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WEB EXCLUSIVE: What Does Anti-aging Really Mean?

By: Elaine Linker
Posted: July 1, 2013, from the July 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Antioxidants. These powerful free-radical fighters are in almost every anti-aging formulation. Antioxidants help to stabilize free radicals by donating one of their electrons. Free radicals are known to damage healthy skin cells, thereby making antioxidants heroes in the fight against the signs of aging. While single antioxidants have been promoted as the most potent, a complex of antioxidants is often needed, working synergistically for optimal results. Some of the most popular antioxidants found in anti-aging formulations are vitamin C, co-enzyme Q10, grape seed, zinc, lutein, ferulic acid, green tea and pine bark extract. Glutathione is the master antioxidant of the group, said to be the leader in promoting the redox theory (the cascading effect of all antioxidants working together) in the nutritional world.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). A powerful pro-hormone that accelerates natural anti-aging functions, DHEA is known as the “youth hormone” because it is abundant in young skin and decreases with age. It acts as a defense against environmental aggressors that can age skin by boosting immunity while increasing the efficacy of other actives.

Essential fatty acids. It is a well-documented fact that inflammation in the body is the cause of most disease and cell deterioration. This is true for the aging of the skin and its ability to repair itself. Omega-3 essential fatty acids taken both systemically and added to the base formulations of anti-aging skin care has been shown to help not only reduce the wrinkling of the skin, but also to aid in the prevention of eczema and psoriasis. As powerful as naturally occurring ceramides, these fats hold the cells of the epidermis together to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier while helping to reduce its inflammatory process.

Hyaluronic acid. Young, healthy skin has a dewy and moist look and feel. Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule found naturally in the skin that increases its ability to hold moisture. Capable of holding 1,000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid is found in almost every quality anti-aging product. Available as part of serums or creams, this ingredient can be used by even oilier skin to help retain moisture. Remember: Some forms of hyaluronic acid are purer than others.

Hydroquinone/holistic skin lighteners. Nothing gives away age more easily than those unsightly brown spots on the face and hands, which is the reason they are known as “age spots.” They are the result of cumulative sun exposure, but may also result from some medication, such as birth control pills, or increased estrogen during pregnancy. Hydroquinone is one of the most popular anti-aging ingredients. Available over-the-counter in percentages up to 2%, it can reduce the development of melanin in the melanocytes. In combination with exfoliating the skin and diligent use of daily sunscreen, hydroquinone is very effective
in helping to reduce pigmentation. Results take
30–60 days. Physicians can offer a combination of tretinoin and hydroquinone at higher percentages. Although hydroquinone is effective, it should not be used for more than 90 days, because it is metabolized through the liver. A good follow-up routine should include any of the holistic skin lighteners, such as arbutin, bearberry, kojic acid and vitamin C.

The Skin Care Ingredient Handbook is so much more than an ingredient dictionary. You will learn about skin care trends, active versus functional ingredients, OTC drugs, INCI names, antioxidants and DNA and understand how to read labels. Did we mention the newest ingredients are listed?

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