ANFISA Skin Founder Shares Her Skincare Regimen for Sensitive, CongestiCongestion-Prone Skin
Updated: May 10, 2020
We #Need them all.
Aly Korchemniy is the founder of ANFISA Skin, a clean beauty brand that makes a top-rated, vegan, multi-tasking balm that I think of as "green juice" for the skin. Her natural skin type is similar to mine — congestion-prone and finicky AF — definitely not a "normal" skin type, like beauty editor Sara Spruch-Feiner's.
These days, Korchemniy's skin is absolutely stunning: dewy, even, and radiant. Having worked in medical aesthetics, she developed a regimen using a combination of Western medicine's top dermatological ingredients — including retinol and other exfoliants needed to keep congestion-prone, acneic skin clear — alongside holistic skincare's emphasis on barrier function. In doing so, she has transformed her skin in a visibly luminous way.
ANFISA's wonder-balm, Lilou, is designed to repair the skin barrier, treating chronic dryness (including conditions like eczema and psoriasis), acne, and more. The skin barrier maintains hydration levels and protects the dermis from environmental aggressors that cause reactive inflammation, which is the underlying cause of skin aging, reactions, and dis-ease of the skin (and body — but more on that in a moment).
Often compared to bricks-and-mortar — with skin cells being the bricks, and lipids, cholesterols, and ceramides the mortar — dermatologist Leslie Baumann M.D. likens the barrier to Saran Wrap, forming a protective seal keeping moisture and nutrients in. So, sealing in your regimen with a product like Lilou Hyra-Balm is one avenue of supporting the barrier using topical ingredients.
Additional support also can be provided via ingestible supplements like phyto-collagen and ceramides, and tending to your skin's microbiome with supplemental prebiotics and probiotics. As Baumann points out, the composition of your barrier-repair product is critical, so topicals must consist of a 1:1:1 ratio of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. She explicitly warns against the use of certain actives (including coconut oil) for their improper ratios.
Lastly, the benefits of repairing the skin barrier go far beyond having healthy, happy skin: As a 2019 study indicates, the use of topical barrier-repair actives can aid in the prognosis of serious health conditions such Alzheimer's, Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. (Why? As with other chronic illnesses, these diseases are cued by genetic predisposition along with chronic inflammation.)
Taking all that we've learned about the skin barrier into consideration, here is the regimen Korchemniy has developed to perfect and maintain her flawless skin — using dermatological actives to tame congestion-prone skin, while tempering sensitivity through careful attention to the skin barrier. Read up (and shop) her regimen below for congestion-prone, sensitive skin below.
A Custom Oil Blend
"Every PM I use a cleansing oil blend that I make myself," begins Korchemniy. "It contains hemp seed oil, blackcurrant seed oil, and cucumber seed oil." She uses these three oils for their phytosterols, essential fatty acids (including gamma-linoleic acid), vitamin E, antioxidants, and other photo-nutrients. Hm... could a cleansing oil be next from ANFISA Skin?
Korchemniy has relied on this gentle, gel-cream hybrid cleanser for over six years. "I always find myself coming back to this cleanser," she adds, noting that, "It's designed for highly sensitive skin with a pH-balanced formula of 5.5."
She adds that a pH-balanced cleanser may help moderate sebum production while protecting the skin's bacterial balance (i.e. the microbiome) and acid mantle, which provides an additional layer of protection to the outermost layer of skin cells. "People often overlook the the cleanser as it is used on the skin for mere moments, but more often than not, the cleanser is the culprit in disrupting the health of your skin."
Although Korchemniy dislikes the name of this toner ("You can't actually reduce your pores!”), she absolutely loves the formula. "This step isn't necessary when using the [exfoliant below], but I love using a true toner in my regimen," she says. "I like that it contains Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid." Using an Intrinsics Petite Silken Wipe, she swipes this solution over her face and neck.
Lotion P50 PIGM 400, $70
"Always use a chemical exfoliant, never a manual exfoliant," warns Korchemniy. She has been using this pigment-fighting iteration of the cult-favorite French brand, Biologique Recherche, for over a decade. "This is one of my top three products of all time," she adds. (We use it, too.)
