When it comes to choosing the best skin care products and ingredients for your skin, it is always a good idea to keep your skin type in mind, so that you can choose the ingredients best suited to your skin’s individual needs.
However, while this may be the case, there are certain skin care ingredients out there that would benefit just about everyone, as they are able to boost the overall health of your skin, leaving you with a radiant, glowing complexion.
Hyaluronic acid has been in the spotlight quite a bit lately, and for good reason too…
This substance is naturally produced by the human body, and can be found in everything from skin tissues to joint fluid.
Wondering what it does?
It basically helps the body to stay lubricated, providing it with a soft cushioning.
So, if the body produces this naturally itself, why is it an important skin care ingredient?
Well, as the body ages, natural production of hyaluronic acid begins to decline, and this is accelerated by other external factors, from a poor diet to smoking. This decline begins in your late teens, although you will likely not notice the extra wrinkles and fine lines until your 30’s or 40’s, at which point it is too late to take preventative steps.
In addition to keeping the skin supple and wrinkle-free, hyaluronic acid is also a key ingredient when it comes to moisturizing and hydration.
Because hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning that it draws in moisture from the environment to the skin, and is able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. Its actual molecules are quite large, and are not able to penetrate the skin, but this just means that the hyaluronic acid is able to sit on the skin’s surface and help to boost the skin’s natural protective barrier.
When it comes to the many different anti-aging ingredients out there, retinol has been proven to be one of the most effective.
Think you’re too young to be worrying about aging skin?
Your skin’s aging process can begin as early as your 20’s, making it important to be aware of the most potent ingredients to help slow this down.
So, what exactly is retinol?
It is a derivative of vitamin A, and is usually available in two forms, as retinol itself or as retinoids.
Wondering what the difference is?
Well, both of these need to be converted into retinoic acid by the body in order for the skin to use it, but retinol takes more conversions than retinoids to reach this state. The more conversions needed, the weaker an ingredient is by the time it is transformed into its final form.
While both are available over-the-counter, prescription strength retinoids are also available for those who want faster results, but keep in mind that these are quite potent products.
But what exactly are these incredible results that keep being mentioned?
These are just a few of the ways in which retinol can benefit your skin:
- Rejuvenates skin
- Minimizes wrinkles and fine lines
- Speeds up cell turnover
- Resurfaces the skin, improving texture and pigmentation
- Treats psoriasis
- Treats acne
- Helps to protect against free radical damage
- Increases the body’s natural production of collagen and hyaluronic acid
- Reduces dark circles under the eyes
- Reduces hyperpigmentation
Have you never used retinol, or retinoids, before?
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Less is more when starting out, so begin by using it every two or three days before slowly increasing this amount, once you know that your skin is able to tolerate it
- If you have sensitive skin, opt for a mild retinol-based product rather than retinoids
- Do not use these products during the day, as they do not react well with sunlight
- Avoid using retinoids a few days before and after a wax
While aloe vera may be most commonly associated with treating sunburns, this natural ingredient has been used for centuries for skin infections and diseases, because its anti-inflammatory, bacteria-fighting compounds are just so effective.
There are more than 75 potentially active ingredients in aloe vera, from vitamins and minerals to amino acids and fatty acids, all of which give this botanical its incredible properties.
The aloe vera plant actually produces two different substances that are used in skin care…
The first is the gel that is found within the cells held in the center of the leaf, and the second is the latex that is taken from the cells that lie just beneath the skin of the leaf.
If you have sensitive skin, then you have likely already noticed aloe vera being used in many of the skin care products that you purchase. However, thanks to the fact that this ingredient is able to soothe and heal just about everyone’s skin, it is now being more widely used in commercial skin care products for all skin types.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants out there when it comes to skin health, and there is plenty of research to back this up.
Wondering what it does for your skin?
Here are just a few of its effects:
- Neutralizes free radicals, preventing oxidative stress and therefore minimizing sun damage
- Boosts collagen production, while also increasing its quality
- Aids in skin healing, and therefore reduces brown and red spots
- Contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help with acne and rosacea
- Regulates sebum production
Being such an effective ingredient, vitamin C can be found in quite a wide range of different skin care products, but you need to be aware of the fact that there are different versions of it, and not all of them are created equally.
