Trying to keep up with all the latest lotions and potions and their myriad of ingredients can be a minefield, but keeping skin healthy and young requires a combination of ingredients and products that work together to give your skin exactly what it needs.  So what are the ingredients you should be looking for in your skincare products?…

  • Sunscreen is your best defence against wrinkles.

  • Exfoliants increase skin cell turnover and help to eliminate wrinkles.

  • Antioxidants help defend against environmental stress.

  • Cell-communicating ingredients can “tell” skin cells to behave in a younger and undamaged way.

  • Skin-identical substances are the same as the natural components in skin that hold skin cells together and protect them, and help skin defend itself from environmental factors.

By applying ingredient specific topical skincare products you will help to prevent and may even reverse some of the damage that occurs as part of the ageing process.  Below is a list of ingredients that combined, will help to create a powerful skincare routine, helping to give you healthier, younger looking skin 🙂

Topical Vitamin A or retinol is a true skin superstar!  It’s an antioxidant which, when absorbed into your skin, breaks down and converts to retinoic acid, which can interrupt the free radical process and the damage it causes, making the skin look and act older.   It encourages exfoliation, promoting the formation of collagen, and helps to firm and brighten the appearance of the skin.  Retinol is effective at managing acne and eczema, minimising pores, as well as improving discolorations and wrinkles caused by sun damage.  But before you rush out and buy or apply a skincare product with retinol, make sure you take note of the following…

  • Not everyone’s skin can tolerate retinol, particularly if you are new to it, and it may cause irritation.  If you are a first timer to retinol, it’s best to apply it every other day and mix it with a moisturiser before application, so that your skin acclimatises to it gradually.  As with most things that cause irritation, if it does occur and symptoms don’t subside within a few days, you should stop using it and consult a skincare professional, as it may not be for you 🙁 

  • Retinol is best applied at night, as exposure to sunlight can make it unstable, and can cause photosensitivity

  • You should always use a sunscreen during the day anyway, but particularly if you use any retinol based products, and avoid sun exposure as much as possible!

  • Research has shown that using a retinol product in conjunction with an AHA exfoliant significantly improves its effectiveness in treating sun-damaged skin 🙂

Topical Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that over time, visibly improves skin clarity, tone and texture, and minimizes the appearance of sun spots, fine lines and wrinkles.  It also helps neutralise free radicals in our environment (think sun damage and pollution) and helps boost collagen that when broken down by the free radicals, accelerates ageing and even contributes to skin cancer.

Vitamin C can also reduce inflammation and irritation by improving the skins natural healing response, helping to fade those post breakout red marks and other inflammatory conditions.  It increases the effectiveness of your sunscreen and boosts your skins defence against UV exposure. You should definitely be incorporating a well formulated vitamin C into your skincare routine if you wish to stay looking younger and more radiant for longer!

So what should you be looking for in terms of a well formulated vitamin C?  Here are some tips…

  • There are various different forms of vitamin C, but the form that has the most research behind it when it comes to skin benefits is ascorbic acid—also known as L-ascorbic acid

  • Higher concentrations such as 15% to 20% are great for treating stubborn areas of concerns, but lower concentrations if mixed with other ingredients that smooth, repair and replenish skin can be just as effective.

Topical Vitamin B3’s active component is niacinamide, also know as nicotinamide.  When applied topically, it has been shown to increase ceramides (lipids that capture moisture) and free fatty acid levels in skin, preventing your skin from losing water content, and stimulating microcirculation.  It is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that boosts the efficacy of all other products, and used in conjunction with skin lightening agents, such as vitamin C, can reduce pigment and the appearance of sun damage, as well as acne.  It brightens, lightens, regulates oil, improves elasticity, and is a must have as part of your regime, regardless of your skin-care concern 🙂

Resveratrol is a polyphenol (micronutrient) antioxidant and is found in grapes, red wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, and cocoa.  When converted for topical application, it protects against sun damage, improves collagen synthesis, hydration and reduces cell damage.  It has anti-inflammatory properties and is suitable for menopausal, ageing and dry/dehydrated skin.  In addition, studies have shown that resveratrol can inhibit tumour development.

