Choosing skin care products that contain effective active ingredients is critical in your skin remodeling efforts. There aren’t many advances in skin care every year, despite the number of new miracle products that hit the market. In reality, many anti aging products are simply fancy moisturizers that contain very low concentrations of useful actives or unproven ingredients. You’ll save time and money sticking to products containing proven ingredients at effective concentrations.
Most good anti aging products can also be used on scars and stretch marks found on the body. The principles behind repairing a wrinkle and repairing a stretch mark are basically the same. If you are treating body scars and stretch marks, don’t discount effective facial products.
Increasing collagen production is one of the most important ways that effective ingredients work, but collagen creams aren’t helpful because the molecule is too big to penetrate your skin. Some ingredients, like perscription retinoids, are clinically proven to regenerate all components of the skin matrix, including elastin. Other effective ingredients increase cellular turnover or have antioxidant activity.
Most good skin care products work well together. In fact, many users report a synergistic effect, meaning the improvement seen by a routine containing several actives is exponentially better than using one active alone. Adding exfoliation techniques that stimulate the removal of damaged tissue further enhances this effect. You do not need to use every active every day to see results. Many people use different products on alternate days to work more actives into their routine.
Exfoliation is very important to get results from effective skin care products. Remember, skin must be properly exfoliated for the active to be absorbed. Regular use of strong exfoliation treatments or occasional use of aggressive resurfacing methods like peeling and needling may be necessary to improve stretch marks, wrinkles, and scars. Be extra careful using a strong product following exfoliation or resurfacing treatments, even if you’ve already gone through the process of strength building.
Proper application is also necessary for ideal product absorption. The skin should be washed before applying your skin care products with a gentle cleanser and warm water and rinsed thoroughly. This removes excess skin oils that may impede penetration. Your skin will absorb actives better when it is slightly moist and warm. Pat excess water droplets off with a towel, but don’t allow your skin to completely dry. Apply your product in firm strokes, but do not stretch the skin.
Active ingredients work best when used in the evening, where they won’t be affected by sun exposure. Many active ingredients are irritating in the beginning, which is why this book has an entire chapter dedicated to strength building. Using a good, neutral (active ingredient free) moisturizer in the daytime is helpful to combat this irritation. Products that contain soothing natural ingredients and antioxidants are ideal. Look for creams and lotions that contain oat, aloe, chamomile, lavender, or cucumber and natural oils like jojoba and sweet almond oil. A good antioxidant moisturizer is highly recommended. Green Tea extract, alpha lipoic acid, resveratol, and Vitamins A, C, and E will help your skin recover from irritation. Sun protection is also essential.
It takes time to see results from skin remodeling efforts. Much of the improvement is from stimulating collagen production, which takes several months. It’s not uncommon for it to take a year or longer to see full results on badly damaged skin, like deep wrinkles, stretch marks, or pitted acne scars. Unfortunately, that is simply the reality. Don’t be fooled by products that promise to give you fantastic skin after just 4 weeks. That is a marketing gimmick. The fact that it may take a long time to see drastic results shouldn’t discourage you. There will be noticeable improvement along the way and your skin will be permanently better on a structural level, not just plumped up with a temporary fix.
The following sections detail each of the most effective matrix regenerating ingredients on the market today. Retinoic acid and ascorbic acid have the most research behind them and should be prioritized. Unfortunately, they are also the most irritating. The other actives have not been proven to be as effective, but are still relatively well researched and have worked for a lot of skin care enthusiasts. Consult the labels of the actual product that you choose for instructions and warnings. And remember, always were a good sunscreen daily while skin remodeling.
Other, less researched actives can be used in addition to use a proven matrix-regenerating ingredient. Though these compounds are less effective, they may enhance the results of the other actives. If you have room in your budget and routine for even more actives, try these.
Hyaluronoic acid – Although this ingredient’s remodeling properties haven’t been proven, it is a good at hydrating the skin and calming irritation and inflammation. Hyaluronic acid is also a component of the skin matrix. It’s concentration in our skin declines as we age. Many people report good results from the topical application of hyaluronic acid. Effective concentrations: .5% to 2.5%
CoEnzyme Q10 – You may have heard about the health benefits of taking Coenzyme Q10 internally. It is a necessary substance that your body makes for a variety of biological functions. Your skin needs an optimum level to create collagen and elastin and for cellular energy production, but it declines as we age. Skin with low levels of CoQ10 is more susceptible to free radical damage. Luckily, this molecule is small and easily penetrates the skin. Like ascorbic acid, CoQ10 degrades and needs to be stabilized or used fresh. Effective concentrations: 3%
Niacinamide – This form of Vitamin B3 is an antioxidant that also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is another substance that declines with age and is necessary for good health. Niacinamide and another form of B3 called nicotinic acid are often found in skin barrier repair products because they are required for the synthesis of skin lipids. It is also effective for discoloration. Studies indicate that niacinamide can be used to treat acne and rosacea. Effective concentrations: 4% to 5%
Kinetin (furfuryladenine) – Kinetin is a non-irritating active with anti-inflammatory properties. It hasn’t been studied extensively, but it may have anti aging properties. Some studies indicate that it reduces glycation and enhances the health of skin fibroblasts, in addition to having antioxidant properties. It may work better to slow aging than it does to rebuild the skin matrix, making it ideal for use as an age preventative. Effective concentrations: .1%
Oat beta-glucan – Beta glucans have been used for a long time for their moisturizing and wound healing properties, but have only recently been studied for the collagen boosting effects. This biopolymer is found in a variety of natural sources, but oat beta glucan seems to be the most active and has been proven to penetrate the skin. Regardless of how well it helps stimulate collagen formation, oat beta glucan, and colloidal oat in general, are very helpful for healing after a treatment like a chemical peel, or to help soothe irritation from strong actives like retinoic acid. Effective concentrations: .5% – 1%
Alpha Lipoic Acid – This potent antioxidant may have wrinkle-fighting capabilities. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Alpha lipoic acid is often taken internally as a supplement for it anti aging benefits. It has been studied as a skin care topical and shows promise for fine lines and wrinkles, and is an excellent antioxidant because it is both lipid and water soluble. Effective concentrations: 3% – 5%
DMAE – This ingredient is one of the only actives useful for mild to moderate skin sagging. It temporarily tightens the skin for about a day after each application. For some people results occur on the first application, but for others it may take several applications to see the tightening effect. Users report cumulative results, meaning it works better after using it for a while. Effective concentrations: 3% – 5%
Alpha Arbutin – Alpha Arbutin is a beneficial active for skin lightening and reducing discoloration. It is safer than hydroquinone, which has been banned in many countries. It is often found in skin lightening creams along with other ingredients, like kojic acid. It takes 2 to 3 months to see a difference. Effective concentrations: .2% – 2%