The skin absorbs and responds to each and every ingredient applied on it. Right ingredients make it flourish and harsh chemicals wilts the skin. A little awareness about the ingredients most commonly found in cosmetics will help you make a smarter choice as sometimes the cause of pimples, wrinkles, oily, dry and dull skin is not internal but merely the skin’s reaction to harmful ingredients applied topically.
I have categorized the ingredients/chemicals in 5 sets for simplification. You don’t need all good ingredients in your regime, only the ones most suited to your skin condition. The last category is of harmful ingredients/chemicals that irritate and cause various side effects. Never buy products with any of these ingredients in it.
AHAs are natural emollients derived from fruits and milk. They penetrate the skin and exfoliate top layer. It stimulates collagen and helps in faster regeneration of new skin cells.
Alpha lipoic acid is both water and fat soluble antioxidant that regenerates skin cells and increase collagen production. It also improves skin texture. ALA’s anti-inflammatory properties protects the skin from damage done by 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.
Also commonly known as salicylic acid, it is a plant extract with anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid works as an effective exfoliator by making skin shed dead cells speedily. It opens clogged pores and neutralizes bacteria preventing pores from clogging up again by shrinking pore size, and allowing new cell growth.
NOTE-Usage of concentrated solutions of salicylic acid without sunblock can cause hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin A or Retinoid– Retin A, a derivative of vitamin A 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 proved 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.
The three main forms of retinoid are:
Ferulic acid is derived from rice bran oil and is a powerful antioxidant. When combined with vitamin C and E in right amount, it fights against sun damage and repairs already damaged skin.
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/nursing. Seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.
These oils are rich in anti-oxidants called polyphenol, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that heal and replenish skin. They moisturize 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 massage and scalp massage. So go on use them directly or opt for products that contain them. Mostly being natural they do not have any side effects and are suitable for all skin types. People with nut allergies should not try almond oil.
The proteins in soy tighten skin. Vitamins and lechtin exfoliate, shrink pores 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.
To treat pimples and other skin infections these 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. Black tea leaves are fermented the most, thus they lose most of their catechin content. Green tea leaves are not fermented and are subject to air drying so they retain 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.
White tea leaves are least fermented and made from young green tea leaves to protect more catechin, thus it’s the richest in catechin content. You can find 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.
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.
Algae extract - The benefits of Algae in skin care products depend on what type of algae extract is used and how it’s processed, for example red algae helps skin’s ability to retain moisture leading to better hydration. Brown algae helps in collagen production. Micro algae fight against sun damage and support cell regeneration but blue-green algae can be skin irritants.
Most products mention which type of algae is being used in the ingredients, choose according to your skin’s need. You might hate this slimy looking thing but your skin might love it!
Oat beat gluten - Oats not only possess lot of health benefits, they also have amazing skin correcting qualities. Since it’s considered to be an anti-irritant, oats can be used for dry- sensitive skin as well. Oat beta gluten or glucen can be found in many creams or cleansers. You can also make DIY facial masks once a week.
Turmeric - turmeric has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. Many dermatologist recommend turmeric supplements for collagen synthesis and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. A pinch of turmeric in facial masks work well for me.
Glycerin, Shea butter, Chamomile, Honey and aloe Vera are some other wonderful ingredients 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.