How to safely use active ingredients in your skincare routine
If you read our blog post 'Skincare Ingredients You Can't Use Together: A Guide To Proper Layering' you'll now know all about which ingredients to avoid layering together.
Whether you're a newbie to active ingredients or a seasoned pro, it's important to be aware of how to safely use active ingredients in your skincare routine.
Even if you've used an ingredient previously, trying a brand new brand or product type could result in irritation when not used correctly.
Active ingredients work effectively to transform your skin, but their high potency can lead to irritation or damage your skin barrier if not used correctly.
How to safely use actives in your skincare routine
- Begin using in low concentrations
- Start out using once a week, working up to more frequently
- Using a small pea sized amount
- Investing in a slow releasing formula
- Use a facial oil before applying actives
- Try short contact
- Always applying actives to dry skin
Begin using active ingredients in low concentrations
0.5% is generally a good place to start for beginners, if you have more sensitive skin you may even want to go in at 0.25%.
Stick to this level for a minimum of six to eight weeks, but pay attention to your skin's response rather than sticking to a specific time schedule. Starting out, look out for side effects such as redness, dryness, itchiness or overall sensitivity.
If your skin is tolerating a retinol strength you can work your way up to using something stronger. As a general rule of thumb, the more sun damage or signs of ageing you have on your skin already, the higher the percentage you want to work up to.
Start out using actives once a week, working up to more frequently
When using any kind of new product, it's best to start out slowly. When using an active, such as retinol, start out by only using them once a week while your skin is getting used to the product. After a few weeks, move up to twice a week, and repeat.
Using a small pea size amount of your active skincare products
Similarly to using low concentrations, begin by only using a small amount and not overloading your skin with a new product.
Invest in a slow releasing retinoid formula
Have you heard of encapsulated retinol? It's a newer version of retinol that works to slowly release actives to limit side effects.
Traditional retinols are free floating molecules without anything surrounding them, while encapsulated retinols are 'wrapped' for protection as they are delivered to the skin. The protective layer is made up of lipids or fatty acid molecules that slowly dissolve over time, causing the slow release.
Use a facial oil before applying actives
This is a skincare tips that's especially effective when using a retinol. Typically a retinol product will come in the form of a serum or moisturiser, and according to skincare order guidelines, this means it would need to be applied before using a facial oil.
If your skin is sensitive or new to using actives, switching the order and applying your facial oil first could help your skin to adjust. Using your facial oil first will allow the retinol to sink slowly into your skin.
Try our Radiance Facial Oil for layering
Try short contact
Simply, put it on, leave it on for a while, and wash it off.
Not allowing the product time to fully sink into your skin will help ease any sensitivities you may experience when first using a new active product.
Always applying actives to dry skin
After washing your face, or applying a product, wait for your face to feel completely dry before applying a product containing an active ingredient. Wet or damp skin allows actives to penetrate quicker, as water can break down your skin barrier.
Frequently asked questions when starting out using retinol
I have sensitive skin - can I use retinol?
If you have more sensitive skin it's a good idea to start out using a Niacinamide Serum first, it's less potent than a retinol and may help to reduce irritation. Work up to using a retinol after getting your skin initially used to a niacinamide.
My skin is purging when I first start using retinol, how long can I expect this to last?
Skin purging is the early stages of using a new product when your skin needs time to adjust. This can force underlying issues, such as spots under the skin, to the surface, and often causes people to panic and stop using a new product. Pushing through this phase is important, and it's key that you use consistently during this time. Ensure your skin remains hydrated and moisturised to keep your skin balanced during this time.
How does the retinol in a clay mask help my skin?
Even though a clay face mask is only applied for a short time, it works because the nature of the clay works to draw out impurities whilst allowing the nourishing ingredients to sink into the skin.
Over time this retinol works to aid cell turnover and reduce signs of ageing. As the concentration is lower, there is typically no risk of irritation when using a face mask that contains retinol.
Try our British Pink Clay Mask
Our mask is designed to be customisable to suit all skin types and your skin as it changes throughout the seasons, meaning you don't have to worry about it not working for your skin.
The mask deeply detoxifies to draw out impurities & pollutants from your skin to clean & tighten pores whilst leaving you with bright & illuminated skin in just 10 minutes.