The skin absorbs and responds to each and every ingredient you apply to it so it is very important to wisely choose the proper one to be used. The right ingredients make the skin flourish while harsh chemicals wilt the skin. Being aware of the ingredients most commonly found in many cosmetic products will help you make a smarter choice to avoid the causes of pimples, wrinkles, oiliness, dryness, and dullness of the skin. These internal reactions of the skin are usually due to harmful ingredients applied topically.
I have simply categorized the ingredients in 5 sets. You don’t need all good ingredients in your regime, only the ones that go well with your skin type. The last category consists of harmful chemicals that can irritate and cause various side effects to your skin. Don’t buy products containing any of these ingredients.
AHAs are natural emollients derived from fruits and milk. They penetrate the skin and exfoliate the top layer. It also spawns the stimulation of collagen that helps in the faster regeneration of new skin cells.
This acid is derived from the sugar cane and actually has the smallest molecules among the other acid compounds. It penetrates through skins top layer most easily making itself the most popularly used ingredient in cosmetics and anti-acne treatments.
It is a colorless organic compound derived from milk and is used for its disinfectant and exfoliating properties.
It is most abundantly found in citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, and pineapples. It is used for adjusting skins pH or acidic level. It also produces antiviral tissues making it an active ingredient in chemical peels.
It is a compound found especially in apples. This is also used to adjust skins pH level, unclog pores, and improve skin texture.
It occurs naturally in grapes, notably form grape wine, and is an antioxidant.
Alpha lipoic acid is derived from sources such as yeast, liver, and broccoli and is both water and fat-soluble antioxidant. It regenerates skin cells and increase collagen production. It also improves skin texture. ALA’s anti-inflammatory properties protect the skin from harmful effects of free radicals. According to research ALA is less irritating for skin than retinoid and benzoyl peroxide. But can make skin sensitive by prolonged sun exposure.
It is known as salicylic acid and commonly used for skin care treatment. It is an extract from raspberries, cucumber, or tomatoes with anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid works as an effective exfoliator by making skin got away dead cells speedily. It opens clogged pores and neutralizes bacteria preventing pores from clogging up again by shrinking pore size and allowing the growth of new cells.
NOTE: Usage of concentrated solutions of salicylic acid without sunblock can cause hyperpigmentation.
Retinoid is a compound which has the same effects as vitamin A. This vitamin A derivative is probably the oldest topical acne treatment. It definitely cannot work for every skin type and can prove to be irritating but overall, it has been proven beneficial in improving sun damaged skin, treatment of acne, and its scars by unclogging pores, collagen production, and better absorption of other acne creams and lotions.
Also known as Retin A, treats acnes, pimples, fine lines, dark spots, rough texture, and sun damaged skin. Retin A could be found in over the counter acne treatment products.
It is the strongest form of retinoid and is available in gel or cream form. It is used to treat acne and psoriasis. Though it is available over the counter I would suggest consulting a doctor before using this or at least make sure you are not on any other medication or pregnant. It might have some unexpected side effects if used without further knowledge.
Also known as Differin, is an active ingredient which helps reduce the growth of keratin surface skin cells to block pores. It is used to treat mild to moderate acne problems. Yet, it is not as strong as tretinoin or tazarotene.
Ferulic acid is a plant-based compound derived from rice bran oil and is a powerful antioxidant. When combined with vitamin C and E in the right amount, it fights against sun damage and repairs damaged skin.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. This compound fights acne and is a powerful antioxidant. Like tomatoes, watermelons also contain lycopene.
These two important ingredients protect your skin against sun damage. They are natural and non-toxic sunscreens that prevent burns and aging. You must have these in your sunblock cream.
This fat-soluble ingredient can give your skin the energy it needs. It also helps preserve antioxidant action of vitamin, reduce fine lines, and wrinkles.
Potassium Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Phosphate It’s a blend of vitamin C and E and acts as a powerful antioxidant. It is also present in most anti-acne treatment.
