I’m always looking for the next best, simplified skincare regime that gives me the results I’m looking for without having to use 17 products everyday. Especially now that my new career has demanded so much from me these last couple of months, I’m drifting more towards a skincare regime with fewer products but with a more targeted approach.
Helloooo, I’m back! It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog post two months ago, adjusting to my new job and my new life routine has meant my blog has been put on the back burner in the meantime. I hope to resume as normal from herein, so I hope you’re up for hearing more from me!
Something that I’ve learned slowly over the years is that skincare doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it have to be extravagant. There’s no point spending money on an 8-product skincare regime if you’re only going to regularly use three of them daily. You just need to find exactly what your skin needs and stick with it – usually that doesn’t necessitate any more than a small handful of specially-curated products. It’s a trial and error process obviously, and can be frustrating – especially with so much confusing info out there and the extremely saturated market of skincare products available.
I was handed an opportunity to trial a new three-step product regime from a rising Australian cosmeceutical skincare company, Skin Health Science. What attracted me to the brand was their back story and their premise for their brand: keep a skincare routine simple enough that people will actually comply to the directions of use but combine active ingredients in high enough concentrations to produce meaningful results. That’s what we all want, right? But something we don’t always seem to get. The brand was created by two registered nurses who also have backgrounds in clinical cosmetics. They understand our skin as the delicate organ it is, and is passionate about taking evidence-based approaches to our skincare. If it’s been trialled on patients with clinically significant results, they want to know about it.
Skin Health Science have launched their brand with a three-product regime including the Carbo Cleanser, REM Repair Serum, and the RP Moisturiser. Firstly, the branding for this company is ace. I love the packaging, the labelling and the presentation of the products. It’s very ‘me’. As for what I thought about the products in singular? There is one product from the range that has become perhaps my favourite product ever in it’s category. Read on to find out which it is!
Cleansing is a daily ritual that I really savour, it’s one of my favourites part of my day! I have congestion prone acneic skin that gets pretty oily throughout the day, so I was really excited to try out the Carbo Cleanser from Skin Health Science since that is the type of the skin it seems more suited towards.
The hero product for Skin Health Science in this cleanser is activated charcoal, which has an amazing molecular affinity for impurities and toxins (as well as other molecules) when it is contact with them, which is why you see it used so much in skincare. In fact, it is used to treat some incidents of poisoning and as such is used in medicine (the poisoning agent is bound to the activated charcoal and expelled from the body as excrement rather than being absorbed into the body/bloodstream from the stomach). Interestingly, I have heard some vets recommend to orally administer activated charcoal powder to pets if they ingest anything toxic to them such as chocolate or avocado in an emergency if you can’t get to a vet straight away.
Exfoliating fruit extracts also feature in this Carbo Cleanser that collectively form a family of AHA’s to help increase cell turnover. I’ve talked about AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids) before on the blog and their ability to aid in gentle and effective exfoliation of our skin without the use of heavy, mechanical exfoliators. Lactic acid tends to be a more gentle option than say, glycolic acid so those with less tolerant skin types may still be able to use lactic acid as a gentle exfoliator. Since it has a larger molecular size, it’s penetrability is weaker than glycolic acid. Generally, concentrations of 5% to 10% are best for an exfoliating effect.
Overall, I’m slightly surprised to see activated charcoal in this product considering the lack of quality scientific data to support it’s use in skincare, particularly in cleansers. Despite it’s demonstrated ability in the medical field, I’d like to see more investigations on it’s benefits in skincare. No questions about the inclusion of AHAs in this product though, they have such an evidence-filled history in skincare. Just some points regarding activated charcoal though: from my understanding, activated charcoal needs some time to properly bind and remove dirt and impurities – it’s molecular forces that attract dirt and impurities need time to work, so I try to give my cleanser the most time to work on my skin as I can. I also wonder about the affinity of activated charcoal for other molecules when used in a skincare formulation. Over time, would there be increased binding of the charcoal molecules to the other ingredients in the product, therefore reducing its efficacy? Hard to say, since there is scant info to support to deny this in published literature. But because activated charcoal doesn’t discriminate between ‘bad’ and ‘good’ molecules, you’d have to guess that it would also bind to some of the molecules in a total skincare formulation, right?
