“Upon introducing an active to your routine, your skin may initially get worse, before it finally gets better.’’
I think a lot of us are yet to come to terms with this simple fact. Unless you’re not willing to go through the initial phase of skin-worsening, don’t opt for an ‘active’. Stick to the basics i.e. cleansing, moisturization and SPF. It may not lead you to achieving your best skin, but it will be enough. And enough, especially in this age and age, is enough.
That said, the word ‘active’ is a general term that can be used for any ingredient used in sufficient quantity to achieve a desired result/effect. It varies from brand to brand, company to company. Where one ‘active’ may lead to skin purging/irritation, another might not. Skincare is very subjective in that manner.
But can you counter this effect of ‘skin-worsening’? Not always and not completely, but you can take the following measures:
1) Introduce only one active at a time.
2) Keep it simple – don’t mix too many actives together.
3) Start with a lower percentage.
4) Apply in the last steps of your skincare routine (or over your moisturizer).
5) Apply on dry skin.
7) Know. Knowledge is power.
8) Be consistent with it, give it time to work and do not judge too soon.
But why does this occur at all?
Think of it like this: when you introduce an ‘active’ to your routine, it attempts to influence the ‘normal’ trajectory of your skin cells. A chemical exfoliant, for example, will attempt to speed skin cell turnover, which may lead to a form of breakout that we call ‘purging’. All of the gunk that was lying underneath your skin for so long will now surface on the top of your skin. But this is good news! Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever! Keep using your chemical exfoliant, slowly and gradually, and in a few weeks or months’ time, your skin will get to the best it has ever been. The issue is that we give up too soon. ☹