Posted on

Collagen : Inside and Out

Collagen Helix 3D Image

All you need to know about the Collagen craze.

written by Dr Kesiree Naidoo

3D Collagen Strand/Helix
3D Collagen Strand/Helix

Before we begin, what is collagen?

Why is it important and why is there a sudden surge of interest in collagen?

Collagen is a protein composed of three chains of amino acids, wound together in a tight triple helix. Each of these chains are over 1400 amino acids long and form ‘ropes’ that strengthen the tendons and sheets that support our skin and internal organs. Collagen provides structure to our bodies, protects and supports the softer tissues and connects those tissues to the skeleton.

There are many different types of collagen in the human body and at least 25% of the body consists of collagen. Each type of collagen has a particular function in the body. Collagen type 1, 2 and 3 make up 80-90% of the collagen in the body.

Type 1 Collagen is considered to be the strongest and the most abundant type of collagen that is found in tendons, ligaments, organs and the dermis of the skin. It is very important for wound healing and gives skin its strength and firmness. 

Type 2 Collagen primarily helps build cartilage and connective tissue. The health and function of our joints depends on type 2 collagen.

Type 3 Collagen is usually found with type 1 and is a major component of the extracellular matrix that makes up our organs and skin. It also helps give skin its firmness, forms part of the walls of blood vessels and is an important component of the heart tissue. 

Type 4 Collagen has the important job of forming the basement membrane of the skin and the epithelial tissue that surrounds organs, muscles, fat, nerves and blood vessels. In the skin the basement membrane lies between the epidermis and dermis and forms a protective barrier to the outside environment. 

So why the big fuss?

As we age the collagen in our body, including the skin, degrades and deteriorates by at least 1% annually. This is due to various intrinsic factors like genetics, cellular and metabolic processes and hormones, as well as extrinsic factors like excessive light exposure, radiation, chemicals, toxins and pollution.

Collagen supplementation is relatively new, and was initially met with scepticism as collagen is a protein and it is still not clear how an oral collagen can bypass the digestive system to be available where it is needed. But slowly the critics including myself are being convinced that while it is still not clear how it works, collagen supplementation may be possible. Certainly, the evidence is growing and the results are visible in my practice.

It is becoming apparent that starting collagen supplements from as early as age 30 will help slow down this degeneration.

What is the difference between a protein and peptide?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.

A chain of less than 100 amino acids is called a peptide while a longer chain is called a protein eg. collagen.

Does topical collagen benefit the skin ?

The skin being external is in a unique position to benefit from both topical applications as well as oral supplements.

The tricky thing is that collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin topically and reach the dermis. The skincare industry has instead focused on Ingredients that can ‘boost’ collagen production in the dermis. Topical anti-oxidants, retinoids , signaling peptides and carrier peptides have been shown to enhance the skin’s own production of collagen by acting as messengers that stimulate collagen production pathways. 

Additionally, hyaluronic acid which is a component of the dermal matrix in which collagen fibres lie can be applied topically with some demonstrable benefit. 

Hyaluronic Acid acts as a sponge which draws water to it and plumps up the epidermis to make the skin look plumper, hydrated and less wrinkled. Hyaluronic Acid also promotes healthy collagen by keeping the dermal collagen hydrated and nourished. 

Signal peptides also known as matricins or collagen stimulators are important for wound healing. But some are also antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and pigment regulating.

Signal peptides slow the ageing process by stimulating the proliferation of fibroblasts leading to increased production of collagen and elastin in the skin. They also inhibit the breakdown of collagen and elastin.

Carrier Peptides in the skin transport trace elements like copper and manganese which are important for wound healing and collagen synthesis.

Copper Tripeptide is the most well-known and best studied carrier peptide which also functions as a signal peptide. Copper Tripeptide is a versatile ingredient in skincare as it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It aids in regeneration of new skin and improvement in wrinkles and skin moisture.

Some of our favourite topical collagen boosting products are: 

Should you take oral collagen supplements?

Oral collagen supplementation is usually in the form of hydrolyzed (broken down) collagen. Most collagen supplements are derived from high protein foods like beef, pork and fish, respectively called bovine, porcine or marine collagen.