I could not believe how quickly I fell in love with this cleanser. It was instant adoration. I couldn’t exactly explain it, but it was almost like there was a new, fresh layer of my skin being revealed after every cleanse. So much more clarity and brightness to my skin even just after the first use. I remember being so excited about it that I shoved my skin into Mr Beauty & the Geek’s face to show just how much better my skin looked after using the cleanser. Even he was impressed and has taken to using it as his cleanser too. It’s a shared love triangle. Is it the activated charcoal? The gently exfoliating fruit extracts? Could be, but I’ve used cleansers before featuring both heavily as well and haven’t had this same effect. It has definitely been the best cleanser I’ve ever tried for my skin. It’s actually insane. However, at $72, it’s quite an expensive cleanser and while it is extremely good, I don’t see it as a financially accessible product for many people. But those with my skin type and skincare preferences, I couldn’t recommend this cleanser enough.
Another point I want to make is that I am not so sure this would be a great cleanser for those with dry skin. I have oily, congested skin and find it does have a slightly drying effect. I don’t mind this at all, in fact it’s one of the things I love about it because it’s not so much that my skin is dry per se, but I definitely feel like it’s sucked the oil out of my skin and those with dry skin might not want that. I have seen that SHS are planning on releasing a gentle cleanser that I expect will be more suitable for those with dry skin so if you want to explore that option, keep an eye out!
REM REPAIR SERUM
This is where Skin Health Science are trying to simplify our skincare routines because let’s face it, the most complicated and confusing part of tailoring your skincare lies in the choice and combination of active ingredient serums. If looking at say, The Ordinary products confuses and overwhelms you, then you’re pretty much on par with how everyone feels about how to use active serums. There are lots of rules and guidelines to follow and so many questions, ‘you can’t combine x with y, you have to apply a before c, do I use the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion or Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane? To the average person, you have to spend weeks of researching, asking questions, and making mistakes until you think you’re at the point where you (kind of) know what you’re doing. I empathise.
SHS has formulated a product where potent compatible actives are combined in effective concentrations into one single serum to work in synergy to treat your skin. The two hero actives here Vitamin A (retinaldehyde 0.5%) and Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide 10%), which I consider to be a class of actives that does great things for my skin. Niacinamide I’ve played around with less but I’ve had quite a bit of experience with Vit A. I don’t think I have ever used it in the form of retinaldehyde though, which is considered to be the ‘gentle cousin’ of retinol. This is because where it sits in the vitamin A pathway in our skin means we can process it more easily with a lower risk of compromising the skin barrier and irritation. Retinaldehyde seems to be the only class of retinoids that impart an antibacterial effect on the skin. Another interesting active that forms the trio of cosmeceutical actives is tetrapeptide-30. Oligopeptides can help to even and brighten skin tone by interfering with factors that are used in melanin pathways in our skin. Therefore, they can affect the appearance of pigmentation. One trial I saw on Tetrapeptide-30 showed it had optimal activity at 2.5% concentrations for treating pigmentation. The ingredients are well up in the top part of the ingredients list so they form a substantial part of the formulation which is nice to see.
I enjoyed using this serum a lot, but not as much as the cleanser (which I think is going to be really hard to beat to be honest). The serum is yellow in colour and has a very light and spreadable texture. There is no residue left over on the skin, no stinging or tingling, and doesn’t have an unpleasant scent. I wouldn’t say it provided any significant amount of moisture (it contains both low and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid but in the dry climate here in Adelaide it doesn’t really work that well), but it did help to maintain the clarity and appearance of my skin that the cleanser gave me. Based on what I’ve seen other reviewers say, this serum seems to be the standout for them but for me it was the cleanser. Again, this serum doesn’t come cheap, with a price tag of $159 it is the most expensive product of the trio. I don’t see it being affordable for the everyday person, more so for the skincare buff who enjoys using cosmeceuticals in simplified formulations.
You can’t have a skincare range without a moisturiser, right? Skin Health Science have not forgotten this with the release of their RP Moisturiser. It’s designed to both reflect UV radiation from our skin, and protect it from environmental aggressors. For me, this was actually the product that I feel could do with a bit of reformulation. It was my least favourite product of the range, and for me personally, presents some issues with where and when I can wear this.
Interestingly, this moisturiser contains quite a lot of zinc and titanium oxide which are UV rays protectors but doesn’t have an SPF nor is it marketed as moisturiser with ‘sunscreen’ in it. I suspect thats because of the long and complicated process that is required to say as such. You don’t need to be a science-buff to understand that these two metal oxides have a demonstrated excellence in protecting from UVA and UVB rays, but I also know zinc to be a great anti-inflammatory and skin-healing agent which is why it’s suggested for acne sufferers to use Sudocreme or other topicals with high concentrations of zinc. Which is another reason why Skin Health Science wanted it in their formulation.
The creators have suggested this moisturiser is more suitable for those with oily, congested skin and I have to agree. It’s not a moisturiser that feels generous in it’s moisturising and hydrating abilities, and that is coming from me as someone who does have oily skin. I feel that those with normal and/or dry skin will not find this moisturiser hydrating enough for their skin, even coupled with the serum.
Application is also a concern for me with this product, since it’s formulation means it leaves quite a bit of a white cast on the skin (from the zinc and titanium oxides). Since it’s not as moisturising as I would have thought (and the issues I have with the spreadability of this product), the amount I need to use means there is a really noticeable and unappealing white cast on my skin, something which makeup doesn’t fully negate either. It’s a thick texture with low spreadability, and I feel like it’s a moisturiser that DOES interfere with the way I apply makeup and how it looks afterwards. Because of these reasons, I find I can only really use this moisturiser daily of a nighttime, which kind of defeats the purpose of the ‘reflect and protect’ premise of this product. I wouldn’t have any qualms about this if I was having a makeup free day around the house or something, but for when I want to put my best face forward, I have to give this moisturiser a skip in my day routine. The pump for this bottle also got clogged up really easy with the product, and eventually I had to unscrew the pump off the bottle and use the end of the pump dispenser to scoop up the product from the jar and apply on my skin (if that makes sense!). Again, this product matches the same sort of pricing scheme as the previous products, coming in at $115. I would be hesitant about recommending this product currently, and would suggest you try out the cleanser and serum if you want to give Skin Health Science a go! However, I have read that the creators are also working on a moisturiser to be released which I’d love to trial against this moisturiser to see what the winner would be.
Overall, I really loved using this regime, and still do! I’ve abandoned all other skincare products save for my weekly mask (or fortnightly since my time is so limited these days) throughout using this routine and I must say my skin still looks so nice, especially after using that cleanser. Love! This is a brand I’ll want to keep my eye on and I hope I get to see more of them in the future. By the sounds of it, I just might with their new product formulations in the works.
Have you discovered a new skincare product that is your ride-or-die? I want to know all about it in the comments below!
Babamiri, K & Nassab, R. 2010. Cosmeceuticals: The Evidence Behind the Retinoids. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 30: 74-77.
Farwick, M., Maczkiewitz, U., Lersch, P., Summers, B., Rawlings, A. V. 2011. Facial skin‐lightening benefits of the tetrapeptide Pro‐Lys‐Glu‐Lys on subjects with skin types V–VI living in South Africa. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 10: 217-223.
Neubert, R.H.H., Sommer, E., Schölzel, M., Tuchscherer, B., Mrestani, Y., Wohlrab, J. 2018. Dermal peptide delivery using enhancer molecules and colloidal carrier systems. Part II: Tetrapeptide PKEK. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 124: 28-33.
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