The Most Googled Skincare Questions Of The Year So Far, Answered

Number one will surprise you...

Did your burning beauty question make the cut? 

When lockdown first came into force across Ireland way back in March, most of us immediately started looking for the silver lining. Well, we thought, at least we don’t have to do commute to work, working from home will be really relaxing and we'll probably save so much money now that the pubs, restaurants and salons were all closed. But then our bosses discovered zoom meetings, we suddenly had to become the sole educator for our children and we started buying pointless items online, constantly. 

But possibly the most foolish silver lining we hoped for was that of clear, dewy skin. We suddenly had the time to do face masks, we weren't leaving our homes to face everyday pollutants and although we missed our colleagues, at least our skin wasn't drying up thanks to office's central heating. Oh how wrong we were. From ‘I thought I left these in secondary school’ stress-induced breakouts to additional fine lines and wrinkles resulting from too many hours bingeing Netflix - it’s safe to say, quarantine hasn’t been quite the skin vacation some of us had been hoping for. 

So it's not surprising to learn that skincare is one of the most searched for terms on Google so far this year. Whether it's looking for a wonder ingredient that will bring glow back to our once bright complexions or a skincare routine suitable for acne-prone skin, we have a lot of questions. Namely those surrounding skincare ingredients.

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Beauty retailer Cult Beauty has revealed the skincare heroes we're searching for the most this year. Using Google data to discover which ingredients were being sought out online, Cult Beauty analysed the results and discovered the most Googled skincare questions of the year. Aided with this knowledge, we put the questions to the experts to get the answers to the internet's most common skincare queries. 

Image courtesy of Cult Beauty

Image courtesy of Cult Beauty

#1: VITAMIN C

Most Googled Question: 'What Does Vitamin C Do For Your Skin?'

A: "Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant and one of the few skincare ingredients that has been proven to help in the battle against skin ageing," explains Cosmetic doctor, Dr Paris Acharya. "It neutralises free radicals and helps your body repair damaged cells. It encourages collagen production, helps protect skin against damage from the environment and can improve pigmentation caused by sun damage and scarring."

How to use it: "For most effective results use Vitamin C in the morning followed directly by a broad-spectrum SPF," advises Dr Acharya. "It should be used as the last layer prior to your SPF but does mix with other skincare ingredients if layered underneath, including exfoliating acids and other vitamins and antioxidants such as niacinamide."

Avoid if: you have extremely sensitive skin. "Different skincare products contain different percentages of Vitamin C so it’s best to check with your skincare expert or doctor before embarking on a new routine or using a new product," says Dr Acharya.

#2: squalane

Most Googled Question: 'What Does Squalane Do?'

A: "Squalane is a hydrocarbon derived by the hydrogenation of squalene. Squalene with an ‘e’ is a lipid (or a fat) produced naturally by your skin cells. The amount of squalene your body produces declines with age. The difference between Squalane and Squalene is that Squalene isn’t stable enough for use in skincare products because they’re intended to be kept on the shelves for a long period of time. Squalane is derived from Squalene and is the more stable form of this molecule. It is also colourless and odourless. Squalane is an incredible hydrator that is easily absorbed into the skin.

Squalane is derived by the hydrogenation of squalene. It is found naturally in the skin lipid barriers of plants, animals and humans. Traditionally squalene was derived from the livers of sharks however for ethical reasons most skincare companies have shifted away from this and now get squalene that is derived from plants such as olives and rice bran. It can also be derived from other plant oils including sugar cane and wheat germ. Be sure to check that your skincare is vegan and therefore does not contain squalene from sharks.

As for what it does, Squalane is an effective moisturiser. It mimics your skin’s natural oils meaning that it’s a good emollient. It’s also a natural antioxidant and can also protect skin from carcinogens."

How to use it: Squalane can be found on the ingredient list on most of your favourite moisturisers but for best results, it's advised to incorporate squalane oil into your daily skincare routine. Simply cleanse the skin, apply serum, massage a few drops of squalane oil and finish off with moisturiser and SPF. 

