Just when you think you have the world of skincare down pat, you know your AHAs from BHAs, and you have vitamins A B and C, sorted……or so you thought!
You may have noticed the following five ingredients in everything from toners to serums to moisturisers, and with good reason. They actually work! Meet the newbies of skincare ingredients.
So, this is what you need to know to be in the know how!
The Overnight Healer: Centella
Centella asiatica is actually not new at all—the plant is native to parts of Asia and Africa, and has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Today in the word of beauty, centella treats picked-at zits (it’s a wound-healer), stimulates collagen synthesis for plumper skin, and soothes redness and inflammation. It’s an antioxidant, and studies have shown it to relieve symptoms of eczema. It’s great for the acne-prone or skin with a compromised barrier function.
The Gentler Acids: LHA + PHA
LHA stands for lipohydroxy acid, but it’s not its own category of acids like AHAs and BHAs. Actually, LHA is a BHA—it’s a derivative of salicylic acid. Like salicylic, LHA is oil-soluble, meaning it can penetrate into oil-clogged pores and break up blockages.
And while salicylic acid has a pH around 3, LHA’s hovers around 5—much closer to the natural pH of healthy skin. This means it’s less harsh to use, and even suitable for sensitive skin. Apart from preventing and treating existing breakouts, LHA can also stimulate collagen and elastin production—perfect for keeping skin plump and exfoliated when it’s also the most sensitive, like during transitional weather or deep in winter.
PHA is a specific kind of alpha hydroxy acid. Like other AHAs, Polyhydroxy acid is water-soluble, and works on the skin’s surface to smooth texture and lighten dark spots. But, unlike other AHAs, PHA molecules are big and can’t penetrate skin.
That’s one reason why it’s a gentler acid. Another is that PHA can also act as a humectant, drawing moisture to the surface of skin and preventing that post-acid dry out. It’s best for sensitive skin that needs a little help with evening tone.
The One For Hyperpigmentation: Arbutin
Arbutin is a naturally occuring compound in certain plant leaves, like cranberry and blueberry. After it’s applied to skin, it breaks down into hydroquinone (the gold standard in treating melasma.
So, despite rumors that hydroquinone is dangerous, research tells us that not only is it safe, but it’s the standard treatment for melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Hydroquinone works because it stops tyrosinase, an enzyme that helps your skin produce melanin. And since it breaks down into hydroquinone, arbutin does that too. Maybe you’re thinking, why not skip a step and jump straight to hydroquinone? The answer is that arbutin is gentler than hydroquinone—it works to inhibit tyrosinase slowly, sort of like your go-to time release allergy pill. And while you can only use hydroquinone safely for a couple months at a time, arbutin is safe for daily use.
You’re most likely to find arbutin in a serum. Some are straight arbutin—others mix it with brightening agents like kojic acid, anti-acne tools like niacinamide, and hydrating elements like hyaluronic acid. Choose the one that best fits your needs.
Kombucha Anyone? Galactomyces
Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, or GFF, is a product of fermented yeast. There’s some promising research about it—this study shows positive results in treating acne with it. Another study looked at GFF’s antioxidant capabilities, which seem pretty solid.
But GFF’s most impressive function is repairing a compromised moisture barrier. It’s great for sensitive skin, and pairs well with other moisture barrier building blocks, like ceramides and facial oils.
Because it’s fermented, GFF is a postbiotic. A combination of amino acids and antioxidants freed up by the fermentation product feeds the good bacteria already living on your skin. Basically, it’s helping your skin to grow stronger and clearer on its own.