Welcome back, readers! I know it’s been a hot second since Part 2 of my guest blog series for Chic Dabbler, and I really appreciate your patience as I’m able to now present Part 3. I want to give a big thank you for your continued interest as I get to chime in this time around on treatments! So far I’ve gone over cleansing products and tools and toners and essences. In this piece I’ll go over what I find to be perhaps one of the most crucial and interesting parts of a skin care regimen, so join me!
Treatments are essentially where the bulk of your skin improvements and results can be derived from. These items can come in many forms such as serums, creams, oils, or fluids that address specific issues. Treatments, by nature, contain a higher percentage and dosage of active ingredients which in turn allows skin to receive a more concentrated application to areas of concern which can range from blemishes and acne, fine lines, wrinkles, the loss of elasticity and volume, hyper-pigmentation, uneven texture and more. While skin care products aren’t required by the FDA to detail out the exact percentages of ingredients, a quick rule of thumb in breaking down a formula is looking at the order of the ingredients. The most potent components will be listed first, but don’t be surprised if you first run into water and then a few binders, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. This doesn’t render the product moot entirely. In fact, many skin care products may require that stable base to properly house those active ingredients to ensure their exposure to skin isn’t too overwhelming right out the gate.
When seeking a treatment to incorporate, key into what you’re looking to remedy or focus on and then seek products that contain ingredients that support improving those aspects. Personally, this is a region that I find particularly important to begin researching and broadening ones personal knowledge base on ingredients and what their properties detail. By understanding what goes into making a product “work”, one can then understand how utilizing that item will translate to their skin care goals.
Keying into ingredient knowledge can also be make-or-break for many consumers out there with skin sensitivities or allergies. If your skin does become reactive to a product, definitely take into account whether or not that particular item has any known-ingredients or disclosures that may cause it to be quite stimulating upon initial use. If you do have any allergies, be sure to go over an ingredient listing with a fine-toothed comb to be sure you’re not taking a risk with trying a new item. Reactions may also be caused due to a series of items in a regimen being used in conjunction with one another and just not agreeing. It may not have anything to do with your skin itself, but rather that particular combination just doesn’t working cohesively with one another. While it’s not required, allergy tests scheduled with your local doctor or medical professional can also offer up quite a bit of insight if there have been persistent issues and negative reactions to the majority of beauty products tried.
On BeautyTalk, I’ve always been a big proponent of starting a skin care journal or having some form of documentation in creating a regimen. Constructing a regimen can be very daunting as the trial and error period can be extensive and you may find yourself debating between what to try next and what may honestly be worth your time and money. Do keep in mind that changes may not be immediate. Changes will take time and there are lots of variables at play such as how often you may be using a product, how well it combines with everything else, and how your skin just takes to it. By recording what you’re using along with aspects like your skin type, your daily beauty steps, any changes you notice (be it positive or negative), and even outside influences such as the environment, stress levels, diet, water intake, amount of sleep, and even how often you’re changing a pillowcase or wiping down your phone, you get to have something tangible to reference to track progress or even notice what to alter. Feel free to grab a pretty journal or a fun looking notebook to jot things down in, or even opt for a digital route and keep track on your phone, tablet, or computer if you’re a more tech savvy! Whatever route you choose, base it off of what you can see yourself doing and wanting to stick with.
Up above I mentioned ingredient knowledge being a big help when it comes to deciphering what goes into making a treatment effective. While there’s no way for me to do a collective wrap-up of all the ingredients there are in the world, here is a basic guideline broken down by key component types:
- Hydrators – These components are either fortified with fatty acids or may have humectant properties, which draw moisture from the atmosphere to skin and in turn boosts hydration and promotes a softer and more conditioned qualities. Many oils such as coconut, argan, sunflower, avocado, and sweet almond are fatty acid rich and can provide immediate hydration, making them perfect to add over an existing moisturizer if needed or for colder seasons (if found in existing skin care products, these just beef up the moisture levels provided). Other key hydrators include glycerin, sodium hyaluronate (or hyaluronic acid), and honey. Ceramides are also a lovely component when focusing on hydration because ceramides aid in improving moisture retention in cellular tissue, this allows your cells to get the maximum benefit of whatever hydrating component is used and to ensure that its properties aren’t wasted.