AHA (alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic or lactic)

BHA (beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic)

Sun-damaged skin causes the outer layer of skin to become abnormally thick, and for those with blemish-prone skin, the outer layer of skin is genetically thicker anyway.  By exfoliating the surface layers of the skin you loosen dead skin cells, clear pores, and increase skin turnover.  This helps to smooth the surface and eliminate some of those wrinkles.  Research has also shown that using a well formulated AHA product can increase collagen production.  When sourcing an AHA, you should look for concentrations ranging from 5% to 15%.  BHA or salicylic acid is effective in 1% to 2% concentrations.

SPF – Did you know that only 1 in 7 women wear SPF on daily basis!  The main cause of wrinkles is UVA & UVB damage and environmental damage – free radicals such as stress and pollution, so a sunscreen is an essential part of your skincare regime (yes, even when it’s cloudy!)

UVA rays age your skin and UVB rays burn your skin – you should be looking for broad spectrum formula which will protect you from both, and has an SPF of 25 or greater.

Your foundation may have an SPF, but given that the experts advise 1 teaspoon for face and neck (that’s a lot!), you should be applying a separate SPF prior to your foundation, as you won’t be applying nearly enough foundation to tick this box, and if you are, you’ve probably got too much make up on :-0

And if you’re in the sun all day, you should be applying your SPF every 2 hours!

Peptides are proteins composed of long or short chains of amino acids, and in skincare, function as ‘messengers’ that give skin the ability to repair itself with their cell communicating properties.  Most peptides used in skincare are synthetic because there is greater control of their stability and effectiveness when incorporated into skincare products, but there are also natural peptides.  Despite claims to the contrary, no peptides used in skincare products work like Botox, lasers, or dermal fillers, and they cannot plump lips, lift sagging skin (oh boo hoo for me), lighten dark circles, or eliminate puffy eyes, but they are a great moisture binding agent that’s good to see in a skincare product, and when used in conjunction with your other ingredients, can effectively contribute to healthier, younger looking skin 🙂

Vitamin E or tocopherol is considered an antioxidant superstar, and is one of the most well-known and researched antioxidants, both when taken orally and when used in skin-care products.  It is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s available in various forms with the most biologically active being alpha-tocopherol.  It works in several different ways to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage and to prevent collagen from being destroyed.  It also works in powerful synergy with vitamin C, and protects the epidermis (outer layers of skin) from early stages of ultraviolet light damage.  It benefits the skin by…

  • Increasing the efficacy of active sunscreen ingredients

  • Reducing the formation of free radicals (molecules that damage the skin) upon exposure to UVA rays and other sources of skin stress

  • Preventing the peroxidation of fats, a leading source of cell membrane damage in the body

  • Reducing water loss from the skin and strengthens the skin’s barrier function

  • Protecting the skin barrier’s oil (lipid) balance during the cleansing process

  • Reducing the severity of sunburn

Hyaluronic acid is a natural structural component of skin that has an amazing ability to retain moisture.  In a well formulated skincare product hyaluronic acid is a good skin-identical substance with cell-communicating abilities that can boost skin’s moisture content, provide defence against free radical damage and reduce inflammation.

Ceramides form about 20% of the skin’s intercellular matrix, or ‘glue’ that holds the skin cells together, and helps protect the skin maintain its appearance. When the skin’s outer barrier or ‘matrix’ is impaired, whether from sun damage, a dry environment, or irritating skin-care products, ceramides decrease and leave the skin vulnerable.  Replenishing the skin’s ceramide content is a powerful way to protect skin and help it act and look younger.

There are of course other great anti-ageing ingredients such as green and white tea, grape seed, curcuminoids (weren’t they in Dr Who?) and soy extract to name a few, that will all contribute to younger and healthier looking skin.  I’ve just picked a few my faves, and would suggest that incorporating even some of these into your skincare routine would be a great way to start the journey to great looking skin!

And finally, when investing in any of these products, mindful that you don’t have to spend a fortune to buy into this philosphy, any packaging should be opaque and preferably pump action (no jars that you open and dip your paws into), as all these ingredients will breakdown and deteriorate when repeatedly exposed to air or light.

I’ll be listing my favourite products that contain some of these ingredients in a future post 🙂

Article produced with reference to Paula’s Choice Skincare