For many years now, we have been led to believe that the best way to achieve a flawless, glowing complexion, is to slap on just about every superhero serum you can get your hands on. From vitamin C to retinol and hyaluronic acid to ceramides, the beauty industry would have us believe that providing we're applying the right ingredients, our skin will be forever young.
With that in mind, it makes sense that when we all found ourselves with a little more time on our hands in 2020, we started investing in our skincare routines more so than ever. We filled our bathroom cabinets up with whatever lotions and potions had come recommended to us and applied serum after serum and mask after mask as part of our quest to achieve perfectly balanced, healthy-looking skin.
But after many months of slathering on every skincare product that has come our way, skin experts are preaching a very important message for 2021: It's time to slow things down again. Instead of buying up every miracle-promising product that comes onto our radar, it's time to not only buy, but also apply more thoughtfully, and slower at that. It turns out, patience is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for great, glowing skin. In order to suss out exactly how we should be slowing down our skincare routines in order to reap the best benefits, we reached out to some of skincare's most in-the-know experts to get their top tips.
Before you even get around to applying your active ingredients in the form of serums and moisturisers, it's important to make sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed. Sadly, this means more than just swiping a micellar-soaked cotton pad over your face. "Cleansing is an important step to ensure dirt, debris, sweat and makeup are adequately removed. You should wash your face twice a day, for 30 seconds," says medical consultant and director, Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme.
Making sure you take the time to cleanse with a wash-off cleanser is something all skin experts advise is imperative. Dr Jonquille Chantrey, founder of One Aesthetic, surgeon and global aesthetics lecturer explains, "I recommend double cleansing in the evening. Firstly to remove makeup, pollutant and oils. Then the second cleanse should aim to treat the skin itself. During the second cleanse I like to leave the cleanser on for a couple of minutes to improve the benefits of any topical acids."
While opting for single-ingredient serums and layering them up to make the perfect skincare cocktail seems like a great idea on paper, in reality, it's not always the most effective treatment—especially if you're rushing. "Layering product without allowing time for absorption can affect the concentration or activity of certain ingredients. The compounds can interact with each other on the skin surface and affect efficacy," warns Dr Chantrey. And it can also be problematic when it comes to mixing ingredients that deal with hydration. Dr Ejikeme says, "It is important to follow instructions to ensure humectants (like hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture to the skin) are placed before occlusives (like oils, which prevent water loss from the skin)."
Ever noticed little balls of product form on the skin as you massage your product in? It turns out you could be mixing all wrong. "Pilling can occur for many reasons: It could be using products that aren't formulated together so don't mix well, it could be using too many layers or it could be a mixture of the two," says Dr Ejikeme. When the formula pills into little balls, you're wasting precious product and you'll need to wash it all off and start again if you want to reap the true benefits of the product. The simple rule to tackle all of these issues? Allow 30 seconds between each product layer for satisfactory absorption.
While it is important to ensure all products are fully absorbed before reaching for the next, when it comes to retinol, there is an exception. Of course, if you want to reap the full potential from your retinol products, you should wait as long as possible before applying the next as to not lessen its potency. However, if you want to minimise negative side effects, you might want to take a different approach on certain nights. Dr Chantrey explains, "There is a concept called buffering, where you can intentionally apply a moisturiser straight after your retinol. Some patients choose to do this on certain nights of the week to lessen potency and minimise peeling."
Luckily, for 2021, we are set to see a huge rise in popularity for products that are formulated to work totally on their own. "Most formulations in a single product line are created to sit on top of one another with all products functioning effectively. Look for multi-ingredient products if you want to reduce the number of layers you are using," says Dr Ejikeme. Not only are experts recommending multi-hyphenate products to help maximise the effects of our at-home routines on our skin, but they also advise it's a better environmental route too. With many of us using up to 10 products in one day, that's 10 times more packaging than opting for one product that works to tick all of the boxes. It's a win-win!
This cult cream might be super-expensive, but it's really all you need. Perhaps the first skincare product to really kick-start the trend of multi-hyphenate skincare, The Cream works to hydrate, revive and renew tired-looking skin (while minimising the signs of ageing while it works).