Benzoyl peroxide treats acne by killing bacteria on the skin surface and is one of the most common ingredients in acne treatment products. You have to be aware of some drawbacks such as dry, flaky, and red skin. It also makes skin more sensitive to sun rays. Always start using a low concentration first and if it suits you, you can start increasing the percentage of benzoyl peroxide concentration.
Kojic acid is a byproduct of the fermentation process used to produce Japanese rice wine. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help in fading acne blemishes.
Kojic acid is also an antioxidant that fight free radicals or oxidative stress in skin cells. It is also being used as skin lightening agent since it fights the production of melanin in the body, improving sun damaged skin.
NOTE: Do not use these acids if you have open sores, dry flaky, sensitive skin, sunburns, and if you are pregnant or nursing. Seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.
These oils are rich in anti-oxidants called polyphenol, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that have healing effects. They nourish and moisturize the skin without clogging pores. In fact, the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties fight toxins, clear acne, rectify the damage caused by UV rays, which in turn shrink pore size. These oils can be used for removing make up for body and scalp massage. So go on using these products directly or opt for products that contain them. They are natural so you will have no worries about their side effects. You can be confident that they are suitable for all skin types. However, people with nut allergies should not try almond oil.
Soy oil is rich in vitamin E and proteins that tighten skin and prevent skin problems. Vitamins and lecithin exfoliate, shrink pores, moisturize, and fight against sun damage. You can use it by adding few drops in other essential oils or in your favorite cream.
They are natural moisturizers as they are rich in fatty acids but are heavier than olive and sweet almond oil, best suited for Dry to Normal skin.
These are powerful ingredients to fight pimples and other skin infections. The antifungal and antibacterial oils are found in spot- treatments and anti-acne creams. If using directly, always dilute with water.
The health benefits of teas differ on basis of how they are harvested and processed. Green tea for example are not fermented and are subject to air drying so they keep a good amount of catechin content that helps in fighting oxidative stress in the body. The antioxidants (called polyphenols) in green tea protect against cancer by reducing inflammation.
Black tea leaves are fermented, thus they lose most of their catechin content. Black teas fight harmful chemicals present in our environment.
White tea leaves are least fermented and made from young green tea leaves to protect more catechin. It has the most catechin content compared to other teas. You can find a lot of anti-wrinkle products containing green tea or white tea and you can also freeze green tea ice cubes and apply them directly to your skin after thawing. It will fight bacteria, reduce pore size, and soothe irritated skin.
According to some studies, the oligomeric proanthocyanidins from grape seed extract can help in strengthening and producing collagen.
Acai berries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are full of antioxidants called anthocyanidins. Eat any of them as part of your health regime and use skin care products containing this ingredient.
Pomegranates contain three times more antioxidants than green tea, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, copper, potassium, and zinc. This delicious fruit hydrates your skin, helps produce collagen and reduces acne breakouts. It is a very popular ingredient in anti-aging creams.
Watermelon contain Lycopene, 95% water, Vitamin C and antioxidants that hydrate skin, protect against sun damage and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Flax seeds/chia seeds/sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds- They are rich source of protein, calcium, vitamin E, essential fatty acids such as omega 3, fiber and antioxidants. Their extract is found in anti-aging treatments. Add two tablespoon of any of these seeds in your diet for healthy skin from inside out.
Every type of algae extract has its own special benefits for your skin. The process also matters. For example, red algae help skin’s ability to bring back moisture leading to better skin hydration. Brown algae help in the production of collagen. Microalgae fight sun harmful effects and support cell regeneration. However, blue-green algae can irritate the skin. It is necessary to check the algae content of every skin care product you use.
Oats contain amazing skin enhancing qualities and beneficial ingredients. Oats are also an anti-irritant and can be used for dry and sensitive skin. Oat beta gluten or gluten can be found in many creams or cleansers. You can also make DIY facial masks once a week using oats.
Turmeric has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. It is recommended by dermatologists as a supplement for collagen synthesis and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. A pinch of turmeric in facial masks works well for me.
These wonderful ingredients are good for skin care. I have not mentioned vitamins and minerals in this list as previous chapters are elaborately dedicated to them.
Watch out for the natural and synthetic ingredients mentioned below as they are skin irritants: