The world has changed in the last 18 months and so has the beauty landscape. But what terms are trending right now?
Some beauty “buzzwords” have a basis in science, whilst others are phrases simply coined to sell skincare. We asked skin expert and qualified facialist Fiona Brackenbury what you need to know to decode your product packaging and stay ahead of the beauty curve...
This high tech sounding, yet naturally derived ingredient has skincare boffins buzzing as it’s a safer alternative to hydroquinone, previously used for pigmentation such as melasma, age spots, and acne scars, but now banned in Europe. “The use of Alpha Arbutin has really increased in the last year,” says Fiona. “Found in fruits like bearberries, blueberries and cranberries it has similar results in brightening skin to hydroquinone, but without the dangerous bleaching process. Instead, it reduces skin’s pigment production by suppressing the enzymes that stimulate melanin. This also slows down the process by which UV light causes pigmentation, so it both prevents and treats pigmentation issues.”
Hard to pronounce and even trickier to spell, bakuchiol is currently creating a collagen-boosting buzz on the skincare scene. The new wonder ingredient is touted as a natural retinol alternative, minus the irritability and redness often associated with retinoids. With a long history of use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, it’s now being championed in Western skincare research. Extracted from the seeds of a Babchi plant, like retinol or vitamin A, it helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and uneven skin by stimulating the regeneration of skin cells”, says Fiona. “It can reduce inflammation, improve elasticity and help stimulate collagen plus everybody can use it without fear of irritation”. In Olverum Pure Radiance Facial Oil, Bakuchiol works synergistically with Rosehip and Cacay Oils to firm, plump, and balance the tone of skin while preventing the dry, harsh breakouts synthetic retinol products can cause.
CBD Skincare and hemp-derived ingredients have been literally the buzziest thing in beauty the last few years. But perhaps the newest (or indeed oldest) is its alternative, patchouli. This unassuming but powerful Asian herb often associated with the ‘hippy’ scene, has been long utilised throughout history as a disinfectant, deodorant, incense, and aphrodisiac. The dried leaves first came to Europe from India 200 years ago, when they were originally used to protect cloth from moths in transit on ships, but people soon fell in love with the woody exotic scent in its own right and it became a staple of the European perfumery industries, then at their creative peak. Refreshing, calming and relaxing, patchouli restores equilibrium to a tired anxious mind and stressed body. As a balm, meanwhile, patchouli also boasts the ability to soothe skin and muscle inflammation, boost the immune system and tone the skin. Look out for it in Olverum’s Pure Radiance Facial Oil where the powerful CBD alternative Patchouli Extract, a phytocannabidol which activates dermal CBD-2 receptors, helps to calm the expression lines that can emphasise the perception of ageing.
We’ve all long been on board with the benefits of popping a Vitamin C supplement, but those in the know have been applying it topically to really get them glowing. Often touted as one of the best anti-aging ingredients on the market, Vitamin C is great for smoothing your skin by boosting the skin’s collagen synthesis plus has a great rep for brightening the skin tone, increasing skin cell turnover and scavenging notorious free radicals that are the causes of skin ageing acceleration. “Vitamin C is a fantastic ingredient but not all serums and moisturisers with Vitamin C included are equal” warns Fiona. “Vitamin C derivatives get my vote, they are gentler than their big sister, cause less irritation, play nicely with other actives and give you more flexibility whilst delivering many of the benefits that Vitamin C can.” add to your daily routine and you should soon C results!
Suddenly all over your social feeds, but long used in Chinese medicine, Gua Sha involves scraping a flat, rounded tool, usually made of jade, over the skin. The literal translation Gua is to press or stroke, and Sha refers to the redness synonymous with traditional Chinese therapists that work hard and deep leaving skin red (a lighter touch on the face is used for beauty benefits). It’s great for relaxing the muscles, helping drain puffiness and boosting circulation which removes toxins and brings in oxygen and nutrients. Both a massage and workout, it helps release tension leaving skin quickly looking more supple, glowing and healthy. Working best with water or oil (never on dry skin), it also creates a ‘mini trauma’ on the skin creating the short-term flush which the skin then starts to repair by making new collagen. To use hold the tool flat to the skin, under the eyes or over any redness to soothe and de-puff. Then use the curved side and work over the skin with short strokes in just one direction (never rub back and forth). Stroke down the neck to drain, working in small horizontal strokes over the brow bone to lift, or hold and press upwards between the brows to release tension.
Blue light protection
“After over year of constant staring at screens, blue light protection has never been more relevant,” says Fiona. Recent studies show it can increase photo-ageing by up to 40%; which over time can lead to skin discolouration, inflammation and a weakened skin surface. Protective skincare works by physically blocking the light and fighting off free radicals formed by blue light before they can wreak havoc, causing photoaging, collagen breakdown and age spots. For best results, look for products that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, iron oxide and/or antioxidants such as vitamin C as key ingredients, suggest dermatologists. Skincare aside, you can protect yourself with the likes of blue light screen shields (ensure yours is activated on your phone), special glasses – or by simply factoring in device downtime.
Put simply this is inflammation + ageing. “Modern, often urban, living means our bodies are inundated by stress; UV damage, pollution, lack of sleep and poor diet choices. Inflammation is our body’s natural defence mechanism to combat the effects of these stressors, but as we age, our body becomes less efficient at ‘turning off’ this response and the body goes into a chronic low-grade inflammatory status that damages tissue,” explains Fiona Brackenbury. Another name for this process is InflammAging and it weakens skin structure, resulting in the degradation of collagen and elastin and impairs the skin’s barrier function. One of the most effective things you can do to slow the effects of aging is to find ways to hinder this process, explains Fiona; solutions include, having a balanced diet, taking supplements that are focused on inflammation such as Omega-3 and using skincare products with antioxidants such as Vitamin C.
“There's always been a close link between skincare and self-care, but this link has strengthened during the pandemic,” says skin expert Fiona Brackenbury. Now consumers are looking to their beauty regime to offer sanctuary as well as efficacy with indulgent textures, soothing ingredients and calming scents to make the mundane more pleasurable. "Facials, masking, and exfoliating can be aromatherapeutic, nostalgic and pampering with people looking for sensory textures and application techniques rather than just functionality,” she explains. “My weekly ritual in the bathroom is my little bit of ME time and I find it so therapeutic. I start with the Olverum Body Polish which I’d describe as having a soufflé-feel, this is gorgeous and it’s what I call a no-mess body exfoliator, so you won’t have to clean the bathroom floor after use! Soaking in the bath is next on the agenda, I defy anybody to resist their Bath Oil’s stress relieving and skin nourishing properties. Once you have completely relaxed smother the skin with the cold pressed botanical oils found in the Nourishing Body Oil and enjoy the best night’s sleep EVER.”