cosmeceuticals

We’ve come a long way, lady, from the days when cold cream and rosewater were the biggest guns in the skincare arsenal.

Harnessing the power of science, over the past decade “ cosmeceuticals” have changed the entire landscape of skincare, arming us with clinically proven weapons against (and for the prevention of) lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and other signs of skin damage and ageing.

Australian experts have been at the forefront of this revolution, no doubt driven by our harsh climate and a generation of sun-worshipping Baby Boomers paying the price for the unwitting follies of their youth, seeking solutions.

But the cosmeceutical industry has also become a dizzying minefield of ABCs and A-Zincs of vitamins, minerals, peptides, ceramides, microbial technology, rare and exotic marine and botanical extracts to ingredients from Icelandic volcanic soil … and blah, blah and blah.

What to choose? What works? How does it work? What works with what? Will it work on me? These are but a few of the questions on consumers’ minds when deciding how to spend what are not insignificant prices for “miracle” formulations.

SheSaid asked a leader in the cosmeceuticals industry, Australian biomedical scientist and cosmetic chemist Terri Vinson, founder of Synergie Minerals and Synergie Skin, to make it simple:

“Most over-the-counter (OTC) products are created for a budget and often more money is spent by the manufacturer on marketing and packaging than the contents on the bottle!” she says.

“Consumers are now becoming aware of the media hype and are savvier than ever in understanding ingredients.”

This is her advice for choosing your basic cosmeceuticals and how to use them wisely:

Prepare your skin for active ingredients with a gentle cleanser: “Since a cleanser is a wash-off product and only in contact with the skin surface for less than 30 seconds, adding active ingredients is not logical. Save your precious actives for products that remain on the skin.” After massaging cleanser into your skin for maximum removal of makeup and dirt, remove with a face washer (don’t be too rough with it) or splashing clean with tepid water.

For day, apply a Vitamin C serum (or L-ascorbic acid powder mixed with a water-based serum immediately before use) under your moisturiser and/or sunscreen. It assists with sun defence, as well as helping clarify the complexion, addressing pigmentation and brightening. However, not all vitamin C serums are created equal, according to Terri. For more detail, visit www.synergieskin.com

The most important skin care product of all is sunscreen – of the high SPF, broad-spectrum variety used every day, rain or shine, all year round. Luckily we live in an age where these abound, are eminently affordable and can come combined as a moisturiser, foundation, BB or CC cream. Apply over face, neck and “dec” (decolletage). “Sunscreen is your primary insurance policy against environmental ageing,” says Terri.

For PM skincare, remove the day’s makeup and dirt with a gentle cleanser. Apply a Vitamin A serum over face, neck and dec and wait for three minutes. Vitamin A encourages cellular turnover for firmer, more youthful-looking skin. Again, not all “A”s are top of the grade. Check out Synergie’s site for more info. “World-renowned [US] dermatologist Professor Leslie Baumann states that mixing [retinol] with acids, particularly chemical exfoliants, results in its chemical breakdown and ineffectiveness.

The next step is to apply Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) over the same areas. B3 helps boost skin hydration and reduce pigmentation. Contrary to a lot of advice out there, Terri urges that niacinamide serums should not be used at the same time as L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), lactic, glycolic or salicylic acid-based products for the same reason as not combing them with Vitamin A.

Follow with a nourishing moisturiser for overnight regeneration.

“Formulating cosmeceutical skincare is based on complex chemistry,” Terri concludes. “It’s not simply throwing together various active ingredients and expecting a result. Any cosmetic formulator must respect and have a deep understanding of how ingredients interact with human cells, how ingredients react with each other and clinical data to support scientific claims.”

Have you tried cosmeceutical skincare? What are your favourite products?