To aid oral collagen supplementation, collagen proteins undergo a process called enzymatic hydrolysis breaking down the large collagen protein into water soluble, easily digestible and easily absorbable peptides and amino acids. 

Peptides may be oligopeptides, tripeptides or dipetides depending on how the collagen is broken down. Further these peptides are made of predominantly amino acids proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. 

Some argue that you could supplement your collagen by simply increasing your protein intake or making a nutrient rich bone broth to add to your meals. Oral collagen supplementation seems to be a hassle free, quick and effective way to increase your collagen. In addition to this other vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, copper and manganese which are essential for collagen production may also be supplemented. 

Oral collagen has various emerging benefits for the body. It has been reported to improve hair growth, strengthen nails and assist with joint problems, whilst plumping up the skin. When oral collagen is used in conjunction with topical collagen boosting products this enhances the skin’s natural production of collagen.

Oral collagen supplements come in various forms ie. liquid, powder or capsules.

Absortion varies according to the formulation. The jury is still out regarding which form has the best absorption and bioavailability. Choose a product that you prefer to ensure that you take it regularly and are able to reap the benefits. 

Dr Kesiree Naidoo recommends:

Proactive Liquid Collagen. It comes in two flavours, strawberry and lemon and contains Vitamin C, amino acids like Proline, Glycine and Arginine and Hyaluronic Acid. All the things that you need to enhance, optimise and activate collagen production. 

This month we have also launched the Beauty Network Collagen powder which can be added to a smoothie or coffee.

As dermatologists we would like a vast amount of scientific evidence to validate our recommendations to our patients. This is not always possible as evidence takes time to accumulate and emerges with more use of the supplement.

There are numerous studies that demonstrate that oral collagen supplements do reach the skin with measurable benefit. The problem is that there are so many products, not all of them are of the same quality and the studies reporting efficacy are not always of the product that is available . So we do need more evidence and we need some measure of the quality of the products that are available.

My advice is, that if the supplement is safe, you can certainly try it and hopefully become part of the growing evidence that collagen supplementation is possible and beneficial.

For further information or if you have any queries pop us an email at [email protected]

  • Resources : Oral Collagen Supplementation : A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications
  • Franchesca D. Choi BS R Ph, Calvin T. Sung BS, Margit L.W. Juhasz MD, Natasha Atanaskova Mesinkovska MD PhD.
  • University of California, Irvine, Kaohsiung Medical University Taiwan, University of California Riverside School of Medicine.
  • Nikita Jhawar BS1 / Jordan V. Wang MD, MBE, MBA2 / Nazanin Saedi MD2
  • J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019;001-3
  • J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(1):9-16.
Posted on

The Magic of Serums

Serums are often the ‘wonder product’ of most skincare brands, and the go-to product for most dermatology and specialist skincare clinics. With so many different options, it isn’t always easy to know which product to choose or even how these can fit into your skincare regimen.

So, let’s shed some light on the matter …

What are serums and why are they so special?
Serums are lightweight liquids or gels containing the highest quality, highest concentration of active ingredients specially formulated to enable the product to penetrate the epidermis to reach the deeper dermal layers of the skin. The sophisticated delivery systems ensure faster and efficient absorption of the product and consequently less wastage.

To be able to guarantee stability of these high quality ingredients while they are on the shelf, to ensure maximum benefit when the product is applied, is nothing short of scientific genius and the reason why serums are often more expensive.

In fact serums are generally the most expensive part of a skincare regimen and this is often the reason most patients are hesitant to use them.

It’s important to remember that very little product is required as the delivery systems are often superior to creams and lotions. With proper use and correct storage most serums actually end up lasting longer than creams or lotions and are ultimately more cost effective.

Where do serums fit in my skincare regimen?
Serums are best applied after cleansing and toning when the product can achieve maximum penetrance into the skin without being hindered by other products. There may be exceptions to this rule.

Serums may be used morning or night depending on the product.

Remember serums do not always give enough moisturise or hydration so you may still need to apply a moisturiser after the serum especially if your skin is dry.

Which serum should I choose?
Serums are often used to target specific skin types or skin concerns. A product range may have a variety of serums with different concentrations of active ingredients to suit different skin types . For example, an oily skin may benefit from a higher concentration of Vitamin C while a dry sensitive skin may only be able to tolerate a low concentration.

