by Ané Auret 14 min read
Let’s talk about the never-ending quest for the perfect skincare product or routine… I’m sure we’ve all been there at least once haven’t we?
Standing in front of shelves and beautiful displays full of promises of brighter, tighter skin, getting our long-lost collagen back, wiping away years of pigmentation and looking glowy and youthful once more.
The hope that fills our hearts when we open that next jar or bottle…
But as we know all too well, not every little pot of cream or glitzy serum can deliver everything we want from it, there are just too many moving pieces when it comes to our skin, our bodies and the way we take care of it.
Let me take you back to a time before Ané Skincare when I was caught in the cycle of opening a new product and super quickly deciding "this one's not working" or "there must be something better out there”. Without giving it much thought I'd be off again to buy the next best thing I could get my hands on, or perhaps whatever was being advertised heavily at the time.
I was something of a skincare nomad, constantly changing from one product to the next - not really being intentional with my skincare routine, not fully understanding the changing needs of my skin, and constantly looking for my holy grail product(s).
Over the years I ended up with my fair share of cabinets and drawers filled with half-used products that just didn't live up to their promises - and when something wasn’t working for me I always ‘blamed’ the product - never considering that I, myself played a large part in how well a product could work for me.
Now, with a much deeper understanding of my changing midlife skin and several years of experience in the skincare industry, things are very different.
If you're not seeing any improvement in targeted concerns despite consistent use, experiencing increased sensitivity, redness, or breakouts, or your skin just looks dull and lacklustre - it might be time to rethink your products and/or routine.
Saying that, we will also see that it's not always just do with your routine or a single product - there could be several other factors at work as well.
In today’s blog we will take a look at 7 key reasons why you feel your products may not be working for you, or not delivering the results you were looking for.
This is not an exhaustive list, but I hope it will at least give you some questions to check in with and think about whether any of these apply to you.
If there is even just one little nugget that you find useful and that can help you avoid some of the many mistakes I've made I'd be so pleased.
As my skincare journey evolved from drawers and cabinets full of half-used products to now having my own skincare brand there has been a lot of trial and error, and I think it’s worth remembering that this is a completely normal part of discovering what really works for us - and what works for us today may also need to adapt as our skin matures and changes.
I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be happier with my skin at 48 (at the time of writing this) than I was at 37, or 42 even.
I’ve made some key shifts in how I approach taking care of my skin over the last 5 years or so - specifically around simplifying my routine, being consistent and intentional as well as sticking to the basics - and it's paying off now.
However, if we were to meet in real life you would see that my skin is far from perfect.
When asked, I sometimes "tongue in cheek" refer to my skin type as "sun damaged".
Growing up in South Africa and being exposed to the sun while not using any sunscreen for decades (until I was about 40) has left me with a fairly typical legacy of brown spots, discolouration, rougher texture, large pores and of course fine lines and wrinkles, especially under my eyes.
I'm also now heading towards 50 and knee-deep in hormonal/menopausal and other physiological changes like losing bone and fat mass in my face - so I've also had to adjust the expectations I have of my skin and how much I can do on my own without professional intervention.
When I look at the seemingly "flawless, pore-less, texture-less" and even skin with no discolouration on social media these days I do feel pressure to do more, but I also need to remind myself to not compare my lived-in skin with someone in their early twenties - this is not helpful
Where I'm at right now is that I'm overall genuinely happy with my skin. I’ve managed to slow things down somewhat and corrected much of the superficial damage that has been done over the years.
I now know what works for me, but I speak to many customers and friends who still feel quite lost and don’t know where to start, what to look for or how to adjust their skincare routines - especially for maturing, changing midlife skin.
One of the questions that come up regularly is around the feeling that a product or routine is just not giving them what they hoped for - and I know it can feel really disappointing and disheartening when that happens.
I hope the 7 points/questions/practical insights below will help you take another look at your products and your routine to see if, and where you could potentially make some tweaks - or perhaps just start over or go in a different direction.
