If you are a skincare skeptic, it’s not surprising. In age where we are constantly bombarded with the latest best ingredient promising to deliver youthful, healthy skin it’s easy to become suspicious. But truth is that there are some effective ingredients than can make a difference to skin.
The trick is in reading between the lines to seek out products that actually deliver. Research is evolving and we’re learning more and adding to our arsenal of skin active ingredients. But don’t always fall for the latest promise, the best gimmick or the slickest ad. Here are 10 ingredients that have science on their side to deliver you with great looking skin.
1. Vitamin C – A basic component of any anti-aging skin care regimen, Vitamin C is backed up by considerable research to show its many benefits:
– An increase in collagen synthesis, which helps to thicken the skin and may help to diminish fine lines and wrinkles
– Antioxidant activity, which reduces skin damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules) caused by exposure to sunlight and pollutants.
– Boosts the effectiveness of Vitamin E, which is important in protecting our cell’s membranes.
– An effective depigmenting agent at concentrations 5% or higher
– An improvement in the appearance of sun damaged skin
– Increases skin hydration by preventing moisture loss
2. Vitamin E – Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is a highly effective antioxidant. It works to protect the membranes of cells, lipoproteins, and many other bodily structures considered to be oily. Vitamin E is effective when taken both orally or applied topically. It helps protect skin from age spots and scarring and also boosts the skin’s natural moisture-retaining mechanisms. Vitamin E is often found in combination with Vitamin C.
3. Retinoids – Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A. There are several currently used in skin care preparations – retinol, retinyl palmitate, tretinoin, tazarotene. While retinol and retinyl palmitate may be found in over the counter preparations, the latter two require a doctor’s prescription.
Retinol’s benefits include:
– An increase in cell turnover leading to smoother, brighter looking skin
– Repair of cellular structure damage gradually in the epidermal cells as well as in the dermal collagen and small blood vessels resulting in tighter skin; fewer wrinkles.
– Shrinkage of oil glands, which helps to reduce pore size and diminish scars.
– Stimulates production of new collagen leading to a thicker, plumper epidermis.
4. Hydroquinone – Discovered in the 1930s, hydroquinone is often referred to as a bleaching cream. Hydroquinone exerts is effects by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, responsible for the production of melanin, a skin pigment. It is widely regarded as the gold standard in treating conditions of hyperpigmentation. It is safe and effective when used at low, recommended doses for short periods of time – up to 6 months.
5. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – AHAs are mild acids that are obtained from milk and fruit sugars. They work by exfoliation, or encouraging the shedding of old, damaged surface skin cells. Exfoliation allows a newer, healthier skin cells to grow in their place. Wrinkles, skin discolorations, rough skin and sun damaged skin can all improve with daily AHA treatments over the course of a few months.
Choose from a wide variety of AHAs including malic, mandelic, lactic or glycolic acid. While highly effective, they increase sensitivity to sunlight so a broad spectrum UVA/UVB blocking sunscreen is a must.
6. Salicylic Acid – Like AHAs, salicylic acid is an exfoliating agent for the outermost skin layer, the epidermis. Often referred to as a beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is different to AHAs in that it is lipid (oil) soluble as compared to AHAs which are water soluble. This characteristic allows salicylic acid to penetrate the oil in pores, helping to unclog and cleanse them of debris. It also possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These actions make it an ideal choice for individuals with oily skin battling with blackheads and acne.
Salicylic acid increasse the skin’s sun sensitivity making the use of a sunscreen just as important as with AHAs.
7. Sunscreen Filters – We can rave about the latest anti-aging skin care ingredients, but most skin care specialists would agree that without protection from UV rays they’d all be a big waste of time. Most skin care experts agree that sun exposure is the root of over 85% of skin aging.
Look for a product that offers broad spectrum, photostable (able to maintain stability upon exposure to sunlight) protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Effective filters include Mexoryl SX, Mexoryl XL, zinc Oxide, stabilized avobenzone, Tinosorb M and Tinosorb S which deliver a range of both UVA and UVB protection.
8. Green Tea – The benefits of green tea may be attributed to their constituent polyphenols, a subclass of flavonoids, found in many plants. Green tea possesses powerful antioxidant activity, reduces inflammation, and can reduce the harmful effects of sun exposure. Though clinical studies aren’t widely available, it’s likely that topically applied green tea polyphenols will have some effect on wrinkles or sagging skin.
9. Peptides – Peptides are protein fragments that have been shown to have some beneficial effect on skin. While a number of different peptides have been shown to have skin beneficial effects, two in particular, copper peptides and palmitoyl pentapeptide 3 (also called Matrixyl), have good clinical studies to back up their effectiveness in regulating the exchange and growth rates of skin layer cells, limiting damage generated by free radicals and anti-inflammatory action.
10. Soy – The benefits of soy may be attributed to their component isoflavones, phytoestrogens, plant estrogens that mimic some of the effects of estrogen. Soy isoflavones have antioxidant properties which help to prevent free-radical damage to DNA. In addition, isoflavones have been shown to protect against sunburn. They also help to decrease effects associated with skin aging such as a decrease in thickness, dryness and loss of skin elasticity.