"Essentially, it's a clear liquid that exfoliates, hydrates, and balances the pH of the skin. It enhances epidermal renewal, helps regulate melanin synthesis, while protecting and respecting the skin," Korchemniy explains. The ultimate match for dull or hyper-pigmented skin, it inhibits melanin synthesis and proliferation, minimizing dark spots and unwanted pigmentation on the skin.
She warns that Lotion P50 does have a purging period, as your skin adjusts to the deep cleaning effects of the brand's proprietary blend of exfoliating acids. It brings deep grime and impurities up and out through the surface of the skin. "Once the purging period has passed this will be a product you cannot live without. It helps keep pores sparkly clean, making them appear smaller."
P.S. I recently featured this product on FabFitFun's 15 Best Products to Fight Hyperpigmentation and Acne Scars
"This is an intensive repairing serum," she explains. "Placental biostimulant protein extract heals and regenerates, strengthening and rebuilding the skin." It is ideal for post-acne scarring and use after peels, or any other form of epidermal exfoliation, and it can also be used on the eye area for an instant reduction of puffiness. "I love using this around my eyes as I've noted it definitely helps lighten my dark circles more than anything else out there."
Korchemniy reaches for the synergistic effects of this serum to target the skin's glycation process, explaining, "To function properly and produce energy, our body needs glucose which is found in sugars. However, if there is too much sugar in our body, protein molecules can cross-link with sugar molecules." The problem is, once AGE's form, this cues the breakdown of extracellular structural proteins like collagen and elastin, which are responsible for "bounce" and elasticity. In other words, this serum helps prevent the glycation process that results in this type of skin aging.
Dr. Barbara Sturm
Hyaluronic Serum, $300
"This HA serum is formulated with long and short chain hyaluronic molecules, which is something I always look for in a Hyaluronic Acid formula," Korchemniy shares. She explains that low molecular weight HA penetrates to the deeper layers of the skin, leaving your epidermis feeling firmer, refreshed, and more radiant over the long-term. Meanwhile, high-weight Hyaluronic molecules provide immediate water-based hydration to the surface layers of the skin. Although pricy, she continues to use this formula for the simplicity and efficacy of its formula. "It doesn't cause congestion and it gets the job done."
Skin Better Science
Intensive AlphaRet, $125
Meet yet another of Korchemniy's top three products of all time, which is only sold at dermatologist's offices. "My friend Melissa, The Beauty Nurse, introduced me to this product almost two years ago and I am forever grateful to her for that," says Korchemniy. "This is literally the only retinol in the world that my skin can tolerate."
She goes on to explain the the "revolutionary" formula combines lactic acid and retinol, forming a double-conjugated retinoid that she deems magical. Retinol is the dermatological gold standard for exfoliation, boosting collagen production, evening tone, anti-aging, and even fighting breakouts. "I use this once or twice a week in conjunction with P50, otherwise I alternate AlphaRet and Lotion P50 so as not to over-exfoliate my skin."
LILOU Radiant Hydra-Balm, $130
The now-vegan formula from Korchemniy's own skincare line is the final pick among her top-three products of all time. The key to the formula, which comes in solid form but goes on silky, is its high levels of linoleic acids. "Science has shown that when our skin has less linoleic acid, the sebum becomes thick and sticky. This clogs pores and exacerbates acne, as well as other dermal conditions," she shares.
Formulated with two essential fatty acids that our skin craves yet cannot create — namely, linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid — the blend provides anti-inflammatory care, reduces congestion, aids with moisture retention, reduces skin sensitivity, and regulates oil production. Notable ingredients include seed nutrients, the flower helichrysum italicum, teas, pomegranate oil, and hemp oil to deliver botanically-based polyphenols, phytosterols, and essential fatty acids, alongside anti-bacterial, regenerating, and soothing properties.
"It's ideal following treatments like micro-needling, chemical peels, lasering, and retinol," she notes. "The result is skin that feels calm and never congested. Honestly, it's pure magic." Simply apply a dab onto damp skin to experience the anti-aging, hydrating, soothing, and barrier-reparative effects for yourself. "And now, the formal is vegan!" she explains.
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