First off, you may just decide that a product is not for you because you don’t like the texture, smell, application or something else about it - and that’s of course entirely up to you.
We’re all so different when it comes to what we like and don’t like and so much of skincare is trial and error in discovering what we like and dislike.
It could of course also be that you're just bored with a product and you fancy a change or want to try something new.
Secondly, if your skin is becoming sensitised or reactive to a product you will know pretty quickly.
This blog is not about trying to convince you to keep using a product, or perhaps an ingredient in a product that is just not right for you. It is true that with some products there is a period of adjustment, ie. Retinols or an acid exfoliant - but if your skin reacts it is your decision as to whether you want to give it time to adjust or just stop using it alltogether.
Sometimes it’s more the method of application that’s causing the issue as opposed to the actual product itself, ie. going in too fast with a Retinoid or chemical exfoliant; or adding several active products like a Retinoid and a new Vitamin C in your routine too quickly, or at the same time and your skin just not being able to adapt fast enough.
Before we dig into the potential reasons why your skincare routine might not be delivering the results you hoped for, let's talk about some signs to look out for:
* Lack of improvement in targeted concerns despite consistent use.
* Increased sensitivity, redness, or irritation after using a product.
* Breakouts or adverse reactions that were not present before.
* Skin feels excessively dry or greasy.
* Your skin looks dull and lacks radiance.
* Fine lines and wrinkles appear prominent, and the texture remains uneven.
Your skin is unique, and its needs can change over time, especially with peri- and menopausal hormonal changes as we go through midlife.
Pay close attention and tailor your routine based on your unique skin type, concerns, and goals and what works best for you for where you're at - and keep in mind that even this may fluctuate day to day as time goes on.
If you're dealing with an illness, a chronic condition or in the process of receiving medical treatment or medication that could also affect your skin and what it needs.
Even though there are general guidelines to follow when it comes to skincare much of it is still individual trial and error in the end - just be patient with your skin and you will find what works for you.
One idea is to keep notes and track the effects of different products on your skin.
This will help you identify which ingredients and formulations give you the most significant improvements, at least in the beginning while you’re figuring things out but it may not be something you'd want to do or have the time for.
Overall your skin will tell you what it needs and we just need to listen and respond as best we can.
Focus on the basic, essential steps like cleansing, hydration, moisturisation and sunscreen so you can support and strengthen your skin barrier.
Elaborate skincare routines with a lot of active ingredients can be tempting, but they can also easily overload and/or sensitise your skin and weaken or compromise your skin barrier.
Being super focussed on treating, fixing and correcting your skin with stronger actives while your skin barrier is actually struggling can cause issues further down the line and affect your results.
- Simplify Your Routine for Consistency and Results
When you get the basic steps right it helps your skin barrier to function optimally - and when you have a healthy, strong and well-functioning skin barrier your more active products like your Retinoids and Vitamin C serums will perform better - if you decide you need them.
It’s a virtuous circle when you make sure that you have the right foundations in place.
- Patience and Prioritising Skin Health Before Introducing Actives
Before incorporating potent active ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C, or chemical exfoliants into your routine, ensure that your skin barrier is strong and healthy.
Even when you consider professional treatments, prescription-type ingredients and/or ‘tweakments’ to accelerate your results you are still going to want your skin to be healthy and strong - you can never go wrong by prioritising the basic, foundational steps - and you may be surprised at how well your skin looks, feels and functions once you get these right.
Consistency is the backbone of an effective skincare routine.
Creating a consistent routine and applying the right products consistently and correctly is going to be essential for getting the results you’re looking for.
It could be the best, most expensive product in the world - but expecting results from a product that is not consistently and correctly applied is only setting yourself up for disappointment.
In skin care, the effort (however small) is cumulative and an investment in your future skin and self.
- The Importance of Regular and Correct Application
Applying skincare products correctly is just as important as the products themselves. Using too much or too little, applying in the wrong order, or rushing through the process can affect the effectiveness of your products.
