Skincare 101

The definition of skincare is “the use of cosmetics to care for the skin”. Cosmetics' purpose is to modify the appearance, maintain the status, beautify or clean body's areas. According to this definition, they do really work!  However, if you expect a cosmetic to modify a physiological process, it's not going to happen.  Aging skin happens because of science, so naturally, anti-aging as a practice should also be based in science. An anti-aging product’s entire value lies in the nature and quality of ingredients, the composition of the formula, and how it behaves on your skin. 

Now that you know your skin type, and want to incorporate some kind of skincare routine. It’s important to be your most skeptical self when it comes to shopping for your skincare products. Stick with ingredients that are tried, true, and scientifically backed. While a few basic skincare ingredients have become household names, thanks to the fast-pace of cosmetic research, favorites like Vitamin C and Retinol are now accompanied by new combination ingredients. If you’re struggling to translate the 'mumbo jumbo' on product labels, here are some common skincare ingredients you’re bound to run into:

Hyaluronic Acid
This ultimate moisture booster has been used in skincare for decades. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is produced by the human body as well, and acts like a sponge, as it can bind over 1000 times its own weight in water within the skin cells. It appears that our natural level of hyaluronic acid in the dermis starts declining around the age of 25 (eek!). Nearly all of the currently available dermal fillers are composed of hyaluronic acid varying in viscocity (thickness), which, depending on where they’re being injected, need to be either denser, or more liquid.

Ideally suited for:  Wrinkles and fine lines, and dry skin. but, it's a great ingredient in any moisturizing product!

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Retinol (Vitamin A)
This product is often touted as a skincare miracle, and that’s because it is. Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, the multitasker of the skincare world. And, it fixes almost everything, from acne to wrinkles, oiliness, loose skin, enlarged pores, and scarring.  It works by encouraging cell turnover, speeding up new cell growth, and stimulating cell repair at the deepest level.  Retinol is the offspring of the (prescription-only) Tretinoin. In general, any concentration of Retinol can irritate the skin, which means that, upon beginning treatment, it may flake or feel dry. The irritation usually disappears once the skin has built up tolerance for this particular active, but it’s usually worth gradually implementing into your skincare regime.

Ideally suited for: Pigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines, dull skin.

Vitamin C
One of the most effective (and cheapest!) anti-oxidant actives around is good old Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid in its pure form. Vitamin C protects the collagen structure in our skin from the damaging effect of free radicals, and also lessens micro-inflammation in the skin that can cause acne. Found in most cosmetic products as L-Ascorbic acid.  Additionally, Vitamin C inhibits the production of melanin and also protects the skin (cells) from UV rays. Because Vitamin C is relatively instable as a substance, you should choose a skincare product that is protected from UV rays (dark or opaque container) and from air as well, for instance with an airless pump dispenser.

Ideally suited for: Pigmentation, dull skin and acne.

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Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) >>Nye-a-cyna-mide<<
This B vitamin has a particularly good ability to penetrate skin and communicate with skin cells, meaning it can address a variety of skin concerns in order to boost cell health. It’s particularly effective at shrinking the appearance of enlarged pores as it does so from within, which has more effective and long-lasting results, particularly if you suffer from congested skin. It’s also proven to reduce moisture loss and works effectively to erase discoloration and improve skin tone and texture.  Ironically, Niacinamide can both lessen and create redness, so it’s another one of those start out gently actives!

Ideally suited for: Wrinkles, enlarged pores, acne, dry skin and redness.

Glycolic acid (AHA, Alpha-Hydroxy Acid)
Acting as chemical exfoliants, these chemicals dissolve the bonds that bind skin cells together, allowing pore-clogging dead cells to be swept away from the surface of the skin. A gentler and more effective alternative to abrasive, scratchy scrubs, products containing AHAs are particularly effective at clearing blackheads and whiteheads from oily and acne-prone skin. Thanks to its very small molecular weight, Glycolic acid has excellent capabilities in terms of skin penetration and is most often used as a chemical peel. The skin will be much more photosensitive during and after any AHA treatment, and really needs to be protected DAILY with a good Sunscreen.

