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.
Focus on Your Cleanse
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."
With a silky gel-to-milk texture, this facial wash makes the very act of cleansing seriously enjoyable.
Formulated with ceramides, hyaluronic acid and amino acids, this cleanser delivers a deep clean without stripping the skin.
Use this gently exfoliating cleanser for your second evening cleanse and leave it on the skin for a few extra seconds to really reap the benefits.
This creamy cleansing gel feels so luxe and hydrating as you massage it into the skin, you'll find yourself actually looking forward to your daily cleanse.
Wait Between Layers
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.
Providing powerful antioxidant protection, this vitamin C serum is particularly lightweight and fast-absorbing.
This cult serum is specially formulated to sink in soon after application and is widely regarded to be the gold standard of vitamin C.
For a seriously effective dose of daily vitamin C, look no further than this skin-loving, glow-boosting serum.
Opt for a non-sticky hyaluronic acid serum like this one for fast absorption and minimum chance of pilling.
This particular hyaluronic acid has been formulated to work alongside or be added to other serums or base products for an extra hit of hydration.
Regarded as one of the best hyaluronic acid serums out there, this rich formula sinks straight into skin with minimal left over residue.
Experiment With Your Retinol
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."
This overnight mask contains peptides and is designed to be used on its own, so you don't have to worry about accidentally diluting your product.
This retinol serum means business. While it has sensitive-skinned fans, you can build up tolerance by applying moisturiser afterwards on some nights.
This retinol night cream can be used on its own as a nightly moisturiser to ensure the retinol content stays at its most potent.
Go For Multi-Hyphenates
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 very clever serum contains line-reducing retinol, bakuchiol to restore, peptides to boost collagen production and vitamin C to help defend the skin.
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).
This rich moisturiser pretty much does what it says on the tin—it truly is a super-smart hydrator. It leaves skin nourished, plumped and glowing but also delivers antioxidant protection too.