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All skincare products are not created equal—and using the right ones for your unique challenges and concerns can make a big difference in the overall health and appearance of your skin. Yet with so many ingredients and formulas to choose from, it can be tricky to know where to start.
Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork. Here are six key ingredients and how to start using them right now.
As we age, our skin begins to lose collagen, which is responsible for a smooth, taut, youthful appearance. Similar to how a grape becomes a raisin, this collagen loss leads to lines, wrinkles and creases. The best line of defense: Vitamin A (the main component of over-the-counter retinols and prescription-based retinoids).
“I like to recommend retinoids for my patients around their 25th birthday,” explains Dr. Vivian Bucay, a dermatologist in San Antonio, Texas. “Among my go to retinoids, I like prescription tazarotene (Tazorac) because in addition to its efficacy in keeping acne under control, it is highly effective in treating the signs of aging, such as fine lines and brown spots. My favorite office dispensed products are Alpharet Overnight Cream by Skinbetter Science, which contains a hybrid compound consisting of retinoic acid and lactic acid along with glycolic acid; it’s extremely well tolerated by all skin types. I also recommend Bio Complete Serum by Senté, which contains time-released retinol 1.1% paired with heparan sulfate, a compound that regulates growth factors and multiple other functions essential to all living cells and is very well tolerated by all skin types.“
There are plenty of gentler over-the-counter options, but Dr. Bucay warns that they don’t all contain the same level of this collagen-boosting ingredient. “Retinol can appear in a variety of ways on an ingredient label, and some derivatives are more effective than others,” she explains. Some good over the counter options include adapalene, which is the retinoid found in Differin Gel 0.1%. It is well tolerated and has a proven track record in treating acne and sun damage.
To reap its anti-aging benefits, some dermatologists suggest easing into retinoids by using this potent ingredient two or three times a week to minimize irritation and help the skin get used to it. Ultimately, you can work your way up to using it nightly, and then increase the concentration if needed.
This naturally occurring moisture-binding protein is responsible for smooth, plump, youthful skin, but like many other things, its production slows down with age. “The best way to side-step the time-related decline of hyaluronic acid is to supplement the skin with an injectable hyaluronic acid gel filler. Another option is to include a topical HA-based skincare product, which can help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as enhance the feeling of skin firmness,” explains New York City plastic surgeon Bryan G. Forley. “Hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal fillers are by far the most popular, non-permanent injectable materials available today for the correction of soft tissue defects. Among the leading HA fillers, the Juvederm and Restylane portfolios are the most popular and the product variations allow us to customize our treatment plant for optimal and lasting results .” Dr. Forley’s go to topical HA is Skinmedica HA5 Rejuvenator.
“Current research has shed light on the microbes that exists both on our skin’s surface and within the skin, and the role these microbes play in a variety of skin conditions and concerns,” says Thomas Hitchcock, PhD, Founder and CEO of Xycrobe Therapeutics. “We’re learning that combined with genetic predisposition to skin issues, a bacterial imbalance can contribute to issues with the skin’s barrier and perhaps even contribute to sensitivity, rosacea, eczema and more. To address this, we are developing topical products that offer pre-biotics, probiotics and probiotic metabolites derived from native skin microbes to help balance the overall skin flora and allow them to work in a concerted fashion with the skin and immune system.” Topical products that contain probiotics may help maintain an ideal balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep skin hydrated and minimize the effects of inflammation. If you’re curious, take a look at Tula Probiotic Skincare’s Kefit Ultimate Recovery Mask.
Studies have shown that resveratrol could extend the lifespans of mice, so it was only a matter of time before the potent antioxidant found its way into skincare. Found naturally in grapes, blueberries and cacao, resveratrol may help enhance the skin’s natural defenses against environmental damage, in turn improving imperfections that show up with age like fine lines and wrinkles. It also protects cells against exposure to free radicals, helping to maintain natural collagen and elastin levels. P.S. When it comes to wine, the darker the better. Red (cabernet) has more polyphenols than white (chardonnay). And you can also find resveratrol for your skin in SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E.
Yes, you read that correctly. Believe it or not, the lubricant that helps a snail get from point A to point B can have a positive effect on your skin. As weird as it may sound to apply this unexpected ingredient to your skin, it’s naturally rich in peptides, glycolic acid antioxidants and moisture-binding glycoproteins. Studies have shown it may help improve fine lines and wrinkles and smooth surface texture while boosting radiance. Biopelle’s Tensage Growth Factor products feature the secretion from the Cryptomphalus aspersa snail along with growth factors, glycoproteins and antioxidants to improve visible signs of sun damage.
Flavonoids are the plant-based compounds responsible for the vibrant colors of fruits and veggies—and they are extremely potent antioxidants. Berries, citrus, beans and spices are all naturally loaded with flavonoids, and a diet that includes these antioxidants can benefit the skin from the inside out. In addition, flavonoid infused skincare products may provide extra protection from environmental damage. To harness the power of nutrient-rich flavonoids, check out NeoStrata’s Antioxidant Defense Serum that contains a super dose of EGCG, the main flavonoid found in green tea.
NOTE: SkinBetter and Biopelle products were provided for trial, all other products were sampled, tested in store or researched. Opinions are my own.