what to look for in skincare product

What should I be looking for in a skincare product?

With the thousands of skin care products on the market it can be a mine field. This blog is going to teach you about some key skincare ingredients to be looking for and how they will benefit your skin.

Introduction to skin

Your skin is your largest organ with many functions including protection, secretion and elimination, so when choosing skincare products, it’s wise to think about long term skin health as these functions can be influenced by the products you use.

Part of the skin is known as the ‘skin barrier’ and it plays an important role in keeping allergens and irritants out as well as keeping water and moisture in.

Certain topical products including alkaline soaps can contribute to ‘skin barrier’ deterioration which can lead to increased levels of dryness, sensitivity and other skin conditions so ideally you want to choose a product that is pH correct. A healthy skin barrier helps with healthy ageing of the skin.

Your skin is also affected by environmental changes plus internal factors like stress, which is why I believe it is important to choose skincare wisely as it’s the easiest thing to control and create a positive impact on skin health unlike environmental changes and stress.

What do you need to actually make a difference?

The 3 gold standard ingredients as recommended by dermatologists for healthy ageing of the skin are Vitamin C, retinoids and SPF.

Vitamin C

  • Helps collagen production
  • Is a powerful antioxidant therefore stops damage to cells and DNA
  • (Cell damage leads to ageing cells and other issues such a cancer)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-ageing as it helps to prevent and reverse signs of ageing
  • Helps to prevent and treat stretch marks
  • Helps to prevent and treat melasma / pigmentation
  • Helps to protect against sun damage

Look for a stabilised form of vitamin C otherwise it will not penetrate the skin as it breaks down too quickly and becomes ineffective.

Vitamin A

Also known as retinoids which includes Retinol.

  • Anti-ageing as it helps to improve the cell turnover
  • (As we age the skin cell turn over slows down. Imagine an escalator; retinol helps to speed the escalator (cell turn over) back up so is constantly bringing new cells to the surface of the skin and regenerating the skin from within)
  • It can improve the appearance of scarring
  • It can improve the appearance of skin discolouration / pigmentation
  • It’s also great in the treatment of acne as it helps to lower the level of oils in the skin
  • It also helps to improve general skin tone by reversing the signs of ageing like wrinkles and rough / scaly patches
  • It also improves the ‘skin barrier’ function
  • It helps the elasticity
  • It exfoliates without physically having to scrub your skin

It will make you more sensitive to the sun so please be extra vigilant with SPF usage.

It is also not advised for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.


Ideally you should use a broad spectrum to protect against UVA (Think – ageing) and UVB (Think – burning / skin cancer).

  • Protects against premature ageing
  • Protects against pigmentation
  • Protects against skin cancer

There are 2 types of SPF; physical and chemical


  • Rarely associated with allergies
  • People with sensitive skin are most likely to tolerate
  • Better for acne prone skin and rosacea
  • Less likely to clog pores
  • The UV rays bounce off the skin as physical SPFs reflect the sun so can help you stay cooler
  • They remain on the skins surface and are not systemically absorbed. This maximises safety and minimises irritation
  • Instantly protects from the sun once it’s applied
  • Remains effective for longer than chemical when in direct sunlight
  • Wears off faster when wet or sweaty


  • Usually added with physical SPF to form the higher SPFs
  • They absorb UV rays which has the potential to cause cell damage
  • The ingredients can attack the skin itself
  • Many of these sunscreens cause reactions and can be systemically absorbed and should not be used on children under 2 years old
  • Can take up to 20 minutes to become effective after application
  • Requires more frequent application than physical SPFs
  • Lasts longer when wet or sweaty

SPF Tips

  1. Ideally choose an SPF without mineral oil as it is often the mineral oil that causes prickly heat
  2. Some sunscreens can cause blackheads and make acne worse; ideally avoid mineral oil within the product
  3. Choosing the highest SPF does not always give the most protection against UV damage
  4. SPF in make-up alone is not enough
  5. Many SPFs you get in skincare and makeup are chemical so they themselves can cause damage
  6. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends re-applying SPF every 2 hours
  7. Just to be aware – no sunscreen completely blocks the sun and no sunscreen is completely waterproof

Interesting fact: The lips are susceptible to skin cancer more than any other areas of the skin as they have no oil glands.

Additional Advice

If you would like to chat in more detail about skin care in general or specific product advice, please contact me for a virtual consultation using the form below.



Tel: 01844 698144
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