Ideally suited for: Wrinkles, enlarged pores, sun damage and hyperpigmentation, local cornifications and on dry/dull skin.

Salicylic acid (BHA, Beta-Hydroxy Acids)
BHAs are basically deep cleansers for the pores, and practically miracle weapons for acne-prone and blemished skin. If the concentration of BHA acids is listed, 1% is great for slight impurities, 2% for acne and visibly blemished skin.  Salicylic acid has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be combined with AHAs. Actually, they work even better as a duo, but your skin needs to be introduced to them gradually, as they are pretty effective! Salicylic acid works like a chemical peel, so – once again and with feeling – you gotta do your daily SPF!  I would highly recommend that you consult a Dermatologist before mixing & cocktailing any actives on your skin!

Ideally suited for: Oily skin, blackheads, blemishes and acne, as well as with rosacea*
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Lactic acid
Strictly speaking, lactic acid is an AHA acid and one of the fruit acids. It's acid molecules are bigger than those in AHA or BHA acids, which means that they can’t penetrate quite as deeply into the skin and doesn’t effect its thickness. But this is popular with those who have sensitive skin, as lactic acid is much more hydrating than glycolic acid and is generally more easily tolerated. It also boosts ceramide levels in the skin, which makes it smoother and more radiant.
Ideally suited for: Sensitive, dehydrated skin

Squalane is an ingredient in skincare that delivers softness, helps lessen moisture evaporation and acts like an anti-oxidant on the skin – similar to the Vitamins C and E.  It is a natural oil and used to be derived from shark’s liver, but today, it’s extracted from olives, and most recently, from sustainably farmed sugar cane that can even carry the EcoCert certification. Squalane creates such a silky finish on the skin that, in certain products, it can feel a bit like silicone.

Ideally suited for: All skin types as a non-comedogenic, gentle hydrator.

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The Coenzyme Q10 found its moment of glory thanks to beauty giant Beiersdorf (producer of Nivea), but it’s the perfect cell food for our entire body, and is also available as a supplement.  Q10 (also called Ubiquinol) in its pure form is a bright orange, yet 100% natural substance that strengthens connective tissue, catches free radicals and makes the skin more pliable. Which translates into less wrinkles. Generally, the higher the concentration of Q10 in a product, the more yellow it becomes.

Ideally suited for: Stressed out, tired skin
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Panthenol (Vitamin B5)
The official name of this active ingredient is Dexpanthenol, and it’s pretty great at binding water, which is fantastic for dehydrated skin, and for dry, damaged hair, too! B5 also encourages energy metabolism of skin cells, accelerates wound healing, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Ideally suited for: Out-of-balance, sensitized skin, fine lines and after-sun care.

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** Please Note:  I'm not a medical professional and not giving any skincare advice here on this blog!  This list is based on information I found on the Internet during my research.  It is imperative that everyone do their own research and consult their Doctor before using any products. **

And there you have it. . .  This is not a complete list of skincare ingredients by any means. It's just the basics. As a matter of fact, before this post is published there will be others, because new products are arriving daily.  Therefore, do your research and speak to your Medical Professional before you spend your hard earned cash on that $400 cream.  Don't forget to read the ingredient list too!  So, how long can we expect some of these skincare products to work?  Only your skin knows for sure.  Skincare is very Personal and Consistency is key. The best you can do for yourself, is use good quality ingredients that your skin NEEDS.  Not what every Suzy,  Neti* and Betty is using.

More info . . Here, Here and Here may be helpful to your research.

** Thanks for Visiting.  This post is F Y E.  If you like it, please comment & Email it to others. As with all subjects that have Health concerns, please consult with your Medical professional.  Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin  for new post updates, and on Pinterest**

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