- Anti-Oxidants – Free radical damage is readily combated against with the use of anti-oxidants, which impede the inevitable breakdown of healthy cells via environmental and external aggressors found in the atmosphere. Anti-oxidants can be found in polyphenols, resveratrol, tea extracts, vitamin C (which can be listed as is or naturally sourced via botanical means), vitamin E, and vitamin A. Grapeseed extract, pomegranate, blueberries, and green tea are just a few examples of what delivers anti-oxidant protection to the skin.
- Brighteners – Brightening one’s skin in terms of supporting a more even skin tone or combating discoloration is what we meant instead of skin-bleaching. There are gentle approaches to brightening such as through vitamin C, licorice, goji berry extract, soy, pea extract, and peony extract which can run lower risk of photo-sensitivity and can be great ingredients to use for day-time products. For a more potent approach, chemical exfoliants (such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids), retinol, alpha arbutin, and hydroquinone can be relied on. The two later options not only work to fade discoloration, but also work to inhibit melanin production to ensure target sites aren’t as likely to further deepen in color development as time goes on.
- Blemish-Fighting – With combating blemishes, it’s important to understand what type of blemish you are facing. As a good rule of thumb, salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) is good to keep on hand as it chemical exfoliates skin (helps to address the textural aspect of the pimple and support healthier cellular regeneration), regulate oil production, and dissolve sebum (perfect if you’re looking to help dislodge blackheads). If your blemish is a pustular whitehead, opt for sulfur which aims to dry out the “head” of the blemish (allowing it to dislodge from the site and in turn not be as raised and textured). For red, swollen blemishes that may feel tender to the touch or “under” the skin, give benzoyl peroxide a chance as it helps to oxygenate congested pores (thus bringing to the surface the problem so you can address it quicker) and rids the region of surface bacteria.
- Anti-Agers – This genre can be quite broad as aging encompasses many concerns from fine lines, deep wrinkles, the loss of elasticity, age spots, and more. If the anti-aging ingredient world was a sport, retinol would be its heavy-weight champion of the world. The reason for this is because retinol touches into virtually every aspect of aging to help improve and better skin. While it helps stimulate collagen production and cellular regeneration, retinol does it with quite the kick that can lead to mild inflammation and even a bit of dryness and peeling which should subside as skin becomes used to its potency. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are chemical exfoliants that help to break down the excess build up of cells at the skin’s surface to promote a smoother and more refined texture and also support cellular turn-over as well (so you’re able to replace what you’re sloughing off with cells in better condition than before). Ingredients that fit into this category tend to help promote healing and repairing skin, such as with niacinamide (a vitamin B derivative) and peptides (which are amino acids that help with plumping and firming skin, making them great to immediate target sites of collagen and elastin damage).
Often times, ingredients tend to fit into more than one category (for example, vitamin C brightens, is an anti-oxidant, and helps support collagen production and makes it anti-aging), so brushing up on all the qualities and benefits of a certain component can really help you determine whether or not a specific treatment really caters to your concerns and what other bonuses they may offer. (ChicDabbler: Check out Ingredient Highlight for quick overview of popular skincare ingredients! #shamelessplug)
While treatments are aimed to deliver the biggest impact to your skin in terms of improvement and remedying concerns, all is for naught if you don’t follow up with proper hydration and protection. I won’t delve too much into moisturizers and sunscreen uses here (as that coverage will be coming later in my guest blog series, so stay tuned), but it is crucial that your regimen doesn’t merely end at the use of a treatment. Due to their potency, it can leave skin sensitized to the elements (especially with UV rays and the use of chemical exfoliants or more heavy-duty brighteners). You can use all the most effective and even high-dollar treatments in the world, but if proper follow-up isn’t accompanying it, then you may as well be kissing obtaining those results goodbye as it’d be that much tougher to see and maintain positive results in the long haul.
As Part 3 is wrapped, you may be able to guess what is coming next as I gave a nice hint in the above! Thank you so much for keeping in tune and see you at the next post!