The difference between skin changing products and skin maintaining products

Not all skincare products are created equal. If your skin is already on the straight and narrow, you just need to maintain it. But if it's giving you trouble, skin changing products are what you need. Here's why.

The truth is, there are a lot of lovely skincare products out there that feel great, look great and do a wonderful job maintaining the status quo of already decent skin. If you're lucky enough to have skin that isn't giving you serious issues, you can easily maintain the health and appearance of it with products that are what I would consider 'skin maintaining'.

Serious skin issues

However, if you're struggling with hyperpigmentation, severe dehydration, acne, acne scarring or rosacea, in order to change or reverse those conditions, you might need to look at skin changing formulas, rather than spending endlessly on products that don't work deep enough to change your skin completely.


Dawn Hill is a skin expert, facialist and the owner of Floraison ( and she explains it better than I ever could.

"The way I see it, there are so many great brands of skincare you can buy from a pharmacy or department store with products that work to create a great skin canvas," says Dawn.

"They've quality ingredients and can maintain the skin health of someone who's not up against something like acne or pigmentation. But, by law, products you can buy without the guidance of a trained skin professional usually have lower percentages of active ingredients, and so can't get to a deep enough level of the skin to make the type of lasting changes someone with severe skin issues might need."

Upgrade to change your skin

Dawn rates brands like The Ordinary, The Inkey List, La Roche-Posay and Trilogy among her favourite over-the-counter skincare brands. I have been a fan of Trilogy's Rosehip Oil since I can remember, and love The Inkey List Caffeine product too, and they're a great supplement to my slightly more active products. For those, I look to brands like Skinceuticals, Biologique Recherche, Image MD and Neostrata. These brands have higher percentages of active ingredients.

What are active ingredients?


Both prescription and over-the-counter strength products contain active ingredients, however prescription skin care items contain higher concentrations, which is why you need professional guidance on their use. As an example, retinoids are available in some amazing over-the-counter skin care products, but prescription-strength retinols are used for severe acne, so are best used under the supervision of someone with in-depth knowledge and training on such products.

"If you are struggling with a serious skin issue, it might be worth looking to upgrade to more skin changing, active products," Dawn advises. "Products that have a higher concentration of active ingredients work deeper to correct things like pigmentation, pore size, acne scarring and really bad dehydration. They will usually be more expensive and prescribed by a professional, but can change your skin over the course of a few months."

The image newsletter