Are mono-active treatments becoming the norm? Today, consumers are crazy about these super-concentrated products, to be combined with other active ingredients or to be used alone, according to the needs of our skin at a given moment. But is it really better? We take stock of this new approach.
The pros and cons of combining pure actives
“The main advantage consists in not over-treating the skin unnecessarily. If it has no problems, cleaning and moisturizing it are the basic gestures. The pure active ingredients then help to target each need without excess”, explains Frédéric Hornec , director of training for the Etat Pur brand.
They also allow you to hyper-personalize your routine and make it evolve over time, because each epidermis reacts differently to treatments. However, playing the little chemist can have deleterious consequences.
“The dosage is important. A useful or effective ingredient used at the wrong dose can become irritating. You also need to know both the cosmetic and your skin to make the right combinations. Those that work from a galenic point of view, without lint by dint of layers for example, and of course, in terms of results”, tempers Annie Black, scientific director of Lancôme, who is launching Rénergie HCF Triple Sérum, a treatment combining several key active ingredients (hyaluronic and ferulic acids, vitamin C and niacinamide) – each housed in a different galenic –, which mix during the application for the most accurate synergy.
“Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are cleverly combined with many active ingredients. For example, they display the same pH as vitamin C and can therefore be layered for their complementary actions on skin texture and radiance. They also work hand in hand with hyaluronic acid since they clean the pores and allow the skin to be deeply hydrated.Finally, the AHAs associated with Beta-Hydroxylated Acids (BHA) cause a double exfoliation on the surface, thanks to the aqueous base of the AHAs , and in depth with the oily base of BHAs. Be careful all the same to hydrate the skin well after this very powerful combo”, specifies Mindaugas Žukauskas, director of product development at Symbiosis.
Another captivating active ingredient: niacinamide (vitamin B), which compensates with its mildness for the slightly drying, even irritating effect of retinol or which, combined with vitamin C as in Lancôme’s Rénergie HCF Triple Serum, acts on hyperpigmentation. .
“Studies have also shown that ferulic acid has the power to stabilize vitamin C,” adds Pruvdi Kaka, Scientific Director of Deciem Group. Another very strong antioxidant shield, the vitamin E and resveratrol duo works wonders against free radicalsaggressors of modern life like the sun and pollution.
Which assets should not be combined and what are the risks?
Some associations do not work, to the point that their assets risk canceling each other out. Others can be irritating, even cause skin allergies. It is therefore rather risky to mix AHA and retinol to obtain faster smoothing and exfoliation. Coupled, they prove to be too powerful and irritating, sometimes inflammatory.
“Irritated skin quickly ‘inflames’ to create hyperpigmentation,” warns dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry. No happier, the tandem retinol and vitamin C, with too different pH to be associated. “I recommend saving vitamin C for the morning and retinol for the evening,” suggests Mindaugas Žukauskas. On the Deciem website, bad agreements are listed.
How many assets can be layered and in what order should they be applied?
Depending on the skin, two or three active ingredients per application are recommended. If we want to treat several points, it is interesting to dissociate them with a day combination and a night combination. Don’t: Mix everything in the palm before applying. Ideally, the “aqueous” then “oily” products are followed by one another, before ending with a moisturizer.
“This order saves time in terms of application. Water-based actives are quickly absorbed while oily-based actives stay on the surface longer and can seal the routine“, specifies Annie Black.
Some examples of aqueous-based active ingredients: vitamin C, niacinamide, AHAs. Ceramides such as retinol and vitamin E rely on an oily base instead.
These assets that would benefit from being better known
“Without hesitation, pre and probiotics deserve to be used more. They considerably improve the barrier function since they act on the microbiome which, in turn, maintains the three other skin barriers: physical, chemical and immune,” enthuses Annie Black.
At Symbiosis, it is the Swiss army knife Kappaphycus alvarezii, a derivative of red algae, which operates on the barrier function, supports hydration, inhibits the overproduction of melanin, reduces the expression of wrinkles, while having soothing effects. and anti-irritants.
Who says better ? Versus acneit is the propolis which surprises: “It has antibacterial properties which cleanse the imperfections, while soothing reactive skin and reducing feelings of discomfort. As a bonus, it regenerates the skin and blurs the marks linked to old imperfections”, describes Frédéric Hornec. A nugget to apply all over the face or locally as needed.
The right combinations for her daily ritual
Because we don’t all have a cosmetologist’s degree, here are the essentials of a well-established daily anti-aging program:
- Morning and evening for maximum hydration : hyaluronic acid + ceramides. The first captures water at the heart of the cells like a sponge and traps it there. Not only does hyaluronic acid hydrate, but it plumps up the skin to the point of making the fine lines of dehydration disappear, especially if several molecular weights of the active ingredient are associated. As for the ceramides, they seal in the hydration obtained with hyaluronic acid and improve the barrier function of the skin. A good synergy.
- In the morning to protect the skin: antioxidants. The star is vitamin C, which blocks oxidants from sunlight and pollution while calming the process of melanin production. Pair with Ferulic Acid to boost his superpowers.
- Morning and/or evening to lift and firm: peptides. These amino acids naturally present in the skin push the fibroblasts to produce more collagen and elastin. As a result, the architecture of the skin is reinforced from within, the quality of the skin tissue improves, wrinkles fade and firmness increases.
- In the evening, as a cure to reactivate skin renewal: glycolic acid (AHA) or retinoids. Both work pretty much the same way. By eliminating dead cells on the surface, they bring an immediate radiance to the skin and, as they resurface, even in depth, fine lines are erased, wrinkles installed seem shallower. Biologically, the renewal of the skin is reactivated, which in turn leads to a revival of collagen production. Using it for a month provides a great skin reset. To do: a treatment at each change of season by alternating the molecules to surprise the skin.
- Without forgetting these assets that are not: sunscreens. They are essential to protect the skin from UVA and UVB throughout the year and, especially, if it is refined and therefore weakened by the use of AHA or retinol.
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