Serums may fall under the ‘prevent’ , ‘treat’ or ‘hydrate’ categories of a skincare brand.

Antioxidant serums containing combinations of Vitamin C, E and other ingredients will help prevent and reverse damage caused by sun exposure.

Various skin concerns like hyperpigmentation, acne, rosacea and dryness are targeted by appropriate ingredients found in different serums.

Since most serums contain superior active ingredients either alone or in power combinations, you may find a single serum effective for numerous skin concerns.

Can serums be combined?
Absolutely! Since most of us have more than one issue going on at once, it’s often necessary to treat more that one problem. So if you want an anti-ageing serum , and also a treatment for hyperpigmentation you may use more than one serum. In this case, you may apply one and wait a few minutes before applying the other or use them at different times of the day. Sometimes a single serum can fulfill all your needs.

Have a look at our Skinsmart product recommendations below where we try to help you find what you need, or complete our free online skin assessment here.

– Skinsmart Suggestions –

For hyper-pigmentation or uneven skintone:

*SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
*Neostrata Illuminating Serum

For skin redness and rosacea-prone skin:
*Neostrata Redness Neutralising Serum
*SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Serum

For hydration:
*SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5

For ageing and fine lines:
*Neostrata Tri-therapy Lifting Serum
*Neostrata Firming Collagen Booster
*SkinCeuticals HA Intensifier Serum

For prevention of free radical damage:

*Obagi C Clarifying Serum
*SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF
*SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
*Neostrata Antioxidant Defense Serum

For skin barrier repair:
*SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator
*Neostrata Bionic Face Serum

For mature skin prone to acne:
*SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum

If you are still unsure of what you need, email us at [email protected]. Our qualified medical therapist can give you the right advice for your skin concerns.

Posted on

Peptides for skin

If you haven’t heard about the use of peptides in skin care products, we’re going to tell you what you’ve been missing. Peptides have come a long way and the new research about how they benefit skin is remarkable. Some of the information out there is overblown, but other aspects of peptides for skin deserve your attention.

Recently interest has increased about the functions of peptides in the skin and new research has uncovered how peptides can be used to slow or improve the visible signs of ageing. The cosmeceutical industry has focused on replicating these peptides and adding them to skincare formulations.

There are still many new peptides under investigation to asses their value as skincare ingredients, although the ability to add peptides to skincare to provide a measurable benefit is still a challenge.
Some problems faced are the sizes of the peptides which prohibit entry through the skin barrier, and their stability in skincare formulas.

What are peptides?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.
A chain of less than 100 amino acids is called a peptide while a longer chain is called a protein.

Peptides are a very broad category encompassing a whole variety of structural and functional components that occur naturally in the body.
The most important function is probably as biological messengers, we call these bioactive peptides. Well known examples include insulin, a polypetide regulating blood sugar levels, and oxytocin which regulates childbirth and breastfeeding. There are many more peptides that help with communication between cells or ‘cell signaling’ to regulate vital body functions like wound healing, collagen and elastin synthesis, blood vessel production, immune function and pigment production. As skin ages there’s a decline in the quantity of peptides.

How do peptides work in the skin?
Peptides are responsible for ‘signaling’ or communication in the skin.
There are different categories of peptides with different functions. Some of these functions overlap and skin creams with peptides usually contain a mixture of different peptides.

Signal peptides are also known as matricins or collagen stimulators and are important for wound healing. But some are also antioxidant, anti inflammatory and pigment regulating.

Signal peptides slow the ageing process by stimulating the proliferation of fibroblasts leading to increased production of collagen and elastin in the skin. They also inhibit the breakdown of collagen and elastin.
Clinical studies have shown that signal peptides improve the appearance of wrinkles and uneven texture, increase the skin’s elasticity and improve hyperpigmentation.

Neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides prevent the movement of facial muscles reducing the wrinkling on the skin. This is similar to the effect of botulinum toxin (Botox). This group of peptides is still under investigation.

Carrier Peptides in the skin transport trace elements like copper and manganese which are important for wound healing and collagen synthesis.
Copper Tripeptide is the most most well known and best studied carrier peptide which also functions as a signal peptide. Copper Tripeptide is a versatile ingredient in skincare as it has antioxidant and anti inflammatory benefits. It aids in regeneration of new skin and improvement in wrinkles and skin moisture.

