Even if there’s much talk about skincare and how a Korean multistep routine yields amazingly clear and glossy skin, it might not be for everyone.
On a more fundamental layer, skincare is not one-size-fits-all. What works wonders for someone else might not work for you. And the opposite is also true. That’s why we’re taking a step back in the ABCs of skincare and look at the basics that make a solid skincare routine.
Once you have the basics down, you can always add more steps to your regimen.
All about the basics
You have an almost unlimited choice of skincare ingredients. But the basics that make a solid skincare routine only consist of vitamin, A, B, C. Read on to understand the role they play.
If you were to ask a dermatologist to name just one ingredient for skincare, most likely they’d answer with “vitamin A” (or retinoids). Vitamin A is the queen of skincare ingredients and a powerful antioxidant. When applied topically, it regenerates the skin.
A more in-depth explanation of what retinoids do is that they increase the turnover of your skin. The average skin cell turnover is around 30 days. When you apply vitamin A, it decreases this period to around 14 to 21 days.
So, with a shorter skin cell turnover period, you’re going to have fewer fine lines and wrinkles. It stimulates fibroblasts and blood vessels. The result is that your skin is plumped up due to more collagen and elastin and appears healthy and rosy. It also tackles hyperpigmentation in that it curbs the excessive production of the enzyme (tyrosinase) needed for pigment production. By slowing oil production and keeping pores clear it improves, even resolves acne.
After all these glowing words, it’s important to also mention its drawbacks: It can be irritating and very drying so that your skin. It can also increase sensitivity to the sun.
This is where vitamin B comes to the rescue.
Actually, there are 8 different types of B vitamins. They all have different sources and benefits. In skincare, the vitamin B uses is niacinamide. It’s also called nicotinic acid or nicotinamide. It’s the active form of vitamin B3.
Vitamin B is the great restorer and soother. It boosts ceramides and fatty acids production in the skin and thus increases the barrier function. Which in turn keeps moisture in and any pollutants out.
So, by strengthening your skin’s protective barrier, you can better tolerate other actives such as the above-mentioned vitamin A.
Vitamin B3 slows down the transportation of melanin to the skin’s surface. In other words, it also helps with hyperpigmentation.
Now, if this is not enough, niacinamide also acts as an anti-inflammatory. This means it’s often recommended for people with sensitive skin or with other conditions such as rosacea or eczema.
Should you have inflammatory skin conditions, you can still use vitamin B if you’re pregnant. For example, if you get acne while pregnant, you can’t use vitamin A, but you can continue to use vitamin B, keeping the downsides in mind of course.
There are no downsides to using niacinamide except if you misuse it. That is to say, if you use it in a too high concentration it may cause skin irritation. Basically, don’t overuse it.
The most commonly used form of vitamin C in skincare is L-ascorbic acid. That is the only form that is absorbed into the skin. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. It can shield skin from harmful free radicals, such as the ones that are generated by the sun’s radiation, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. It prevents or reduces UV and other damage caused by free radicals.
Beyond being an antioxidant, vitamin C stimulates fibroblasts and so encourages collagen and elastin synthesis in the skin. This translates into less sagging and reduced formation of wrinkles.
By suppressing tyrosinase, the enzyme that is needed for making melanin, vitamin C reduces the appearance of brown spots. It helps redistribute the pigment in the skin so that a buildup in one spot is reduced and so evens out skin tone.
To recap, vitamin C reduces hyperpigmentation, makes your skin firmer, boosts defenses against UV damage, reduces inflammation and irritation, and improves the ability of the skin to heal.
As an antioxidant, it would make sense to use it in the morning to help neutralise all the free radicals that are caused by the sun and all the other pollutants during the day. You can apply it under your SPF.
It also makes sense to apply it at night to reap all the benefits of stimulated fibroblasts.
Vitamin C is tricky as an antioxidant, it gets degraded by light. So you want to store it in a dark and cool place to make sure it stays active and effective.
Vitamin C is safe to use on a daily basis for long durations on the whole.
How to use
With all three vitamins, the way is to start slow and then gradually increase the frequency or concentration. If you’ve got sensitive skin, it’s best to patch test first.
All these vitamins form the basics of a skincare routine. If you want to understand what’s included in the formulation of your skincare, take a peek at how to understand the ingredients list.
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