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If there was one skin care ingredient whose importance you could share with everyone, what would it be?

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The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


18 thoughts on “If there was one skin care ingredient whose importance you could share with everyone, what would it be?

  1. Thanks John – great advice!

    Although just quietly I tend to avoid the counters as I have been known to walk away with totally pointless products (YSL Flash touch wake up eye care $65!!!! – I am talking to you).

    Just two weeks ago I went to buy an Illamasqua purple nail polish and ended up with a ridiculously expensive YSL lipstick because the sales person was unfamiliar with Illamasqua and kind of intimidated me with her perfect orange lips and ghostly but exquisite skin.

    I am such a woos 😦

    Next time I am going to sit you on my shoulder and ‘just say no’ x

    Posted by Melinda | March 7, 2012, 3:12 pm
  2. You are so right, sunscreens ARE boring. If I could chose another I would really like to say BHA in theory, but I haven’t actually had much success with it, despite Paula’s insistence that they will absolutely get rid of blackheads. Ahh – skincare, such a compelling beast.

    Posted by Melinda | March 5, 2012, 6:18 pm
    • Yeppers. And salicylic acid is used to prevent future blackheads. Existing ones, especially larger ones, need to be removed by some kind of physical extractor. Salicylic acid just isn’t strong enough of an acid, which is a good thing or you’d melt your skin off, to remove them. In the past, I’ve had the same blackheads in the same pores on my face for years. There’s no way to remove them, except to have them extracted. 😦 Just make sure if you do that, to be careful or even consider getting a facial. And after they’re gone, make sure to chemically exfoliate regularly, especially if you’re prone to blackheads and/or acne.

      Posted by John | March 5, 2012, 6:51 pm
      • Oh my what a gem is Mr John!

        That is the missing piece of the darn puzzle. Ok, so possibly time to venture to the mysterious land of facials after a very long absence. I assume that you mean get them all squizzled out and then use a BHA on a regular basis afterwards? Am I right in thinking that extraction and micro dermabrasion are two different critters?

        Maybe I should do the same for my teenage son – he will eventually be very grateful (after the initial Muuuum – or Mooooooom I guess in America land).

        Posted by Melinda | March 5, 2012, 7:04 pm
        • Hi Melinda, thank you!

          I actually have only gotten a single facial a few months ago. I spent a good several hours in there with the facialist getting her to remove all of my blackheads. There must have been several hundred! Ew, I know! Don’t worry, I tipped her handsomely! So no, I don’t get facials regularly. Who has that kind of money?! xD But with regular use of salicylic acid, I have very, very few now.

          And yes microdermabrasions and extractions are completely different. Extractions involve actually “picking” or “pushing” out the blackhead, while microdermabrasion is just a refined form of physical exfoliation.

          Haha! Love the son imitation. So right on!

          Posted by John | March 6, 2012, 12:23 am
          • Hey John,

            Ha, we don’t tip beauticians (facialists) here, they obviously do it for the love of pus and gunk (mmmm).

            So today I started my hunt for beautician with love of squeezing and am finding it frustrating. Most of them use products (such as Dermalogica Medibac) that Paula absolutely loathes, or they do a whole bunch of stuff and ‘assess’ your skin and blah blah blah.

            So I am wondering how I actually put on my ‘big girls pants’ and go in and say “thank you so much for deciding that my skin is this and I need to spend the national debt on your dodgy products, BUT I would only really like you to squeeze my face so that I can use my own skin care products thank you very much.” Now in theory, that sounds like it would be a breeze….right?

            One of the reasons I haven’t had a facial in about seven years is the last time I ended up spending a a freakin’ (can I say freakin’?) fortune on totally pointless gear – which I was powerless to resist. The problem is that I get completely tongue tied and all the fabulous skin care facts in my armoury skuttle off and leave me to it – kind of opening and closing my mouth and maybe squeaking if I am lucky.

