Here’s a dirty little secret that I fear has been buried amidst the beauty world’s mania for mixing: 'Cocktailing' your creams can be counterproductive at best and downright detrimental at worst.
I’m talking about our obsession with layering various lotions and liniments onto our face at the same time, a terribly tempting trap that’s so easy to fall into, really, what with the superabundance of serums and salves lining the cosmetics aisles.
Now, to be clear, not all cocktail concoctions are created equal – I for one been batting for bespoke beautifying blends when it comes to say, concealing dark circles. It’s when you start mashing together your blemish busters that it all goes to bust.
What combos should you avoid?
Any beauty junkie worth her bathing salt will be familiar with retinol, that near-miraculous multi-tasker that’s one of a select handful of ingredients boasting a scientific stamp of approval for alleviating acne, freckles, fine lines and such.
But because retinol packs such a potent punch, you run the very real risk of peeling, dryness or worse if you layer it over or under other zealous zit zappers like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid spot treatments.
Another recipe for disaster: Retinol mixed with refining or polishing products containing alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic, lactic or citric acids, which will further irritate your already sensitive skin and increase photosensitivity, otherwise known as your skin’s propensity to peel and turn red under the sun. Translation? Retinol used together with peeling masks equals chafing and stinging sunburn.
How can you shield your skin from irritation?
The solution is simple: When in doubt, use sunscreen. As retinol in general increases photosensitivity, it must be accompanied by a good sunscreen when applied in the day. A quick “primer” on the “right” way to apply sunscreen – always slap it on as the very last step before makeup proper. Easy, right?
Product recommendation-wise, zero in on sunscreen formulas with sensitive skin-friendly physical filters, which are less likely to aggravate already aggrieved skin. Another top tip: Ease yourself into your new regime by using retinol every other day for maximum efficacy and minimal irritation.
Right then, to recap. In the spirit of trendy 'molecular dermatology', be cognisant of the components you're chucking in your skin cocktail:
Steer clear of other strong stuff if you're using retinol;
Resist the urge to mix things up too much;
And always, always use sunscreen, the latter being sound advice for all, retinol or no!