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Navigating Through Anti-aging Ingredients

By: Kristina Valiani
Posted: May 1, 2013, from the May 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Anti-aging Ingredients

In today’s culture, both women and men are searching for methods and products to delay the aging process. No one wants their skin to slip the secret of their age or unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as being a sun-worshiper, not getting enough rest or smoking. With so many procedures and skin care products claiming to reverse the signs of aging, it can get confusing for skin care professionals to decide which product line to carry. Imagine how clients feel when trying to weed out good products from bad ones. Advertising and marketing claims make it that much more stressful for clients to figure out what’s real and what’s exaggerated. The professional must seek out ingredients that have scientific research supporting their claims. With constant advancements in the skin care industry, it’s crucial to understand the results of combining ingredients, which ingredients are the best, and what those top ingredients can realistically offer to the skin. It is also valuable to research what happens to an ingredient if it’s not formulated at the correct percentage or proper pH, as well as becoming aware of a factor that is often overlooked—packaging.

As a skin care professional, it is your job to recommend the proper ingredients for clients based on several factors, including skin type, skin conditions, lifestyle choices, allergies and medical history. If a client is intrigued by tretinoin and is educated on its results, but is also a sun-worshiper with zero intention of breaking the habit or applying SPF, claiming it causes her to breakout, you should rethink the recommendation. Every client has different tolerances to various skin care formulations because of the way skin responds to ingredients differently, so it often takes trial and error to find which ingredients benefit each individual client.

There are many ingredients available to help prevent and diminish the signs of aging. Different categories consist of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), cell communicators, antioxidants and, of course, SPF.

Alpha hydroxy acids

All skin types and conditions will benefit from some method of exfoliation, especially as skin ages. As skin cells age, they tend to desquamate less frequently, causing once young, vibrant cells to turn dry and dull. Skin’s natural desquamation process when cells are young and healthy is a turnover of approximately every 28–30 days. As skin ages, the process decreases to approximately every 45–60 days. When the process becomes less frequent, using a properly formulated AHA will help speed cell turnover and diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Because there are several AHAs to choose from, become familiar with which ones are better for skin with particular conditions or tolerances. AHAs exfoliate the surface of the skin while working to improve its moisture content. They cannot penetrate to unclog pores, which is why they often aren’t the first choice for acne-prone skin. Following are the most common types of AHAs.

Lactic acid. Lactic acid is extracted from milk, although most forms used in cosmetics are synthetic. It exfoliates cells on the surface of skin by breaking down the material that holds skin cells together. It may irritate mucous membranes and cause irritation.

For more information about aging skin, purchase the Aging Skin lesson from the Physiology of the Skin video series on Skin Inc. Video Education!