Master the art of applying skincare products by following the recommended guidelines/instructions for optimal absorption and efficacy, they are there for a reason.
*If you feel comfortable doing so you can always tweak things a little and you will quickly work out what works for you and what doesn't when it comes to application.
- The Link Between Simplicity, Consistency, and Results
For me a simple and streamlined skincare routine equals consistency.
By cutting out unnecessary steps and/or products, you can make sure that your routine fits into your daily life and is easy to follow and maintain.
Saying that, I know this is often the trickiest bit - working out what you really need, but we will talk through that separately as it's a pretty big topic.
There is of course nothing wrong with elaborate routines and using multiple actives if you know how to safely apply your products, but however simple or complicated you prefer your routine find something that works with your lifestyle, preferences, time and energy you have to invest and your budget so that your skincare routine fits around you, not the other way round.
Patience is a virtue in skincare, especially when it comes to ageing and changing skin - and giving your skincare products enough time to work is crucial for getting the results you’re looking for.
- Understanding the Slower Biological Processes of Ageing Skin
As we age, many of the biochemical, cellular, and physiological processes in our bodies slow down, including the rate of cellular turnover of the skin. These processes take longer to work, so it's essential to adjust our expectations and give products enough time to take effect.
- Realistic Expectations for Active Ingredients' Effectiveness and Allowing Products Sufficient Time for Visible Results
Active ingredients need time to deliver their full benefits.
Many active ingredients, like retinoids, vitamin C, peptides, and chemical exfoliants, have proven efficacy in addressing ageing signs. However, their effects may not be immediate.
It is typical that clinical, in-vivo studies, which test ingredients on real people in real-life conditions (not a petri dish) track results for up to 56 days (8 weeks) to measure the full effect and efficacy of an ingredient/product.
Some products may produce instant effects, like a moisturiser for parched skin, or an AHA chemical exfoliant that may have an instant smoothing effect - but it could take several weeks, if not at least a few months before you see a difference in discolouration.
The key here is to have patience with both the product you’re using, as well as your skin and give both enough time to adapt and respond - it’s a balancing act between short-term outcomes and longer-term results.
While skincare products play a vital role and can transform skin, they are just one piece of the puzzle - realising this is probably the biggest shift I’ve made over the last 5 years or so in terms of taking care of my own skin.
The other helpful shift was to learn and understand the impact that various biological, biochemical and hormonal processes (including, but not only Estrogen loss through peri- and menopause) have on my body and skin, and the way and rate at which these can cause and/ or signs of accelerated ageing.
As we age and navigate peri and menopause, our skin and body undergo significant changes.
For example - understanding the processes of inflammation/inflammaging, oxidative stress, free radical damage, cellular senescence, glycation (AGEs), and hormonal shifts can help us to focus on lifestyle changes that target the root causes of skin ageing.
For me, it’s vital to understand the impact “internal ageing” has on me and my skin and how that manifests externally - because for me these are the internal root causes to look at as opposed to just fixating on the external signs of ageing.
Not just in terms of my appearance and aesthetics, but especially for my overall health, how I feel and how I want to feel and function in the coming years and decades of my life.
If you’re not getting the ‘external’ results you’re looking for on your face it may be worth looking at everything else in terms of sleep, stress, exercise, diet and nutrition, sun damage, chronic dehydration, exposure to harsh weather and pollution, smoking etc. and how that impacts you internally while also manifesting externally.
Our faces are not separate or disconnected from our bodies. What happens to, and inside our bodies is also going to impact our physical appearance.
Accept that skincare products can improve your skin's health and appearance, but perfection and addressing 100% of your skin concerns to that level is not helpful or realistic.
It's crucial to manage our expectations when it comes to skincare. While skincare products can improve skin health and appearance, and in some cases really transform skin - they may not reverse all signs of ageing and address all of your concerns completely.
Expecting skincare to fully resolve all your skin concerns is not helpful or realistic as no single skincare product can turn back the clock entirely or make you look decades younger overnight.
