Collagen, eye cream and layering

Dr. Katherine Armour deciphers the skincare facts from skincare fiction. 

Dr. Katherine Armour is a dermatologist and co-founder of Bespoke Skin Technology who, much like skincare guru Dr. Michele Squire who taught us to put down the magnifying mirror and the importance of wearing sunscreen every single day, knows the myths from the misconceptions – as well as what works, and most importantly where to save your money.

#1. Putting collagen on your face doesn’t do anything

Shocked? Don’t be – it makes sense. “Unfortunately, creams formulated with pure collagen can’t live up to their claims,” says Dr Katherine Armour. “The size of the molecule is simply too big to penetrate the epidermis thus too big to get down to the dermis, where you find collagen. Collagen creams are often combined with other key moisturising ingredients like glycerine which leave the skin feeling temporarily plump, and this is where their efficacy ends.”

Dr. Armour suggests swapping collagen creams for high-grade cosmeceutical ingredients instead. “If you are looking for ways to increase the levels of collagen in your skin, you can do this with ingredients that are scientifically proven to do this, like retinoids, niacinamide and ascorbic acid, or with energy-based procedures such as fractionated lasers or radiofrequency,” she explains.

#2. You don’t need an eye cream

You may have heard of this one before, but it’s hard to cut through marketing jargon and sale strategies at the beauty counter so here is it once again. “Most eye creams are actually formulated with the same ingredients as facial moisturisers. There are no special ingredients in eye creams that are specific to the skin around the eyes,” says Dr. Armour. “Yes, the skin around the eyes is thin, but it’s identical to the skin on your cheek under a microscope. One might argue that the thinnest eyelid skin is more susceptible to the sun damage, but ironically, most eye creams don’t contain sunscreen. The main thing with a product that you use around the eyes is to avoid ingredients that may be irritating (such as certain formulations of Vitamins A and C).”

Although there’s no harm in loading up your eyes with hydrating creams, it’s important to remember you don’t need to fork out extra cash on fancy formulas with no scientific backing. Use a multi-tasking face moisturiser packed with anti-ageing ingredients like antioxidants, DNA repair enzymes and essential fatty lipids.

#3. Yes, prevention is better than a cure

Think of skincare as a lifetime investment, the earlier you start taking care of it the better. “There are two types of ageing: intrinsic (physiological factors such as your genes) and extrinsic (external factors such as exposure to UV light, pollution),” explains Dr. Armour.

“By the time wrinkles and volume loss are present, extrinsic factors have likely already done a lot of damage. If you want to prevent the appearance of wrinkles, the three key classes of skincare to focus on are sunscreen, antioxidants and DNA repair enzymes. The potent trio will protect and repair the skin from external environmental aggressors. They can prevent the loss of skin plumping fibres in the dermis, onset of unwanted brown spots, pigmentation and redness that can start as early as our late 20’s if we don’t protect our skin.”

#4. Oily skin types can use oily products

If you’ve got oily skin or an oily t-zone the thought of applying more oil can be daunting. But according to Dr. Armour, the old tale that oil adds more oil is another skincare misconception. “Often oily skin produces more oil as a defence mechanism to balance out the loss of moisture on your skin. By using oil-based products, the oil attracts oil and can dissolve sebum, grease or makeup without stripping the skin of its natural barrier.” So oil up!

#5. Layering products could be the reason your skin is bad

As a dermatologist, this is an issue I encounter all too often. A patient adopts a routine that, even though the products being used would be effective and probably non-irritating on their own, when layered together they may lead to skin barrier disruption, irritation, and even a condition called perioroficial dermatitis,” explains Dr. Armour. “What is important, is applying the correct ingredients, in the best concentration, in a stable formulation to target your concerns.”

When it comes to skincare, less is more. So start slowly and add or rotate ingredients where necessary.

#6. Drinking water isn’t responsible for your skin’s hydration levels

Even though you should be drinking your eight-plus cups a day, water isn’t actually the best way to hydrate your skin. Instead, you should be looking for topical hydrators. “People always talk about their skin being “dehydrated.”

Medically, we only tend to see these effects on the skin from lack of water in a dire situation such as heat stroke or starvation. In this situation, we do see loss of skin turgor, which needs to be dealt with via rehydration. For the rest of us, when your skin feels dry and rough, reach for your favourite skincare product.”

“Drinking water instead of sugary drinks is ideal to avoid glycation of our skin’s plumping proteins. However, the best way to hydrate your skin is to use a nourishing moisturiser regularly – especially after washing your face and body,” says Dr. Armour.