The beauty world discovers a new miraculous ingredient every month. A rare extract that can make you look 10 years younger, a revolutionary complex that can activate genes, smart actives that understand the need of your skin and deliver targeted repair… Claims keep getting bolder and bolder.
Even when these ingredients are effective at treating the signs of aging (although they are never as powerful as companies would like us to believe), there really isn’t one that is better than the other. Just like your body needs different fruits, vegs, fish, meat, and even carbs to be healthy, so your skin needs several ingredients to work and look its best.
In particular, there are 5 anti-aging superstars that should be included in any skincare routine. Here they are:
1. Alpha Hydroxy Acids
A lot of women use scrubs with small beads, grains, or particles to remove dead cells off their skin. Seeing all that gunk come off can be pretty satisfying, but these scrubs can also irritate skin. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, are much gentler. They work by dissolving the glue that holds these cells together, allowing them to slow off and reveal the brighter, smoother, even-toned skin underneath. But that’s not the only reason why you should prefer AHAs exfoliants to physical scrubs. AHAs can also stimulate collagen production, thus helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Only if you have oily or acne-prone skin should you opt for a BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant. That’s because salicylic acid can penetrate inside the pores, exfoliating them from within, thus treating and preventing breakouts.
A form of Vitamin A, retinol is one of the few ingredients that can reverse the signs of aging. But don’t expect any overnight miracles. It works slowly. How? Retinol can firm skin by boosting collagen production, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as discolourations by increasing cell-turnover. However, retinol can irritate skin when you first start using it. For this reason, it is recommended you start with a low dose and increase it slowly. Also, use it every other day at first, and, once your skin has got used to it, increase frequency too. Less irritating, but also less effective, forms of vitamin A used in skincare are retinyl palmitate, and retinylaldehyde. All of them must be packaged in an opaque, air-tight container to prevent light and air from spoiling them.
Best picks: FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum and Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream with 1.0% Pure Retinol
Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, green tea, coenzyme q-10, and ferulic acid, can fight free radicals, thus helping to keep the signs of aging at bay. Some of them can also stimulate collagen production and reduce discolourations. Which one should you use? A combination of them works best. For example, vitamins C and E can enhance each other’s effectiveness and boost photoprotection against UV rays. They work even better when used with ferulic acid (although they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for sunscreen).
A stable form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is one of the most versatile ingredients used in skincare. It can increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in the skin and reduce water loss, thus helping to keep skin hydrated. It can also reduce hyperpigmentation, soothe rosacea, and treat acne. There is no excuse not to use it.
Did you know that UV rays are responsible for 80% of the visible signs of aging? That means that, no matter how many effective anti-aging products you use, none of them are gonna do your skin much good if you insist on not wearing sunscreen every day, even in winter. If you can see the sun, it can see you, and damage your skin, causing wrinkles, dark spots, and even cancer. But not any sunscreen will do. It must provide broad spectrum protection. My favourite sunscreen ingredient is zinc oxide because it protects, on its own, from all UVB and UVA rays without irritating skin. But a sunscreen with an effective combination of both UVA and UVB filters works well too. Just remember to apply it literally and touch it up throughout the day.
How many anti-aging superstars are you using?