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What’s in your formula? Part IV: Performative actives. - 4.5.6 Skin

What’s in your formula? Part IV: Performative actives.

Join us once again on our journey for skincare knowledge, where we're shedding some light on what makes your 'skincare' so 'caring.' This week, we're diving into…

  1. Performative Active Ingredients

These performative active ingredients put the ‘care’ into ‘skincare’ as they work their magic on your epidermis. They help to create physiological change within the skin tissue itself, transforming your complexion while addressing your specific skin needs and concerns.

Exploring the ‘active’ categories.

Performative ingredients can be categorised into four subcategories:

  • Moisturisers: To keep hydration and moisture at the forefront of your skin health.

  • Humectants prevent trans-epidermal water loss from environmental factors, as well as the drying effects of soaps and alcohols. They do this by attracting water molecules from the air, pulling them directly into the epidermis, and binding them with your skin cells.

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    You’ve undoubtedly heard of hero-humectants Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, and Aloe Vera, but you’ll also find Sorbitol can be equally effective at preventing dehydration from water loss.

    Emollients can also bind water molecules to the skin, but they also soften, smooth, and create a protective moisture barrier to help maintain hydration levels.

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    Additionally used to improve formulation spreadability, these natural oils and butters are most often found in moisturisers under the names of Beeswax, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Squalane.

    Occlusives provide additional skin barrier protection against transdermal water loss caused be environmental aggressors, along with keeping pollutants and irritants at bay.

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    Most commonly found in moisturisers, like our Day Hack, for example; Shea Butter and Lanolin are fantastic natural alternatives, although synthetic silicones do also fall into this category (but we’ll get back to that later).

    • Exfoliators: To keep cell turnover rates consistent, revealing a brighter skin tone.

    Chemical Exfoliants are renowned for unclogging the ‘glue’ accumulated within pores, and gently removing dead skin cells from the epidermal surface.

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    Some examples include Glycolic, Salicylic, Citric, Lactic, and Mandelic Acids, which are ideal for melanin-rich skin due to the higher cell turnover rate, which address complexion dullness, enlarged pores, and uneven skin texture.

    Mechanical Exfoliants carefully loosen the uppermost layer of dead skin cells, allowing new, healthy cells to come to the surface. They can come in the form of sugar or coffee granules, clays, and anything granular that work with the motion of your hands.

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    We love using the naturally-sourced white clay called Kaolin, along with gentle mineral alternatives such as Sodium Bicarbonate and Silica.

    • Skin brightening agents target hyperpigmentation, whether that be to inhibit the dark-spot inducing tyrosine enzyme, or repairing previous damage. There are many dangerous skin lightening agents flooding the market, such as the highly toxic Hydroquinone, but we’ll only ever use safe ingredients to ensure your skin stays healthy!

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid, Licorice Extract, and Niacinimade are all excellent melanin pathway inhibitors that work in synergy with your skin to promote an even complexion. Although we have many more brightening ingredients, we only use a small concentrated amount of each to prevent irritation, but maximise on effectiveness.

    • Antioxidants scavenge for free-radicals that may cause cell mutation and damage, causing an array of skin ailments, including inflammation, which we know is one of the main triggers for hyperpigmentation.

    How you can spot them in your formula:

    We use a wide range of botanical extracts and oils, along with vitamins A, C, and E, to soothe and repair the skin in the gentlest way possible. Ascorbic Acid may be super popular in the Caucasian skincare world, but we prefer to use a more effective source of vitamin C, which is Acerola Cherry Extract and Astaxanthin (an ingredient which has THE most antioxidant power known today).

    The hype around antioxidants.

    In order to understand why we need antioxidants, we first need to investigate free radicals. Although we naturally produce them, free radicals can also be encouraged by harmful UV rays, pollution, cigarette smoke, and harmful chemicals. When they create a chain reaction and start damaging healthy cells, this is when inflammation happens, which then triggers hyperpigmentation and an impaired cell renewal rate.

    This is where antioxidants come in. Some work to inhibit the melanin-stimulating tyrosinase enzyme, while others seek to calm inflammation, and reduce photodamage. Ingredients such as Green Tea Polyphenols are excellent for soothing inflammation and neutralising free radicals, but Astaxanthin boasts the highest level of ultraviolet protection, the fastest fading of hyperpigmentation, and a supercharged anti-inflammation response.

    Concentrations matter!

    We base our formulation concentrations on the five principles for melanin-rich skin; hyperpigmentation, acne, desquamation, dehydration, and sensitivity. To find out more about these factors, take a read of our ‘Phototypes explained & why you should care,’ article, and explore what this means for your phototype.

    Through ongoing melanin-focused research and development conducted by our melanin skin experts, we’ve founded a series of ‘Core Blends’ that work as a base formulation to address these five principles. And it’s only after you complete your personal skincare questionnaire that we then customise and tailor these blends to your exact needs and phototype. All is explained about our customisation process in our article ‘Customisation: Our bespoke approach to your skincare,’ where we delve into the importance of tailored formulations. This is why we firmly believe that concentration levels matter, because every epidermis is unique, and what will work for one person, may not work for another.

    Now that you have a better feel for our fourth category, let’s move onto our fifth and final next week; fragrance, where formulations evolve into a heightened sensory level.

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