Without a doubt, SPF is the most important step of your skincare routine. Regardless of your skin type, concerns or age, you should be wearing it every day - no matter the weather. Here, we debunk some common myths around SPF and its usage to help you understand how to properly protect your skin.
The first thing to know is that the INCI list is just that: a guide.
While nobody is expecting you to know exactly what every single ingredient does (unless you are a cosmetic scientist), learning how to decode the INCI list can help you avoid buying products that don't suit your skin or live up to their claims. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that often presents as red, sensitive, bumpy skin on the face. Changes are usually most active around the centre of the face (cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin). Rosacea is common, affecting about 5% of people globally. It can occur in any skin type but is much more common in lighter skin tones and particularly in Celtic populations.
Congratulations, you’re getting married! The dress? You’ve got a vision. The venue? No sweat, the Pinterest mood boards have started too. But wait, when do you start your skin preparation? Should you be adjusting your skincare routine? And when? Where to start!
I too was a bride last year and I know the entire process can feel completely overwhelming, and that’s without worrying about skin preparation on top. So, fear not, here is my tried-and-tested simple guide. Let’s get into the details…
Let’s set the scene. You’re going to an overnight festival - be that Glastonbury, Bestival, Reading or any event that might involve sleeping in a tent - and need to compile a stash of skincare to take with you that you will actually use. While you’ll likely be having too much fun to even think about doing a full a.m. and p.m. skincare routine, we’ve created this simple guide to help you look after your skin while you’re there.
Do I really need to use sunscreen every day? Are natural products safer to use than those containing synthetic chemicals? I totally get that there are 101 questions that one may have when it comes to skincare. Sometimes it can truly feel like a minefield trying to find the right information. As a pharmacist, I get asked a lot of questions about skin concerns and how ingredients work. Here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
Hair, be it hair care, hair styling or hair health, is a subject that receives extensive coverage, but we often neglect to give the same consideration to what lies underneath – and by that I’m referring to the scalp. So, it’s high time we gave it the attention it deserves, because looking after your scalp is a vital part of achieving lovely, healthy hair growth.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes itchy, red, dry, and flaky skin. It’s common – affecting almost 1 in 5 children in the UK and up to 1 in 10 adults. The term eczema is often used interchangeably with dermatitis. There are a number of different types of eczema or dermatitis, with the most common ones being:
One of the most recognisable ingredients over the past few years, vitamin C is a true powerhouse in skincare. Although its notoriety lies in its brightening capability, its antioxidant function makes it suitable for treating an array of skincare concerns.
Is Black skin really so different to Caucasian skin? Although there are many similarities and to some extent yes, skin is just skin, Black skin does have some clear physiological differences, which are important to take into account.
Bigger is always better, right? Wrong.
We know you want more bang for your buck, but are high-percentage actives more effective or just an excuse for brands to charge more? Let’s add up the numbers.
Is percentage chasing based on marketing or science?
I blame attention-seeking single-ingredient serums.
Marketers have got wise to our instinct that bigger is better, and the market is now flooded with high-percentage serums out to impress. Building a skincare routine can seem overwhelming, and number comparisons make it so much easier to choose.
They’ve sparked a war between marketers and formulators - and the marketers are winning. New products should be inspired by skincare innovation rather than a trendy ingredient with a good PR.
Are high-percentage actives always more effective?
No, not necessarily. Every ingredient has a recommended percentage regarding performance and safety, backed up by evidence formed by the manufacturer.
I see a lot of ‘stealth sensitivity’ in my clinic. The use of too many high-percentage actives can overstimulate the skin and lead to breakouts and/or sensitivity – just not straight away. Your skin never forgets, and eventually, it will go on strike.
Many actives are just as effective at lower percentages, so you don’t have to pay more for a higher percentage and risk upsetting your skin barrier.
The delivery system and formulation are far more important than the percentage
Formulations are far more complex than one key ingredient: you need good quality, bioavailable* ingredients that can penetrate into your skin to work their magic.
