To make a bold statement, the beauty industry takes the widest pivots the fastest, and it seems that skincare specifically is taking a sharp turn from being about taking away to giving back to the skin.
The last ten years have been filled with the launches of multi-acid home peels, 10% exfoliating acid toners, electronic blackhead suckers.
All of these are the equivalent to power tools. Fantastic if the house is falling down, but sure, isn’t it better to stop the house falling down in the first place?
What we seem to be going back to is working to heal, soothe and balance the skin, treating it more like a baby than a misbehaving grown-up with a job and a mortgage who knows better.
Google has identified aloe, neem and rosehip as being in the top five most-searched-for skincare ingredients. What these ingredients have in common is that they’re known for their healing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, nourishing properties.
These ingredients give to the skin without any “side effects” so to speak — depending on the formulation they’re living in.
Why are anti-inflammatory ingredients like neem, aloe, liquorice root extract, cica (otherwise known as centella asiatica), green tea extract, prebiotics, niacinamide and other antioxidants so beneficial to the skin? In general, the core skin concerns that anyone worries about are rooted in inflammation.
Red, sore spots, or any spot with any visible redness, is an inflamed spot irritated by bacteria, specifically forms of the p. Acnes bacteria. The signs of skin ageing are exacerbated over time by the inflammation within our bodies caused by sunlight, pollution, secondhand smoke, sugar and other factors.
Flaking, skin itchiness and sometimes dehydration are caused by skin inflammation too. So, logically speaking, our move towards super soothers in skincare makes sense.
Inflammation disrupts our skin health so anti-inflammatory is the way forward to generally healthy skin, and when our skin is more generally healthy, our concerns will improve too.
Obviously, we can reduce inflammation from within too. Protecting ourselves from UV light with daily SPF, quitting smoking (or reducing how much we smoke — it is not realistic to not acknowledge that is it difficult to break addictions), reducing the amount we drink and eat inflammatory substances like alcohol, refined sugar, red meat and trans fats will all help.
There are plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients we can get into us too, fairly easily: berries, tomatoes, green leafy veg, nuts and fatty fish, for example.
These are high in antioxidants and fatty acids that assist our body in calming down, allowing your skin to reap the rewards of reduced inflammation.
Bringing in more healing and nourishing ingredients to your skincare routine does not mean you have to chuck out anything with powerful ingredients like exfoliating acids, peptides or chemicals of any kind.
In fact, this type of ingredient will help to give back to your skin in a way that many of these ingredients cannot, the yin to the yang.
Some of my favourite skincare products based on calming the skin include the Nunaia Superfood Cleansing Balm (€59, available from nunaia.com, Avocas nationwide and Seafern, Kinsale), the newly formulated IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Gel Masque (€43.20, selected salons nationwide) for after any harder-hitting treatments and the Ella & Jo 3 in 1 Hyaluronic Skin Mist (€25, theskinnerd.com, pharmacies and selected salons).
THE NERDIE PICK
After years of yoghurt ads, you know what a probiotic is but do you know what a prebiotic is? To simplify to the point that makes microbiologists cry, probiotics feed your bacteria but prebiotics feed probiotics.
Prebiotics work to prep your skin for probiotic skincare in this respect, and additionally are believed to have soothing properties when used topically.
This mist has a high amount of niacinamide too, another anti-inflammatory ingredient that is known for its hydrating, antioxidant and brightening capabilities too.
I’d recommend this for skin that needs more balance, especially skin that is easily irritated or prone to redness and those with dry or dehydrated skin.