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The ins and outs of topical skin care

  • 5 min read

More and more people are taking the health of their skin seriously, educating themselves around the best products, ingredients and methods to use in their routines. Topical skincare plays a huge role in skin health and appearance, and should never be overlooked – no matter how busy you are!

What is topical skin care? 

Topical skin care refers to products that are applied directly to the skin in order to improve the appearance, texture and condition of the skin. Topical skin care can include products such as moisturisers, serums, toners and scrubs. Often containing active ingredients, topical skincare targets specific concerns such as dryness, acne or sensitivity.

These products are used in skincare routines because of their benefits for the skin or the ingredients that they use. One of the main concerns that topical skincare targets is damage from environmental stressors and free radicals, by including antioxidants in the formula. Contributing to increased dryness, fine lines and hyperpigmentation, free radicals can be effectively targeted with the right topical skincare. 

Topical skin care products & ingredients 

When it comes to topical skin care products, there are some ingredients that you should keep an eye out for. From acids and vitamins to ceramides and niacinamide, there’s a whole host of active ingredients that are at the heart of topical skin care. 

1. AHAs

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are organic acids which are typically used as chemical exfoliants, removing old and dead skin cells to reveal newer, brighter skin. In topical skin care, the main types of AHA used are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and citric acid in order to rejuvenate and exfoliate the skin.

Did you know our Hand Cream contains 0.1-1.00% AHAs from upcycled hibiscus flower acids?! This helps gently remove pollutants from the upper layers of the skin, fade dark spots, even skin tone and assist in stimulating cell renewal. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the skin benefits of AHAs, check out our recent blog post about AHAs.

2. BHAs

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) are also a group of chemical exfoliants. However, unlike AHAs, they are especially effective for oily and acne-prone skin. This is due to their oil-solubility, ability to penetrate deeper into the skin’s surface and ability to dissolve the bonds between old and dead skin cells.

The most commonly used BHA in topical skincare is salicylic acid, hailed for its ability to unclog pores, calm redness and treat acne. 

3. Ceramides

Ceramides are often used in topical skin care to maintain the skin’s natural barrier, add a hit of moisture to the skin and improve the complexion of the skin. A type of lipid, ceramides comprise a significant proportion of the skin’s outermost layer and connection to the world around us. 

In topical skin care, ceramides can be included as ceramide-rich ingredients, pseudoceramides (synthetically-made ceramides) or phyto-ceramides (ceramides derived from plants). 

4. Hyaluronic acid

Another powerful ingredient often used in topical skincare is hyaluronic acid – a natural substance that our bodies also produce. It holds in water – with the ability to hold over 1,000 times its weight in water – by stopping it from evaporating from the skin. Various factors can mean that the body doesn’t produce enough of this substance, hence why it is a firm favourite in topical skin care products. 

Hyaluronic acid has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and water-balancing properties. This means that it helps to hydrate the skin, as well as protecting it from environmental and free radical damage.

We’re aware of the hydrating and soothing benefits hyaluronic acid has on the skin which is why it’s added in many of our popular products such as our Eye Cream, Night Cream and Face Toner

5. Niacinamide

A form of the vitamin B3 (Niacin), niacinamide is a water-soluble ingredient often added to topical skin care with a water-based carrier. Helping to minimise the appearance of pores, treat acne, reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and amongst other things, strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, niacinamide is a fan-favourite. 

6. Retinoids

Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and commonly used in topical skincare. This ingredient encourages cells to regenerate faster to improve elasticity and boost collagen, and can also visibly reduce the appearance of open pores and pigmentation spots. This helps users to achieve a healthier-looking complexion.

Retinoids can be a harsh ingredient on the skin, so it is best to use this as part of a skin cycling routine. By giving your skin ‘rest days’ in between using certain topical skin care products such as retinoids, your skin is able to repair itself. 

7. Vitamins

We’ve touched on vitamins A and B3, but there’s a whole host of others that are used in topical skincare. Vitamins C, D and E all have skincare benefits that can be reaped by using the right products. 

Vitamin C helps to hydrate the skin, brighten the complexion and also fade signs of hyperpigmentation. Vitamins D and E are antioxidants that help with cell growth and repair. While vitamin E also helps to reduce the oxidation of sebum in pores which causes breakouts. 

Easy topical skincare routine with UpCircle

Now you know what ingredients to look for in your topical skin care products, we’ve included an easy UpCircle topical skincare routine.

1. Cleanse the day away

The first step in any topical skin care routine should be to cleanse your face with a natural, gentle cleanser. Our Cleansing Face Balm with Oat Oil & Vitamin E melts away makeup and removes any dirt and grime from the day. Formulated with oat oil, a natural source of vitamin E, this balm is antioxidant rich and helps to rebalance the skin’s natural oils.

Next, double cleanse by using our NEW Cleansing Face Milk. It is made from upcycled oat powder to restore the skin barrier, making it perfect as an everyday cleanser that is suitable for ALL skin types.

2. Spritz some toner

Our vegan face toner is formulated with hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate the skin, as well as the BHA salicylic acid to help prevent breakouts. Perfect to refresh your skin after cleansing or throughout the day, you only need to use a few sprays of our Hydrating Face Toner with Hyaluronic Acid<. 

3. Add some moisture 

Now’s the time to add moisture back into the skin with a natural moisturiser or night cream. In the mornings, use our Face Moisturiser with Vitamin E to reap the benefits of antioxidant-rich vitamin E to brighten the skin. 

In the evening, try our Night Cream with Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide to benefit from a whole host of active ingredients. In this award-winning product, you’ll find blueberry extract which is a natural source of pro-retinol (a form of retinoid), hyaluronic acid to plump the skin and niacinamide to replenish the skin’s natural barrier. 

4. Dab on eye cream

You’ll find hyaluronic acid in our Eye Cream with Coffee, helping to prevent water loss from the skin through evaporation. The eye cream also has great antioxidant properties, as well as helping to protect the skin’s natural barrier from free radical damage. 

5. Seal in the moisture with serum

Use an occlusive serum to help lock in the skin’s moisture and the hard work of the products that came earlier. Our Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil contains vitamin E to brighten the skin and antioxidant-rich coffee to leave the skin glowing. 

Shop our full range of vegan and cruelty free skincare at UpCircle.