Individual peptides don’t function well on their own so they are added to skincare creams together with other peptides and various other active ingredients for optimal benefit.

As with any kind of skincare product, not everything is created equally, and it’s important be informed and aware of the different types of peptides so that they’ll prove most useful for your end game: vibrant, radiant, and healthy skin.

To find your perfect peptide product take our online skincare assessment here

Posted on

Vitamin C – The Difference

There is an overwhelming amount of new vitamin C containing skincare products on the market, with marketing campaigns and social media urging one to use vitamin C in their skincare regimen. But what exactly does vitamin C do for the skin, and why is it important to invest in the right product?

Vitamin C is present in virtually all tissues in the human body and normal skin contains high levels of it.
Humans are unable to make Vitamin C so we need to get it from food. It is absorbed into the skin from blood vessels in the dermis with the help of sodium-dependent transport channels.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which can be supplemented orally or applied topically as an anti-ageing ingredient in skincare.
Though oral Vitamin C has numerous benefits to the body, we are unsure of how much eventually filters through to the skin.
We do know however that supplementation whether oral or topical does increase the concentration in tissues with measurable benefits.

What are the benefits of vitamin C in the skin?

-Vitamin C as an antioxidant-
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that works by neutralising reactive oxygen species (ROS).
ROS formed by sun exposure and cellular processes causes damage to cellular DNA, cell membranes and collagen. The result is ageing skin and skin cancers.
Sunscreens are unable to fully protect against ultraviolet light (UVA, UVB) reaching the skin.
Comprehensive sun protection requires a topical antioxidant as well as a sunscreen.
In addition, recent evidence suggests that sunscreen is unable to protect against newly discovered environmental aggressors like infrared and pollution that contribute to declining skin health.

Vitamin C is able to bridge this gap in skin vulnerability.
Clinical studies have shown that sun exposure and smoking depletes vitamin C in the skin, while regular topical application can lead to a replenished skin reservoir.
Overall topical application of vitamin C will help treat and prevent the changes associated with skin ageing and skin cancer.

-Vitamin C in collagen synthesis –
Vitamin C is a co-factor in collagen synthesis, so it is vital for collagen formation. It also works by increasing the gene expression for collagen synthesis and reducing the breakdown with a resultant overall increase in the amount of collagen formed. In this way vitamin C plumps up the dermis to increase the thickness of ageing skin.
Studies have shown that topical application of Vitamin C increases collagen production in young skin as well as photo damaged skin meaning that the benefits can be seen from an early age.

-Vitamin C and hyperpigmentation-
Vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase decreasing melanin production.
It stabilises melanocytes which react in particular to sunlight. The overall effect is reduced pigment production and improvement in uneven skin tone. Vitamin C can therefore be used in the prevention and treatment of disorders of hyperpigmentation including melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation(PIH). It is used in combination with other skin lightening agents.

-Vitamin C as an anti inflammatory-
Vitamin C inhibits pro inflammatory cytokines interrupting the inflammatory cascade. It can be topically applied to reduce inflammation in skin conditions like acne and rosacea.
In rosacea it calms down inflamed skin and reduce redness.
In acne, the suppressive effect of Vitamin C on melanocytes and inflammation prevents the development of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

-Vitamin C in wound healing-
Vitamin C promotes the migration and proliferation of fibroblasts to areas of skin injury. In this way it promotes new collagen formation and aids in wound healing.

-Vitamin C for dry skin-
Topical application of Vitamin C is reported to improve the appearance and feel of rough, dry skin. Studies have shown that Vitamin C promotes the formation of the lipids in the upper layer of the skin. This helps to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier locking in moisture and alleviating dryness.

So we know the benefits of Vitamin C, but how do we get it to the skin?
A variety of Vitamin C preparations are available. Not all are equal and it is important to look for a reputable brand.
The challenge is getting topically applied vitamin C into the dermis where it can have optimal benefit.
L-Ascorbic acid is the biologically active and best studied form of Vitamin C and generally the form you should look for in skincare products.
There are other forms with varying clinical benefits.

