“I thought I knew a lot, until I learned a little.” – Robin Sharma
How often do we see or hear a word over and over until it is so familiar to us that we feel we know what it means? Then, if we actually try to explain it to someone else we discover we have no idea what it really is. I am definitely guilty of this. Example, ahem, Bitcoin. We know what it is – kinda – but do we really know what it is or how to explain it? Nope. I have tried. And failed. Haha.
Ask yourself, do you really know what these terms mean?
• Hyaluronic Acid
• AHA / BHA
Read on to finally get to the bottom of these Anti-Aging terms, determine which ones are right for your skin and be able to explain them to your friend like a pro.
Ah, the MOST buzz-worthy word of the list in my opinion. A fundamental term that is a major player in skin care product marketing 101. If you don’t share how your products are “rich in antioxidants” then you are missing a key component that we are all looking for. You want antioxidants in your skin care, right? I know I do! These powerful ingredients fend off cell damage and keep us in healthy shape on the molecular level.
An antioxidant is a molecule that stops the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals, leading to cell damage. Prolonged free radical skin cell damage can result in undesired premature ageing, unwanted beauty effects, and eventually has the potential to cause disease.
Antioxidants can be eaten and they can be applied to your skin. There are a large number of antioxidant-rich sources so it’s no wonder that you see this word everywhere. Here are some of the top sources of antioxidants you can look for to get their cell saving benefits in your daily self-care.
Top Sources of Antioxidants:
• Green Tea
• Vitamin A (read more about Vitamin A below)
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin E
• Coenzyme Q10
This ingredient is the most often misinterpreted. Firstly, the name is a misnomer. It is not an “acid”, it will not exfoliate the skin at all. It serves the exact opposite purpose. Secondly, it is already found in the cellular matrix of the skin, in our joints, and ligaments as a water-binding ingredient to keep our skin moist and our joints lubricated. Last and most confusing is that it is used in numerous ways so you may have heard of it in diverse seemingly unrelated contexts. It can be injected into arthritic joints to re-lubricate them, injected into facial wrinkles to cosmetically fill and plump them and it can be applied topically in skincare to attract and retain water content giving the skin a moisture boost.
Hyaluronic Acid, also referred to as HA, is the key molecule involved in skin moisture that has a unique capacity to bind and retain 1,000 times its weight in water.
It’s hard to describe a peptide without getting into a network of scientific terms. Follow me here to finally understand why peptides are found in tons of skin care serums and creams and how they work.
Collagen, elastin and keratin are responsible for skins texture and tone and are the most commonly known proteins in the skin. Peptides are short chains of amino acids and are the building blocks of proteins. Therefore, peptides are building blocks of collagen (and other proteins) in the skin. Still following?
In skincare, peptides are used to help reinforce proteins naturally occurring in the skin, therefore rebuilding and maintaining it.
Please note that there are hundreds of different peptides, all of which are made from different combinations of amino acids and that's why it can truly get confusing. Different types of peptides have different effects, from smoothing wrinkles or repairing barrier function to increasing firmness and hydration. Some peptides even block transmission of signals from nerves to your facial muscles, kind of like a topical botox. This is why you will typically see a combination of peptides in one product. They have diverse roles and effects and ways in which they work. The most common peptides, however, support your collagen and elastin, rebuilding them, which leads to stronger more youthful skin.
4 – AHA / BHA [Alpha Hydroxy Acid/Beta Hydroxy Acid]
Skin naturally sheds billions of skin cells every day. As we age, this natural shedding process slows down or stops due to many factors, such as; sun damage, dry skin, oily skin, genetics, or skin disorders. Exfoliation is a key step to help the skin to balance itself and get rid of dead skin cell build up. There are two types of exfoliation – chemical and physical. Physical exfoliators are scrubbing, mechanical ingredients like apricot, sugar, and other spherical beads. Chemical exfoliants work differently.
AHA/BHA are chemical exfoliants that create cell turnover without any scrubbing action.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids work on the surface of the skin, gently dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells so that they can be easily removed, making way for a softer and smoother surface. They’re water-soluble, so they don’t penetrate deep below the surface of the skin, but are capable of reducing the appearance of fine lines, acne scars and dark spots. Overuse can create dehydrated, tight, red, flaky and irritated skin.
Beta Hydroxy Acid there is only one, it is known as salicylic acid. Because it is oil-soluble it can penetrate beneath the skin’s surface, cleaning out excess sebum from the pores and reducing oiliness. With its pore penetrating abilities, this is the exfoliant highly recommended for acne clearing. With overuse it can also create dehydrated, tight, red, flaky and irritated skin.
These two exfoliants affect the skin very differently, so selecting the right one for your skin and having a professional skin analysis to recommend proper usage will make all the difference between clear healthy skin and red irritated skin.
5 – Retinol [Vitamin A]
This ingredient is often referred to as the fountain of youth ingredient. It gets confusing pretty quickly though because there are so many different forms on the market in skin care. ALL of these forms are derivatives of Vitamin A and have a range of intensity on the skin.
• Retinoic acid (Prescriptions: Tretinoin, Retin-A, Renova, Refissa, Evage, ect)
• Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR), a retinoic acid ester
Retinol is one of the most usable forms of Vitamin A found in over-the-counter products. However, Retinol needs to be converted into Retinoic Acid to work. Your body can do this conversion, but it takes some time. In contrast, Retinoids are already in Retinoic Acid form, so your body skips the conversion step. For this reason, Retinols take a bit longer to see results—but on the upside, they are gentler.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that acts on DNA to promote healthy epidermal skin cells.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that protects your skin from free radicals, generates cell growth, and repairs damaged cells. Retinol belongs to a family called retinoids and is one of the only substances small enough to penetrate the outer epidermal layer to the layer where collagen and elastin reside.
Applied topically, retinol products and treatments help keep pores clean, even out skin discoloration, restore vibrancy to the complexion, reduce oiliness, treat skin concerns such as acne and psoriasis and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Note that the stronger forms, the Retinoic Acid prescriptions, have common side effects that include burning, warmth, stinging, tingling, itching, redness, swelling, dryness, peeling, irritation, and discoloration of the skin. Rarer side effects include hives, swelling, and breathing difficulty. These forms should never be used during pregnancy, typically need to be slowly added into your home care routine and are usually why people choose Retinols or HPR – the gentler forms of Vitamin A that take longer to work but are much less irritating to the skin. Learn more about Retinols on the blog here.
Now that you’re an Anti-Aging buzz word expert you can talk about these words with certainty and select products for your desired results a little more confidently. Healthy, happy skin here we come!
Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety
Retinoids for Anti-Aging Skin
Is Retinol Really the Key to Perfect Skin?
Researchers identify cellular basis for how anti-aging costmetics work
Does Your Skin Need Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging
9 Antioxidants That Can Help Prevent Premature Skin Aging
For Better Skin, Should You Eat Antioxidants Or Use Them In Skin Care?
The Truth About Antioxidants and Your Skin
9 Antioxidants That Can Help Prevent Premature Skin Aging
Do Peptides in Skin Care Products Work?
What peptides can do for your skin
Skincare Alphabet: P Is For Peptides
AHA vs BHA: What’s the Difference?
AHA vs BHA: What's the Difference and Why Should You Use Them?
From AHA To BHA, All You Need To Know About Exfoliating With Acids