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How to layer your skincare products

How to layer your skincare products

Applying your skincare products - like Retinoids - in the right order may be the key to getting the most out of them

By Donna Roper,
 Beauty, fashion & lifestyle influencer and digital content creator 

Published: Fri 13 Sep 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 13 Sep 2019, 2:00 AM

Everybody wants healthy skin but there are so many choices out there today that it's easy to get overwhelmed. What I've learnt from my personal skincare journey is that it's all about experimenting with active ingredients.

Active ingredients are substances that work hard to make positive changes to your skin. Different ingredients target different skin conditions and different products can have more than one active ingredient in them. However, for people with sensitive skin (like myself), they need to be applied in a careful, targeted way or risk bad reactions and results. It doesn't help that many active ingredients also have long and confusing scientific names.

A common mistake, and one that I've been guilty of, is getting over-excited and trying too many products at the same time. You might get lucky with a random combination initially, but over time, this won't give you best results. Applying too many products can be expensive and you will also run the risk of over irritating, over sensitising and over-exfoliating your skin.

I recommend starting with one active ingredient and slowly building from there to create the right beauty routine for you. Let's use Vitamin A/ retinoids as an example as, by far, this is one of the most popular skincare ingredients.

Topical Vitamin A-based compounds are called retinoids - the most widely used and most studied anti-ageing compound. They firm up the skin, improve uneven skin tones, exfoliate and reduce lines and wrinkles. Retinoids usually refer to stronger, available by prescription only, compounds like tretinoin. Over-the-counter products usually contain retinol, which is a weaker form, more suitable for sensitive skin.

Apply at night, twice a week. I wait 20 minutes after cleansing my face to make sure my skin is totally dry before dotting a pea-sized amount over my face and neck. Forty minutes later, I apply a natural face oil, which nullifies dryness or irritation while allowing the Vitamin A to work. When using active ingredients, keep in mind:

> Moisturise/hydrate your skin to boost its protection and vitality.
> Use SPF/sunscreen as your skin photosensitivity can be greatly increased.
> Stick to one active ingredient at a time when you are starting out.
> Understand this is a long-term commitment and don't expect quick fixes.

Do's: Retinoids and face oils are a good combination. Retinoids can cause dry skin and nourishing ingredients are the perfect complement to maximise its benefits.

> Combining retinoid and AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). Both remove dead skin so you don't need them together.
> Combining retinoid and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid): BHA dissolves oil on the skin so there's a risk of over-drying the skin using them together. Separate them.
> Retinoid and Vitamin C: Both can cause irritation. My best practice is to use my Vitamin C serum in the morning and then the retinoid in the nighttime.
> Retinoid and BPO (Benzoyl Peroxide): Although BPO can be used to treat acne, I've found this combination can cause issues for those with sensitive skin and I personally find BPO too aggressive.
> Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
At the end of the day, it's all about protecting our skin barrier at all costs. So, start carefully, and find out what works for you. Bottom line - be kind to your skin.

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