Suppose an overenthusiastic marketeer markets a 10% active serum. It will just loiter on the surface without a sophisticated delivery system. Your skin barrier is like a bouncer, and nothing gets in without an invitation.
*bioavailable - The ability of a substance to be absorbed and used by the body.
Your barrier loves these super-effective, low-percentage actives:
(Please note: the percentages below are to be used a guide to indicate a comfortable yet effective range.)
Build up slowly if your skin is new to gold standard anti-ager vitamin A, or risk irritating your skin and peeling like crazy.
A gentle soul – no need to worry about the percentage. Retinyl palmitate is like a starter bra and will help sensitive skin build up a tolerance to retinol, which is more like a plunge bra.
Percentage range: 0.01%- 2%
Easy does it. You will still get great results from a low percentage, but it will just take longer. Your skin is in no rush.
Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR)
Percentage range: 0.2-0.5%
The new kid on the block. This retinoic acid ester doesn’t need to be converted to retinoic acid (Tret), so it promises to be just as active but without irritation.
Percentage range: 0.05–0.1%
The strongest retinoid without a prescription. Unimpressed by retinol? It’s time to upgrade to retinal. Also a great option for skins that can’t handle Tret, no matter how much you buffer.
Tretinoin (prescription strength)
Pure retinoic acid is much more potent than retinol, so you will need a dermatologist to prescribe this for you.
Prescription range: 0.025-0.1%
L-ASCORBIC ACID (pure vitamin C):
A tricky one to formulate. The most important part of Vitamin C is the stability, not the percentage. A high percentage is completely useless if it oxidises and turns brown.
Percentage range: 5%-15%
The market is saturated with 10% niacinamide serums but you can also see great results at a lower percentage.
Percentage range: 2%-4%
Balances oil production
Percentage range: 4%-5%
Less is definitely more when it comes to AHAs, with the pH being far more important than the percentage. (Ideally, the pH needs to be between 3 to 4 to exfoliate without aggravating your skin). As a therapist, I cringe at 15% glycolic acid toners and serums – leave your poor skin barrier alone!
Percentage range: You only need 5-8% to see a real skin difference.
Your skin barrier wants the final say: Patience is a virtue
There is no rush. You can achieve the same results with a lower percentage, it’ll just take longer.
Qualifications - NVQ 2 & 3 Beauty Therapy
The world of skin care can be confusing. Do you need to wear SPF when its cloudy? Should you be popping your spots or leaving them well alone? Is exfoliating daily too much? To confuse things further, social media platforms can be the wild west when it comes to skincare advice because what is posted isn’t always fact checked, resulting in misinformation to be spread. For example, drinking celery juice won’t give you “perfect” skin.
You've probably heard a lot about acids in skincare. They sound a bit scary, but also excitingly powerful - what exactly do they do, and do you need to use them? Here's the lowdown on the most common acids in skincare.
From at-home masks endorsed by celebrity users to clinic professional treatments from esteemed facialists like Teresa Tarmey and Andy Millwall, LED Therapy has truly hit the skincare world by storm. It was a huge trend in 2021 and it’s certainly not going anywhere fast, as its popularity continues to grow.
Now I can hear you asking, “what is LED?” Let’s get into the details, starting with the basics.
Ready to start a solid skincare routine or simply want to make sure you’ve got your current one nailed? From which order to apply your products to the essentials everyone should include in their regimen, we’ve broken it down into an easy guide.
Oh, the skin barrier. You will have likely heard of this being referred to A LOT within the skincare industry and while you might not know what it is, we’d bet good money that you’ve probably felt the backlash when it's become compromised (aka unhappy).
As if the cold weather wasn’t enough to contend with, when the temperatures drop and winter descends, these changes can wreak havoc on our skin. Lower levels of humidity, blustering winds and arctic weather (ok, perhaps a tad dramatic!), can all suck the hydration out of our skin. Combine this with drying central heating and you have a recipe for potential irritation, dehydration, dryness, and an unhappy skin barrier. Inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and acne can also be aggravated during this time of year.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are some simple things you can do to help support your skin during the colder months.