I used to think it was just my bathroom cabinet that got out of control. Recently, however, a friend, distraught with her ever-expanding beauty ritual, showed me her bathroom shelves and has almost as much stock as Space NK.
The trend of layering hyaluronic acid, copper peptides, niacinamide, vitamin C as well as scrubs and masks means we bombard our faces and our skin suffers. But how do you reset when thousands of products promise surprising results?
Enter GetHarley, an online consultation service that connects clients with the right skin experts. Whether your problem is acne, eczema, dark circles under the eyes or you just want a BS-free skincare routine, GetHarley has something for you. My former Dr. Fiona McCarthy, an oncologist who turned to esthetics in 2015 after experiencing skin pigmentation during pregnancy. She also, according to her biography, has a “holistic and preventive approach to aging.” Perfect.
I could ask her what she thinks about the “purity versus science” argument and whether the two issues are mutually exclusive. ‘It’s actually quite simple,’ Dr McCarthy says encouragingly. There are three main scientifically proven ingredients to keep your skin youthful: Vitamin A (or the more commonly known Retinol), SPF, and antioxidants, the best of which is Vitamin C.
She doesn’t use toners, praises inexpensive moisturizers (save for products with active ingredients), explodes the idea that we should stick to one brand for everything (“no brand is the best for every product”) and recommends cream cleansers for old age. “Most cleansers work, so finding the right formula for your skin type is key.”
Cream-based cleansers are better for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin – try Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – while mousses are better for oily skin. She considers many eye creams a waste of time because most of them do not contain ingredients that affect the quality of the skin in the long term, although she does rate the Medik8 r-Retinoate Eye Serum.
“Contains an innovative form of high-potency retinol that has been formulated in a way that does not dry out the skin, but delivers results.” Although, it does suggest using it twice a week initially, instead of the daily application recommended on the product.
Dr. McCarthy has been treating melanomas for years and believes that using SPF daily, regardless of your moisturizer, is the best thing you can do for your skin. “If you don’t like the idea of chemicals penetrating your skin, choose a mineral that provides a physical barrier. Must contain UVA and UVB. If you’re concerned about blue light, combining SPF with Vitamin C will give you full protection.”
Recommends Heliocare Oil-Free Gel, which leaves the skin hydrated and powdery. She loves vitamin C because, in addition to brightening the skin, it stimulates collagen production. But don’t use it more than once a day. Containing vitamins C, E and 19 and other antioxidants, Skinbetter Science Alto Defense Serum does just that – it’s more of a cream than a serum, especially popular with mature skin. It’s expensive but says it’s worth it. When it comes to hyaluronic acid, she opts for Vichy Minéral 89, which can replace thicker moisturizers when warmer weather sets in. “It’s light yet intensely hydrating.”
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This article is being updated with the latest advice.