The Anti-Aging Skin Care Ingredients You Need in Your Arsenal
There's no shame in reaching the point where you dream of turning back the hands of time to recapture the skin of your youth. As the effects of age or sun damage become apparent in the form of fine lines, crow’s feet, sagging lids, age spots or dark circles, many of us instinctively turn to serums, moisturizers, lotions, eye creams, anything that will help us maintain our youthful appearance. While it’s easy to simply purchase a skin care product marketed for anti-aging, we stand to garner the best results when those formulations include ingredients proven effective. To help you become a more critical consumer of skin care products, we’ve outlined several of the best anti-aging ingredients with proven track records of providing results. While this list isn’t exhaustive–countless beneficial anti-aging skin care ingredients are available in over-the-counter formulations–it does provide a solid foundation from which to begin building a killer anti-aging skin care routine.
“Antioxidants” is a buzzword that gets used in numerous categories, including food, supplements and, of course, skin care; however, we can assure you that all the attention is well deserved. As cells metabolize oxygen, molecules called “free radicals” are left over. Free radicals are harmful to living cells and tissues and over time, can build up in cells and cause them to weaken and function improperly. Antioxidants work by neutralizing the free radicals – reacting with them so that our cells don’t have to. Additionally, antioxidants help boost collagen and elastin production in the skin, leading to fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Some examples of highly effective antioxidants include vitamin A (retinol), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (tocopherol), and green tea extract (polyphenol).
Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids
These two types of acids, known as AHAs and BHAs have amazing anti-aging abilities. Naturally found in various foods and plants, these natural compounds can aid in slowing the effects of aging. As we get older, our skin’s natural exfoliation process becomes impaired. AHAs and BHAs help keep our skin rejuvenating at a healthy pace.
AHAs are excellent for treating dry skin by hydrating it and improving texture. They also reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scars and can promote strengthening of the deeper skin layers and lightening of dark spots on the surface. AHAs work by dissolving the lipids that hold the dead skin cells of the epidermis (the skin’s outermost layer) together. This promotes faster sloughing of dead cells, replacing them with fresh, new cells.
BHAs can penetrate deeper into the skins’ pores to unclog them. They work in much the same way as AHAs, but are preferred for oilier skin types due to being oil-soluble instead of water-soluble.
The most popular AHA in over-the-counter skin care products is glycolic acid, the smallest of the AHAs and, therefore, most effective and penetrating skin tissue. Other AHAs include citric acid (from citrus fruits), lactic acid (from milk), tartaric acid (from grapes), malic acid (from apples), and more. The top BHA in skin care is salicylic acid, which comes from willow bark.
While inflammation is our body’s way of healing trauma, it is also a process responsible implicated in skin aging. While exposure to short durations of inflammation are nothing to be concerned about, chronic inflammation that lingers certainly is.
Causes of inflammation include allergic reactions, sun exposure, physical irritation, stress, cigarettes, and consumption of sugar and alcohol. Minor inflammation is characterized by swelling, redness, and itchiness but, often, it isn’t even visible on the skin’s surface. More severe cases of inflammation can cause permanent damage to the skin by forming scars. To soothe inflammation, many skin care products make use of anti-inflammatory ingredients. Prescribed by dermatologists, steroids are the most potent of these ingredients. Steroids, however, can affect the biology and functioning of the skin and cause health problems with prolonged usage. In contrast, natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera and antioxidants are very effective and completely safe for daily use. Pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera has a powerful ability to relieve temporary inflammation as well as chronic inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne.
Chains of amino acids, peptides are valuable for their ability to stimulate the growth of collagen, the skin protein that gives skin its strength. As we age or in skin that has experienced significant UV damage, collagen breaks down and the body’s ability to make more of it slows. With consistent use, peptides can help the skin become firmer and smoother, with diminished fine lines.
Lastly, perhaps the most underrated anti-aging necessity is sunscreen. Few things age the skin as profoundly as years of unprotected sun exposure. Compared to those who stay indoors most of the time, people who spend much of their time out in the sun are far more likely to appear older than they actually are while being at a much higher risk for developing skin cancer. After just a short time in direct sunlight, unprotected skin can burn and accumulate sun damage. Sun damage works on a cellular level. When sunlight penetrates the skin, ultraviolet (UV) radiation disfigures the skin cells’ DNA. This process gets worse over time and causes the skin to wrinkle, discolor, and acquire a dry, leathery texture.
In order to avoid sun damage, simply apply a product with sunscreen at least 30 minutes going outside. Physical blocks, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, sit on the skin’s surface where they reflect and scatter harmful UV light. Chemical sunscreens, such as octinoxate and oxybenzone, absorb UV rays and prevent them from penetrating the skin.
Have you used these a combination of these ingredients? If so, leave us a comment telling us about your results. And, as always, if you have questions about anti-aging skin care formulations or the active ingredients presented here, leave those here, as well, and we'll get you an answer.