As Brands We Can Only Do So Much With Skincare Formulations
Bringing a product to market is tightly regulated, and independently assessed to be safe and we can’t formulate outside these boundaries.
Skincare brands and product formulators can do only so much and go only so far in terms of the ingredient choices and inclusion levels of active ingredients.
This is how it should be and most of the time that is enough and you will get great results from these products.
Should we want to go outside these remits we enter the area of prescription skincare that can make medical-type claims. These products can use ingredients that I as a brand can't use (Hydroquinone is a good example) and can include ingredients at levels that could be dangerous to you if it wasn't prescribed by a medical professional who would be overseeing your progress.
Over the 'beauty' counter skincare that you can buy from someone like me online or in a department or drug store or high street chemist chain can only do so much - and as a consumer (I include myself here) it’s really important to remember that.
For example - I know for a fact that I have pigmentation from sun damage that only a professional aesthetician can resolve with laser and/or prescription-strength retinol.
No amount of my own Retinoid serum can go deep enough or be formulated strong enough by myself to do this - I'm simply not allowed and entering into prescription skincare is definitely not what I would want to do.
If you feel that you are just not getting the results you want from skincare you can buy without a prescription then it may be time to see your dermatologist and / or aesthetician and look into prescription-strength skincare.
Skin concerns like Melasma or severe acne for example may be better addressed through prescription skincare rather than what I could offer you.
This ties in with the first point about listening to your skin - and addressing midlife skin concerns specifically requires ingredients known for their efficacy.
Once we’ve got the foundational, basic steps dialled in we then look at proven ingredients that can target our particular concerns, for example, loss of elasticity and firmness, complexion concerns like texture, dullness, discolouration and pigmentation, hormonal breakouts and excessive oiliness, reduced or compromised skin barrier function and so on.
As your skin matures, certain ingredients become essential to target specific concerns. Retinoids are excellent for promoting collagen production and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C is known for its brightening and antioxidant properties. Peptides and growth factors can help to firm and tone the skin. Antioxidants protect against environmental damage and promote overall skin health.
This is what so much of skincare is about and where there are so many opinions, myths, misconceptions and confusing advice.
I find that as long as we stick to what we’ve known that work over years and decades - in some cases centuries when you think about plant-based and botanical ingredients and then combine that with the cutting-edge research and science we now have available to us - we can all have a successful skincare routine that works for us.
Sometimes it can all get a bit serious - and so it should be because your skin is precious and unique and it all matters - but I think it’s also important and perhaps helpful - to enjoy the process of learning about ourselves and discovering what works for us so we can choose products and create rituals that we enjoy and love.
* Listen to your skin, identify your specific needs and goals, and avoid copying routines and trends blindly.
* Prioritise basic, foundational skincare steps like cleansing, moisturising and sunscreen for a strong skin barrier and better results before adding more active products like Retinoids, AHAs and Vitamin C Serums.
* Stay consistent with your routine, learn to apply correctly and practice patience, allowing products - and your skin - enough time to adapt and get the results you want.
* Take a full-body approach to skincare, considering lifestyle factors and internal health.
* Manage your expectations realistically and embrace the process of learning and getting to know your skin and improving overall skin health and longevity.
* Once you have the basic steps and products in place, choose the right products and ingredients that target your personal skin concerns effectively.
by Ané Auret 4 min read
by Ané Auret 4 min read
Clean makeup brushes and blenders is one of my top skincare tips. Putting time, energy and money into a skincare routine and then top it off with dirty makeup brushes is just plain counterproductive. Find out my top 3 reasons why cleaning your makeup brushes is so important and mistakes to avoid.
by Ané Auret 8 min read
Repair, Restore and Protect Your Skin’s Lipid Barrier Function - a strong, well-functioning lipid barrier is the foundation of healthy, glowing skin. In this blog we discuss how you can keep your skin’s most important line of defence fighting fit - the signs of a compromised lipid barrier, 7 key steps to take care of your skin lipid barrier and ingredients to look out for your in your products.