Choosing Your Product; Less Is More!

A trip to the beauty counter at your local department store and you come home with a fortune in eye cream, day-night cream, serums, moisturizers and some ‘special products’ to treat spots, pimples, pores and wrinkles. And if the salesperson is to be believed all those things are equally essential! I have already written before in my blog that in general “less is more”. The more products you use the greater the risk becomes of skin irritation and allergy. Furthermore, as regards “unique ingredients” there is actually no difference between day, night, eye or décolleté cream. A serum isn’t necessary either if there is a high enough concentration of active ingredients in your usual moisturiser. In addition, most of the ingredients are multi-taskers; in other words they work to prevent pigmentation and spots, protect against sun damage, hydrate and soothe. So an all in one product, nice and easy and inexpensive too!

Active ingredients in the toner
It goes without saying that a Cleanser is a specific product. But a Toner is another product with its very own function. A toner removes the last traces of dirt and minerals in hard water (they cause dryness and irritation) and a good toner will have anti-oxidants and substances that soothe and hydrate the skin. Due to the fact that a toner is a water based product, using one with active ingredients is enough for people with oily skin. A cream only makes the skin more oily and an over rich cream can even block the pores. Sadly, you can assume that most toners are no more than perfumed coloured water. Fortunately, with a bit of searching, there are also enough good Toners to be found.

Active ingredients in the exfoliant
Apart from a cream packed full of active ingredients there are still more products worth buying. For example an exfoliant. This is a product which contains an ingredient such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid which removes the dead skin cells. Through this your skin becomes more fresh, more radiant and more smooth again. Such ingredients cannot be added to your normal moisturising cream. The slightly higher acidity that a normal cream has would make the exfoliating ingredients ineffective straight away. If you want to add Glycolic Acid or Salicylic Acid to your skincare regime then you would need to buy a separate product for this.

Daily protection with a sun filter
As far as I’m concerned a sun filter can also be used as a separate product in the skincare regime. You use sun filters in a different way than your moisturizer; you apply more thickly and more often. Especially if you are spending a day in the sun! If there are high concentrations of active ingredients in your product then you are also applying these more frequently and in a thicker layer onto your face. That can even irritate the skin. At night, of course, you don’t need a sun filter. Sun filters cause oversensitivity in quite a high proportion of people. So if you use a sun filter as a separate product it will be easier to identify this and replace it. One last reason for using a separate sun product is the fact that certain sun filters can hinder the penetration of active ingredients into the skin. Having said that, for daily protection, I think that a foundation with SPF is a good option. Be aware that the protection is often lower than is stated on the product. As foundation is applied more thinly!

For very dry skin
If you have very dry skin it will benefit from an ingredient such as petrolatum (Vaseline) which prevents too much moisture loss from the skin. Such products are wonderful at hydrating but also have a disadvantage. The product becomes sticky, making it more difficult for certain active substances to penetrate into your skin. So it is better to apply a thin layer at night on top of your cream containing active substances.

Which product first?
The order in which you apply your products is very important if you want to achieve maximum results! Timing is also important. A cream with Vitamin A Acid (or with Vitamin A Acid derivatives such as retinyl palmitate) for example, does not work very well in the sun (so you need to apply it at night). Next time I will tell you more about that.
Regards Jetske
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

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