Your choice of skin care products should not be taken lightly. In many ways, you should treat shopping for new products just as you do picking out groceries. Read the ingredient labels, learn what all those fancy words mean, and make the right decision based on what’s inside. Pretty packaging and big promises from the brand could lead you to make the wrong purchase, if you don’t understand what you’re looking for.
Take the time to learn about your skin and what’s most important for you to look for, then get reading. This list of ten common ingredients will help get you started on the road to becoming a more educated consumer.
Algae or Seaweed Extract
Common to many toners or lightweight moisturizers, this helpful ingredient is very emollient without being too heavy or greasy. Smart Skincare says it will “restore moisture content to skin” and “claims to have antioxidant properties.” It might not be the most powerful antioxidant, but it can certainly help skin’s overall health, moisture level, and tone.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Derived from fruit acids, this is a powerful ingredient used to help breakaway dead skin cells. You’ll most often find it in super cleansers, scrubs, or masks, but it can sometimes be found it lotions that claim to exfoliate or brighten skin tone. By breaking away dead skin cells, it will allow the other ingredients of the product to penetrate the next layer of skin and be more effective. Be careful however, since overuse of this ingredient can irritate the skin, possibly whisking away too many layers of skin. Alpha hydroxy acid also increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so wear an SPF when using products that contain this ingredient. Lactic acid, often used for dry, flaking skin or in a chemical peel, is one example of an alpha hydroxy acid.
This is a fancy name for vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that’s great to have in your cleansers, toners, or moisturizers. Not only will it help protect skin from free radical damage, but asorbic acid has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis, according to Smart Skincare. That means it can help restore skin’s nautral “bounce” while also evening skin tone and improving overall coloration.
Found in many acne-fighting skin care products, this ingredient is a natural antibacterial that kills P. acne bacteria, which causes pimples to form. Over the counter products usually contain about 2.5%, but some prescription acne fighters can contain up to 10% of this powerful ingredient. Use with caution, as some people may have sensitivity issues with benzoyl peroxide. It can also cause drying, so don’t overdo it.
Beta Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid)
Another organic acid, like the alpha hydroxies, this is a great exfoliator for dry skin. It’s effects are more long-term than it’s sister acid, so you’ll find this in gentler cleansers, toners or masks. A common form of beta hydroxy is salicylic acid, a primary ingredient in many acne-fighting products.
You’ll see this in many soaps and even some moisturizers. Glycerin helps to hydrate the skin and also adds a barrier to your skin to protect it from moisture loss. If a product contains glycerin, this ingredient “allows topical agents to go on very smoothly,” according to Smart Skincare.
This natural oil is extracted from the seeds of a desert shrub and has great effects for the skin. Not only is it a natural lubricant, but jojoba oil is very emollient, adding intense moisture to the products that contain it. Some studies have shown that it may also enhance the effectiveness of the other ingredients within a skincare product.
Often found in cosmetics, parabens are a very common preservative agent. Different varieties exist, such as ethyl paraben and methyl paraben. Methyl paraben, studies show, can release methanol as it breaks down, which may leave toxic chemicals on the skin. This variety of paraben should be avoided.
Products that contain silicone may include toners, topical creams, scar treatments, and sometimes cosmetics. This ingredient helps to protect the skin while also creating a light sheen. It is often used to treat and heal scar tissue, as it has been shown to reduce their appearance.
Sodium Laurel Sulfate
You’ll find this ingredient predominantly in cleansers, soaps, and scrubs. Sodium laurel sulfate helps products to foam easily and improve the product’s texture. In large quantities, it can irritate the skin, so avoid it if you have sensitivities. Smart Skincare states that it is a popular misconception that sodium laurel sulfate is a cancer-causing agent, so it’s not necessary to avoid this ingredient.
The more you learn about common skin care ingredients, the better (and easier) your decisions will become. Taking care of your body and your skin is important, so put in the time such a task deserves.
From Nature With Love. Skin Care Ingredients.
Smart Skincare. Skincare Ingredients Glossary.