            I am sure there was a point. But mainly I am saying, it is hard to find someone who will ask what you want, rather than insist on telling you what you need. I need a cheat sheet of clever and intelligent sounding rebuttals.

            Posted by Melinda | March 6, 2012, 6:58 pm
            • That’s a very good question. Though I’m sure you already know this, I’d suggest investing in a facial that’s done by a larger company. Those ones that you see next to the supermarket or something, should probably be avoided. And of course, do your research about what services are available.

              So I don’t know what kind of questions your facialist will ask you. However, just keep in mind these few concepts.

              1. Just go in and ask the receptionist or whomever, if extractions are available. How thorough are they? Are there extra costs? Be very clear that you’re there for the extraction service, not any fluff services like massages, etc.. Unless you want those too!

              2. It’s okay if they use “crappy” products on your skin, because it’s a one time thing; they can’t do much noticeable damage. Remember, you’re there purely for the extraction process. Just try and relax, knowing that you’ll be able to use your own great products when you get home. Obviously, it’d be best if you could find a facialist that uses at least decent products.

              3. If they want to assess your skin, let them. You have nothing to lose. Furthermore, under those magnifying lenses, it’ll be easier for them to see where you have blackheads. And you can always point those areas out to them.

              4. If they try to sell you products, just tell them something like, “I have really sensitive skin, and I’d like to go home and wait to see if any of the products create some kind of reaction on my skin. And I have your contact information, so if I need anything I’ll gladly come back to pick those items up.” That way, you won’t offend them, because what are you saying is true. You’re just being a bit more cautious.

              5. If you ever experience any of those awkward silences, try playing dumb and just asking what I’d like to call a “baited” question. Basically, ask a relatively simple question that you already know the answer to. Make sure that when they tell you the answer, to sound impressed and that they just told you something quite suprising. I wouldn’t hesistate to through in a, “Wow or Gee, I never knew that.” That way, the facialist will feel in control, and more likely to be thorough in the extraction process. And also more lenient if you’re hesitant to try their products. It’ll make them feel like they’re, like I said in control, when really, you’re the one pulling the strings.

              6. Remember, just relax. And act natural. Think of it as if you were at a department store counter getting foundation matched or something. The facialist is no different than the sales associate.

              I hope that helped. πŸ™‚

              Posted by John | March 6, 2012, 8:14 pm
      • I say hydroxy acids (I’m pretending that you said “other than sunscreen”).

        What would you suggest for a physical extraction? Do you use one of those metal loops from the drugstore, or just clean hands? I have a lot of them on my nose and on my cheek right near my nose. My PC BHA at least diminishes the appearance of them, though I really would love to get rid of them with an extraction and then use the BHA to keep them away.

        I had a facial at the Camelback Inn in Phoenix (was supposed to be a really great place, but I didn’t have a very good experience). The spa/locker room decor is lovely and the atmosphere is very relaxing, but the actual facial was not so great. All the products she used were pretty heavily fragranced,and at least one of the creams was a little uncomfortable (a slight “burn” feeling; not awful but not good either). The massage was nice and at least the fragrances smelled good. I’m sure they have some services that are great. However, around 3/4 of the way through, the lady extracted something at the top of my cheekbone & under my eye (it may have actually been a small pimple and not a blackhead, I’m not sure)–without telling me what she was doing–and it hurt rather a lot. First a big pinchy feeling, and then it stung a lot; and then she put on a mask or cream that stung even more and I had to ask her to stop and wipe it off. I’ve been a little wary of extractions since then. Overall, I wasn’t too happy with it, but since the facial was a gift from my mom, I felt bad complaining (and of course, I didn’t tell my mom–except that I gently hinted awhile later that I’d like to try a different place if she got me one again). I figured it wouldn’t do too much harm from a one-time use, though.

        Posted by kayley123 | March 20, 2012, 3:57 pm
        • I believe I told Melinda this because she asked me. I actually had a facial done, and the facialist removed everything for me. I had probably hundreds of blackheads and she piled them on a tissue. It was pretty huge and gross, lol!

