The most effective ingredients for your skin:
- Retinoids: Retinol
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Matrixyl (peptides)
- Glucosamine HCL
- CoEnzyme Q10
Retinoids: Retinol: The Fountain of Youth? Extensive research shows that topical retinoids can reduce fine wrinkles and skin roughness, increase the thickness of the top layer of the skin and stimulate collagen deeper in the skin. All of this produces healthier, younger-looking skin. Your skin can continue to improve for up to a year of continual use. Tretinoin is a form of retinoic acid related to vitamin A. All forms of tretinoin require a doctor’s prescription.
The retinoids’ most common side effects are skin irritation and a slight increase in sun sensitivity. You can minimize this by using products with a lesser concentration of tretinoin.
The original Retin-A was meant to peel skin on acne patients, so it can be quite drying and irritating. Renova, another tretinoin product, has an emollient or moisturizing base, markedly reducing the dryness and irritation that occurs with Retin-A. Other products, like Retinol, decreases the chance of irritation.
Apply these products sparingly, and only in the evening. If they do irritate you, remember that your skin may get used to it over time.
Tretinoin can also be a very effective treatment for stretch marks. To reduce stretch marks, apply a tretinoin product every day for three months. If the treated area becomes too dry and itchy, discontinue it for a day or two and then use it every two or three nights. Most patients will have some improvement of their stretch marks, and many will have their stretch marks significantly reduced.
Several years ago, Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) emerged as the new miracle for skin. They peel away old skin like nothing seen before.
AHAs work differently according to their concentration, so they can work for you in different types of products. After all, you don’t want a daily moisturizer with the intensity of a deep chemical peel.
AHAs are a group of organic carboxylic acids used for centuries to moisturize, cleanse, improve texture and smooth skin. They originally came from natural products, like sugar cane, apples, grapes, lemons, sauerkraut and sour milk, each containing its own kind of AHA. Glycolic is the most popular. Today you can also find synthetically produced AHAs.
AHAs have been widely used the past several years. In high-strength peels (35-70%), they improve mildly-aged, sun-damaged skin. They also thicken skin and increase collagen.
Most cosmetics and moisturizers with glycolic acid have a concentration between 5% and 12%. The benefits of these over-the-counter products aren’t clear. At 35% to 70% glycolic acid can penetrate more deeply into the skin and act as a superficial peeling agent.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid peels reduce scaliness and roughness, improving surface appearance. You can have acid peels weekly, bimonthly or monthly, depending on skin damage and skin sensitivity.
Scientists have not determined exactly how AHAs work. We believe they slowly dissolve the glue that holds the cells together in the top layer of the skin. This causes mild shedding, which reduces flakiness and smoothes skin.
Over time these peels may increase collagen in deeper layers of the skin. Routine AHA peels make your skin thicker, smoother, softer and less wrinkled.
Free radicals which are produced by our skin during normal metabolism, smoking, sun exposure and exposure to pollutants, are a major contributor to skin aging. Topical antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and alpha lipoic acid) have been shown to inhibit the destructive properties of free radicals in the skin.
Most Vitamin C Products Waste Your Time and Money
Free radicals produced by your skin can damage the supporting structure and make you age faster. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant, which means it prevents the formation of these free radicals for you.
It helps produce collagen, which keeps your skin firm. You need vitamin C to rebuild collagen and reduce wrinkles. However, many vitamin C creams won’t t help you much. Even if they have L-ascorbic acid, the active form of vitamin C, most products can’t keep the vitamin stable and absorbable by the skin. Newer vitamin C lotions with ingredients such as Trisodium ascorbyl phosphate and Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate are water-based and far more stable. This keeps the vitamin C’s healing effects effective and powerful.
Many higher potency products with vitamin C also contain the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine may contribute to hyper-pigmented skin. Patients with hyperpigmented skin should avoid tyrosine and be careful about vitamin C products that contain it.
The potent antioxidant Vitamin E protects cell membranes against free-radical damage. On animal skin, vitamin E cream reduces cell production, sunburn redness and swelling.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Antioxidants help prevent the formation of free radicals, a major cause of aging. Alpha Lipoic Acid, a potent antioxidant, works like a normal antioxidant getting rid of free radicals. Your body routinely converts some of it into dihydrolipoic acid, an even more powerful antioxidant.
Youthful skin has lots of hyaluronic acid. A jellylike substance with a high concentration of hyaluronic acid fills the space between the columns of collagen and elastic fibers. It has the ability to retain high concentrations of water, thereby plumping up the skin. It helps transport essential nutrients to the live cells of the skin. Free radicals break it down. It helps the skin retain moisture.
A pentapeptide that helps reduce wrinkles and renews the skin’s outer layer by regenerating damaged skin. It also stimulates collagen production and improves skin thickness
A combination of active peptides and proteins that boosts collagen synthesis, inhibits enzymatic destruction of collagen fibrils and aids in making collagen fibrils uniform with normal spacing which gives suppleness to the skin.
Testing has shown that this product improves collagen and hyaluronic acid synthesis and helps skin to stay moist.
Studies have shown its ability to strengthen skin barrier integrity, reduce water-loss from the skin and increase the formation of lipid components of the skin
Increase skin’s resistance to ultraviolet radiation. It also protects against water loss
CoEnzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies produce to help protect cells from free radicals. Doctors recommend it to prevent heart disease. Since levels of CoEnzyme Q10 decrease as we age, some physicians feel that free radicals associated with heart problems may also cause skin aging. CoEnzyme Q10 may have the same beneficial effects on the skin that it does on the heart. Early studies are encouraging, but the jury is still out.
Ursolic acid that stimulates lipid production to improve the skin barrier and to moisturize the skin from the inside.
Phyrolase derived from photosynthetic plankton which absorbs visible light to help reverse damage caused by shorter wavelength ultraviolet damage.
The marine enzyme MDI complex works as a 100% water soluble preservative system. Containing glycoaminoglycans, it reduces collagenase, a substance in your skin that breaks down your skin’s foundation of collagen. MDI complex also keeps skin cells bonded to one another and contributes to skin’s firmness and elasticity. It also retards skin sagging and fine lines, decreases skin redness and reduces the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. Now there’s a cosmetic I can endorse.
Furfuryladenine is a natural plant-growth factor that slows the aging process in plants. Leaves that have been cut will not turn brown if they are dipped in furfuryladenine. Studies indicate that furfuryladenine cream has a similar effect on human skin cells, slowing and perhaps reversing changes that occur in the aging process. Few products contain this ingredient, sometimes called kinectin.
Like So Much Snake Oil
You now know which ingredients can help your skin, but what about the other “miracles” you were certain turned back the clock? You can find the following substances in countless skin products from department stores, health food stores or your corner grocery store. You may be surprised at what cannot help your skin.
Collagen and Elastin
Collagen and elastin add to the structural integrity of the skin. Loss of these leads to wrinkles and facial sagging. Replenishing collagen and elastin in the dermis may reverse signs of aging. If collagen is so great, why not put it directly on the skin? Because these large proteins cannot penetrate skin deeply enough to have a lasting effect, making creams with collagen and elastin useless.
Some cosmetic companies claim that placenta extract increases blood flow to the skin and aids in cell growth and function. However, no scientific evidence substantiates these claims.
Amniotic fluid has been added to topical preparations in hopes that it could penetrate the skin and promote cell growth. This theory has not been proven.
Researchers are still questioning whether a topically applied cream can maintain healthy collagen or promote the production of new collagen. There are a few studies involving an estrogen cream that show it might be beneficial.