One, they help patch up a compromised barrier, skin’s outer film of lipids and healthy bacteria that keeps moisture in and aggressors out. Treatments such as needling, lasers and microdermabrasion leave this all-important dermal Maginot line impaired, but so do over-use of skincare, pollution, a pro-inflammatory processed food-based diet and chronic stress.
Two, these peace potions quell redness and itchy flare-ups (which become more prevalent when skin is vulnerable) with inflammation-busting actives. Some of them have been known and trusted since the dawn of time, others are cutting-edge molecules that owe their existence to increasingly sophisticated research into skin’s inner workings.
They are much more than first aid for skin in a crisis. Chronic skin inflammation attacks healthy cells and interrupts skin’s routine regenerative and healing processes, leading to accelerated skin ageing and worsening, or even setting off, conditions like rosacea and eczema. Calm, balanced skin is healthy skin, meaning we all need to make space in our cabinets for a soothing salve or two. So, among the old faithfuls and the breakthrough science, which products and ingredients are the ones that will truly save your put-upon skin?
The pro approach“The majority of my patients have a compromised barrier function to start with,” says Julie Scott, Owner and Clinical Director of Facial Aesthetics in Witham. “So both in the run-up to and after treatment, I recommend doctor-developed cosmeceutical skincare proven to support barrier restoration, restore hydration and calm redness.”
Ceramides (to restore barrier function), silicones (to seal in moisture), humectants such as glycerin (to bind water to the skin) and peptides (to boost skin density without irritation) are staple ingredients. For effective, fast soothing, Scott relies on long-established vitamin E, green tea extract and oat extracts such as colloidal oats and beta-glucan. Her go-to is ZO Skin Health Hydrating Creme, £96.
The new peace-keepersFighting the tide of inflammation is big business, as evidenced by a steady stream of innovative calming agents and formulas. These are some of the most promising.
Montana All About Me Menopause CBD Oil, £80
The healer: terpenesCBD oils are a dime a dozen now, but proof of their efficiency, especially as an anti-inflammatory topical, is sketchy to say the least. According to Montana, that’s because the extraction process that begets psychoactive-free CBD oil from the cannabis plant destroys most of its plethora of terpenes, medicinal molecules that work alongside cannabinoids for an overall balancing effect. Extracting these terpenes, including analgesic beta-caryophyllene and anti-inflammatory, sedating beta-myrcene, from other plants and adding them to their CBD, Montana re-creates a herbal molecule profile identical to that in the cannabis plant. It’s this that appears to make all the difference to their oils’ potency. “I use All About Me, which has added vitamins D and E, on my clients after resurfacing treatments because it noticeably reduces swelling, redness and stinging,” says Medical Facialist Renée Lapino at London’s Neville Hair & Beauty. “I’ve also seen rosacea dramatically reduce in a matter of weeks.”
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra-Dermallergo Serum, £28
The healer: neurosensineNeurosensine, a molecule synthesised by the L'Oreal group, is a neuropeptide, meaning it interferes with messages the brain sends to the skin when it’s stressed. “Naturally present in the skin, neurosensine can block pain sensation, quelling the stinging and itching that happens when skin is damaged or reacts to something it doesn’t like,” says consultant dermatologist Dr. Justine Hextall. In this fragrance-free serum it’s teamed with glycerin and betaine to fix skin’s moisture balance and barrier function, so it gives quick relief while strengthening long-term.
Loum Tranquil Radiance Nutrient Mask, £56
The healer: neurophrolineIndian wild indigo extract neurophroline is proven to actually break down the stress hormone cortisol in skin cells, interrupting the cascade of pro-inflammatory markers (such as heat, redness, bumps, and collagen breakdown) it causes. In this fast-soothing mask, Loum have teamed it with a type of red marine algae that dials down production in the skin of cytokines, inflammatory proteins set off by stress, alongside anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory green tea, turmeric and CBD.
Heraux Molecular Anti-Inflammaging Serum, £184
The healer: HX-1Lead by the principle that inflammation is at the heart of pretty much every modern degenerative disease, including skin ageing, the boffins behind Heraux skincare re-deployed their patented molecule HX-1, designed to treat osteoarthritis, to tackle skin issues. “Chronic low-level inflammation decreases the rate of regeneration in the body,” explains stem cell biologist Ben Van Handel. “HX-1, a molecularly engineered biomimetic lipid chosen from 250.000 molecules tested, interacts with the proteins on the surface of stem cells that control the balance of regeneration and inflammation. It blocks their pro-inflammatory signalling in favour of cell repair and production.” That leads to fewer issues across the board: improvements in lines and wrinkles, laxity, rosacea, dermatitis and, significantly, acne are reported by delighted users.
LYMA Laser, £1999
The healer: near-infrared ‘cold’ laser lightA so-called ‘cold laser’ (it’s an at-home alternative to the Byonik professional laser), this slick hand-held device doesn’t, like most lasers, cause ‘controlled damage’ inside the skin in an effort to boost collagen. It’s 560 milliwatt filtered beam painlessly penetrates cells to boost their mitochondria (energy centres), thereby revving up cell function and regeneration of collagen and elastin. Like LED light, it calms, soothes and heals skin, so it’s highly helpful post-treatment and for supporting stressed, inflamed skin. Unlike LED, the laser beam is focused and penetrates deeper (it’s said to reach fat and muscle tissue as well) for faster, more dramatic results. Passed over the skin or held against trouble spots for 15 minutes a day for 6 weeks, it can dramatically reduce age spots, redness, bruises and crepey areas.
Julie Scott, Owner & Clinical Director
Julie Scott has over 25 years experience in the field of plastics and skin rejuvenation and is a member of the BACN...Book with Julie Scott