Skin Maths: How to Pair Skincare Ingredients
If e=mc² and a²+b²=c², then which skincare products work best together? Liberty has pairing skincare ingredients down to a perfect science
As anyone that’s clued up on skincare pairings will tell you, to get the most out of one ingredient, it's often best to team it up with another complementary ingredient. Sometimes, the pair work synergistically to maximise the results of your overall skincare routine. Other times, combining certain ingredients can help remedy some of their less-than-appealing side effects (retinol, we’re looking at you). But which ingredients are a match made in dermatological heaven? We asked Daniel Isaacs, Medik8’s Director of Research to share five exemplary ingredient combinations to try now.
Salicylic Acid + Retinal
Anyone with congested, breakout-prone, oily skin ought to get acquainted with salicylic acid and retinal (vitamin A). “These ingredients come together to smooth, clarify and decongest the appearance of skin,” explains Isaacs. Salicylic acid travels into the pores to soften and dissolve congestion-causing keratin. “Vitamin A, in general, is able to help normalise cell turnover and reduce the amount of sebum that skin produces, which helps to minimise blocked pores and blemishes,” Isaacs continues.
Try: Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 Night Serum, £47 and Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, £31
Vitamin C + SPF
Using vitamin C and sunscreen together will offer skin ultimate protection. “They can work in synergy to protect the skin from environmental damage, whether that be from pollution or from UV rays,” Isaacs explains. An antioxidant, vitamin C is able to diffuse the effects of the UV rays that do manage to make it through your sunscreen’s filters, particularly in areas where your application (or reapplication) may have been lacking. “Vitamin C can supercharge your sunscreen by ensuring effective protection and repair for your skin,” Isaacs adds.
Try: Dr. Barbara Sturm The Good C Vitamin C Serum, £110 and Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF 50+ Hydrating Skin Screen, £34
Exfoliating Acids + SPF
“SPF is a must, but it is especially important if you use skincare acids, as some can leave skin more sensitive to sun damage due to the increased exfoliation of the skin,” advises Isaacs. First, limit the use and potency of any acid-based product, as “overuse of high strength AHA/BHAs everyday can leave the skin barrier impaired, leading to sensitised and dry skin,” Isaacs adds. “Sunscreen is the key to protecting your skincare results, by not letting UV damage undo any of your progress.”
Try: Biologique Recherche P50 Lotion, £75 and Dr Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, £46
Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid
Dehydrated skin types should seek solace in this pair. “Hyaluronic acid and niacinamide can work together as a duo to recharge skin hydration,” Isaacs explains. “With a unique ability to attract and retain more than 1,000 times its own weight in water, hyaluronic acid can draw moisture from the surrounding atmosphere and lower skin layers to the top levels of the epidermis." Niacinamide, on the other hand, helps to encourage the production of ceramides to help nourish the skin and scaffold the all important skin barrier. “Together, they infuse the skin with hydration, while supporting the skin structure to ensure any moisturising effects are long-lasting,” Isaacs continues.
Try: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, £40 and Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, £235
Vitamin A + Ceramides
If you enjoy the myriad benefits that vitamin A can provide, try teaming the ingredient with ceramides. “Ceramides can be a great addition to a vitamin A routine, as they will help to offset any dryness that may occur as your skin adjusts to your chosen retinoid,” Isaacs recommends. “Ceramides are skin-identical emollients, meaning they have the ability to slip into and nourish the natural skin barrier with ease.”
Try: Medik8 Intelligent Retinol 3TR Serum, £35 and Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturising Cream, £60