Skin. The largest organ on the human body.
Now, I am sure there are some male porn stars who would challenge me on this, but this article is about skin care so let’s keep it classy; at least until I write an article about the other.
Back to skin. We slather it with all sorts of stuff to keep it supple and looking good, but do we know what the stuff in our skin care products actually does to benefit our skin?
As a long standing beauty bitch, I have used a great deal of product over the years and I can safely tell you, there are a lot of ingredients out there in skin care that greatly benefit our skin; but what exactly do these ingredients do?
Being extensively trained in multiple brands and their products, I have always spoken about key ingredients to my customers as a beauty bitch on the selling floor, and for one main reason: if people don’t know what their product is going to do for them then why in the hell would they buy it? Apart from the gold container making them feel low-key rich, these products can make a big difference to their skin. Before we go into ingredients and their benefits, let’s look at things from a beauty shopper’s perspective.
You walk into a beauty department, you see all those jars of cream and you wonder why one is priced at $445 and why is it so different from your $15 jar of cream from Woolies. Well, the fact is that high end skin care brands often have their in-house exclusive technology involving lasers, magic spells and ingredients blessed by a priest who lives in a golden cave on a mountain that you can only get to if you know people in high places (other than the priest himself).
The simple truth is this: ingredients combined with other ingredients is a science that many of us will never really grasp unless we wear a white coat and place things in beakers but when combined a certain way, can actually produce amazing results for your skin.
I will often come across people who say they need wrinkle cream and then crinkle up their face like a pug and say ‘see this wrinkle right here?’ The ones who do this are always around nineteen years old, give beauty professionals the shits and inspire us to mock you during our lunch break. Allow me to give you a quick skin lesson so that any misinformation can be laid to rest and so we can refrain from mocking you behind your back.
Your skin type can change with age or hormones but it pretty much stays the same for most of your life until your eggs dry up or when you start sweating like a truck driver for no real reason. (I didn’t want to say menopause, but in reality it can be one of the reasons).
There are skin types and there are skin conditions and they’re two different things but everyone has a skin type and almost everyone has a skin condition attached to it. Allow me to explain.
There are four basic skin types: normal, oily, dry, and combination.
In addition to the skin types, we have skin conditions: sensitive, dehydrated, acne prone, pigmented/ sun damaged, among other conditions such as dermatitis or eczema.
A combination skin can have an oily t-zone you could fry an egg on with cheeks as dry as lizard’s tits, hence why it’s called combination. Most people I have seen in my time have this particular skin type. Oily skin types have large pores, some break out present and get shiny like a disco ball about an hour after they set their makeup with bucket loads of powder. Normal skin tends to look even all over with little shine or pore visibility. Dry skin has no visible pores and tends to have fine lines due to a lack of oil and sucks moisturiser in like a Dyson.
Almost everyone above can suffer from dehydrated skin because it’s a condition. Dehydrated skin is skin suffering from water loss. The most common skin types to suffer from this are the oily ones. The reason, is that oily people spend so much time scrubbing the shit out of their skin to get rid of all the oil and to get that squeaky clean feeling. Result? Dehydration and flakiness which is why they often call themselves dry.
So now that I have given you a brief run down of what your skin might be, the ingredients you choose are going to determine how you can improve your skin condition and the look of your skin: everyone can, I assure you.
Ingredients are quite scientific in their make up so please understand I am not a professor in any way even though I sometimes think I am and that the breakdown below is a basic look at what the ingredients do. In addition, some of them have multiple aliases so do your research because the ingredients I have listed below are the main ones you need to know about
Vitamin C– a skin brightening ingredient. Great if your skin looks dull, as it acts like a mild surface exfoliant and line smoother. It can, however, make your skin sun sensitive, so cover up or you may develop pigmentation as a result (those translucent brown spots)
Vitamin A– a retinoid, also known as retinol, is great for reducing pigmentation, encouraging cell turnover, and fighting wrinkles. Cover up in the sun when using this one too
Vitamin E– or tocopherol is a skin healer and deep hydrating moisturiser
Lactic acid– known as an AHA, (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) is the gentle AHA, derived from milk with skin softening abilities as well as gentle exfoliating properties. Cleopatra’s arse wasn’t smooth and supple for nothing. She knew exactly what she was doing when she took those milk baths
Glycolic acid– another AHA more powerful than lactic acid, improves texture and tone of the skin and tingles when it comes into skin contact, it softens fine lines and skin texture concerns. Great for large pores, thickened skin or sun damaged skin. Again, cover up if you’re in the sun, same as above unless looking like a dalmatian is your thing
Salicylic acid– a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA, best described as a ‘fat chewer’ or skin debris dissolver, the kind that blocks pores or causes acne. Great for oily skin or for anyone with skin congestion concerns like blackheads, whiteheads or keratin plugs
Hyaluronic acid– sometimes known as sodium hyaluronate, capable of holding its own weight in water 1000 times, this one is a surface skin plumper and hydrator and encourages collagen production. It gives your skin that cushion soft feeling and plumps your skin with moisture making it feel supple, hydrated and firm
Caffeine– an anti-inflammatory, is effective for treating puffiness and dark circles and for inflammatory skin conditions involving redness and swelling
Now that you have an idea about some of these ingredients and their benefits, you should be able to find products that will keep your face looking just as supple as Cleopatra’s derriere, you baby faced smooth operator, you. Sade even wrote a song about you in the 80’s.
Image: Excerpt from ‘Beauty in a Smile‘ editorial, creative direction by Lilah Gow.