The Inside Scoop on Ingredients
We get it, some of skincare’s most-beloved treatments and products can sound a bit scary at first. From ‘peeling like a snake’ post-chemical peel and facials that use your own blood on your face, what may initially sound like the start of a skincare horror story could in fact be just the fairy tale ending you’re looking for from your next aesthetics appointment.
So, this month, we’re giving you what you need to know about ‘scary’ skincare – the trends and the classics – that you really shouldn’t be afraid of
Retinol: It’s a dream, not a scream…
Retinol, a vitamin A derivative that combats everything from fine lines and uneven skin texture to acne and hyper-pigmentation, this much talked-about ingredient can seem intimidating if you’ve heard the horror stories responsible for its ‘frightening’ reputation.
Sure, the side effects of (mis)using the more potent versions of this ingredient (for example, Retin-A) can include excessive flaking, extreme dryness and red-faced irritation but retinol itself is available in gentle versions, too, with many options being specifically formulated for retinol newbies. From natural retinol alternatives to encapsulated retinol, which bypasses irritation and flaking by delivering the active ingredient below the skin’s surface, Retinol is the stuff of sweet dreams, not nightmares, when used correctly as directed by your medically-trained therapist.
Tip: Whatever type of retinol you go for, your skin will become more sensitive to the sun after use, so include any products containing Retinol in your night-time routine, not your morning one.
Afraid of acids? Don’t be…
Truth is, exfoliating acids – think AHAs and BHAs – are among the most effective skincare ingredients to incorporate in your skincare routine if you want to brighten your complexion, fade dark spots, reduce the appearance of scars, unclog pores, and treat acne.
You see, exfoliating acids originate from very un-scary sources like fruits, sugarcane, and willow bark. In other words, they’re safe. Sure, you may experience a slight tingling sensation when you first start using them, but that sensitivity will decrease as your skin gets used to the acids, building up a tolerance as your skin’s barrier gets stronger.
What’s the deal with peels?
What’s the point of a chemical peel? To dissolve the damaged upper layers of the skin, revealing a fresh complexion underneath. Most facial peels consist of the exfoliating acids we mentioned above. The stronger ones should absolutely be applied by a pro but there are several DIY peels that are safely used at home.
Contrary to the horror stories you may have heard or seen (example, Samantha Jones’s post-peel aftermath in that Sex and the City episode), noticeable ‘peeling’ isn’t on the cards for your complexion after gentler, ‘no downtime’ peels. Some sensitivity during the treatment? Sure. Some redness afterwards for a couple of hours? Quite possibly. If you do opt for one of the stronger chemical peels, it’s best to do this type of treatment in Winter when you have a few days that you can go without makeup and stay indoors. Let’s just say that you’re not going to want to have a big event on or a TV interview lined up the day afterwards but, with some considered planning, the pros of ‘peeling like snake’ for a few days will far outweigh the cons.
Tip: Be extra disciplined with your SPF application post-peel and avoid any acid-based and retinoid-based skincare products for 24 hours pre-treatment and up to 72 hours post-treatment.
The term ‘vampire facial’ freak you out?
Well, the results aren’t freaky, they’re actually pretty darn fabulous. A vampire facial combines elastin-boosting and collagen-promoting micro-needling with the topical application of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP is a concentrate of platelet-rich plasma protein produced from your blood, which contains a large concentration of growth factors – treating all sorts of skin issues while helping tissue to heal and repair.
Here's how it works, step-by-step:
After the initial blood draw, not pain-free but not painful, your blood is placed in a centrifuge to separate the plasma and platelets from the red blood cells.
Before the micro-needling part of the treatment starts, a topical numbing cream is applied to the face, so you don’t have to worry about the needling being painful.
Once the numbing cream has done its job, the micro-needling commences and, once that’s done, the PRP is rubbed on the skin where it remains for the rest of the day to optimise your results.
For a few days after the treatment, your skin may feel a bit dry, red and sensitive skin, similar to a light sunburn.
Benefits of a vampire facial include boosted cell turnover, improved skin tone and texture, and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and signs of ageing. If you’ve suffered from acne and have scarring or damage courtesy of being in the sun without wearing SPF, this treatment is well worth considering. I mean, if it’s good enough for a Kardashian…
Tip: While almost everyone is a candidate for micro-needling with PRP, you may not be a candidate if you have a history of blood disease, including clotting or bleeding disorders. So, do chat to your therapist or doctor before booking your first vampire facial.