Avoid if: "One of the brilliant things about squalane is that it’s suitable for all skin types, from oily to dry to acne-prone. It absorbs into the skin easily. It can also be used as an eczema treatment because of the fact that it’s full of natural skin-balancing properties. It’s an incredibly gentle natural emollient with anti-inflammatory properties,’ says Dr Tailor.

#3: NIACINAMIDE

Most Googled Question: 'What is Niacinamide?'

A: "Niacinamide (vitamin B3) not only normalises your skin’s oil production to keep pores clear and breakouts in check but also regulates pigment-making cells to fade hyperpigmentation. It soothes redness with its anti-inflammatory properties, protects from free-radical damage, and boosts your skin’s hydration level," explains Dr Acharya.

"Niacinamide is a key ingredient to powerfully treat age-related skin changes, acne, and skin discolouration. It naturally calms the skin and provides dramatic skin brightening for a wide variety of skin types. It’s also been proven to treat a number of types of acne."

How to use it: Often niacinamide is included as an ingredient within other products – in which case look to them for instruction on using. If using a niacinamide serum, apply before heavier creams or oils and avoid mixing with vitamin C (as it can minimise its effects). Niacinamide can be used both morning and night. 

Avoid if: "The only interaction to be aware of is that niacinamide inactivates L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) if it is in a combined water-based product. You can still use niacinamide and vitamin C, but they should be in different products and preferably not used back to back," says Dr Acharya.

#4: glycolic acid

Most Googled Question: 'What is Glycolic Acid?'

A: "Glycolic acid is an AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acid. Of the AHAs, glycolic is the simplest in structure and the smallest; it has the lowest molecular weight which means that it can easily permeate the skin. Water-soluble, glycolic acid exfoliates the outermost dead layer of the dermis and therefore increases the luminosity of the skin by improving the reflection of light on the skin. Because of this, glycolic acid can be used to treat scarring, skin discolouration and signs of premature ageing, like fine lines and wrinkles," says Dr Rekha Tailor.

How to use it:  "If you're just starting to incorporate glycolic acid into your skincare regimen, I would suggest using a gentle, glycolic cleanser to get your skin used to it, rather than diving straight into a leave-on glycolic product. Apply your glycolic acid after cleansing in the morning. Always remember to follow up glycolic acid with sunscreen because the former makes your skin more vulnerable to sun damage. If you have sensitive skin, start off with a lower concentration of glycolic acid and slowly work your way up," explains Dr Tailor. 

Avoid if: You use retinol. "While glycolic acid can be beneficial in conjunction with other, gentler exfoliators like salicylic acid, when combined with stronger exfoliants like retinol, it can be too strong for most skin types," says Dr Tailor. 

#5: retinol 

Most Googled Question: 'When should you start using retinol and how often?'

A: "Retinol is a type of retinoid, derived from Vitamin A. It exfoliates the skin and helps the skin to produce collagen and to fight free radicals. Retinol, or retinoids, work by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die quickly, making way for new healthy fresh skin underneath. It helps to prevent collagen from breaking down and thickens the deeper layer of skin to help prevent wrinkles," says Dr Rekha Tailor.

"I would suggest that you should start using retinol in your 30s because that’s when your collagen levels typically start to decrease. It’s particularly good if you suffer from pigmentation or breakouts," advises Dr Tailor. 

How to use it: "For most people, Retinol can be incorporated into your evening routine but be sure to wear a broad-spectrum SPF in the morning," says Dr Tailor. ‘In the evening, make sure your face is washed with a gentle cleanser and wait a few minutes for your skin to dry. Then take a pea-sized amount of retinol and starting at your chin apply it with your fingertips in upward and outward motions. Avoid using retinol in your morning skincare regimen and always use SPF when you’re using retinol because of the fact that it makes skin more sensitive to sun damage."

Avoid if: you have skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or rosacea. "It’s worth bearing in mind though that retinol may not be for everyone and can exacerbate conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or rosacea if not used under a clear treatment plan provided by a cosmetic doctor or dermatologist."

Main image by @katarinapetrovic on Instagram

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