Come rains, one would imagine there would be romance and the smell of coffee in the air. But an unexpected pimple or an itchy scalp is what truly dampens the mood. Combine that with seesawing temperatures and your skin can become prone to infections or breakouts and become greasy. But, if you include the right actives and ingredients in your monsoon skincare routine, you can target your concerns with the right formulations. “Fungal and yeast infections on the skin are common during this season, so in addition to your products, remember to keep the area dry and change clothes immediately after breaking a sweat. Wear footwear in public showers or gym showers to prevent getting toenail fungus,” says Dr Kiran Sethi, owner and founder of Isya Aesthetics. There might be water everywhere and you might think that’s great for your skin, but maintaining the skin’s pH balance during rains is crucial.
Here are 10 skincare ingredients to look for on your skincare label this monsoon season.
1.Salicylic acid and other BHAs
If you suffer from acne breakouts and clogged pores, reaching for that scrub is going to do you no favours. Instead, look for actives that gently exfoliate your skin rather than scrape it. BHAs such as salicylic acid fall in this category. You can slowly introduce salicylic acid in your routine by first using a mild salicylic acid cleanser and move to a strength that is one to two per cent. “Salicylic Acid helps in fighting acne, balancing skin's pH level, exfoliating, and decongesting pores by getting rid of the dead cells. It’s a deep cleanse for the skin and perfect for humid weather which makes oily skin oilier. Opt for a face wash that has salicylic acid for this skin type, but check the rest of the ingredients and the pH level of the face wash before purchasing it,” recommends Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, founder and medical director, ISAAC Luxe and Dr G skincare. If you have an oily scalp, you can also look for a shampoo with salicylic acid.
Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) are water-soluble acids such as tartaric acid, citric acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, hydroxy caproic acid, and mandelic acid. “AHAs help in combating free radical damage and also lighten dark spots, sunspots, tanning, and hyperpigmentation due to their antioxidant properties. They exfoliate your skin at the cellular level, helping it to get rid of dead skin cells which can clog your pores and dull your complexion,” says Dr Gupta. She adds that their antimicrobial effects can eradicate acne-causing bacteria and prevent breakouts. Plus, they lock moisture in your skin and humectants like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and malic acid attract water to the skin, thus allowing it to stay hydrated.
Retinoids are considered to be the best anti-ageing and anti-acne skincare ingredients as they help exfoliate the skin, control excess sebum production, help manage fine lines, pigmentation and improve skin texture. However, retinoids (including retinol) are known for sensitising the skin. An ingredient that as fast emerged as an alternative to retinol is bakuchiol. “If increased oiliness, some pimples, or blackheads or whiteheads, are a concern, bakuchiol is effective and also helps reduce acne, especially when used in combination with salicylic acid,” says Dr Sethi.
Our sebaceous glands go on overdrive when humidity and temperature increase, which is why our skin gets oilier and our scalp greasier. This clogs the pores and leads to eruptions and itching of the scalp. “Niacinamide regulates oil production and also cares for the skin barrier,” says Dr Sethi. It being a great anti-ageing ingredient that reduces pigmentation and manages fine lines, and is gentle on sensitive skin is an added plus. Dr Gupta adds that it helps your skin grow a lipid barrier, which helps retain moisture, thus making it beneficial for dry skin types. “Niacinamide reduces inflammation which helps ease redness from eczema, acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions during monsoons,” says Dr Gupta.
5. Tea tree oil
Essential oils are too strong to be used directly on the skin, however, when formulated well into a product, they have many benefits. One such ingredient that works well for the monsoons is tea tree oil. It has germ-fighting properties that can help you combat or avoid bacterial and fungal infections. It can help fight body odour and helps you smell great especially when damp clothes can be an issue when on the move. It helps reduce inflammation, fight acne and dandruff. “It also helps in calming the redness and irritation associated with acne,” says Dr Gupta.
6. Green tea extract
Excessive sebum production can be targeted with products that include green tea extract, and this also helps avoid acne. It’s anti-bacterial, making it a good addition for the season. Dr Sethi recommends not going beyond three to five per cent strength.
7. Benzoyl peroxide
“Folliculitis and or heat rash, which happens when sweat glands get infected is common in this season. So, consider benzoyl peroxide washes to reduce bacteria on the skin. Use it with topical retinoids or retinol to prevent the pores from getting obstructed,” suggests Dr Sethi. BPO is a bactericidal agent commonly used for the treatment of acne as it works on the bacteria that cause acne. It also reduces inflammation, unclogs pores in acne-prone skin, and dries out acne effectively. It can be used to treat blackheads and whiteheads as it is an exfoliating ingredient that removes dead skin cells. Use it during nighttime only and wear sunscreen in the morning as BPO might give you post-inflammatory pigmentation.
8. Hyaluronic acid
One of the most common and easy-to-use active, hyaluronic acid is naturally present in our skin and maintains its moisture levels. “It boosts the skin's moisture levels while balancing the production of oil glands. Hyaluronic acid for oily skin helps maintain the skin's balance of water and natural oils. It can help regulate oil production and achieve a healthier skin tone and texture,” suggests Dr Gupta.
Moringa helps with excess oil production and might help manage acne if that’s the cause. It’s an antioxidant that helps repair and protects the skin, making it stronger for every season. It’s hydrating and moisturising and can work as a natural cleanser and detox for your skin.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that aids collagen production in your skin and protects the skin barrier. Regular use helps remove spots, dullness, uneven skin tone, and brightens the skin. “It re-adjusts the excess sebum on the face to make the skin look healthy and well-moisturised,” says Dr Gupta and recommends that one use it regularly, come rain or sun.