How do you get your skincare dosage right for the skin of your dreams?
Skincare ingredients remain the focal point in the modern-day beauty sphere, with labels on crème jars and serum bottles clearly stating what key ingredients are added, what the blends do, and more importantly, in what strength (percentages) they arrive in.
Although skincare connoisseurs have long since cracked the ingredient code – rambling up the separating traits between AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs in their sleep, and are well aware of the fact that hyaluronic acid isn’t really an acid, the dosage can be a tricky riddle to solve.
As it turns out, mathematics and skincare have more in common than you thought. If you want to achieve the skin of your dreams, you should head back into the classroom and start taking notes.
You see, 20 % Vitamin C does not mean it’s more potent than 10 % Vitamin C.
Confused but curious?
Let’s decipher some of the dermatologists’ favorite ingredients in skincare:
The go-to AHA for topical exfoliation does its deed at a percentage level between 3 – 5 %.
But there’s a catch: to keep the product’s pH level in mind.
A high pH level prevents skin irritation but also weakens the strength of the acid.
E.g: a 5 % glycolic acid concentrate with a high pH level lowers the concentrate to around 2 %.
Ideal pH Level? Keep it no higher than 3 - 4 %. Check the chosen product’s brand website for info about the pH level as it’s not always listed on the bottle.
Acne sufferer’s hero ingredient has been proven to be strong, where as little as 4 % is powerful enough to target skin concerns like redness, uneven skin tone, and large pores.
There are however 10 % niacinamide products, which are totally fine to use.
What you should be aware of is that your product of choice clearly states what percentage the niacinamide arrives in. If it’s not spelled out, it’s probably an insignificant amount, which ultimately, does nada for your skin.
To master the dosage of retinoids, you need to know what type you’re dealing with.
There are 3 types of retinoids:
1. Pure retinoic acid – the strongest, prescription-only alternative
2. Retinol – weaker (but still effective) and less irritating than pure retinoic acid
3. Retinyl palmitate – the gentlest one in the retinoid family
To spell it out clearly, a 10 % retinyl palmitate serum is weaker than a 5 % retinol serum.
What should you do to get the dosage right?
If you’re familiar with The Retinoids Family, you know they’re a highly effective but aggressive bunch.
Introduce your skin to retinyl palmitate – the gentlest family member and build up your skin’s tolerance (and enough confidence) to work your way up to the middle sibling – retinol.
If your dermatologist prescribes you a pure retinoid acid, go ahead and use as instructed.
Vitamin C is a fickle but powerful ingredient – if packaged with care, where stability of the ingredient is more important than its percentage.
A stable 5 % Vitamin C serum is more potent than a 25% Vitamin C serum that isn’t stable.
Since Vitamin C is sensitive to light, heat, and air, and does not thrive in water, investigate the:
1. Formula – make sure the Vitamin C is either water-soluble or arrives in a waterless formulation.
2. Packaging – ensure that the Vitamin C is cleverly packaged, e.g. delivered in capsules or separate caps that are complemented with a serum.
Studying mathematics isn’t so bad after all, is it?
Now, let's move on to the "Ingredients That Actually Work Wonders For Your Skin"
Once upon a time, skincare aficionados turned to terms like ‘age-fighting’ and ‘skin brightening’ when navigating the commercial Amazon of beauty products. Fast-forward a couple of years and the hunt for the next hero product looks considerably different, with consumers aiming for words like ‘Probiotics’ and ‘Bakuchiol’ when scanning product labels on virtual and physical shelves. A feat that beauty brands have made easy and time-efficient, having spelled out which ingredients live within their jars and tubes of skin elixirs, highlighting the ingredients’ strengths and skin properties. It’s matchmaking between your skin issue and hero product!
But there’s a downside – today’s zoom on ingredients is the ´trend over fact’ approach that may blindside even the most well-read skincare junkie, with new and exctiting ingredients constantly popping up on beauty shelves, brimming with myriad promises of complete skin transformation.
And let’s face it – the modern consumer doesn’t always have time to read beyond the label to discover the true efficiency of said formulas or delve into the research put behind the latest it-ingredient.
At times, ingredient and formulation details are impossible to access, with beauty companies keeping the recipe to their claimed success formula in the dark – which oftentimes translates to a lack of study of a new-comer from the laboratory. At other times, ingredients are being falsely marketed.
While certain effects of bakuchiol sounds promising, chemists say the ingredient needs more studies to truly be considered transformative to skin. The truth behind products labeled probiotic? The majority of ‘probiotic beauty’ doesn’t even contain probiotics – but prebiotics and postbiotics.
Truth be told, only a handful of ingredients are backed up by meticulous studies. A diamond powder-infused face crème with a 309 € price tag might sound like a luxurious symphony to your skin’s senses. But that might be as far as it goes – a lavish jar with a lavish name containing, you guessed it, lavish-sounding ingredients with empty promises.
The ingredients that have spent plenty of time in a lab – with proven results:
Ceramides reinforce the skin’s barrier and retain hydration for a plumper, smoother and moisturized skin.
The Alpha hydroxy acid with the best ability to penetrate the skin to improve its overall structure and appearance.
A sugar molecule with the ability to attract and retain skin’s moisture. Its unique ability? To hold 1000 times its weight in water.
A multi-tasking force to be reckoned with. Niacinamide evens out skin tone, strengthens the skin barrier, retains skin’s moisture and minimizes pore size.
Personal messengers that communicate with your skin cells, making them slow down skin’s collagen production, reduce pigmentation, fight fine lines/wrinkles and reduce under-eye circles
This warrior is your best bet in the battle against fine lines, wrinkles and uneven texture. Known for increasing skin cell turnover.
Potent antioxidant with myriad proven skin benefits: to brighten skin, even out skin tone, reduce pigmentation, dark under-eye circles and sunspots as well as maximize UV-protection.