We all want them, most of us have used them, but do we fully understand what is in them? Sure it’s as easy as reading a product description from the back side of a bottle or from a product detail page online to see what the product is used for. However, each product we use has a different combination of ingredients in them used to help us obtain the skin care goals we set forth or to repair the damage our skin has incurred over the years. Being able to look at a products ingredient list and understanding each purpose is something I find that most people cannot do.
The following list below will provide some of the most widely used and most talked about ingredients found in the products we use and love. These descriptions will help you to identify and understand the key ingredients listed in a product, as well as the benefits each has to offer.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid is a fruit acid used to exfoliate, smooth skin texture & help to prevent or even treat acne.
Glycolic Acid (AHA) is used to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, treat acne scars, treat any skin discoloration, exfoliate the outer skin surface, and improve skin texture. Glycolic acid is a natural chemical or fruit acid derived from sugar cane. A daily SPF should be used with products containing this ingredient because it can cause the skin to be more prone to sunburn.
Lactic Acid (AHA) AKA milk acid is used for its moisturizing, exfoliating, and slight lightening properties. People with sensitive skin can tolerate this ingredient more easily than glycolic because the molecule is larger, thus the acid takes longer to penetrate the skin. A daily SPF should be used with products containing this ingredient because it can cause the skin to be more prone to sunburn.
Malic Acid (AHA) is a fruit acid that is used to help soften rough skin and also has superior hydration properties. A daily SPF should be used with products containing this ingredient.
Mandelic Acid (AHA) is used to smooth away dull, dry skin. It is also used to reduce fine lines or wrinkles, prevent acne, reduce skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation, and helps kill bacteria. Mandelic acid is derived from almonds. A daily SPF should be used with products containing this ingredient.
Tartaric Acid (AHA) is used as a non chemical lightener and is extracted from bearberry. It is also an antioxidant.
Salicylic Acid (BHA- Beta Hydroxy Acid) is oil soluble; penetrating into the pore and exfoliating inside the oil gland. It has antimicrobial & preservative properties and is derived from plants, typically willow bark. It is used to fight off blackheads, white heads, clogged pores, even out skin tone, treat fine lines and wrinkles. A daily SPF should be used with products containing this ingredient.
Antioxidants are used to help aid in reduction of aging and to help protect your skin from environmental damage. Antioxidants attack and neutralize free radicals or cells with unpaired electrons. Cells with unpaired electrons attack healthy cells in order to gain electrons, when they do this they damage yet more healthy cells. Antioxidants essentially donate their electrons thus neutralizing further cell damage.
Ascorbic Acid is an antioxidant and better known as Vitamin C. Found in fruit and vegetables, it is a skin protector and helps to boost collagen production.
Benzoyl Peroxide is an antibacterial organic compound found in many over the counter medications used to treat acne.
Collagen is a fibrous protein used to firm and strengthen the skin.
Copper Peptide is an antioxidant blend used to help protect the skin from cellular damage. It also promotes the production of elastin and collagen.
DMAE (Dimethylethanolamine) is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory organic compound used to help improve muscle tone and skin tone. DMAE can be found in several types of fish.
Elastin is a fibrous protein found with collagen within the dermis, it is used to help firm and strengthen the skin thereby giving it structure.
Enzymes are natural proteins used to clear away dead skin cells.
Epidermal Growth Factor is used to help speed up the process of skin cell renewal and aids in the repair of damaged skin.
GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) is a complex that causes muscles to relax, making the skin appear smoother. GABA is found in foods such as almonds, lentils, bananas, spinach and beef liver to name just a few.
Glucosamine is used to balance pH and stabilize pigment production. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Glucosamine can be extracted from the shells of crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp and lobster. It can also be derived from corn.
Hyaluronic Acid is a natural complex carbohydrate that is found in skin and connective tissue within the body. It protects the skin from moisture loss and can assist with the reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid used in skin care products can be manufactured through a bacterial fermentation process.
Hydroquinone is a chemical agent used to bleach the skin. Sensitive skin types may not react well to this ingredient and a daily SPF should be used with products containing this ingredient.
Idebenone is an antioxidant used to assist with protecting the skin from free radical damage (See: Antioxidant). It is an organic compound. Idebenone is thought to be similar to coenzyme Q10.
Kojic Acid is a naturally occurring ingredient found in mushrooms. It is used to break up excess pigmentation and has similar effects as hydroquinone.
Niacinamide is a Vitamin B3 complex used to reduce inflammation and boost collagen production. Niacinamide is found in foods such as green vegetables, beans, fish and milk, to name a few.
Peptide is a composite or chain of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Peptides are used to relax wrinkles and are easily absorbed into the skin.
Retinol is a form of Vitamin A used to promote cell renewal in the skin.
Sodium Hyaluronate is a form of hyaluronic acid and is used as a moisturizer.
Sulfur is a naturally occurring element used to help soothe skin irritation and heal the skin.
Urea is used to help retain skin moisture.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant used to help produce collagen.
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient used to help improve circulation and also aids in under eye swelling reduction.
Yeast Protein is a substance used to control oil production and balance skin moisture.
Next time you look for new skin care products or look at the products you already use, you will be able to identify the ingredients used in the product and understand why you would or wouldn’t want to use a particular product. It is a very important factor in determining what products you should be using and if you aren’t using the correct products. Your time spent committed to these products is precious and so who wouldn’t want to know about these ingredients which produce your skin care products!
Sources: Skinfopedia, Health Information Directory