Soothing Serums to Fade Red Marks and Brighten Up Your Skin

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / Honayst

It is International Rosacea Awareness month and talk of redness got me thinking about the pink or red marks left by spots, as these can also persist in Celtic skin. Since 2013, dermatologists have called them post-inflammatory erythema (PIE), but I just call them overkill. You endured the spot, why the postscript? Apparently, it's because capillaries beneath the skin’s surface have yet to heal. Your genes influence the rate at which this happens. Smoking and alcohol consumption slow repair. Pulsed-dye laser treatments will blast PIE into submission but as anyone who has it would be applying skincare anyway, it is good to recognise ingredients that boost natural recovery power.

Please note that if you have active acne as well as PIE it is best to see a dermatologist. The below ingredients are simply proven to encourage post- blemish healing. If your marks are brown, you may have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and while all the ingredients below can help, it is worth researching that issue separately. If marks last for years after spots are gone they could be acne scars that require professional treatment.

NB: UV rays impede skin healing. The proper efficacy of other skincare depends on consistent UV protection. If you have windows in your home or workplace you are UVA-exposed inside in daytime, as well as outdoors. Many people don’t apply enough protection. According to skincancer.org you should use approximately two milligrams per square cm of skin, that’s about a 20 cent-sized dollop for the face. Don’t forget your ears!

Out, Damned Spot: Wishful Thirst Trap Juice, €47 at boots.ie,

Interest in this ingredient is high, perhaps because we have immunity on the brain. Niacinamide boosts skin’s immunity by helping it to build keratin, fend off free radicals, and better hold water. You don’t need to buy skincare that is more than 2-5% niacinamide to see benefits. According to New York dermatologist, Dr Shereene Idriss (Insta: @PillowTalkDerm), more is not more. Using products with concentrations of 10% or higher risks irritation and is not more beneficial. Wishful Skincare Thirst Trap Juice, €47 at boots.ie, has 2% niacinamide, as well as soothing moisturisers such as allantoin, hyaluronic acid and polysaccharides.

The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment, €17.30 at cultbeauty.com

Historically, TXA’s been used to aid blood-clotting and in skincare it works as a powerful anti-inflammatory (skin-calmer). It is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine, found in egg whites. There are no reported side effects of using it topically. It is an excellent choice for any skin type. The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment, €17.30 at cultbeauty.com, combines it with açai berry. Skincare research on this berry is limited but it’s definitely non- irritating and may help discolouration.

This is another great anti-inflammatory. Glabridin, one of its components, is especially good at reducing redness. It is also a natural tyrosinase (dark pigment)-inhibitor, so can help lighten sun spots. It's Skin Power 10 Formula LI Effector, €19 at ipurple.eu, is a Korean beauty buy that’s high in both liquorice and the wonderful moisturiser polyglutamic acid.

Cosrx Pure Fit Cica Serum, €33.95 at lookfantastic.ie

This extract is sometimes used to prevent scar formation. It contains a number of phytochemicals that aid healing. More recently, it’s been found to boost natural collagen production. Cosrx Pure Fit Cica Serum, €33.95 at lookfantastic.ie, is another K-beauty product I love, it combines centella with moisturising panthenol.

This is a grain-derived acid exfoliant that can lighten PIE and unclog pores. It is rosacea, pregnancy and acne-safe. A broad-spectrum SPF chaser is essential. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, €7.20 at boots.ie, frequently sells out.

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum, €25.50 at cultbeauty.com

I cautiously list retinol because your skin may not like it at first. Conversely, because skincare marketing is so lightly regulated many products that claim to work retinoic magic contain weak esters of Vitamin A that make little or no impact (i.e., retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate), so it is important to seek out the exact word on ingredients lists. Retinol is worth trying because there is such impressive research on its skin-renewing benefits. It is less powerful than prescription-only retinoic acid, or Tretinoin (which I would ask a doctor about if I had acne), but can be key to the successful at-home treatment of skin discolouration. If you are new to it, it may take up to 12 weeks to fully adjust. Remember you only need a pea-sized amount at night. You can apply moisturiser first to prevent dryness. According to Houston dermatologist Dr Andrea Suarez (Insta: @drdrayzday), it will still work.

You might try Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum, €25.50 at cultbeauty.com