L- Ascorbic acid is hydrophilic, which is why absorption through the skin surface which has lipophilic properties is not easy.
However studies have shown that L-Ascorbic acid in the right formulation with a pH lower than 4, can effectively penetrate into the skin. The optimum concentration is between 10-20%. Lower concentrations are suitable for sensitive skin types while higher than 20 % can be irritating to the skin.

L-Ascorbic acid is unstable, especially when exposed to light and heat, so it should be in an opaque or amber bottle and stored in a cool, dark place.
Lots of effort has gone into keeping Vitamin C in stable formulations so that it is still active when applied to the skin. When vitamin C has oxidized it becomes brown in colour.

Vitamin C is often combined with other antioxidants like Vitamin E and Ferulic. Combination formulations have a synergistic effect multiplying the antioxidant and photo-protective benefits and in some cases improving stability.

Vitamin C is safe to use with multiple clinical benefits to ensure a healthy and younger looking skin. At Skinsmart we stock a range of products that offer the benefits of Vitamin C – contact us to assist you in finding the Vitamin C formulation best suited to your skin type and skin concern.

Posted on

The Magic of Retinol


What is Retinol?

Retinol or Vitamin A belongs to the larger ‘class’ of retinoids. Retinoids have long been considered the gold standard of anti ageing skincare and as such should be a part of any anti ageing skincare regimen. Retinol applied to the skin is converted to retinoic acid (tretinoin) in skin cells which is the active form. There are various other forms of retinoids including retinaldehyde and retinyl esters. Retinol is vital to cellular processes but is depleted with age and sun exposure.

Retinoids can be divided into therapeutic retinoids which are prescription, and cosmeceutical retinoids.

The most well known prescription retinoids are:

-Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retacnyl, Ilotycin-A )
-Adapalene (Differin gel, Dapta gel)
-Isotretinoin (Roacutane, Oratane, Acnetane, Acnetret)

Skincare products contain cosmeceutical retinoids in the form of retinol, retinaldehyde and retinyl esters.
A few studies have shown that regular long term use of an adequate concentration of retinol in skincare offers the same benefits as topical prescription tretinoin but with less irritation.

What does Retinol do?

Retinol regulates the differentiation and proliferation of cells.
In skin cells retinol is converted to retinoic acid which binds to DNA receptors, correcting cell defects and promoting cell turnover. The quicker shedding of dead surface skin cells leads to overall brightening of a dull complexion, and aids in the treatment of acne as the follicles are unblocked.
Retinoids increase the expression of p53 in skin cells which prevents the formation of skin cancer.
Retinoids are anti-ageing as they increase the thickness of the epidermis and promote collagen production in the dermis thus reducing fine lines and wrinkles and repairing sun damage.
Retinoids also treat hyperpigmentation by increasing the turnover of the epidermis. They are usually combined with ingredients that inhibit the production of melanin.

At what age should I start using retinol?

Prescription tretinoin is used in teenage patients for the treatment of acne. Retinoids are used to treat psoriasis, scarring and hyperpigmentation. It is therefore safe to use retinol for anti-aging even in your 20’s especially if you have sun damage. Remember to stop using retinoids once you start planning to fall pregnant.

Does retinol make your skin sun-sensitive?

Yes they do, but retinoids mop up free radicals giving them antioxidant properties. They prevent and reverse sun damage and repair DNA to prevent skin cancer.

As mentioned retinol is depleted by sun exposure, so if you do have frequent sun exposure you should in fact use a retinoid on the skin.
However because of the irritant potential of retinoids, they are usually recommended for night time use and it is essential to use a sunscreen during the day.

Are there different strengths of retinoids?

Retinoic acid (tretinoin) is the most potent form, followed by retinaldehyde, retinol and the weakest, retinyl esters. The most commonly found form in cosmeceutical skin care is retinol. The concentration is important to ensure good results. Adapalene is a third generation retinoid with minimal potential to irritate the skin. You will have to wait 3-6 months to see the benefits of retinol on the skin, so be patient as the results may be worth the wait.

What’s the difference between retinols and retinoids?

Essentially, retinol is just a specific type of retinoid. With Retinoids being the ‘class’ or group of Vitamin A

Can you use retinol on acne-prone skin?

