Do you sometimes have moments of terrible doubt about your chosen pricey skincare product? Does the wrinkle-smoothening cream you busted a week’s salary on really work? The beautiful celebrity who models in your latest night-serum advertisement – does she actually use the product on herself, or not?
It’s alright to have doubts, we have our misgivings too. That’s because we know that skincare companies tend to exploit every woman’s innate desire to look flawlessly, agelessly beautiful. That’s how fads become trends – Every season, this ‘fabulous’ new flower-serum or that ‘miracle’ fruit extract is touted as the ultimate beauty secret. Alas, out of the scores of new skincare products that are introduced in the market, very few truly have the appropriate amounts of the active ingredients they flaunt in endorsements; most of them promise a lot, but deliver little. In many cases, these products hurt more than improve, damaging your natural beauty and aging your skin.
You need to be aware of what genuinely nurtures your skin, and mercifully, there are amazing ingredients out there that truly do what they are supposed to: active ingredients.
Active ingredients are compounds that have been technically tested for their effects, effects that alter the functionality and structure of skin cells. They’re approved by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) to ensure 100% safety and performance. By law, these ingredients are required to be listed first in the ingredients’ menu of the product, and listed in the order of their concentration in the product.
Active ingredients are not the same as performance ingredients, which only enhance the appearance and exterior of the skin. Peptides and antioxidants come in this category. It doesn’t mean performance agents aren’t beneficial, it just means that the precise ingredient used in a product should be based on the product’s job. Common acne-fighting ingredients might include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Antioxidants such as AHAs, BHAs, and vitamins A, C and E would be ingredients of choice for natural anti-aging serums, while Hydroquinone would be used to enhance skin lightening creams.
Finally, it all boils down to taking stock of what’s really in your chosen product. You need to look beyond the ‘angel-dusting’ and understand your active ingredients. Don’t worry; we’ve done the work for you. Here, we reveal a list of the top 4 active ingredients to look for in skincare products:
- Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is naturally made in the human body and it’s present in the connective tissues and joint fluids. Its function is to ease and smoothen muscle movements and to cushion, lubricate and plump up the skin tissue. However, with age, or bad lifestyle habits like smoking and unbalanced diet, its production in our body slows down. Hyaluronic acid cream and serums are known to reverse this process and reduce signs of aging skin like wrinkles, sagginess, and dull complexion. If anti-aging skincare is what you're looking for, Hyaluronic acid (despite its bizarre name!) should be heading the ingredients’ list on your product. Your Hyaluronic acid product should have adequate Vitamin C too, to help it absorb better.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These natural acids (glycolic, citric, lactic and tartaric acids) are found in many anti-aging creams and serums because of their ability to reduce wrinkles, soften lines and crow’s feet. AHAs improve the texture and feel of the skin by exfoliating the skin of dead cells and regenerating skin that’s damaged by sun exposure, leaving it softer, fresher and younger-looking. These acids, however, tend to irritate the skin, so using a good moisturizer with SPF is recommended when applying products with AHAs.
- Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Beta Hydroxy acids (the most common derivative being Salicylic acid- you’d have definitely heard of this one!), are found is skincare products specific to acne clearing. The simple reason is because Salicylic acid is the only acid that is oil-soluble. It reaches into pore walls and makes the oil and dirt flow out by penetrating and loosening the oil component. It removes dead skin and reduces dark spots and pigmentation. It improves skin texture to disclose a brighter layer from underneath. That’s the reason why these compounds are a part of cleansing gels, lotions, and acne-relief creams. They balance any irritation because of alpha-hydroxy acids in skin care products.
Retinol, or Vitamin A, is the most effective active ingredient in eye creams and anti-aging products for the skin. Retinol is proven to boost collagen production and restore elastin that plumps out fine lines and wrinkles. Its small molecular structure slips into the lowest layers of our skin’s cells, where it clears the complexion, replaces firmness and natural radiance that has been lost because of skin-aging or scarring. Tretinoin, a stronger version of retinol is an active ingredient in prescription creams. Retinyl palmitate is another derivative of retinol, but of a less concentrated variety. The only downside of retinol is that it can cause irritation and sensitivity if not used in the right fashion.