Choosing Skin Care Products: Know Your Ingredients
These days you can't open a magazine or turn on the TV without seeing a smooth-faced middle-aged actress or model touting skin care products that can "reverse the clock" on aging skin. "Free radicals," "antioxidants" and "alpha-lipoic acid" have become buzzwords in the quest for eternally radiant skin.
What are these "miracle" ingredients and how do they work? Can they actually erase wrinkles, repair sun damage, or diminish age spots?
This guide is an introduction to some of the latest ingredients being used in skin care products that may benefit your skin. Use this information to sort through the various lotions, creams, and gels on the market. If you're still unsure which are right for you, ask your dermatologist or consult with a skin esthetician at your local salon or beauty counter.
Antioxidants for Sun Damage and Wrinkles
Antioxidants are natural substances made up of vitamins and minerals. They have the ability to fight "free radicals" -- unstable compounds that attack human cells and damage DNA. Damaged skin cells can lead to accelerated aging in the form of wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles under eyes, dull skin, and more.
Free radicals are in the air we breathe, the foods we eat, sunlight, and pollution -- basically, just about everywhere. Eating foods rich in antioxidants is one way to ward them off. Another is to apply them on the skin, where they can seep underneath to strengthen skin cells and keep them healthy.
The antioxidants most shown to repair damage and slow the aging process include:
You may have heard all the buzz about the role that the antioxidant acai plays in a healthy diet. The new "superfruit" -- blue berries, native to Central and South America -- are filled with antioxidants, more than those found in other berries. Cold-pressing acai berries extracts the oil, which may fight aging by healing sun damage and smoothing wrinkles. Antioxidant levels in acai oil remain high, even after it's stored. While studies have yet to confirm the benefits of acai oil on the skin, it is being used in masks, creams, cleansers, exfoliating scrubs, body butters, and serums.
Alpha-lipoic acid has been called a "universal antioxidant" because it's both water- and fat-soluble. That makes it able to penetrate skin-cell membranes at all levels to protect them from free radicals, keeping the body and its skin strong. Promoted as a primary ingredient in many skin-care products, alpha-lipoic acid can erase fine lines and wrinkles, diminish pores, and give skin a healthy glow.
A 2002 study showed that caffeine applied to the skin of mice may fend off skin cancer, attacking tumors before they fully form and healing the skin. Since then, skin-care companies have worked furiously to add it to their products, and it is now available in lotions and creams.
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