Since ancient times mankind has been seeking the elixir for immortality and eternal beauty but as we have discovered, it does not exist. There is no magic potion that can save us from ageing, illnesses/diseases or our bodies and skin growing older with each passing season of time. And, coupled with environmental damage, pollution factors, hormonal changes plus the sun, our skin constantly needs a complex array of ingredients to repair itself. There is no cure-all.
But, the good news is that we can actually age beautifully, our skin can garner the ability to keep glowing right up until the end of our days. And this is largely a factor of how we live, eat, work, play. What’s our inner and outer wellness quotient and then yes the ingredients on the outside that can boost our natural repair systems like antioxidants such as Vitamin C and cell hydrating H20 (Water).
Just as in life there is no one thing that can give us our joy, our skin too needs a daily dose of TLC. And it has become daunting considering the thousands of skin care products that keep flooding the market, and each one professing that it is the ‘miracle cure’. Do not be fooled by this kind of advertising that is fueled by commercialism, and instead be sure to discern.
One of the first steps in understanding this is to know what ingredients to look for. So whilst there is no one miracle ingredient, we have put together a list of some amazing ‘go to’ components that you ought to be looking out for in the products that make up your skincare routine.
There are many and each one has their own attributes, so read on
Vitamin AFound in forms of Retinol and Retinoic Acid (and Tretinoin if you’re using Obagi Nu-Derm system). It is the most talked about the active ingredient and for good reason. It encourages healthy cell and collagen production whilst stimulating fibroblasts to firm up the skin, smooth fine lines and fade dark spots. Combining Vitamin A and Vitamin C products together into your skin care regime delivers a fresher, more youthful complexion.
Vitamin CVitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. It also reduces pigmentation and boosts collagen production which ultimately leaves the skin looking firmer and radiant. With its super anti-inflammatory power; acne and rosacea sufferers can calm their skin after using a Vitamin C derivative.
Vitamin EWhilst protecting skin from environmental damage and free-radical harm, it’s also extremely moisturising and helps to prevent TEWL (Transepidermal Water Loss). TEWL usually is a result of low humidity and rapidly changing weather conditions - which is quite often the case in our part of the world - as well as topically applied products that dry out the skin.
Another much talked about the ingredient which has been around for eons (Cleopatra was on to it with her famous milk baths aka lactic acid!). Every skin care brand in the world is now working overtime in their labs to harness the power of natural acids in a tube.
AHAsAHA Alpha Hydroxy Acid; are natural substances found in fruits (Glycolic acid derived from sugar cane) and milk-based products (Lactic acid derived from milk). They act as an exfoliant to break down the layer that forms the dead skin cells to the skin, to reveal a smooth and soft complexion.
BHAsBHA’s Beta Hydroxy Acid comes in the form of salicylic acid which is derived from the Willow Bark Tree. This acid goes deeper into the dermis to flush out impurities and unclog pores. BHA’s soak up additional oils without stripping the skin of its moisture and work better on acne and oily prone skin.
Polyhydroxy AcidPolyhydroxy Acids or PHA's are the next generations of alpha hydroxy acids. Whilst chemically and functionally similar in structure, they’re considered to be as effective as AHAs but less sensitizing, due to their larger molecular size and slower penetration. Gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are two such examples.
Hyaluronic AcidHyaluronic Acid is a natural substance found within the body, it can hold 1000 times its own weight in water thus making it a great hydrator. It improves the production of collagen, fights free radicals, maintains skin elasticity. It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties aid in wound healing.
So there you have it. There may not be a magic cure all but there are plenty of products and ingredients out there, not to mention treatments, which will help you on your way. But all this comes with a disclaimer: no matter how many wonderful ingredients you apply or ingest, ultimately they will assist only so much. The way you live and your outlook on life etc has the biggest impact. So keep a check on your stress levels and try to look on the bright side in the face of challenges. Laugh a lot, love fully and, as they say, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’!
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Author: Dr Amit Goyal, Aesthetic Skin Doctor at MK Aesthetics is also a well established GP Partner at a prestigious surgery in Milton Keynes with an interest in Dermatology and is the lead GP for Dermatology in Milton Keynes. He is also part of the Dermatology team at Bedford Hospital.
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Tel: 01908 766276