Almost every month there’s an announcement of the next breakthrough ingredient in skin care in our quest to turn back the clock. It’s bewildering, and often unhelpful, so this week I thought I’d just highlight the 5 key tried, tested (and I don’t mean on 20 something guinea pigs but on 1000’s) and proven ingredients that are a must have in any good anti-ageing routine.
Vitamin A (Retinoids)
Vitamin A thickens and stimulates the deeper layers of the skin where your collagen, elastin and blood vessels are. It increases collagen production whilst slowing down its natural degradation during the normal skin ageing process.
It acts as an exfoliant by stimulating skin cell turnover, decreases oil production, improves cell strength and structure and improves blood flow. It improves many skin symptoms and if using a clinically proved product can help improve rosacea, pigmentation, acne, sun damage and lines and wrinkles.
Consult your cosmetic therapist/nurse/doctor to find the right active product for you – there are many out there but not all are strong enough to do a good job.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and a key to collagen production. Antioxidants are agents that neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals, which are molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C slows the rate of free radical damage, protects against the effects of the sun, brightens the skin and boosts both collagen and circulation.
Vitamin is an powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs your skin, however the body can’t produce it, meaning getting enough of this valuable nutrient through our diet is important.
Eating foods high in vitamin E or taking vitamin E supplements can help prevent premature ageing of your skin and damage to your DNA.
It is well understood that taking vitamin E long term can even reduce sunburn from exposure to UVB radiation. This doesn’t make UV exposure safe, just that the effects of it won’t be so severe on your skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)
AHA’s are compounds that occur naturally in fruits, milk, and sugar cane. The AHAs most commonly used in cosmetic products are glycolic acid (which is derived from sugar cane), salicylic acid (which is actually a Beta hydroxy acid) and lactic acid.
They all encourage cell turnover, dead skin cell shedding, improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and even out skin tone.
Used commonly in skin peels these can be found in many cosmetic products especially exfoliants and cleansers but also in products recommended for keeping the skin hydrated.
Peptides are chains of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins in the skin. Theses chains can send signals to our skin cells and tell them how to function.
As we age, or damage our skin through our lifestyle (eg Sun exposure, smoking), our skin’s most important protein, collagen, is broken down. A peptide applied topically to our skin can send messages to our cells to produce more collagen which in turn results in healthier younger looking skin.
Look for products with copper peptides – Agiriline & Matrixyl to name a just two, but there are many more.
Green Tea contains a lot of antioxidants that benefits the body in many ways. Its properties to help reduce sun damage are well documented but less known are the positive effects on acne, rosacea and skin inflammation.
It’s not clear yet if there’s an anti ageing benefit per se, but effectively reducing the damaging effects of the sun will ultimately lead to less lines wrinkles and a healthier complexion.
So when looking at skin products remember vitamins A,C & E, AHA’s, Peptides and Green Tea. The more anti-oxidants we can get in and on our skin the better. More importantly, give them time to work – you will need to continually use a product for at least 6-8 weeks to see a meaningful long-term improvement.