          And yeah, not all facials, like anything else, are created equal. I’d definitely want you to research what kind of products are used, and if they’re willing to do extracts. Make sure you specify that you’d like all the blackheads and whiteheads removed. If you’re having larger inflammatory acne “extracted,” it shouldn’t be too painful because a lancet should be used to first break the bubble, and then gently squeezed out. The big pinchy feeling that you’re describing is most likely attributed to the facialist squeezing a pimple until it forcefully burst. You never want that, so don’t go back to that facialist haha!

          I hope that made sense, and if you have additional questions, I’ll be here.

          Posted by John | March 20, 2012, 9:12 pm
          • Whoops, I lost track of this comment! Thanks! There aren’t too many good spas near me but I’ll go to the ones I know of…maybe I could call a dermatologist’s office and ask for a referral or something. Do you remember how much yours cost? Was it at all painful?

            In any case, yeah, I was glad I stopped her because I doubted that the pinching was helpful. I don’t think I had a pimple there (I think I would have noticed) but maybe it was the beginning of one that she saw under her magnifier.

            Btw, I was just visiting in Phoenix…I basically posted that info in case anybody else was wondering about Camelback Inn–I really wish I could remember the name of the facialist, since I guess it isn’t that helpful with knowing who it was!

            Posted by kayley123 | March 28, 2012, 10:04 pm
            • Mine was about $150. But because my facialist spent so much time (almost an hour), I tipped her an extra $50. And it wasn’t too painful because I didn’t have any cystic acne. The blackheads alone took that long. Haha! Definitely call a dermatologist’s office for referrals. Make to sure to detailed in describing what you’re looking for.

              Haha, let’s hope no one else goes to Camelback Inn to get a facial. πŸ™‚

              Posted by John | March 28, 2012, 11:54 pm
  3. Haha. That is far too hard. But I did vote for sunscreen XD Sunscreen is the number 1 important thing to me πŸ™‚ But the thing about sunscreen is that it’s so boring XD You won’t (necessarily) see any visible improvements with sunscreen and it can clog (and sometimes is a pain to remove). Whereas the other ingredients are so much more exciting XD

    And I do agree with what Melinda said in the first post πŸ™‚ And also to what you said about hydroxy acids, John, haha. I love my BHA/AHAs because they give such immediate improvement. But on the other hand, retinoids, peptides, antioxidants are great too, because they provide more of a long term benefit – well, visibly anyway… Well actually, I suppose they all work synergistically to provide short-term and long-term benefits.

    Posted by Victoria | March 5, 2012, 5:41 pm
    • Haha “synergistically,” I see that reading my blog has rubbed off on you! xD But yeah, they all work well together. Ideally, they’re all necessary, but it’s fun to see if you could only pick one to share. We’ll see how it goes. If the vote is super one-sided, then I’ll have another discussion post before next week.

      Posted by John | March 5, 2012, 6:13 pm
  4. John, I think you could have said ‘one skincare ingredient APART from sunscreen’ as sunscreen is always going to win and it is more interesting/useful to know what other ingredient people find the most benefit.

    Just my opinion of course πŸ™‚

    Posted by Melinda | March 5, 2012, 4:46 pm
    • Haha you’re right! I didn’t think of that just because for me, my answer would have been hydroxy acids, since I had such terrible acne and the hydroxy acids saved my life! I wish someone would have told me way sooner about those ingredients. xD But I guess the common answer will most likely be sunscreens.

      But on the flipside of your arguments, I think it’d be interesting to see how many people DON’T pick sunscreen, and perhaps their reasoning may be because it’s such a common recommendation that it falls onto deaf ears. I mean, the question is what ingredient would you TELL people; that doesn’t mean that they will listen. I don’t know about you, but I’ve encountered quite a few ignorant people. But who knows?

      After seeing this brief discussion between us, my biggest hope is that the other voters who don’t typically comment will chip in!

      Posted by John | March 5, 2012, 5:13 pm

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