Fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots: There comes a time in everyone’s life when we look in the mirror and realize the signs of aging are upon us. Whether we like it or not, there’s no stopping the aging process and how it affects the skin. However, using products that utilize the best preventative aging ingredients can certainly help keep skin looking more youthful. A big part of my job as an esthetician and product developer is staying on top of ingredient trends and innovations. So, ahead, I’ve curated 10 ingredients that should be on your "must-use" list.
We have special skin repair cells just below the skin’s surface called Langerhans cells. They are our first line of immune defense in the body. These cells are very active when we are young to protect us from environmental skin damage and reactions. As we age, these cells become less active and the signs of aging, along with increased sensitivity can begin to show. Yeast extracts help to stimulate these sluggish skin repair cells. Beta-glucan yeast extracts have been shown to make skin less sensitive over time, as well as provide excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
This “miracle” ingredient is believed by many researchers to be an immune system enhancer, as well as an exceptional moisturizer with healing capabilities for environmentally-stressed skin. When important skin barriers are compromised, one must focus on how to repair and strengthen the skin. In nature, marine algae is constantly exposed to extreme conditions. Over time, these plants have developed defense systems against the elements that can be beneficial when applied to human skin. Used regularly, these extracts can help heal and repair skin. Clinical studies show improvement in hydration levels and increased skin firmness, strength, and elasticity. Marine algae offers long-lasting skin softness and comfort. Look for moisturizers containing skin-repairing marine algae.
AHAs are fabulous multi-tasking ingredients. AHAs (including glycolic, lactic, and fruit acids) are helpful in reducing wrinkles, fine lines, irregular pigmentation, age spots, and decreasing the size of enlarged pores by exfoliating away dead surface cells that age the skin. Exfoliation triggers repair, producing newer, fresher, younger-looking skin — and who doesn’t want that? AHAs are more effective in higher concentrations, such as those found in serums, which also retain the desired pH levels. It is important to remember that using acid products too often can lead to irritation, which can then trigger an aging and inflammation response. Because of this, I recommend using an acid serum three nights on, three nights off under moisturizer.
This is one of the most stable forms of vitamin C and converts to ascorbyl acid once inside the skin. It’s a time-released ingredient so it provides potent anti-aging protection for eight hours. In addition, it stays fresh and more active longer than most ingredients, and it isn’t as acidic so it won't cause stinging, redness, or irritation. Vitamin C has been found to be extremely effective in interfering with many aging free radicals found in the environment, like sunlight, stress, and pollutants. Wear it daily under a moisturizer containing sunscreen. This antioxidant not only gives your skin its daily dose of anti-aging, it is also helpful with reducing discoloration and brown spots.
Water is essential for feeding the cells of our skin and keeping them looking plump, radiant, and youthful. Found naturally in your skin’s dermis, hyaluronic acid holds onto water and provides tone and contour to the skin. When used in skincare products, it helps retain the skin’s natural moisture balance. Amazingly, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, resulting in enhanced elasticity, lubrication, plumpness, and moisture in the skin. Look for a serum that uses a highly concentrated hyaluronic acid based hydrating formula. Layer it under your moisturizer or masque, or mix it with another serum to load up on this super humectant.
Peptides are used for anti-aging to smooth wrinkles and reduce the visual effects of aging. Peptides are a portion of larger protein molecules used in the body to communicate with and direct skin cells to behave in certain beneficial ways, such as producing more collagen or thickening the support structure of the skin. Peptides enter the cells of the skin and remain intact. Different types of peptides influence different types of cells. Common peptides used in skin care products are acetyl hexapeptide, palmitoyl pentapeptide, palmitoyl oligopeptide, dipeptide-2, and caprooyl tetrapeptide.
Resveratrol is extracted from the skin of red grapes, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and pomegranates. Research shows that these fruits have incredible amounts of anti-aging antioxidants. Consuming these on a regular basis will help your body fight off those age-producing free radicals. When used topically in skin care products, they also have powerful anti-aging and skin protective properties.
The mitochondria is the engine or “power house” of the cell, and it's capable of harnessing the energy in the cell and powering up the cell to complete necessary metabolic functions skin cells need to remain healthy and young looking. CoQ10 increases the accessibility of cellular fuel for building new cells and tissues. Unfortunately, as we age, the amount of usable CoQ10 diminishes and the metabolism of the cells slows down. CoQ10 (or ubiquinone) positively influences cellular metabolism and enables us to combat signs of aging starting at the cellular level. Topical application of CoQ10 is extremely beneficial, especially for dull, sluggish skin. It plays a key role in keeping skin looking youthful, healthy, and vibrant.
The purest form of vitamin A, Retinol is a cell-communicating ingredient and antioxidant that stimulates collagen, activates cellular metabolism to encourage faster cell turnover, fades brown spots and discoloration, and improves skin firmness. Retinol is certainly not a quick fix, but when used long-term, it will smooth and improve your skins texture more effectively than any other ingredient.
It’s the most powerful of the carotenoid antioxidant family, providing protection against lipid peroxidation and oxidative damage, as well as protecting cells, cell membranes, and tissues from destructive aging surface radicals. Visibly, it helps to reduce the look of wrinkles to encourage a smoother, more youthful-looking skin.
In addition to looking for products containing these ingredients, don’t forget to wear sunscreen with a minimum of an SPF 30 every single day of the year on the face, neck, and chest. Of course, any exposed areas should also be protected. Prevention is an important part of anti-aging. Take good care of your skin — you’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life!
When it comes to our faces, we don’t rely on just anyone to tell us what our skin needs to get that ever-elusive glow. Instead, we turn to skin-care veteran (and celebrity fave!) Renée Rouleau, who knows it takes more than the right products to get radiant. Each week, she’ll be serving up her expert tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.