5 most Googled skincare questions of 2023, according to an expert

The importance of proper skincare for overall health cannot be denied. Picture: Cottonbro Studios/Pexels

The importance of proper skincare for overall health cannot be denied. Picture: Cottonbro Studios/Pexels

Published Apr 4, 2024


The face of skincare has dramatically changed in recent years and the Covid-19 pandemic has only elevated this booming industry.

Social media platforms have transformed the way we buy and discuss everything from cleansers to moisturisers, generating an entire YouTube category dedicated to beauty enthusiasts and experts sharing their skincare routines.

A-list celebrities are frequently posting videos sharing their personal routines, with some even linking their skincare rituals to expressions of political identity, coining phrases like "Femininity has power".

The collective fascination with skincare reflects our society's premium on youth and aesthetics, driving individuals to invest in products and treatments aimed at preserving a youthful, vibrant look.

While critics may view this trend as vanity, the importance of proper skincare for overall health cannot be denied.

Amid all the information online, it can be challenging to sift the good advice from the bad. Consumers need to approach online skincare tips carefully and seek out reputable sources.

To cut through the confusion, we turned to the most searched online skincare questions this year and sought professional advice to provide clarity.

Karen Bester, a distinguished medical trainer at Lamelle Research Laboratories, graciously provided informed responses to the top-five Googled skincare inquiries of 2023.

What does retinol serum do?

Retinol is used to increase the exfoliation of your skin and will improve the structure of the epidermis (or top layer of the skin) as this results in increased turnover of cells in the lower layers of the skin.

When it comes to skincare, retinol serums are often hailed for their ability to smooth out fine lines and improve skin texture as we age. But what many may not realise is that these potent serums offer a plethora of other benefits.

Apart from its well-known anti-ageing properties, retinol serum can also help in unclogging pores, fading dark spots and reducing acne breakouts. It's like a multitasking hero for your skin that works tirelessly overnight to revive your complexion.

As we get older, and with more sun exposure, our pores often seem to get bigger. This can be due to the skin losing its elasticity over time, causing pores to appear more pronounced. Plus, years of sun can thicken the skin, making pores look more visible.

The challenge with using retinol is that it is irritating to the skin, especially when used in high concentrations. This has necessitated the development of forms of vitamin A that are non-irritating.

The advantage is that these forms of vitamin A are as potent as prescription-strength versions but have no irritating or sun-sensitising effects.

Certain non-irritating forms of vitamin A are as potent as prescription-strength versions, but have no irritating or sun-sensitising effects. Picture: Supplied

At a concentration of 3%, in Correctives 3.0 RA Serum, the retinoid used has absolutely no irritating side effects but has the same skin-changing effects as a prescription-strength version.

It’s been proven safe and effective and, with only a few drops applied at night, it provides excellent results in treating the signs of ageing and removal of elastosis.

The use of topical retinoids adds the advantage of improving the cell's health – some studies show that they reverse ageing cells. They increase the removal of old, damaged structures in the skin, called elastosis, and with long-term use, they increase collagen production.

When should you use a cleanser?

We would suggest cleansing your skin in the morning before your day starts and in the evening before you retire to bed.

In sensitive or dry skin, it might be better to use the cleanser once a day, generally at night, and to do a water-only cleanse in the morning. Your professional skincare therapist will suggest this.

Using a soap-free foaming cleanser will thoroughly remove dirt and debris (while being gentle enough for anyone's skin type), leaving behind powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients.

Added humectants provide a moisture surge with every wash, leaving your skin feeling revitalised.

Is rose oil good for the skin?

The effects of rose oil are not very well researched, but it does apparently have humectant, antioxidant and antibacterial effects.

When using an essential oil, you should always be cautious about using it in its pure form.

This can be irritating when applied to the skin. Essential oils are wonderful when used in diffusers, but need to be diluted in base oils when using them directly on the skin.

How do you minimise pores?

The short answer is keep your skin hydrated, and, if need be, increase the turnover of your skin.

Pores are a challenge as the skin of the pore is actually part of the epidermis or top of the skin. This means that the skin of the pore exfoliates just like the surface of your skin does.

The structure of the pore lies deep into the skin though. Unless your exfoliation product contains lipid-soluble ingredients, like salicylic acid or azelaic acid, it will not be effective in the pore.

The structure of the dermis is also important when considering the pore size. As we age and are sun-exposed, the lower layers of the skin start to lose their strength and ability to bind water.

Using growth factors, retinoids, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid-containing products will assist with this structure.

What should I use for eczema on my face?

And for those struggling with eczema on the face—a condition that can be both uncomfortable and challenging to manage—experts frequently recommend products that contain calming ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid or ceramides.

Use a product containing ceramides – preferably one that provides proof that they replace the lipid-bi-layer structure of the skin. These ingredients can provide relief by moisturising the skin deeply and reducing inflammation.

When changing a product, move from what you are using to the new product by phasing it into your routine.

Add a little of the new product to what you are using. Increase the amount of new product slowly in the next few weeks to help your skin get used to the new ingredients.

Colourants, preservatives and fragrances are the ingredients that cause the most irritation. Look for ectoin, panthenol and oat beta-glucan for their anti-inflammatory effects.

“We will always suggest using Lamelle Serra NSB Cream, which retails for R720, as the best option in severe cases of eczema,” said Bester.