Skincare Products 101
Do expensive department store skincare products live up to all the hype? There are literally thousands of anti-aging creams, moisturizers, lotions, serums, exfoliators, and cleansers available. You could easily go bankrupt sampling them all. But, did you know that many inexpensive brands work just as well as luxury ones? Why? Because they contain the exact same ingredients!
Sounds like a scam, but the blame can be placed at the feet of clever marketing. The key is to see through all the fantastic claims and investigate the ingredients that comprise the product. Most dermatologists agree the key to radiant skin is choosing products that are right for your skin type. In fact, many people don’t realize that the products they use can be worsening—or even causing!—the very skin issue they are trying to resolve.
Need an example? Many products for treating acne contain high amounts of alcohol or other irritating ingredients, which dry out the skin. This leads to unsightly breakouts—not exactly what those products promise to do.
So how do you choose wisely among so many skincare products? Continue reading to discover sage advice on how to choose the best cleansers, anti-aging creams, moisturizers, exfoliating scrubs, and more.
Most bar soaps are too harsh to use on your face. Surprising, isn’t it? This is because they contain ingredients that may irritate and dry the skin. Liquid facial cleansers or foaming products are less harsh, and some even moisturize your face as they clean. Most dermatologists recommend that women use a liquid facial cleanser containing ceramides—lipids that help skin retain moisture.
If you insist on bar soap, avoid soaps with sodium lauryl sulfate, which can dry skin. Instead, look for moisturizing soaps with ingredients such as glycerin and plant-based oils such as avocado or olive oils.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, use a cleanser containing salicylic acid, which removes dead cells from skin, or benzoyl peroxide, which helps unclog pores. These key ingredients may prevent further breakouts, too.
How do retinoids and over-the-counter moisturizers and serums that contain retinoids help diminish the signs of aging? Easy—by increasing cell turnover and building collagen. Another compound, GABA (gamma-animobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter, seems to work at the nerve level to relax wrinkles temporarily.
Befuddled as to how to pick out an anti-aging cream? Here are some tips:
- Try creams containing retinyl propionate or retinol, which are found in the skin as vitamin A derivatives.
- Read product labels. Ingredients such as peptides and the protein sirtuin help smooth uneven texture and improve skin’s elasticity.
- On the ingredient list of anti-aging creams look for the following terms: PAL-KTTS, copper peptides, and palmitoyl oligopeptide.
Dry air and pollutants rob skin of moisture. Your grandmother likely used old-fashioned petroleum jelly to combat these effects. Petroleum jelly has been used for decades as an inexpensive moisturizer. It works by sealing in moisture—but it’s greasy and heavy.
Moisturizers with emollients and humectants hydrate the skin without the greasy effect. Humectants help retain moisture while emollients help soften and soothe skin. Together they can temporarily minimize fine lines around the eye or on the neck.
The best skincare products both moisturize and provide anti-aging benefits. Be sure to look for creams that contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which plumps the skin temporarily, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s sad but true: your face is covered in dead skin cells. And ingredients in moisturizers and serums must fight through these dead layers to work effectively. Using an exfoliator twice a week will help slough off dead skin cells, allowing creams to penetrate thoroughly. It also helps make skin appear smoother and less blotchy.
And don’t worry about over-exfoliating. Some all-in-one skin cleansers and exfoliators are gentle enough to be used every day. For an effective but gentle exfoliator, look for products containing glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or malic acid.
Firming and Tightening Creams
No cream can turn back the clock like a trip to the medical spa can. Though many creams claim to dramatically tighten and tone skin, there are no firming or tightening products whose results are even remotely similar to what you get from medical procedures like dermal fillers or laser resurfacing. Some skincare products may contain collagen or elastin, but the collagen and elastin in these products cannot fuse with the collagen and elastin in your skin to help rebuild or reinforce those structures. The molecular sizes of both collagen and elastin are too large to penetrate the skin’s surface.
But don’t give up hope. Opt for skincare products containing vitamin A, also called retinol, which can improve the shape of the elastin your skin still has. Some research even suggests that retinol has the ability to build elastin. Applying a retinol product every night can lead to noticeable results. The same is true for prescription retinoids such as Renova.
Antioxidants aren’t just in oranges and apples. Many creams contain antioxidants, which help prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Some of the creams claim to diminish wrinkles, sallowness, and other signs of sun damage. But there are scientific studies that prove they really work as their manufacturers claim.
If you want to try antioxidant face creams, look for products containing niacinamide, which is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, or the antioxidants Coenzyme Q10, coffee berry extract, and soy extract. These ingredients may help reduce the signs of sun damage, making you look years younger.
Good news! You can fade unsightly age spots with drugstore beauty products. Over-the-counter creams containing licorice extract or kojic acid, a fungal ingredient, may lighten those unsightly age spots that crop up on the face and neck. But they won’t get rid of the spots completely. Women who want to lighten spots on their face should look for a cream that contains hydroquinone, which has been proven effective in lightening skin.
But you had better act fast. The FDA allows over-the-counter skin lightening products to contain up to 2% hydroquinone. In 2006, however, the FDA proposed banning hydroquinone. That ban has not gone into effect, but it could at any time.
You’ve got to be careful with skin lighteners. The FDA also advises consumers not to use any skin lighteners that might contain mercury, a toxic metal. Those products are made abroad and have been sold illegally in the U.S. If you see “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury” on the label, stop using it immediately, wash your hands and any other parts of your body it has touched, and call a healthcare professional for advice.
The sun is fun, and it’s hard to forgo a day at the beach. Yet it comes at a price. About 80% of visible skin changes attributed to aging are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. Preventing sun damage is the single most important thing you can do for your face.
Everyone should carry a quality sunscreen in their beach bag. Many facial moisturizers and creams contain broad-spectrum sunscreens that filter out UVA and UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 30 every day. Limiting your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, and wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, can also help protect your skin from sun damage.
The skin is the body’s largest organ. It needs appropriate nourishment to stay healthy. When your skin gets these ingredients in well-formulated products, it is better able to produce normal cells, generate new collagen, and fight environmental damage. Whether those special ingredients come in the form of a lotion, cream or serum, what counts is that the product contains the necessary beneficial nutrients, and doesn’t contain any harmful substances.
And if you want to go beyond just creams and lotions, consider treatments like laser resurfacing and dermal fillers, all of which can turn back the clock years in a matter of weeks. Contact your local LaserAway for more information. We’re proud to offer the most medical spa service options of any national skincare provider. We hire only the most highly trained staff experienced and certified in administering laser and other dermatological procedures. What’s more, we use only the most innovative techniques and cutting-edge laser technology.
We aim to make your medical spa experience comfortable, enjoyable and satisfying. Schedule a free, no obligation consultation today by emailing LaserAway.net or calling the staff at LaserAway at (888) 965-2737. We look forward to helping you turn back the clock.