Skincare’s Great Eight: Navigating Product Ingredients

good-skincareLet me clue you in on a little secret: most over the counter skincare products are about 95 percent marketing fluff and 5 percent efficient. What most people use on their skin is largely based on how well it’s advertised. If I asked you to name five skincare companies, more than likely you’re going to recall names of lines found in drug and department stores. The reason being is that these products are advertised everywhere: so you recognize them and ultimately purchase them.

Unfortunately, mass marketed skincare does not always correlate with quality products that have the most benefit to your skin. As an aesthetician, I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had that didn’t have acne yet consistently used Proactive. Why? Proactive has one of the best sales campaigns in skincare. For those suffering from acne, Proactive isn’t bad; let’s just say there are better options for prevention and treatment of acne breakouts. The reality is that some products are packed with effective ingredients that are excellent for achieving or maintaining healthy glowing skin; while others are just water and mineral oil derivatives wrapped in pretty packaging. Ingredients are all that matter- not the celebrity endorser, and not the designer label. Let Chanel stick to making suits and handbags; leave the skincare products in the hands of dermatologists and chemists.

So what ingredients give you the most bang for your buck? Essentially you want products that are going to a) increase cell turn over, b) maintain/ boost collagen and elastin production and c) protect from free radical damage caused by environmental exposure (air pollutants and sun). As with food labels, read skincare product ingredient labels and purchase the products packed with the best ingredients.

Here are the ingredients you want in products, that will support healthy beautiful skin; I call them The Great Eight.

1) Vitamin A: The retinols. If you’re over 30 and use anything on your face at night, it should contain retinol. Retinols increase cell turn over and are a first line defense for maintaining skin’s collagen and elastin for firmness and elasticity. Retinols are deactivated by UV light, so they are only efficient in your evening routine. It’s important to remember, if you’re using retinols at night you must use sunscreen during the day, as these products increase photosensitivity.

2) Hyaluronic Acid: A polymer that occurs naturally in skin cells. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant capable of drawing moisture from the environment to the skin. Not only does HA draw moisture to the skin, it capable of holding one thousand times its weight in water providing hydration without the use of heavy creams or oils. HA serums are great for all skin types but especially beneficial for oily or acne prone types that don’t benefit from occlusive moisturizing methods (methods that block water from evaporating off the skin such as cold cream).

3) Panthanol: A derivative of vitamin B5, panthanol is used to help with hydration, reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Vitamin B5 is often found in topical serums to help boost skin’s moisture levels improving texture, elasticity and reducing redness.

4) Vitamin C: If retinols are the foundation of your night routine, antioxidants like vitamin C should be the basis of your daytime routine. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost collagen production and fights free radical damage all while brightening and evening skin tone.

5) Vitamin E: Also known as Tocopherol, vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that like vitamin C, has powerful antioxidant properties. Vitamin E helps boost the antioxidant properties of vitamin C when paired together. Vitamin E applied topically has been known to help reduce hyperpigmentation from scarring.

6) Ferulic Acid: Aother small molecule antioxidant that is found in plant cells, Ferulic Acid helps boost vitamin C and vitamin E’s protective benefits. The trifecta of vitamin C and E with ferulic acid is the money shot for your daytime skincare routine. Look for serums that contain all three.

7) Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Alpha hydroxy acids are chemical exfoliates that help slough off dead keratinized skin of the epidermal layer to reveal younger skin cells underneath. Despite the title of ‘chemical’ AHA’s are derived from natural plant sources. The most commonly known AHA’s are glycolic and lactic acid. Alpha hydroxy acids are great for treating hyperpigmentation (dark spots), evening texture, and preparing skin to better receive other skincare products. Like retinols these products increase photosensitivity, so always pair with sunscreen. Because AHA’s can cause skin irritation at higher efficacy levels, see your skincare professional for more information on how to best incorporate these products into your skincare routine.

8) Coenzyme Q 10: Coenzyme Q 10 is an enzyme naturally occurring in body cells that help fight free radical damage. Coenzyme levels decrease with age, making it a reliable biomarker for aging. A small molecule antioxidant, Coenzyme Q 10 easily penetrates the epidermal layer (the top layer of skin exposed to the environment).

I hope this helps! More posts to come featuring specific product suggestions for your skincare routine.

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