3 Step Night Time Skin Care Routine Without The BS
Want smoother skin, smaller pores, fewer wrinkles, fine lines and age spots? Who doesn’t!
Well if you like true scientific evidence and are tired of BS, then AHAs, Vitamin A and Vitamin B3 should be on your skin care shopping list.
Step one of any night time regime is cleansing.
Step two is exfoliation for smoother skin and smaller pores.
Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHA’s) like Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid are great at exfoliating the skin¹. They will leave your skin feeling smooth² and soft and also reduce the appearance of the size of your pores. But they can increase sun sensitivity, so best to use them at night (and then use sunscreen during the day). Glycolic acid has the added benefit of stimulating collagen³ growth and improving the effectiveness of Vitamin A (Retinal)⁴ so we recommend using it immediately before your Vitamin A night cream.
Step 3 – Vitamin A and B3 for reduced fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation + plumper more elastic skin.
Retinoids (Vitamin A) are the go-to ingredient for skin anti-aging and have plenty of benefits⁵. And while Tretinoin is the best studied and most effective form of Vitamin A, it is also very irritating⁶ and drying. Almost as effective and far less irritating is Retinal⁷ (a.k.a Retinaldehyde) and it is fast becoming the skin care ingredient of choice. Vitamin A can also increase sun sensitivity so best to use it at night (and then use sunscreen during the day).
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) also has good evidence particularly for reducing pigmentation⁸ (age spots) and improving skin barrier function⁹ (increases the skin’s ability to retain moisture). Look for a concentration of between 3 and 6%.
BS to avoid:
There are plenty of ingredients that are promoted as being fantastic, but simply aren’t supported by evidence. While, there are way too many to cover here, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 BS traps when it comes to night time skin care products.
Vitamin A – watch out for imposters
Because Retinal is expensive, hard to stabilise and difficult to source, most night time products with Vitamin A settle for Retinol or Retinyl Palmitate. But the evidence for both of them is weak¹⁰ (they have more chemical reactions to undergo before they reach their effective form). And in the case of Retinol, in order to have a chance of working, it has to be at a concentration likely to irritate.
Vitamin C – watch out for Vitamin C combined with Vitamin A
While Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is a great ingredient in anti-aging, but when used in night creams (especially with Vitamin A), it won’t work. And stabilised forms of Vitamin C (Vitamin C ingredients ending with “palmitate”, “ascorbate” and “ascorbyl”) have weak or no evidence¹¹.
Lots of people love exfoliation using microbeads or natural abrasives like nut husks. But if they don’t destroy the environment, then they are likely to cause inflammation which in the long run will actually make us look older.
Vitamin E – it’s everywhere, but there is little evidence for it
Vitamin E is still widely used and promoted by many skin care makers, but there is actually very little evidence that it helps repair or reduce the signs of photoaging.
Pseudo-scientific sounding ingredients and expensive products
Wacky sounding active ingredients (including, Growth factors, Stem Cells, Telomere repairs and trademarked names – will almost certainly have no evidence¹². That means don’t part with your money unless you like a gamble)
If a product costs more than $150, you’re paying for bragging rights and celeb endorsements not effectiveness. (We also haven’t seen any evidence-based Cosmeceuticals with a price less than $50.)
¹ Glycolic acid speeds up the process of exfoliation and skin cell turnover (Facial Plastic Surgery 2013)
² L-Lactic Acid …reduced the overall severity of photodamage, mottled hyperpigmentation, sallowness and roughness (Archives of Dermatology 1996) Significant improvement noted included decrease in rough texture (Dermatological Surgery 1996)
³ Glycolic acid treatment increased the production of collagen and fibroblast proliferation (Dermatological Surgery 2010)
⁴ Addition of an AHA such as GA to a retinoid such as RAL results in a better bioavailability of the retinoid (Dermotology (Base) 2005)
⁵ Amongst various antiaging agents, retinoids are the most promising agents that are available for the treatment of aging (Clinical Interventions in Aging 2006) There is extensive literature on the use of tretinoin, which is considered to be one of the most potent compounds for treating the signs of aging and/or photodamaged skin (Skin Therapy Letter 2008)
⁶ Amongst retinoids, tretinoin is the most potent and best-studied retinoid. However, its irritation potential (Clinical Interventions in Aging 2006)
⁷ Retinaldehyde, which is fairly well tolerated, seems to be the most efficient cosmeceutical retinoid (Dermatologic Therapy 2006).
Retinaldehyde appears to be the only retinoid based cosmeceutical to be effective in the treatment of photoaging (Aesthetic Surgery 2009)
⁸ The data suggest niacinamide is an effective skin lightening compound (British Journal of Dermatology 2002)
⁹ Topical application of niacinamide has a stabilizing effect on epidermal barrier function, seen as a reduction in transepidermal water loss (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 2004)
¹⁰ Retinol and retinyl esters are not irritant, whereas demonstrating only a modest clinical efficiency. (Dermatologic Therapy 2006)
¹¹ Ascorbyl palmitate had a low antioxidative capability (Journal of photochemistry and photobiology 2012). In vitro experiments demonstrated that in an aqueous system, AA had the best antioxidant potential .. however, only the formulation containing AA caused alterations in TEWL values (Skin Research and Technology 2008)
¹² After so many years of research on vitamin E, it is still unclear whether vitamin E products have been of any benefit (Indian Journal of Dermatology 2016)