Best Skin Care Ingredients – The Top Ten

ingredientsI recently  got an email which chided me for being too negative about too many cosmetic ingredients.   ” If you  don’t  like vitamin E, peptides,  and seaweed, what do you think is worthwhile” she challenged me.

Fair enough.   Truth is  there are  ten ingredients that I love because they truely deliver as promised.  Some are for acne, others for anti-aging and a few for sun proection.  Best of al,l only one needs a perscription.  I also relish the fact that in many of  them, the FDA requires that their concentration by percentage must be listed on the label– so you can see  at a glance  if  it has  what your skin needs.

1.  Glycolic Acid

Derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is considered the  most effective  form of alpha hydroxy acid.  In a cleanser, toner,moisturizer or mask, glycolic acid takes off dead dry  skin cells, increases cell renewal and stimulates  collagen production.  Its useful for oily skin,  acne prone skin and as an anti-aging tool.  But to be effective most glycolic acid  products need  to have at least 8%  glycolic acid in the formulation.

2. Ceramides

The cells of the top layer of the skin are held together by ceramides, a kind of fatty substance that acts like glue to keep cells in a healthy ordered pattern.   Even better, ceramides are equally important at holding  water molecules in the skin.  Ceramides like so many factors, decline in the body as we get older.  A ceramide moisturizer  definately levels the  playing field.

3. Vitamin C

Anti-aging properties have been attached to  many vitamins, but vitamin C is the one that has the science to back up  the claims.  Vitamin C ( AKA ascorbic acid) is essential for the growth of  healthy collagen.  In fact  the National Health and Nutrition study of 17,000 Americans found that  those with diets highest in vitamin C had the youngest looking skin and fewest wrinkles.  Even better, vitamin C is one of the few ingredients  that is truely helpful inside and out.  But and its a big but, vitamin C is extremely fragile and not effective in many formulations.  Exposure to light, heat, and moisture quickly  degrade  vitamin C   and steal its anti-aging properties.   When you buy vitamin C serum, make sure its packaged in a dark brown or green glass vial  with at least 5% concentration.

4. Benzoyl Peroxide

This skin care work horse is a tried and true acne buster that packs a one-two punch. It  can take off the top layer of dead dry  skin cells that are clogging pores and stale oil that is blocking the pores and  kills the bacterria in the skin that trigger breakouts.  Until recently the FDA alllowed a maximum of 2.5% in over the counter acne preparations.  Now this limit has been lifted and its possible to purchase formulations the have up to 10% benzoyl peroxide.

But benzoyl peroxide  can be very irritating and its best to start with lower  concentrations, and if well tolorated work  up to stronger formulas.  Like Retin A,  you should wait 10-30 minutes  after washing  your face before applying benzoyl peroxide.  Limit use of alcohol  based toners and glycolic acid products when starting with benzoyl peroxide.   Because it can increase sun sensitivity, always top benzoyl peroxide treated skin with at least a 30SPF  sunscreen.

5.  Zinc Oxide

Zince oxide is a white mineral that has been used for skin care since the time of the Greeks.  Over the centuries, it has been useful for ointments, baby powder, dandruff shampoos and  is  the primary ingredient in calamine lotion.   Currently, zinc oxide ( and its  cousin titanium dioxide) are  the dermatologists favorite sunscreen ingredient.  They are called physical sunscreens because they literally physically  block the rays of the sun.  Zinc oxide  sits on the  skin surface and shields the skin from both UV A and UVB says.  Because they are not absorbed by the skin, physical sunscreens are less irritating and less likely to provoke breakouts.   This means that zinc oxide sunscreens are the best option for sensitive and acne prone  skin.   Look for products that contain  at least 5% zinc oxide ot titanium oxide.

Next week– The final five ingredients  and  a list of  the affordable products that feature them.

5 thoughts on “Best Skin Care Ingredients – The Top Ten

  1. i have been using Dvita S serum… is this a good product. also i have been using A/B hydroxy acid night rejuvenatior… I have lost a significant amount of weight and i feel saggy and notice tons of wrinkles now more than last year.. i want to find products that work and help with the wrinkles and the sagging. I am a tummy sleeper and that doesnt help. I do love the cerave. I have very sensitive skin and had no issues with this. sometimes I feel thought the C serum has made my skin worse.. is there a better product

    • Congrats on the weight loss. I lost weight too this year, not for beauty but for the health benefits. However, no cream or serum deal with the saggy skin after weight loss. The skin has become stretched out from the extra volume of fat and when that is gone, the skin is stretched out– much the way a compfy well used pair of shoes have become stretched out. Lasers like Fraxel can tighten skin and fillers like Restylene can resotre some volume. Since you have sensitive skin, vitamin C serum can be too irritating. Retin A can also be too much, but full strength retinols like 1% from Skinceuticals could help refine the surface. I’m so glad you like CereVe and their new 50SPF sunscrren is gentle and amazing

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