Skincare Routine (Backed by Science!)

The beauty industry is overwhelming.  It's difficult to form a skincare routine when being fed dramatic claims by various brands.  What's true and what's an over-exaggeration? On top of that, we feel compelled to dish out as much money as possible because it's assumed that a higher priced good is better for our skin but this is far from the case.  Therefore, I wanted to share my current skincare routine with scientific evidence to explain why I use these products and changes I've experienced, without having to break the bank.   Products are mentioned in order of application. 

Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or a doctor, I am simply imparting the knowledge I have gained through researching skincare ingredients and products.  On top of that, I do not want to influence your decisions.  If you want proper advice, seek a professional such as a dermatologist or your GP before changing your skincare regime or including new products into it.  

Morning Routine

Fragrance is known as a hit or miss in the beauty industry.  Fragrance has no functional property and is present to mask the natural scent of a product which may smell too medicinal to the user. Fragrance can cause a sensitising reaction on the skin: mild to severe. Similar to exposure to sun damage or pollution, the effects appear over a period of time. (1) Luckily, this product is fragrance free! On top of that, there are very few ingredients in this product so it is less likely to cause irritation or sensitisation of the skin. Interestingly, this also contains niacinamide which is a common component of many skin brightening creams.  Therefore, it may aid in dark circles and brightening the face in the process.  Freederm face wash is gentle and cleans pores and removes makeup and excess oil without the need for vigorous scrubbing.  Personally, I apply the face wash and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it off.

Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 (niacin) with an amide group.  It is said to prevent any itchiness or irritation of the skin, protect against UV rays (but does not negate the use of Broad Spectrum SPF), prevent excess oil, and brighten the face. (2)  It is readily absorbed by the skin and body. It is considered safe to use and rarely results in adverse reactions.  (3) A study by Bissett et al in 2005 conducted a clinical trial with a sample size of 50 white females (note: this is a poor representation of a wider population) where they applied the 5% niacinamide to one half of the face and control to the other for 12 weeks.  The found improvements in: skin elasticity, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowness).  (4) Kawada et al in 2008 found that, in a randomised control trial, 64% of 30 participants had significant skin improvements (p <0.0001) with reduced wrinkle grades in tested areas. (5)  Draelos et al in 2006 conducted a study using 2% niacinamide in a double-blind, placebo control trial.  It aimed to see the effect of niacinamide on sebum excretion rates which tends to lead to comedonal and inflammatory acne lesions.  After 2-4 weeks of application, the sebum excretion rates significantly reduced in those who used 2% niacinamide compared to the control group. (6)

Vitamin E is a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant.  Here is a link to a post I did discussing free radicals and the role of antioxidants.  As a result, vitamin E is said to be antitumorigenic, photoprotective (but does not substitute broad spectrum SPF), and stabilises skin barriers. (7)  It adds an extra layer of protection against sun damage when used in conjunction with Broad Spectrum SPF. It is rare for Vitamin E to cause allergic contact dermatitis. (8) In conclusion, vitamin-E is said to have anti-aging affects by preventing photo-induced ageing.  This in turn prevents atypical pigmentation and wrinkles. (9).  

CereVe has gained a lot of recognition as a medicated skin care despite being an over the counter product.  It is said to be beneficial for dry to very dry skin due to the inclusion of ceramides.  Ceramides are epidermal lipids that are part of the stratum corneum which forms the outer layer of the skin. (12)  Thus, it helps to restore the skin's natural barrier against pollution, irritants, and aids in retaining moisture or hydration. (11) There is no point drinking 2 litres of water if you don't have a proper barrier! Spada et al in 2018 stated that use of a ceramide-based cream improved skin hydration (P<0.001).  At 24 hours, the skin hydration was significantly better than the placebo and three non-ceramide based creams (P <0.05) and reduced transepidermal water loss (P< 0.001). (10) Finally, ceramides are found to improve various skin assessments (decreased water loss, improved skin smoothness, and increase water content of the skin) after four weeks of use in individuals with sensitive skin conditions.  (13) Alongside ceramides, this product contains hyaluronic acid which has various benefits I discussed here. 

My post here discusses the benefits of Broad Spectrum SPF and how to determine the strength you require.  This sunscreen does not result in ashiness when used on top of a separate moisturiser.  

Evening Routine

See above.

See above.

This is slightly pricier in comparison to the other products however a pea-sized amount is more than enough to cover the face and its advised to use retinol 3-4 times a week max.  Retinol is also known as Vitamin A1.  It is converted to retinoic acid and retinal in the body.  Kong et al in 2018 found that four weeks of retinol usage increased epidermal thickness, upregulated two collagen genes (collagen type 1 and collagen type 3), and significant wrinkle reduction after 12 weeks of use.  (14) Shao et al found that topical retinol showed anti-ageing affects through increasing epidermal keratinocytes proliferation (skin cell division and production), dermal endothelial cells by increasing vascularity and proliferation, and through the activation of dermal fibroblasts, it improves extracellular matrix homeostasis.  (15)  Applied retinol is said to reduce wrinkles and induce hyaluronic acid production by stimulating the activation of all three hyaluronic acid synthases (genes which make hyaluronic acid).   Thus, participants had reduced wrinkles, skin ageing, and improved skin moisture. (16)  Dhaliwal et al in 2019 found that retinol significantly decreased wrinkles, photoaging, and hyperpigmentation. However, caution should be exercised and one should gradually build up retinol tolerance as participants were found to experience scaling and stinging. (17) Finally, Riahi et al also found that the use of topical retinoids aided in improving photoaged skin. (18)

See above. 

And that is my entire skincare routine! Although a few products appear expensive, they are long lasting (3 months before needing replacement) with significant results.  I noticed that my skin has been a lot more even toned and I've not reached for any foundation or concealer in the last month.  My entire routine does not take longer than 10 minutes in the morning and evening.  I allow a few minutes between each product for it to set and soak appropriately.  


1. Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410-1,419


Aging, March 2012, pages 166-175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77-80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821-832
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement pages 1-43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446—475
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, issue 4, pages 191-202
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, issue 11, pages 789-798
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, issue 4, pages 191-202
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