Yes. Retinoids in the form of tretinoin was actually first used to treat acne. It was then noticed that the older patients had improvement in skin texture, skin thickness and pigment marks. Topical tretinoin, and adapalene are first line treatment in the acne treatment guidelines. Retinoids help shed dead surface skin cells, unblocking the follicle. They are also antibacterial and decrease the amount of propionibacterium acnes on the skin.
Oral isotretinoin is the best treatment for severe acne as it is the only retinoid known to shrink sebaceous glands.

Can I use retinol while pregnant?
The oral retinoid ( Isotretinoin ) is teratogenic (an agent that can disturb the development of the embryo or fetus).
So pregnant women should avoid retinol and derivatives while pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy.


As with any other skin care product, the key to seeing results is consistency. Improvements in textural changes take about two to four months to start to become visible. With continued use, you’ll see more and more positive changes that come with the magic of retinol.

Posted on

Ingredients to look for in skin brightening products

The mainstay of treatment of hyperpigmentation is topical therapy, and skincare procedures like chemical peels and dermal needling. Combining products with different modes of action gives better results.

Skin brightening or lightening ingredients target uneven skin tone, dark spots, sun spots, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation(PIH) and melasma. The results are variable from person to person and there is much ongoing research to find effective yet safe ingredients. Use of many of these products is limited by the potential for irritating the skin and in this way worsening hyperpigmentation.

The gold standard for skin lightening is hydroquinone which is only available in prescription products in South Africa. Although it is very hard to treat hyperpigmentation on the skin we look at some of the ingredients with established efficacy and list some of the skincare products available.

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is a frequently used and well studied skin lightening agent. It is generally well tolerated in topical applications.
MOA: Kojic acid inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase decreasing the production of melanin pigment.
It is also a potent antioxidant.

Neoretin Gelcream SPF 50
This product contains Kojic acid and a sunscreen.
Neoretin booster serum
This is a lightweight, rapidly absorbed formulation containing Kojic acid and other active ingredients which inhibit melanin synthesis. Retinsphere technology increases epidermal turnover.
SkinCeuticals metacell renewal B3
Metacell Renewal B3 contains Kojic acid and other active ingredients to target the early signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation.
NeoStrata Enlighten Pigment Gel This potent formulation contains Kojic Acid, Liquorice extract, citric acid and multiple other active ingredients to target hyperpigmentation.

Liquorice Extract

Liquorice extract is a natural skin lightening alternative to hydroquinone. It contains an active ingredient called glabridin, and is suitable for sensitive or rosacea prone skin as it also decreases redness and inflammation.
MOA: Liquorice extract inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, increases epidermal turnover and is anti-inflammatory.

Lumixyl brightening crème
This gentle skin brightening product may be used while pregnant or breastfeeding. It improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation without irritation.

Citric acid

Citric acid is an effective product for treating several skin problems including mild acne, hyperpigmentation, blocked pores, sun damage and wrinkles. Citric acid is found in chemical peels, toners and skincare products.
MOA: Citric acid increases epidermal turnover and has antioxidant effects.

Neostrata Enlighten Pigment controller
This product is specially formulated with citric acid and retinol to target hyperpigmentation and sun spots.


Arbutin is a glycosylated hydroquinone extract. Arbutin has been considered one of the safest and most effective skin lightening agents. Its effects are optimised when combined with other substances like Vitamin C, Liquorice, glycolic acid and Kojic acid.
MOA: Arbutin inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase,decreasing the production of melanin pigment.
The active ingredient is slowly released making it suitable for those with sensitive skin.

Obagi Nu-Derm Blend FX
This product containing Arbutin penetrates deeper as the molecules are smaller. It is able to reach the basal layer of the epidermis and inhibit tyrosinase.
Obagi Nu-derm Clear FX
This light weight serum containing Arbutin targets epidermal hyperpigmentation.

Ellagic acid

Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in fruits and berries that improves hyperpigmentation. It is gentle on the skin and safe to use.
MOA: Ellagic acid inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, decreasing the production of melanin pigment.
It is safe to use on sensitive skin.

SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment corrector
This product is formulated with ellagic acid and salicylic acid to target areas of hyperpigmentation and promote an even skin tone.

