In the world of beauty, terminology can get confusing for those of us who aren’t science-minded. I scraped by through school and have always had problems understanding the chemistry behind our day-to-day life. What I need is someone to break it down for me, slowly, and simply.
Do you need actives in your skincare routine? I mean, acids sound scary. Acid on your face sounds like the opposite of a good idea. However, that’s not the case. Active ingredients in skincare are, if used well, a good way to provide chemical exfoliation to your skin and help it to look as healthy as it should.
When we think of exfoliation, we think of scrubs and tools designed to do the job. But manual exfoliation can actually be damaging to the skin if not used with care, and cause micro-abrasions on the skin. This can open the skin up to bacteria and cause acne, or it can result in over-exfoliation and a damaged moisture barrier.
Chemical exfoliants are a good way to go in that you can tailor them to your needs. If your skin is hardy, you can use a relatively strong exfoliant, and if your skin is sensitive, there are plenty of mild options on the market for you to choose from. It is important to note that not everybody needs actives, so it’s no sense incorporating them in your routine just for the hell of it. If your skin is incredibly sensitive, or has been damaged in some way (e.g over exfoliation) it might not be the way to go.
Active ingredients in skincare are those which have been tested and proven to have a measurable effect on the skin. They have the science, man. The science. Some actives are seriously next level and can only be prescribed by a medical professional, such as a dermatologist. Common actives on the regular Joe marketplace include AHAs, BHAs, Vitamin C, and seen more and more these days, PHAs. If you’re using actives, make sure you wear proper sun protection, as some actives can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage thanks to them increasing photosensitivity with use. They do offer, on the other hand, a way of clearing blemishes, fighting acne, hyper-pigmentation, and the signs of ageing through encouraging skin renewal.
The Tia’m Aura Milk Facial Peeling Toner contains all three of the ‘HAs’ listed above: AHA, BHA, PHA. Let’s quickly break down how these actives are supposed to work.
- Exfoliate the skin’s surface and break down bonds of dead skin cells
- Leave skin looking brighter, and can improve hyperpigmentation
- Are able to deeply penetrate the skin, and as they have humectant properties, are considered to be a good choice for dry skin types
- Help to plump skin and combat against signs of ageing
- May cause some irritation such as dryness and flaking
- Get into pores to remove the gunk and dirt, bringing it to the surface and helping to improve the complexion
- Fight acne and prevent it from occurring
- Can be somewhat drying so are often recommended for oily skin types
- A gentler type of active with larger molecules, meaning it takes more time to penetrate the skin
- Have many of the same properties as AHAs
- Can be used by nearly all skin types, even those with rosacea and atopic dermatitis
- Have moisturising properties which help with the function of your skin’s natural moisture barrier
Full ingredients list:
Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dipropylene Glycol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Lactobionic Acid, PEG-40 Stearate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Citrate, Milk Extract(100ppm), Gluconolactone, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic acid, Ethyl Ascorbyl Ether, Bifida Ferment Filtrate, Panthenol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance
AHAs: Lactic acid, glycolic acid
BHAs: Salicylic acid (one of the most common ones out there)
PHAs: Lactobionic acid
The AHAs and BHAs are in a relatively low concentration, so they’re not really going to make a huge difference on the skin, but may work with the PHA (at 2%) to provide some mild exfoliation.
The Tia’m Peeling Toner also contains bifida ferment filtrate, which has antioxidant properties, which help to boost cell renewal and keep the skin looking healthy. It also can provide a certain degree of moisture, which hopefully means that while this toner is an active, it won’t be too drying. Let’s see how I got on.
The mixture in the bottle is separated into two layers: according to Tia’m, the top layer is the moisturising part, and the bottom is the exfoliating one. A few shakes and these mix, and you can get it right on your face. It’s a light, milky liquid which doesn’t feel sticky in any way, and absorbs fast. Tia’m advise applying with a cotton pad, but I flip between doing that and patting on with my hands, with little difference in how the toner actually performs. It’s light, and watery, which makes it runny – but that’s to be expected with toners.
The toner does have fragrance added to it, which smells slightly like a less-sweet version of those milk bottle sweeties I love so very very much. However, it’s not at all strong, and it doesn’t bother me in the least. I really only smell it when I open the bottle.
The toner comes in a long ‘tube’ style package, with a hole in the top which allows you to shake out small amounts of the liquid. I like that it’s not a very big hole and you can’t really pour out too much – some toners have the habit of just pouring out everywhere, and are difficult to control. This one, while being a shake-style bottle, at least gives you some level of control. You get 120ml of toner, and the average price for this seems to be about $26-27 from my search on the net. SkinID, who kindly provided me with the product for review, are currently selling it in a three pack with the Tia’m Aura Peeling Cream, and the Pink Bubble Pack for €46.22 (this is not a referral link and I make no personal gain from this).
One thing I really like about the packaging is the measuring ‘level’ on the side of the tube, which shows you how much you’re using and measures it in terms of weeks. You can use it twice a day if you’re comfortable with doing so, as it’s quite mild, and it should last around a month or more if you stick to the levels Tia’m have printed on the bottle.
Finally, the part that matters most. How did I get on with this toner? Honestly, I enjoyed using it. It’s a mild exfoliant that I think would work quite well with dryer types, like myself, thanks to the fact it has moisturising properties as well as exfoliating ones. It absorbs quickly into the skin and does indeed provide some level of hydration, as tested by the Wayskin I recently bought to check such things. If you do have dry skin, you’ll definitely want to combine it into a longer routine, but it’s not stripping in the least and is a good way to add a small amount of actives into your routine.
I don’t think the level of active ingredients in this toner is enough to make a massive difference, but over time and consistent use I’ve had a good experience with it. My skin is very clear these days, which is a result of overall care, but it is also helped along by having a good base skincare routine – cleansing and toning with decent, effective products.