How to Know if Your Skincare is Actually Working
We slather, smooth, polish and buff our skin daily, but how do we know if our skincare is doing what it promises to do?
Whether spending hundreds on facials, or shelling out in favour of cutting-edge skincare, there’s no denying skincare today is an investment.
In the interest of preserving our youth, warding off free radicals, or erasing tell-tale signs of a big weekend, the shift towards skincare over makeup is irrefutable.
But according to one skincare expert, our efforts could be wasted if our skin’s natural barrier has been compromised, meaning each product is less likely to penetrate through the skin’s dermis.
Enter Dr Travis Badenhorst, Snowberry scientist, vice-president of the NZ Society of Cosmetic Chemists, and leader of a team which spent five years at the University of Auckland developing cutting-edge technology for the transfer of essential skin peptides.
The Building Blocks of Skin
Likening our skin to a flexible brick wall, Dr Badenhorst explains how both are designed to keep the bad things out, using a similar structure. In our epidermis, the ‘bricks’ are keratinocytes (an epidermal cell which produces keratin), while the ‘mortar’ is the phospholipid layer, and the ‘sealant’ (to waterproof a wall), is the skin’s acid mantle — a blend of sebum and sweat.
According to Dr Badenhorst, removing the sealant or mortar from the wall will mean it fails. “Remarkably, skin is the same,” he adds. “Remove the acid mantle or degrade the lipid barrier, and skin’s natural barrier begins to fail and premature ageing is inevitable. Further, no amount spent on serums or creams will help.”
While no alarm will sound when your skin’s natural barrier has been compromised, the tell-tale signs will manifest in the form of unusual breakouts, accelerated dryness, and redness.
“When the natural barrier is damaged or degraded, you are allowing dirt, pathogens and allergens to enter into the skin,” Dr Badenhorst notes.
“As soon as that happens, your skin reacts with an inflammatory response, which you see as redness. In addition, water loss from the skin will accelerate.”
Women with mature skin are more prone to have what is described as chronic low-level inflammation, says Dr Badenhorst. “They need much heavier and occlusive moisturising creams to combat dryness. This combination of redness and accelerated moisture loss are characteristic of skin that is being prematurely aged,” he explains.
But all is not lost, as this is largely avoidable and can be reversed.
Clean Up Your Act
Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, Dr Badenhorst credits the preservation of our skin barrier to avoiding cleansers and toners containing aggressive foaming agents or astringent ingredients.
“If your cleansers foams like shampoo, it’s likely it contains sodium lauryl sulphate. Or, if you use a toner that feels cold and leaves skin tight, then you are likely using a product containing harmful alcohol or sensitising menthol.
“The former especially is very bad news for the skin’s natural barrier — rapidly stripping away the acid mantle and lipid layer,” he explains.
Our cleansing regimen is one of the most important aspects of our fight against anti-ageing. Avoid cheaply made products, or those that look to the aforementioned damaging alcohols or surfactants. “And don’t rely on the frequently misused work ‘gentle’ in the product name,” warns Dr Badenhorst. “Check the ingredients list!”
Selecting the right cleanser is the key to avoid skin damage and reducing dryness, Dr Badenhorst notes. Consider Snowberry’s range of pH- and acid-balanced cleansers your new go-to, to keep your acid mantle in check.
We should also demand much more of our moisturiser as we age, by looking to products that replenish essential components of skin’s natural barrier.
“In Snowberry creams, we boost with several special ingredients, including ceramides and squalene because these exist naturally in the lipid layer,” Dr Badenhorst says.
“We love macadamia oil because out of all natural herbal oils, this is generally regarded to be the most like skin’s own — with a near perfect balance of Omega 3 and 6, as well as the highest level of the important, skin-healing Omega 7.”
Skin will appear all the more virtuous after a generous slather of moisturiser that serves dual purpose in rebuilding the lipid barrier, while offering a hydration hit.
- For more about Snowberry and how to look after your skin, visit Snowberry.co.nz.