also come post-procedure, such as after lasers, derma-rolling or injections. This is why it is better to try to find the root of the problem before using any anti-pigmentation treatment. However, you can add some ingredients in your skincare routine that will boost the cellular regeneration and therefore improve skin tone.
Ingredients to look for: Antioxidants, Vitamin C, SPF, AHA, BHA, retinol, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, peptides.
In the morning: Every expert will tell you that an antioxidant serum is one of the best active ingredients to have in an anti-aging skincare regime. Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage and premature aging and help with the first signs of aging.
Favored by many skin care pros, the antioxidant vitamin c in particular is found to be extremely effective in interfering with many aging free radicals found in the environment such as sunlight, stress, and pollutants. Vitamin C is also helpful with reducing discoloration and brown spots.
Pro tip: Layer a Q10 serum with vitamin c for an added boost of antioxidant protection. The most important step in any skincare regime to prevent premature skin aging is SPF.
It is essential to have a sun barrier protection that will fight against UVA and UVB rays, in order to protect the skin from future possible damage. Because aging skin requires more potent ingredients in order to see results, it is important to protect it the next day, since usually the skin is more sensitive to UV light.
Pro tip: Your moisturizer can be combined with SPF if skin is oily. If your complexion is dry, it’s better to apply a separate moisturizer and top it up with SPF.
In the evening: In aging skin, we often see pores become more open. This is mainly due to the skin becoming drier and pores ‘relaxing,’ especially in post-menopausal women as estrogen levels decrease. Twice a week, exfoliate with AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) or BHAs ( beta hydroxy acids) to gently dissolve dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin and help to minimize the appearance of pores.
On nights when you’re not exfoliating, use a retinol. In younger skin, it takes approximately 28 days for skin cells to regenerate. Unfortunately, the more we age, the slower the cycle becomes (up to 60 days). Retinol is the best ingredient to increase cell turnover and cellular cohesion, which is ideal for tissue regeneration.
As the female hormones decline, so does the amount of hyaluronic acid in the skin. Hyaluronic acid forms part of the dermal reserve where collagen is synthesized. At age 25, hyaluronic acid deteriorates within our skin and impacts plumpness and volume. At the age of 60, we lose almost all of our hyaluronic acid. That this is why hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in all anti-aging routines, as it helps to improve the support for the collagen and elastin production.
It is important to select a hyaluronic acid that has a low molecular weight. Otherwise, the HA will not be able to penetrate the skin deeply enough to do its job. At night, it is important to feed the skin with nourishing and emollient ingredients. The best ingredients to look to are ceramides and peptides. Here’s why: Ceramides actually make up over 50% of your skin’s composition. They are essential to keep your barrier function healthy and prevent any loss of water or oil. Peptides, on the other hand, are responsible for keeping everything in place. Thus, they’re also a vital anti-aging ingredient because they help your skin produce more collagen.