Beautiful, glowing youthful skin. It’s the Holy Grail for all of us, especially as we get older. What’s more, we’ll pay through the nose to get it, too! In the US alone we spend plenty of money on skincare. The average American woman spends $8 a day on her face alone! 1.6 million of us spend $500 or more on skincare within 3 months.
But what if you could achieve your skincare goals without incurring in massive costs? What if comprehensive skin care isn’t in the acquisition of more skincare products, but in ensuring that we get the right ones? Beauty products are just like anything else. There’s the good, and there’s the bad. The trouble is that the bad are slickly marketed and made to appear every bit as beneficial as the good. How can we tell the good from the bad when they all look so darned good sitting on the shelf of our favorite department store?
The best way is to turn that jar or bottle over and take a good look at the ingredients. While many active ingredients may sound impressive, there are many that are either a waste of money or could even do your skin more harm than good. The best brands will try to educate you as much as possible to try and help you make an informed choice. The bad brands will try to bamboozle you with ingredients which are essentially snake oil. If you’re to avoid wasting money on expensive but useless products it’s all about knowing which ingredients have the power to transform your skin, and which it’s best to avoid…
Good: Hyaluronic Acid
What is Hyaluronic Acid? Avon has a really comprehensive breakdown of what it is and how it benefits your skin. It’s found in the connective tissues within the body and is essential in helping our skin retain its oils and moisture, helping damaged skin to heal itself and protecting the skin from environmental factors like sun damage or extreme cold. It is a is a super hydrator that can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. As our bodies age, our skin produces less of it, and this contributes to the dryness and lack of firmness that many of us experience in old age. Thus, we need to replace our skin’s depleted stores of hyaluronic acid. For a long time it was believed that hyaluronic acid molecules could not be absorbed into the skin, but in 2014 a paper was published demonstrating the efficacy of “low molecular nano-hyaluronic acid preparation” in hydrating skin and combating the signs of aging.
We all know that collagen is a crucial ingredient of healthy skin. It’s what gives skin its elasticity and it’s the abundance of collagen in young skin that gives it it’s plump, full and firm appearance. The trouble is that collagen cannot be absorbed into the skin. The molecules are too big. It’s like trying to fit a basketball through a pinhole. Thus, while many products on the shelves may contain collagen, they’re best avoided. Instead, try filling your diet with foods which are proven to boost your skin’s production of collagen or perhaps take a collagen supplement.
If you’re looking for a topical treatment that can boost your skin’s production of collagen, try peptides. These bond to the amino acid chains within collagen and convince your body that its collagen stores are depleted, encouraging it to make more.
Retinol is widely hailed as a wonder-ingredient and this alone may be enough to give many conscientious consumers pause. But rest assured, retinol is the real deal! Retinol is a vitamin A derivative which help to prevent the breakdown of collagen cells in your skin to help it to retain its fullness, firmness and moisture. It can also help to fade sun spots caused by exposure to UV rays (which have a habit of aging us). Retinol encourages the top layer of skin cells to turn over and die rapidly to make way for the newer, healthier skin cells beneath. Retinoids have been used since the 1970s not just for plump and youthful skin but to help combat acne, warts and psoriasis.
Elastin is, as the name suggests a crucial component in helping your skin to retain its elasticity; a characteristic that’s pretty much inherent in youthful skin. As with collagen, as we get older we produce less of it and our skin begins to lose its firmness.
However, also like collagen it cannot be absorbed into the skin.
Who in this day and age doesn’t love a jolt of caffiene from their favorite coffee outlet? The latte swilling masses will be delighted to know that their skin also craves caffeine too… Although for very different reasons. Caffeine is a potent antioxidant which can help to prevent damage caused by the sun’s rays and counteract its aging properties. It also constricts the blood vessels making it a potent weapon in the war against cellulite. So, why not treat yourself to a coffee face mask or body scrub?
Avoid: Stem Cells
Stem cells have been touted as the precursor for many a medical breakthrough for some time, now. But while they could, theoretically be used to rejuvenate skin cells, it’s worth noting that stem cells have to be alive to actually be of any real value to your skin. And if they’ve been put into a face cream, sealed in a jar and stored on a shelf they’re unlikely to be alive. At the very most, you’ll have some dead plant stem cells with mildly antioxidant effects, but nothing more potent than a homemade coffee scrub.
Good: Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is effective because it helps to prevent the signs of aging while also soothing the skin at the same time. It aids the production of cellular energy and reduces the inflammation which is a major cause of skin aging. It’s also a great antioxidant, meaning that it can guard your skin against sun damage.
When you know which ingredients work and which are a waste of time and money, you have true power over your skincare regimen!