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Inflammaging: Changing the Face of Skin Care

By: Noureddine Mriouah
Posted: January 2, 2013, from the January 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Although anti-inflammatory ingredients are essential in the fight against inflammaging, successful treatment must also address two major skin issues. The first is reinforcing and protecting the integrity of the barrier function, which can be achieved through targeted topical care; and the second is the use of broad-spectrum UV protection.

As with any skin concern, inflammaging can worsen with prolonged sun exposure. Combined with treatments that target the source of inflammation, proper UV defense and barrier support can help minimize the visible effects of inflammaging.

Alternatives to common irritants

Equally as important as using anti-inflammatory ingredients is avoiding aggressive ingredients that can further wound the skin and prolong the inflammaging cycle.

Certain acids—particularly those of smaller molecular size, such as glycolic acid—are a major source of irritation in many cosmetic products. Because of their size, they have been shown to reach the dermis where inflammation takes place.8, 9 Molecularly larger acids, such as lactic, malic, pyruvic and tartaric, don’t tend to penetrate the dermis, making them gentler on the skin and less likely to spark inflammation. It has also been found that using the chirally correct version of these acids can help further maintain the efficacy of the ingredients and minimize the risk of adverse side effects, including irritation.8

Another common irritant to avoid is benzoyl peroxide. A mainstay of professional and at-home acne treatments, benzoyl peroxide can contribute to irritating oxidative damage.10, 11 However, gentler alternatives exist in the forms of salicylic acid and sulfur, which have been shown to be similarly effective.

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