|What’s Hot in Skincare|
|Written by Dr. Frances Jang|
Weighing the benefits of skincare industry “buzz words.”
Although skincare trends can change with the seasons, healthy skin starts with a basic skincare routine including the well-established fundamentals: a gentle cleanser, exfoliant, antioxidant, moisturizer, and sunscreen. But beyond these basics are a number of skincare industry “buzz words” that you may want to consider as part of your skincare program – though some may have more benefits than others. Let’s have a look at what’s hot in skincare.
A key component in every skincare routine, topical antioxidants protect skin cells against free radicals in the environment. Free radical activity damages skin by decreasing elasticity, forming wrinkles and creating pigment changes. One of the most commonly used antioxidants in skincare is vitamin C, which is widely accepted by dermatologists for its anti-redness and collagen synthesis properties. It is important to find a product that contains stabilized L-ascorbic acid to ensure you receive its benefits. Another antioxidant receiving recent buzz is coffeeberry. Derived from the Coffea arabica plant, coffeeberries may have the highest antioxidant activity available, even more powerful than blueberries and green tea. They are also high in polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties and are gentle on sensitive skin.
Ultraviolet rays damage our DNA, which is the genetic material inside cells that controls the cell’s function. When DNA breaks down from ultraviolet exposure, it can lead to skin cancer. However, recent studies have suggested that DNA repair enzymes in our body may have the ability to restore damaged cells. Although this is an interesting area of research, it is still in the experimental stage and it is unclear whether the skincare products on the market that claim to contain DNA repair enzymes actually have the ability to replicate the results seen in the lab.
Organic skincare products contain no potentially harmful chemicals or toxic ingredients, are not tested on animals, and contain only natural substances. The movement towards organic is logical if you consider that a percentage of everything we apply on the skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. However, organic labeling in the cosmetic industry is not regulated, meaning only certified organic products have undergone the appropriate regulation standards. Usually if a product has been certified organic, it will be labeled as such.
Collagen is a protein that keeps our skin firm and supported. Through aging and sun exposure, our collagen breaks down and contributes to wrinkle formation. Although we cannot replace collagen in the skin, amino acids known as peptides can signal the production of new collagen. Keep in mind that although you might notice an improvement to fine lines and texture, skincare products alone do not have the ability to restore significant volume where collagen has been depleted.
Botanical products contain ingredients derived from herbs, flowers, roots, leaves, fruits and seeds. Aside from imparting natural colourants or fragrances to cosmetic products, they may also provide other benefits to the skin. For instance, papaya and pineapple are often used in exfoliants, and green tea as an antioxidant. Grapefruit has antibacterial properties, and aloe vera is well known for its soothing and healing abilities. Some clinical research has suggested that licorice root may be effective in treatment of hyperpigmentation as it acts as a melanin inhibitor. However, despite these promising results, more research is needed to test its efficacy against non-botanical skin lightening agents such as hydroquinone, which is currently the only skin lightening agent approved by the FDA for treatment of hyperpigmentation.
You may have heard it’s “the hottest thing in cosmetics,” but in reality, nanotechnology has been around since ancient times. In cosmetics, these microscopic-sized particles are more readily absorbed into the skin and penetrate deeper below the surface, potentially entering cells. This has raised controversy around the safety of nanoparticles in cosmetics and their potential long-term effects. For this reason, the FDA has called for continued testing in the use of nanotechnology in cosmetics.
The Hottest Skincare Product on the Market: Sunscreen!
Dermatologists have been saying it for years – no tan is a safe tan! Sunscreen is the most fundamental product to have in your daily skincare routine, and it is the most effective way to help prevent premature aging. However, not all sunscreens are made equal. To ensure adequate protection, apply a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB protective) sunscreen of minimum SPF 30 every day. Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet rays are strong enough to induce dermal damage that contributes to photo aging, pigment and textural changes, and wrinkles. Intermittent use of sunscreen is not sufficient in protecting the skin from damage! It is also important to remember that even though fair skin is most vulnerable, darker skin is not completely immune to damage. Most people underestimate the amount of damage they’ve incurred through years of incidental sun exposure, and don’t realize that the damaging effects of UV rays are cumulative; it can take years before visibly presenting itself in the skin. The key to ensuring adequate sun protection is to apply a thick layer (a half teaspoon amount on the face, a shot glass amount for the body depending on your size), and re-apply frequently (at least every hour when directly sun exposed). Don’t forget, children need protection as well!
Sunscreens come in two forms: physical and chemical. Chemical sunscreens include ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and Mexoryl XL, and work by absorbing the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Physical sunscreens, with ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, act as a physical block by deflecting ultraviolet rays off the surface of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you may find physical sunscreens more tolerable.
Recently, SPF 100 sunscreens became available, but a higher SPF isn’t always better. As I stated earlier, the factors that determine whether you’re receiving adequate protection are mainly the thickness and frequency of application. If you are not applying enough sunscreen, your protection will be close to zero. Rather than finding the highest SPF available, try boosting your protection with an additional layer of mineral sunscreen. Applied with a brush, this physical block can be applied over your makeup as a quick midday touchup. Keep in mind that I only recommend mineral sunscreen in addition to your regular cream sunscreen, as it is generally not applied heavily enough to be effective as your primary sun protection. This is also true for spray sunscreens, which tend to provide minimal coverage. Ultimately, if you get with a tan while using sunscreen, you’re not applying enough. Make sunscreen a part of your daily routine, and protect your skin now for the future!