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'Cocktail skincare': how to choose the right fix for your skin’s needs



The ingredient-led skincare revolution of recent years has been pretty transformative, when you think about it. As we fill our bathroom cabinets with the products we’ve chosen based on their key ingredient - whether that’s glycolic acid, retinol, whatever - it might not have occurred to us but beauty brands have essentially handed us, the consumers, power over our skin. By formulating products that centre around a leading skincare ingredient they’ve made skincare more transparent, so we really do get to choose the best ingredients for our skin’s needs. 

With ingredient-led products launching weekly (in fact, one of our fave brands, Nip+Fab, has gone as far as launching entire ranges focused around a particular hero ingredient) we’ve never had so much access and choice when it comes to being able to tailor-make our own regime. The result? Cocktail skincare - that’s cocktailing your own bespoke skincare regime using a mixture of ingredients - is big business. 

But while cocktail skincare is one of the hottest beauty trends to emerge in recent months, it can be a little daunting: let’s face it, identifying the best ingredients for your skin’s needs is one thing, but then knowing how to layer them, in which order and when to use them, is another. Which is why we’ve broken it down for you: so simply follow our guide to creating the perfect skincare cocktail for your skin’s needs. We’ve put this guide together according to skin concern, instead of skin type, because essentially that’s what ingredients are designed to target. So you can then just sit back and let your skincare cocktails do all the hard work…

Concern: Hyperpigmentation 

Hero ingredients: Retinol, vitamin C, Niacinamide, SPF

AM routine: Vitamin C will brighten existing dark patches, but it will also help to mop up the free radicals that cause future dark spots, so it’s an essential ingredient for your routine. Try layering it in the morning - use it in your serum and moisturizer. Combined with Niacinamide, it will work even more effectively. SPF is absolutely key in preventing further pigmentation, so always ALWAYS use this as your final morning step - even on the greyest of British winter days!

PM routine: Retinol is your star ingredient: by stimulating cell turnover it helps to get rid of existing dark spots. Also, long term, it helps to both decrease the production of melanin and disperse existing melanin- which makes hyperpigmentation less noticeable and will visibly improve skintone over time. A retinol-rich product should become a regular part of your evening skincare regime (avoid using it on a morning), but do build up to retinol-use slowly and steadily, to avoid irritation. PS. Avoid retinol if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. 

Concern: Dehydration 

Hero ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Polyglutamic acid, Squalane, Glycerin.

AM routine: Use a hyaluronic acid-rich serum to deliver an instant shot of lightweight moisture, then layer a fatty-acid rich moisturiser to ‘lock-in’ moisture. Choose one with an added SPF, for extra protection. 

PM routine: Exfoliate dulling dead layers that could build up and cause further dryness. A chemical exfoliant will do the trick (AHA,s BHA’s or PHA’s if your dry skin is prone to sensitivity too), then layer your morning hydrating serum again, followed by squalane.  Try Nip+Fab’s Dehydrated + Dry SPF Skin Kit, which covers all bases when it comes to nourishing, hydrating, brightening and protecting dry and dehydrated skin. 

Concern: Dullness

Hero ingredients: Vitamin C, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, 

AM routine: Start your day with antioxidant-rich vitamin C. Known for its skin-brightening properties - hello glowy skin - Vitamin C also protects the skin from UV-related free radicals - which is why you get more bang for your buck if you use your vitamin-C products on a morning, rather than at night. So incorporate your vitamin-C rich products - whether that’s a serum, moisturiser or toner - now. 

PM routine: Exfoliation is key to a brighter complexion: frequently, if not a result of poor diet and lifestyle, then dull skin is caused by a buildup of dead skin cells. So exfoliating can be the quickest way to brighten a dull complexion. Glycolic Acid is an AHA that breaks down dead skin cells and the bonds between them, helping to reveal the glowing skin underneath. Use nightly in cleanser-form, until you notice a difference and then for maintenance, switch to using an exfoliator, such as Nip+Fab’s Glycolic Fix scrub, two or three times a week. This will deeply exfoliate the skin which in turn will boost radiance, refine texture and leave you with a glowing complexion. 

Concern: Acne

Hero ingredients: Salicylic acid, Tea tree, Azeleic acid, Mandelic acid, Vitamin C, Retinol

AM routine: You want to treat both the blemishes and any other issues that can occur - such as acne scarring - so you need a multi-pronged approach. A cleanser that features salicylic acid as its main ingredient will help to  purify the skin, unblock pores and reduce the appearance of blemishes, without drying out the skin. Vitamin C is excellent for brightening, but is also anti-inflammatory so it’s great for calming down redness, preventing pigmentation left by scars and boosting wound-healing. Incorporate it on a morning, either through a vitamin C-rich serum or a post-cleanse tonic, such as Nip+Fab’s Vitamin C Fix Tonic. A lightweight moisturiser that includes an SPF comes next. 

PM routine: Twice a week use a chemical exfoliant - Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s) are usually more effective on acne-prone skin than Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), because BHA’s have additional anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. For small outbreaks try a targeted treatment such as Nip+Fab’s Salicylic Fix Spot Patches, which you press onto blemishes and leave overnight. Finally, don’t skip retinol, which can be great at treating acne, by stimulating cell turnover. Just be sure to incorporate it slowly, using a low-dose formula a couple of times a week (on different days to when you’ve exfoliated) to avoid irritation.


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By Sarah Edge

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