The best one is ascorbic acid, as this is easily absorbed by the skin and has the highest potency. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, also known as MAP, can also be effective in quite low concentrations. However, Ester-C is another common form of vitamin C used in skin care, and this version does not really have much data to back it up.
Another thing to keep in mind is the packaging that your vitamin C product comes in…
Vitamin C destabilizes when it comes into contact with air, so you need to go for a container with a pump, rather than an open-mouthed lid. Smaller containers are also better than larger ones, as this is an ingredient that can degrade quite quickly, so you do not want to be left with large amounts of it after six months.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid, also known as ALA, is found naturally in the cells in the human body, and help with the production of energy.
Since it is soluble in both oil and water, it is able to enter every part of a cell, which is why it is often referred to as a universal antioxidant. It is this unique quality that makes it one of the most potent antioxidants out there, and it is actually believed to be 400 times stronger than vitamins E and C combined.
As mentioned above, ALA helps to produce energy within cells.
Wondering how this relates to your skin?
Well, the higher the energy levels of a cell are, the more youthful it remains, meaning that this ingredient can really help to keep your skin looking young and vibrant.
ALA is also a natural exfoliant, so each time you apply it to your skin, it helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing the fresh, new ones beneath. It even regulates the production of oil glands, preventing acne while moisturizing dry skin.
If all of that was not enough…
ALA can also help with puffy eyes, reducing wrinkles, enhancing skin color, reducing scar tissue, and minimizing pore visibility, resulting in the complexion of your dreams.
When purchasing products that contain ALA…
You will tend to find them mixed in with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C. This is a good thing, as ALA is able to boost the effectiveness of other antioxidants, making every ingredient within the product work to its full effect.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea has some amazing health benefits when consumed on a regular basis, and, when applied topically, it brings these qualities directly to your skin.
Green tea contains catechins, which are natural antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. In fact, one of the main catechins within green tea has been proven to be one of the most effective agents when it comes to reducing skin inflammation and cancerous changes.
Another one of its highly revered qualities is that green tea is able to significantly reduce sun damage, and can enhance the SPF of other products. This is why you will often see green tea included in many sunscreen formulas.
When it comes to aging, green tea is a powerhouse here too, helping to slow down the development of skin aging while reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
However, just like with many of the other ingredients on this list, green tea extract can be degraded extremely quickly when exposed to oxygen, so you need to look for quality packaging, while storing it safely in your home.
To boost the effects that green tea will have on your skin when applied topically, you should also try to increase your consumption of the actual tea too. This means that the catechins within the green tea can reach your skin both externally as well as through your bloodstream.
Your skin consists of three main layers, and its outer layer is what protects it from environmental damage, while retaining moisture. This outer layer consists largely of ceramides, which are essential when it comes to keeping your skin firm, supple and soft.
While your body naturally produces ceramide molecules, this slows down with age, leading to sagging skin, wrinkles, and a lacklustre complexion. Studies have shown that using ceramides topically can lead to a smoother and more youthful complexion.
Since ceramides help to strengthen and boost your skin’s outer layer, this is an ingredient especially useful for those who suffer from eczema, as this means that your skin’s natural protective barrier is already damaged.
Worried about where the ceramides in your skin care products have come from?
Until about ten years ago, ceramides tended to be derived solely from animal sources, but this has been rapidly changing…
Scientists found a way to extract ceramides from whole grain wheat, making this ingredient so much more accessible to the wider public.
Shea butter has become quite a common skin care ingredient, but this is because it can help the skin in quite a few different ways:
- Acts as a moisturizer, giving the skin a beautiful glow
- Can help to minimize signs of aging, by aiding in tissue cell regeneration and boosting the production of collagen
- Reduces scars and stretch marks
- Heals skin blemishes
- Boosts the effectiveness of sunscreens
- Reduces skin inflammation, meaning that it can help with everything from eye bags to rosacea and dermatitis
- Treats insect bites and stings
- Soothes itching skin
Since this is such a gentle, and natural, ingredient, shea butter can be used on all skin types. However, keep in mind that shea butter is derived from a nut, so those who have a nut allergy will need to exercise caution to ensure that they do not have any negative reactions to this ingredient.
There are so many other beneficial skin care ingredients out there, and the ones you use should be based on what your skin currently requires. However, no matter what skin type you have or what age you may be, the ingredients above are more than likely to benefit your skin, helping to give you the glowing complexion that you have been looking for.