Other ingredient recommendations which have been shown to reduce melanin production include White Mulberry Extract, niacinamide, and azeleic acid
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which indirectly inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase leading to decreased melanin production. The anti-inflammatory effect reduces cell injury and pigment production.
Retinoic acid has many anti-ageing skin benefits. It reduces hyperpigmentation by increasing epidermal turnover.

Note from Dr. Kesiree

The management of hyperpigmentation requires a consistent and dedicated treatment routine. The results may be slow and vary between individuals. Your regimen should include preventative as well as treatment measures. Follow up your intensive treatment phases with a good maintenance regimen to maintain results.
Seek the advice of a dermatologist to assist with integrating topical treatments and skincare procedures.

Posted on

What are active Ingredients?

Active ingredients in skincare products include Alphahydroxy acids, Polyhydroxy acids, Retinol, Vitamin C, Kojic Acid and Arbutin. They are found in varying concentrations in different grades of skincare products.

The concentrations of these ingredients are higher in a special category of skincare products called cosmeceuticals. These cosmeceutical ranges are typically only available in Dermatologist’s or Doctor’s rooms.

The majority of the products sold on Skinsmart fall into this category of cosmeceutical products with high concentrations of active ingredients. These active ingredient products need careful introduction to your skin, as they may cause irritation and sun sensitivity.

The high concentration of active ingredients in these products also mean that they have better results in targeting your skin concern, particularly anti-ageing.

Posted on

How do skincare ingredients absorb into the skin?

The skin cells of the uppermost layer of the Epidermis, the stratum corneum (and the “glue” that holds them together) act as a natural barrier and defense system. It is difficult to achieve deep penetration of any topical product. But thanks to modern-day procedures, and product research, ingredient penetration can now be achieved. So take a brief look at how various methods are used to open up pathways and facilitate deeper penetration of active ingredients.


The skin cells of the uppermost layer of the Epidermis, the stratum corneum (and the “glue” that holds them together) act as a natural barrier and defense system. It is difficult to achieve deep penetration of any topical product. But thanks to modern-day procedures, and product research, ingredient penetration can now be achieved. So take a brief look at how various methods are used to open up pathways and facilitate deeper penetration of active ingredients.

1.Size of the molecule

Molecular structure is key to good penetration. This means that the size of the molecules used in topical ingredients must be smaller than the size of the opening of the pores of the skin, or the products will sit on the surface and not penetrate at all.

2. Delivery systems

Two main penetration enhancement ‘carriers’ used by top-rated product brands are

Liposomes and Nanoparticles. These molecules allow for enhanced transport across the various layers of the skin.

  1. a) Liposomes are used to store water-soluble active ingredients allowing enhanced transport across the various layers of the skin.
  2. b) Nanoparticles allow penetration of encapsulated active ingredients. These are excellent carriers for delivery of sunscreens, and Vitamins A and E.

3. Low pH

The skincare industry utilizes certain ingredients to great effect, because of their low pH. Examples of such ingredients are AHAs (alpha hydroxyl acids) and BHAs (beta- hydroxyl acids).

Your skin’s natural pH is between 4.5 and 5.5, which is slightly acidic. This acidic outer layer of your skin keeps bacteria and environmental pollution out and keeps lipids and moisture in. When a product’s pH is below your skin’s natural pH, the product is able to absorb easily in the deeper layers.

This is the exact principle that is used for in-clinic chemical skin peels. The pH of the AHAs or BHAs that are applied to the skin is very low, which allows for intense, yet controlled product penetration.

4Hyaluronic acid

The skin is made up of 68 to 90 percent water, and craves hydration. A dehydrated skin will remove the water content of the skincare product, leaving the active ingredients without the liquid required to make the transfer to the lower layers. The use of natural moisturisers such as hyaluronic acid in your facial and home care products is key to good penetration.

5. Microneedlingis the latest technique in the delivery of actives into the skin. By using a microneedling device, temporary controlled trauma is caused to the skin, allowing active ingredients to be pushed to the deeper layers through the micro-channels that are created.


In summary, it is imperative to shop for skincare brands that ensure product penetration. Visit your clinician or therapist to book treatments such as skin peels and microneedling. In this way, you are sure to be getting the most out of your products and treatments for continued health of your skin, as well as management of your skin concerns.