Medical grade products used to be very difficult to get your hands on. They had to be prescribed by a derm and then when you finally got your prescription, they cost an absolute arm and a leg.
Thank goodness, times have now changed and we can easily purchase more 'active' ingredients even on the high street. The thing is though, do you know how to use them?
I love the brands that I stock, especially the medical grade ones. Nimue Skin Technology and SkinBetter Science are superb and show incredible results on the skin. However, these are not just products that you can buy off the shelf, you need to have a consultation first before you can purchase them.
When we finally get our mitts on them though, what are the rules? Can we just use them all at once? Can we layer them?
Here are some basic tips when it comes to more active and medical grade ingredients. If you're unsure, please check with the brand or supplier that you purchased them from though as this could be different from brand to brand...
DON'T USE YOUR ACTIVES STRAIGHT AFTER A PEEL
When you've had a medical grade treatment (especially peels), you don't want to be applying your acids and retinols to your skin that evening. Skip them for the night and maybe start the following evening as your skin will be sensitive. More advanced procedures (e.g. lasers) may mean you have to wait longer before you can use them.
AVOID ACTIVES IN THE SUMMER IF YOU ARE SUPER SENSITIVE
If you are very prone to hyperpigmentation or have very sensitive skin, I would recommend using your acids and retinols over the Winter months and avoiding them on holiday too as your skin might be more prone to hyperpigmentation
ALWAYS WEAR AN SPF
I know I say you should wear one daily (which you should), but you really really need to wear one when you are using active ingredients as your skin will be very sensitive to the sun.
DON'T LAYER YOUR ACTIVES
Yes, there are certain products that you can layer, but I wouldn't personally layer AHA's with retintols as they can make your skin super sensitive and you might end up with a stronger retinoid reaction
DON'T MIX PRODUCTS TOGETHER
Medical grade products have been formulated in a certain way to give a certain result or perform a certain function. Do not mix them together to create a new formulation and be very careful mixing them with other products such as tanning drops as it may cause a reaction.
STORE THEM AS DIRECTED
Read the packaging as some medical grade products might need to be stored in the fridge, out of direct sunlight or in cool, dry places. It's best not to just bung them altogether, but instead read the packaging and understand what needs to be stored where.
APPLY THEM AT THE CORRECT TIMES OF THE DAY
If you only use creams in the morning (I always recommend cleansing and moisturising twice a day, but I can't control everyone! - Try as I might) then I wouldn't recommend using retinols or some AHA based products as these need to be used in the evening. Please don't just guess when they should be applied or when works for you. Vitamin C can be applied during the day and certain low dose glycolic products can too (e.g. Nimue Day cream), but make sure you check first and don't apply a night cream during the day.
START LOW AND BUILD UP
Don't begin on the highest level/dose. Even if you are impatient, if you start on lower doses then you will hopefully find you don't have a transition period the same. Even if you need your skin to look it's best in two weeks, it's not worth the risk if you have a full blown retinoid reaction and it takes a month for your skin to calm down.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
As with most medical grade and active ingredients, your skin might get worse before it gets better. This might sound counterintuitive but when we start changing the functioning of the skin, sometimes it can have a bit of a freak out and you can get very dry or oily. You might also get some breakouts as a lot of these advanced ingredients can speed up skin cell turnover. This is all perfectly normal and it should calm down within a few weeks. However, if you have a lot of heat and/or itchiness then speak to your skincare advisor as it might not be suited to you.
BE PREPARED TO PAY A PREMIUM
Medical grade products are formulated very differently to run of the mill, high-street products. The ingredients can be much more expensive (due to the quality and quantities used) and they are usually rigorously tested using case studies to show before and after results. This is not always the case, but if you find that a cosmeceutical product is a lot more expensive than one you buy off the high-street, this is usually why.
I really hope this hasn't put you off from trying more advanced products. I have used them for years and years myself and with clients and have seen some truly wonderful results.
If you want to learn more about these kind of products, why not book a consultation with me and we can create a skincare plan to suit your skin concerns, budget and time.
Thank you so much for reading,