Skincare Ingredients Unboxed
Know Your Skincare Ingredients = A roadmap to your Fountain of Youth
The legend of the Fountain of Youth, the mythical spring that had the magic to restore youth to anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters, was advanced by Spanish explore Juan Ponce de Leon, the first Governor of Puerto Rico. He was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to Florida in 1514 and was told by the Native Americans that the Fountain of Youth was in Bimini.
Though we don’t know what he found, we do know one thing – many of us are influenced in our quest to find the Fountain of Youth “in a jar” by what we are told, word of mouth.
Instead, the challenge is to conduct our own research to unbox the scientific truth about advanced skin care ingredients that are available to help all of us reach for our own version of the Fountain of Youth to reverse the telltale signs of aging, to embrace pre-rejuvenation, and map our own adventurous path for skin rejuvenation.
With all the hype and marketing efforts, the social influencers, and celebrity backed advertisement’s overwhelming buzz that can challenge even the savviest skin care junkie, how do you choose your skin care products?
Hopefully, you start by understanding what ingredients you need to address your skincare concerns, and then read the product labels with renewed confidence!
Here’s a primer to jumpstart the process.
Alpha hydroxy acids
Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs work to exfoliate the top layer of the skin. By eliminating the dead skin cells, not only will your skin look brighter, more luminous and smoother, but the skin care products you use will work better because they have an easier time penetrating the skin. For those with normal skin, glycolic acid is a good choice and for sensitive skin lactic acid is recommended as it does not penetrate as deeply as glycolic acid.
This may be the first time you’ve heard about copper peptides – the most talked about beauty trending peptide right now. Copper peptides (formally called polypeptides) have the ability to work below the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. This is why peptides are able to help generate elastin in collagen deep within skin tissues. Copper peptides are quick actors that help to firm, smooth, and soften skin. Copper peptides also remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and scar tissue because they activate the skin’s system responsible for those functions.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Skin aging starts with a lack of moisture, so it makes sense that regaining a youthful appearance starts with super charging your skin’s ability to retain moisture or water (yes, we’ve made our way back the Fountain of Youth). The key molecule responsible for skin moisture is hyaluronic acid (HA) because of its capacity to retain water. HA works by attracting and holding onto water molecules, rehydrating and boosting skin’s moisture content and defending against moisture loss. And, like spackle to smooth drywall, the water acts as a kind of caulking into your wrinkles, which provides instant plumping to the skin that helps the skin’s fine lines and wrinkles to look diminished.
Hydroquinone is a topical agent used to lighten hyperpigmented skin conditions such as age spots or melasma or chloasma, larger areas of darkened skin that appear most often as a result of hormonal changes from pregnancy or birth control pills. Because the effect of skin lightening caused by the use of hydroquinone is reversible care must be taken to use sunscreen.
Kojic acid is a skin-lightening agent that works similarly to hydroquinone for skin pigmentation concerns. Kojic acid is derived from a fungus, and studies have shown that it is effective in slowing production of melanin (brown pigment). It is important to use sunscreen as continued use of, Kojic acid may make your skin more susceptible to sunburn.
L-ascorbic acid is a skincare powerhouse ingredient that helps to maintain skin barrier integrity, helps to ward off hyperpigmentation, and may help forestall the skin’s inflammation process. It is involved in collagen production and it is a sun damage protector.
Significant skin appearance improvements can be achieved with topical niacinamide.
These include the reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented (dark) spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). Improvements can be achieved in skin elasticity, skin tone and texture, and fine lines and wrinkles may be softened.
It also helps strengthen the skin’s protective barrier to prevent dehydration and water loss to plump the skin.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids, naturally occurring in our body that serve as building blocks of certain proteins needed by the skin, like collagen and elastin. And back to our Fountain of Youth explorers, there are many different peptides, and more being discovered all the time to send important messages to your skin cells to produce more collagen or assist in wound healing as examples.
Here’s a few popular peptides you may find in your skin care products.
- Argireline: a neuropeptide that inhibits the neurotransmitters that tell your facial muscles to move, resulting in firmer skin and fewer dynamic wrinkles.
- Copper tripeptide: one of the most well-researched peptides; promotes collagen and elastin synthesis and supports wound healing.
- Matrixyl: the trademarked name for palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, which stimulates the production of elastin, fibronectin, and collagen to reduce wrinkle volume and depth.
Polyhydroxy acids produce similar effects to alpha-hydroxy acids like sloughing off dead skin cells, but are less likely to cause stinging or burning, so they may be a better option for those with sensitive skin. They also provide anti-aging benefits that include increased skin thickness and decreased fine lines and wrinkles.
Retinol (vitamin A) are key anti-aging fighters. Retinol and their retinoid Vitamin A derivative offspring are important as some of the best anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and age-defying ingredients. They can enhance your skin’s texture through exfoliation and skin regeneration to reduce the signs of aging, sun damage, loss of skin firmness and target fine line and wrinkles. They can help lighten and breakdown hyperpigmentation, reduce pore numbers and size, provide a youthful glow, increase collagen and elastin production, serve as an antioxidant, improve acne breakouts and blemishes, and increase hydration, and plump up the skin.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) should be an important part of your skincare arsenal’s fight to keep your skin’s health optimal to forestall skin aging and retain firmness. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, particularly in regard to protecting skin cells from UV-induced damage. Vitamin C promotes collagen production to reduce fine lines and has the potential to thicken the skin which is essential for anti-aging and youthful looking skin. Vitamin C causes an anti-inflammatory response in the skin, preventing redness and inflammation even after sun exposure. Vitamin C has a positive effect on reducing hyperpigmentation at levels of 5%-20%.