This month I have been asked to look at some of the Buzzwords that we see in adverts for skincare products, and to explain which ones are, and possibly aren’t, worth looking for when choosing a new cream, lotion or serum. There are a lot of them out there now, as manufacturers vie for your money, so let’s look at the ones we most commonly see advertised.

Hyaluronic Acid. Found naturally in your skin, hyaluronic acid absorbs 1,000 times its own weight in water, resulting in the appearance of a plump, hydrated complexion and so plays a vital role in ensuring that the skin stays comfortable and hydrated. Its production is stimulated by oestrogen, and so sadly as the levels of oestrogen we produce decline with age, so does our production of hyaluronic acid. Water is our skins best friend, so it makes sense therefore to replenish these levels with topical or oral skincare products, as we age, in order to keep the skin feeling comfortable, and improve skin health, especially if your skin is dry and/or dehydrated. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you should check that it is from a non animal derived source.

Ceramides. Closely linked to hyaluronic acid, ceramics are are naturally occurring lipids (fatty acids) which make up approximately 50% of the stratum corneum, or top layer, of the skin. Ceramides in conjunction with hyaluronic acid, play an important role in forming a waterproof, protective barrier to the skin. So if your skin is dry, dehydrated or your skin barrier is compromised, this may be worth looking for this in your skin care products. Again, these can be applied topically in serums or creams, or taken as a food supplement.

Peptides. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, often described as chemical messengers.  They can penetrate into the outer layer of the skin, sending signals to tell the cells to produce more collagen and elastin. Commonly known peptides used in cosmetics include Matrixyl and Dermaxyl. Using a peptide based product with one contains AHAs may result in the peptide working less efficiently. Peptides are a good ingredient to include in a product to address skin concerns such thinning skin, fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin A. Because of its well documented benefits to the skin, and the highly beneficial effects that can be seen in practically all skin types, from acneic to ageing skins when correctly supplied, this is the current “Must have” ingredient and is the most important vitamin for promoting overall skin health – however not all forms of vital A are created equal! Always check that the ingredient quantity is listed in iu’s,  and not as a percentage. Vitamin A (and his includes retinoids and retinols) are manufactured in different strengths, so unless you know the initial strength of the original products ingredients, then the percentage is meaningless- indeed it may not contain sufficient Vitamin A to have any therapeutic benefit at all. There are strict rules as to how much, and what type, of Vitamin A can be incorporated into a product. Since a very high proportion of people are actually deficient in Vitamin A due to a lack of it in their diet, it is not uncommon for a reaction (referred to as a retinoid reaction) to occur after topical application of a product containing vitamin A, as the skin is unable to tolerate it, because it doesn’t “ recognise” it! For that reason always start with a low concentration and move gradually up to a more therapeutic level over a period of time, in order to acclimatise your skin.  Having said that, most products available over the counter, do not contain sufficient Vitamin A to give you noticeable benefits, so professional recommendation from a qualified therapist or medical practitioner is advised. It is essential if you are using a vitamin A based products on your skin, that you wear a sunscreen, at all times, and they should never never be used by anyone taking prescribed medications, without consulting their GP first. Failure to do so can result in pigmentation occurring as well as increased risk of a retinoid reaction. Whilst Vitamin A can be taken orally, under the current guidelines it should not be taken by women who are, or are planning to become, pregnant or are breastfeeding, without seeking medical advice first. Having said all of that, there is no doubt that Vitamin A is  deserving of its cult status, when supplied and used properly and in the correct way.

Skincare Chippenham by the Facial Pharmacy

Heather Terrington

07494 850582