Is your night cream ripping you off? Some of the most popular anti-aging products are totally ineffective, many of their claims are not even biologically plausible. And many more products carry ingredients that are formulated or packaged ineffectively. It takes 6 months to see any difference, so many women continue to get ripped off while they wait. I’m not an expert, but by having a basic science background and the neurotic drive to do some cosmeceutical research on pubmed, I’ve come up with a list of 5 essential and 2 non-essential anti-aging skincare ingredients. Drum roll please!
The 5 Essentials:
1. L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
small enough to penetrate into skin cells, vit C acts intracellularly to reduce free radicals that cause aging, it also increases collagen formation & improves skin’s elasticity. vit C is unstable, so do buy formulations with at least 10%, buy the most useful forms (L-isomer and stay away from vit C in the form of an ester), store it in dark, air tight containers, and keep cold in the fridge.
2. tocopherol (vitamin E)
works synergistically with vitamin C to reduce free radicals in skin cells, vitamin C regenerates its antioxidant effect, so find formulations that combine C and E; ferulic acid combinations work synergistically with C and E too.
3. glycolic acid
this is an alpha hydroxy acid, it is the smallest of its kind and therefore most easily absorbed by skin cells, it works by promoting exfoliation of skin’s upper layers; higher concentrations of this is found in chemical peels.
4. retinol/retinaldehyde/retinoic acid (vitamin A)
the most well studied of them all and is proven to be very effective. retinol reduces hyperpigmentation and blocks collagen breakdown.
5. zinc oxide / titanium dioxide (baby sunscreen)
the most important one of all! there are many options, but I prefer zinc oxide or titanium dioxide formulations because they are “chemical free” physical barriers to UV radiation. Other sunblocking ingredients may pose hazards with longterm use and actually increase free radicals in your skin. I’d rather be extra cautious with something I’m going to use daily for the rest of my life. Chances are you’re not using enough too, so double up, especially on days when you’re make-up free.
Now for the 2 ingredients you DON’T need:
1. hyaluronic acid
this is a large protein molecule with many hydrophilic branches that sticks to a huge amount of water. So although it is associated with moisture, there is no actual way for this molecule to get into your skin. It’s too big! It would be like trying to shove a brick house through a picket fence, ain’t gonna happen! It will just lay on top of your skin, giving you the illusion that your skin is moisturized. Don’t be fooled! It can be hard to find serums with vitamin C and E that do not contain this ingredient, but I would never invest in pure hyaluronic acid alone.
collagen is an enormous elastic protein that your skin produces. it forms our skin’s foundation and needs to be constructed from within using building blocks derived from protein in our diets. Topical collagen is simply too large to pass through the skin’s surface. I remember watching an episode of the Simple Life where Paris Hilton put on collagen cream extracted from penis foreskin all over her face, haha, not just gross, but a total rip off too.
As for my own skin care routine, I’m using a retinol night cream and sunblock for the time being, but I do plan on adding a Skinceuticals serum knockoff that contains vit C, E, and ferulic acid. I’ll update you guys in about 6 months with my review.