A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Ingredients in Skincare
As skincare and the importance of taking care of one’s skin increases in popularity, shopping for skincare can become more and more daunting. Especially if you are not sure what to look out for. That's why we created a comprehensive list of the top 10 most common ingredients in skincare and their functions.
- Knowing what the ingredients in skincare products do is a great first step to curating your personal regimen.
- These ingredients can moisturize, rejuvenate, exfoliate, and even more.
Before you can know which ingredients in skincare products will be the most effective for you, you have to figure out your skin type. Your skin type will tell you what your skin needs and will help you on your journey of finding the best ingredients for your skin. When you read through these ingredients, look out for the conditions that seem ideal for your skin.
1. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid (HA), actually occurs naturally in the body in your joints, eyes and skin. When applied to the surface of the skin, HA works as a humectant to help your skin retain moisture. Hyaluronic acid can absorb up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it one of the major ingredients in skincare when it comes to battling dry skin.
Hylauronic is also great for oily and acne prone skin since it is non-comedogenic - meaning it hydrates without clogging your pores, making it a great moisturizer. For oily skin, it is best to avoid oil-based serums even if they have hyaluronic acid as it can still clog your pores.
Retinol is derived from Vitamin A and can do a lot for your skin such as aging support, acne relief, and overall skin rejuvenation. Retinol helps keep pores clear by reducing the buildup of skin cells. Plus, it can block inflammation pathways in the skin. Your skin cells naturally turn over revealing fresh cells underneath, but this happens less frequently as you age, which can lead to a duller complexion. Which also leads to fine lines and wrinkles.
A common misconception is retinol is not for younger people but fine lines and wrinkles can appear at any age. Retinol helps speed up this turnover process and promote brighter, smoother skin. It also goes deeper into the skin to encourage collagen production and further plump the skin. There are different types of retinol with different strength levels such prescription strength retinol and topical retinoids that contain like 1% to 2% of retinol. Retinol can be used on all skin types, but those with sensitive skin should be mindful of the strength of retinol they are taking as it can irritate their skin.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions. These include: helping to protect cells and keeping them healthy, maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage. Vitamin C promotes collagen production, which has the potential to thicken the dermis, diminish fine lines, and is essential for firm, youthful skin.
On top of that, vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it protects skin cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure. It also inhibits melanin production in the skin, which helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots, even out skin tone, and enhance skin radiance. Vitamin C also helps to repair damage from sun exposure and collagen loss by encouraging healthy cell turnover and regeneration. Vitamin C serums and oils are beneficial to every skin type.
4. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is an FDA approved skincare ingredient used for the topical treatment of acne. Salicylic acid is best known for its ability to deep clean excess oil out of pores and reduce oil production moving forward, making it perfect for oily skin. Because salicylic acid keeps pores clean and unclogged, it prevents future whiteheads and blackheads from developing. Salicylic acid also exfoliates dead skin, and its anti-inflammatory properties make it one of the prime ingredients in skincare for those with psoriasis.
5. Castor Oil
Castor oil has many potential benefits. For one, castor oil contains antioxidants that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are responsible for accelerating the aging process, making wrinkles appear sooner. Castor oil has antibacterial properties. Bacteria on your face can clog pores and lead to acne.
Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce swelling and puffiness. It could reduce the size of inflamed pimples or eye bags as well. Moisture keeps your skin looking young, shiny, and healthy. Moisture also prevents wrinkles.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil may ease the pain associated with sunburn. Its moisturizing qualities may also reduce peeling. Castor oil is a very common ingredient in both lipstick and lip gloss. If you have dry lips, skip the color and use castor oil. But you may want to mix it with a better-tasting oil, like coconut oil. Castor oil is full of healthy fatty acids. Fatty acids are essential to maintaining good skin health.
Niacinamide, also called nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B-3, an essential nutrient. Protects against sun damage. Niacinamide can concurrently rebuild healthy skin cells while also protecting them from damage caused by ultraviolet rays, treats hyperpigmentation and increases collagen production. It also minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.
Niacinamide helps build cells in the skin while also protecting them from environmental stresses, such as sunlight, pollution, and toxins.Niacinamide is also helpful for severe acne, especially inflammatory forms like papules and pustules. Over time, you may see fewer lesions and improved skin texture. Niacinamide is one of the ingredients in skincare that can be great for all skin types.
For a gentle dry skin remedy, look for products containing glycerine. Glycerine, sometimes also referred to as glycerin or glycerol, is a colorless, odorless liquid that has a syrupy consistency. Like hyaluronic acid, glycerine acts as a humectant to draw moisture to the skin and is known to be beneficial for those suffering from dry skin.
Glycerine helps the skin in many ways — it improves hydration, protects against irritants, boosts skin barrier function and mechanical properties and speeds up wound-healing processes. Glycerine is also an excellent cleanser, as it removes dirt and oil without stripping the skin or clogging pores. Plus, glycerine's anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties are suitable for those with sensitive skin. It may also be used in toners to refresh your skin or in hydrating masks.
8. Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a group of plant and animal-derived acids used in a variety of skincare products. These include daily anti-aging products, such as serums, toners, and creams, as well as occasional concentrated treatments via chemical peels. AHAs are primarily used to exfoliate and can make your skin sensitive to the sun.
They can also help promote collagen and blood flow, correct discoloration from scars and age spots, improve appearance of surface lines and wrinkles, prevent acne breakouts, brighten your complexion and increase product absorption. AHA’s are beneficial to all skin types especially acne-prone skin but may irritate sensitive skin depending on the concentration of the AHA.
9. Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAs)
BHAs are also designed for daily use, but you may need to apply a few times per week at first until your skin gets accustomed to them. Although BHAs don’t make your skin as sensitive to the sun compared to AHAs, you should still wear sunscreen every single day. This will help prevent further sun damage.
Salicylic acid is the most common BHA. Concentrations can range between 0.5 and 5 percent, depending on the product at hand. It's well-known and trusted as an acne treatment, but it can also help calm down general redness and inflammation. Like AHA’s, BHA’s are beneficial to all skin types especially acne-prone skin but may irritate sensitive skin depending on the concentration.
10. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is considered a “workhorse vitamin” because of its many benefits. One of the common ingredients in skincare and beauty products, it can be applied topically to your face to reduce inflammation and make your skin look younger. Vitamin E fights off free radicals on the skin, which are a result of daily environmental stressors like unprotected sun exposure and air pollution. In fighting off free radicals, vitamin E helps protect the skin from damage.
Vitamin E is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so it can be soothing and help calm the skin and also good for hydrating skin. Vitamin E is usually not advisable for super sensitive, very oily, or acne-prone skin, vitamin E can also act as an allergen to some, causing irritation, itching, or even a rash when it touches the skin.
Written by Ananda York