Label Gazing: 5 Age-Defying Skin Care Ingredients

iStock_000009072772_XXXLarge

All skin care products are not created equal. Many lotions and potions claim to do battle against the aging process but fall short. Before falling for their promises, take time to read the label first. The jar or bottle in your hand should contain at least one of the following anti-aging ingredients if it’s really going to make a difference in your skin’s appearance

Retinoids
This prescription-only ingredient first emerged as an acne-fighting drug in the 70s. It has the ability to cause surface skin cells to turn over and die rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath. Little wonder then that it’s a front runner in the anti-aging war. Retinoids minimize the appearance of wrinkles, bolster skin’s thickness and elasticity, slow the breakdown of collagen and lighten brown spots caused by sun exposure.

Moisturizers
Think of these as an ounce of prevention. A cleanser with a moisturizing formula, for example, will go a long way in protecting skin from dryness and weathering and keeping it smooth, soft and healthy. Applying a topical moisturizer with an SPF 30 or higher has the added bonus of shielding your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Exfoliating Acids
Alpha-hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid (also known as salicylic acid) may sound slightly ominous but both smooth the skin’s outer surface and speed up cell turnover. They can help with fine lines, irregular pigmentation and age spots. A precaution though: both acids increase sun sensitivity, so sunscreen application is paramount when using products containing them.

Antioxidants
Topically applied antioxidants disarm and neutralize free radicals in the atmosphere before they can harm skin. Products containing powerful antioxidants like vitamins C and E can protect skin from sunburns, inflammation, DNA damage and skin cancers. Components derived from pomegranates, green tea, red wine, dark chocolate and coffeeberry are some other known free-radical fighting agents. Look for mention of them on labels if you’re considering adding an antioxidant serum to your regimen.

Retinols
Think of these as retinoids’ poor cousin. Retinols are basically weaker, over the counter versions of tretinoin, the prescription vitamin A derivative that has proven so effective in reversing sun damage and signs of aging. The results may not be as dramatic but people tend to tolerate retinols well. Retinols encourage skin cell turnover and can improve wrinkles, roughness and overall aging ever so slightly. Caution: Products containing retinol that are intended for daytime use seem to be everywhere but since retinol increases susceptibility to the sun, it’s best to confine usage of this ingredient to night-time care.