New to skincare?Read the Skincare 101 Intro
While everyone's skin is unique, a large majority of Americans actually experience very similar skincare problems. Here we dive into the top 4 skincare concerns and strategies for treating them.
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, generally experienced by young adults but also prevalent in adults as well. Acne occurs when hair follicles and pores are clogged with dead cells and bacteria. This is often caused by excess production of sebum, an oil that is naturally produced by our sebaceous glands to keep the skin moisturized. If you have acne, you may see whiteheads, blackheads, small red bumps, or pimples.
The most common ingredients used to treat acne are:
Salicylic Acid - Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA)—the molecular structure of BHAs make them more oil soluble and able to penetrate deep into your pores. This means that salicylic acid can give your skin a good deep clean by exfoliating and unclogging your pores to wipe out white and black heads.
Benzoyl Peroxide - Bronzoyl proxide is a bacteria killer. It also helps remove dead skin cells and excessive oil, unclogging pores and preventing acne.
Glycolic Acid & Lactic Acid - These alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) help remove dead skin cells, preventing them from building up and resulting in acne. Glycolic acid also promotes cell turnover, helping your cells replish faster and heal from scars and breakouts.
Large pores stem from genetic conditions, but can subside or exacerbate due to environmental factors such as skincare hygiene and hormones. They are usually caused by excess production of oils. If your sebaceous glands are producing more oils, your pores will expand to fill them. While you can't get rid of your pores, good skincare can help you minimize the appearance of them and prevent them from expanding furthur. On top of your basic skincare routine, here are some strategies to take care of your pores:
Steaming - Steaming your face can help open your pores, making it easier to remove dead skin cells, oil and debris. You can do this at home by filling up a sink with hot water and covering your face with a towel for 5 minutes.
Exfoliation - Experts recommend that you exfoliate your face twice a week, but not more. Your pores are clogged with dirt and dead skin cells, and you need to regularly cleanse them to prevent your pores from enlargening. There are 2 methods you can use to exfoliate: physical & chemical. Physical exfoliation involves using a tool such as a sponge or microbeads to mechanically scrub away dead skin cells. For those with sensitive skin, this can be too harsh and might cause microtears & damange your skin if you are not careful. For those people, a chemical peel is a better solution. Chemical peels remove your skin's outer damaged layers through acids (AHAs & BHAs) whose molecular structure allow them to sink deep inside your pores, cleaning out dead skin cells and debris.
As your skin gets older, it naturally becomes thinner and loses elasticity. Your skin's ability to protect itself grows weaker, leading to winkles and fine lines. For example, when you are young and you make different facial expressions, you face is able to bounce back quickly. However, as you get older, your skin has a harder time bouncing back, resulting in permanent lines. In addition, sun exposure can cause UV rays to break down collagen under your skin, reducing its elasticity.
The effectiveness of wrinkle-reducing treatments lie in the ingredients:
Retinol - Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that has been long held as an anti-aging super ingredient. It works by neturalizing free radicals -- unstable oxygen molecules that break down skin cells. It also increases cell turnover -- improving the texture of your skin and treating dark spots.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It protects the skin from sun damage and increases the skin's collagen, helping it remain supple and plump.
Squalane - Squalane is dreived from squalene -- a natural oil your skin produces. It is considered an emollient, which is a substance that softens you skin. As we age, we produce less squalene, so adding squalane to your routine can help restore that balance. It also protects against sun damage and moisturizes the skin, making it appear more plump. In addition, it is anti-inflammatory and can help with concerns such as eczema.
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition where parts of your skin are darker than normal. It happens when the skin produces melanin and can be caused by sun damange, skin inflammation, or acne scars.
Let's take a look at ingredients that can help with hyperpigmentation:
Licorice - Licorice is an extract that contains glabridin, a compound that blocks tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that causes discoloration.
Niacinamide - Niacinamide prohibits melanosomes from transferring melanin.
Kojic Acid - Similar to licorice, kojic acid inhibits tyrosinase, thus limiting overproduction of melanin. It can help lighten age spots, dark marks or acne scars.