Ex Sephora Consultant on the best skincare ingredients for 2021
The Spot

A Former Sephora Skin Consultant on the Top 5 Ingredients for 2021

By Tyler Guitroz

I'm sure I don’t need to remind you: 2020 was, well, A HOT MESS. We’ve all been witness to constant reminders of the fragility and complexities of life, and how much room for improvement there really is (and there is a lot). The good news is that 2020 has finally left the building, and we can now focus on the tools we need to reconnect, replenish, and revitalize.

Of the many lessons this year has taught, wellness and self-care has been an essential one. Whether being stuck at home, away from friends and family, consumed by atrocities and media battles, or, heaven forbid, being ill (or knowing some who is), it has never been a better time for us to focus on practicing kindness to ourselves. What better way to start than by focusing on your skin?

This may sound superficial, but hear me out. How we feel on the inside, is almost always projected outwardly. If you’ve ever had trouble focusing inward, here’s a former Sephora Skin Consultant’s 5-ingredient guide using outward treatments to focus inward.

1. AHAs

Surface level exfoliation to brighten the skin, and thus lift burdens.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) can occur naturally or synthetically. As a water-soluble skincare ingredient they function to remove dead skin from the epidermis (surface of the skin) via a process called keratolysis, which basically means lifting dead skin off of the surface. This mechanism allows for softer feeling and appearing skin as well as evening out the skin tone.

Why is this important? Well, rough texture is a very common complaint in the skincare industry. Even more than that, in getting rid of the dead skin, you are virtually freeing yourself of a layer of debris, which can inhibit absorption of other ingredients. After successfully applying AHA’s you may notice a difference in the sensation of weight of your skin. Although temporary, imagine how the feeling of being unburdened by something so small, but yet significant can have on your emotional wellbeing.

2. BHAs

Pore deep exfoliation to let go of the things holding you back.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s) are like AHAs in that they are exfoliators that can also occur naturally or synthetically. They differ, however, in that BHAs penetrate the dermis, that is: the layer just below the epidermis. This is the oil-soluble layer wherein you experience sebum (oil) production. It is also the layer where dirt and dead skin can collect for longer periods of time, which can make it exceptionally difficult to excise without the proper care. BHA exfoliation enables the removal of dead skin and sebum and protects against bacterial growth and inflammation.

When you apply a treatment like ZitSticka’s KILLA, there tends to be moments wherein you can really feel the tingling sensation, while BHAs lift the collection of negative influences from your pores. I like to take this moment to think about the small things we hold on to. The things that we let collect overtime, impacting our experiences overall. We can take this time to let go of the unnecessary things that stick with us, just in that way BHAs work on our skin.

3. Hyaluronic Acid

Replenish the skin and nourish new skin.

As a Skincare Consultant, I always stressed the necessity of balance and reciprocity in one’s skincare routine. Whatever good is done on one end of the spectrum, must also be done on the other. This is especially important for the use of exfoliators like BHAs and AHAs. You’ll notice this practice in products like ZitSticka’s PRESS REFRESH. Where there are skin renewal combos like BHAs (ex. Salicylic Acid) and AHAs (Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Citric Acid etc.) there is almost always some sort of hydrator like Hyaluronic Acid to balance the dead skin and sebum removal that occurs, resulting in a brighter and protected skin appearance. Hyaluronic Acid is a viscous molecule that aids in various biological processes like skin repair, wound healing, tissue regeneration, and even collagen and elastin stimulation. As I am sure you can imagine, exfoliation can be quite a taxing process on the skin, similar to this year. However, out of the hard work and progress we make on our skin (just as in life), it is equally as important to replenish and nourish it. This balance is important for the growth of healthy skin and a healthy life.

4. Probiotics

Balance for health that is more than skin deep

I do not think it can be stressed enough: What goes into our bodies will translate outwardly. As we’ve seen that our mind and skin are governed by the environment in our gut, it is essential to take in the right kind of ingredients to create an optimum living environment for our microbiome. Microbiome health been shown to influence us mentally as well as physically, thus introducing strains like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium through active dairy products, fermented foods and even wine and vinegar assist in the maintenance in such an environment. 

5. Vitamin C

Brighten up skin and thus brighten up your life (also to encourage cell turnover)

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant in both its food and cosmetic ingredient form. Vitamin C acts in the dermis like BHAs, stimulating collagen growth through increasing cellular turnover (the cell renewal process), which in turn aids in reversing hyperpigmentation and photoaging. I think it goes without saying that brighter skin makes for a brighter day. Thinking inwardly, little things like a brighter-skin-day after using ZitSticka’s HYPERFADE, like taking a walk on a foggy morning, like hugging your freshly dried comforter, are the things that keep us grounded. Little doses of little doses of happiness make for a healthier and well balanced life.

In the coming year, I think it is important for us all to revisit the idea of balance. We have had a lot of excess in the year 2020. In getting back to normal (whatever 2021 normal will be), small practices of give and take with oneself, one’s skincare, and even one’s wellness will make facing whatever is next for us a lot easier and more achievable. So, start with 5 ingredients of balance, and work your way inward.