A vitamin-A derivative, retinol has profound anti-aging benefits. When applied to the skin, it boosts skin’s natural defenses and mechanisms. The result? An increase in cellular turnover, which in turn improves skin texture and diminishes hyperpigmentation. In addition, retinol decreases the breakdown of collagen and elastin (two important proteins that maintain the skin’s firmness and elasticity) due to environmental stressors and even increases the production of new proteins to reduce wrinkles and sagging. Retinol may also be used to treat acne.
The skin is made up of proteins such as collagen and elastin, which are responsible for structural integrity, firmness, texture and tone. As we age or are subjected to environmental aggressors such as UV rays, those proteins start to break down. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks for proteins, and can stimulate the production of collagen and elastin for smoother, firmer skin.
A powerhouse antioxidant, vitamin C applied topically neutralizes free radicals. UV exposure, pollution, poor diet, smoking and a number of other stressors cause free radicals to occur in the body and vitamin C is able to neutralize them. Vitamin C can also trigger collagen synthesis, inhibit melanin formation to minimize hyperpigmentation and reduce inflammation in the skin.
Hyaluronic acid, or HA, is a natural constituent of the skin and connective tissues of the body, which presence decreases with age. It holds about 1000 times its weight in water and, when introduced in a serum or cream, can smooth wrinkles and plump the skin. HA is also used in dermal fillers to add volume to certain areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks and hollow eyes.
One of the alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) commonly used in skin care (along with lactic and citric acid), glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and is typically used as a chemical exfoliating agent. It works so that the top layer of dead skin cells sloughs off to reveal the fresher, smoother skin underneath. By ridding the skin of these dead cells, glycolic acid reduces fine lines, dark spots and acne scars and can prevent future breakouts by removing bacteria caught in pores.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from the metabolism of salicin (found in willow bark), though it’s often synthetically produced when used in skin care. Like glycolic acid, it is a chemical exfoliant that breaks the bonds between cells to get rid of dead skin. It is typically added to products that target acne because it is anti- inflammatory and anti-microbial and penetrates deep into the skin to unclog pores.
Think of antioxidants as your defense against aging that’s caused by sun exposure, pollution and stress. Whether ingested or applied topically, antioxidants such as green tea, lycopene and vitamins C and E (and there are hundreds of others) are compounds that stop or delay damage to cells by neutralizing free radicals, these harmful substances generated by the oxygen that we breathe, that are inevitably present in our bodies and damage our healthy cells. Antioxidants adhere to the free radicals to stabilize them, thereby limiting the harm they can cause to your cells.
Found naturally in healthy skin, ceramides are complex lipids that hold skin cells together and enhance the skin’s barrier to retain moisture. Aging and environmental stressors can lower your natural production of ceramides and compromise the skin’s defenses, resulting in a dry, red, irritated epidermis. By adding a ceramide-rich cream to your routine, you’ll reduce inflammation and repair your barrier function.