One of the most important things to know about your skincare is whether the product is designed for day or night use, according to speakers at the recent Aesthetic Plastic Surgery/Anti-Aging Medicine: The Next Generation Symposium 2012 held in New York City.
The most active type of skincare products are called cosmeceuticals – a word that is a hybrid of cosmetics and pharmaceutical. Cosmeceuticals generally do not require a prescription, even though many brands are sold exclusively through physicians’ offices and skincare professionals. Yet some leading brands, such as Perricone MD and Murad and others, are available at retail stores and online outlets.
Cosmeceuticals are all about reducing the signs of age and should offer the following benefits: free-radical scavenging, collagen repair, redness reduction, hydration and pigment reduction, explained Dr. Neil Sadick, a New York City dermatologist.
“Cosmeceuticals are changing the paradigm of skincare,” said Dr. Sadick. What he means is that cosmeceuticals are very specifically formulated for day or night use. In the day, according to Dr. Sadick, products should provide broadband UV protection, ultra potent antioxidants, free-radical scavenging and 24-hour hydration. The issues addressed by nighttime products are cell modulation, inhibition of the dermal matrix degeneration, collagen production, pigment reduction and redness reduction.
Dr. Heidi Waldorf, New York dermatologist concurs. “A basic skincare regimen should provide protection in the day and renewal overnight,” she said. According to Dr. Waldorf, daytime products should include sunscreen, antioxidant/anti-inflammatory benefits, acne medication (if needed), pigment protection and moisturizers. Overnight products feature exfoliants, ingredients to reduce pores, acne medication (if needed), collagen stimulators, pigment reducers and moisturizers. She points out that gentle cleansing is part of both day and night routines.
Antioxidants play an important role in cosmeceuticals formulated for daytime use, and surprisingly many have botanical origins. For example, resveratrol, a grape extract, is a popular anti-inflammatory agent used in brands like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and Cellex-C. Coffeeberry, which is featured in the Priori skincare range, has 10 times the free radical scavenging ability of green tea, plus it improves fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.
Other potent botanicals to look for sound like they come out of your pantry; pomegranate, chocolate, wine, wheat, oats, apples, spinach, soy and pine extract.
Ingredients that promote collagen production are key components of cosmeceuticals. Retinoids or retinols, which are vitamin A derivatives, are still the gold standard when it comes to enhancing collagen. Look for it in best selling products like ZO Skin Health Ossential® Radical Night Repair Plus ($145) or SkinMedica Tri-Retinol Complex ($55).
Other proven collagen stimulators include peptides, growth factors and DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol). Collagen and growth factors break down starting in your 30s so these anti-aging formulations can restore some of the resiliency and vibrancy back to your skin that gets lost over time.
Hydrating and improving the moisture barrier function of the skin is important in both day and nighttime products. Hyaluronic acid is broadly used to enhance the skin’s ability to hold water and can be found in many products including Osmotics Cream Extreme Barrier Repair ($75) and Exuviance Age Reverse Eye Contour ($72). Other hydrators to look for are ceramides, licorice extract and dimethicone.
According to Philadelphia dermatologist Dr. Franziska Ringpfeil, “for reducing hyperpigmentation, commonly due to sun exposure, the ingredient hydroquinone has been used for years, but is extremely controversial due to its potentially toxic and irritating effects. A newer ingredient, called lignin peroxidase, which is derived from a tree fungus, presents a much gentler alternative and has been scientifically proven to decrease melanin after 31 days of use.” You can find it in the elure™ Advanced Brightening regimen of products. Another non-hydroquinone alternative is Lumixyl Skin Brightening System, a four part regimen that improves mild to moderate hyperpigmentation in 8 weeks.
Other proven pigment reducing ingredients include licorice extract, kojic acid, and tetrapeptide PKEK.
As with the antioxidants, many ingredients that have been scientifically proven to fight redness are naturally derived. They include feverfew (a type of shrub), pinus pinaster (a type of pine tree), thistle, aloe vera, turmeric, chamomile and licorice extract. If you are looking to reduce redness specifically, look for cosmeceutical products like Dermalogica UltraCalming Serum Concentrate ($53) and SkinMedica Redness Relief CalmPlex ($80).
Driven by research, the field of cosmeceuticals is ever evolving. New technologies include growth factors to support cell renewal, new-generation peptides to stimulate collagen and hyaluronic acid, new delivery methods and the brave new world of genetic cosmetics that target genetic processes that cause aging.
What’s next on the horizon? Customized skincare solutions based on your own DNA.