Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anti Aging Ingredients and How They Help Your Skin

         Hello All! Today I want to talk about three important ingredients in anti-aging skin care and why you should be using one or all of them!
         First, let me introduce you to Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy Acids better known as AHA's and BHA's.
         In order for your skin to look young and fresh and have a healthy glow about it, it needs to shed the dead skin cells away to reveal the new skin underneath. As you age, it takes longer for your skin to shed the older cells and that's why as you age your skin can sometimes take on a "dull" appearance. That's where our friends the hyroxy acids come in-they are both exfoliants and I will explain their benefits and differences.
        AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are most commonly derived from food products such as glycolic acid (from sugar cane) and lactic acid (from milk). AHA, when applied to the skin, gently exfoliates the top layer of dead skin to reveal the newer skin underneath. AHA does not exfoliate the inside of your pores, just the top layer of skin. Continued use of AHA's will smooth out your skin's texture, soften fine lines and produce collagen in the skin. Collagen is what gives skin it's youthfulness and our body stops producing it as we age. (Please note that topically applying products that contain collagen, such as a moisturizer, cannot  rebuild the collagen in your skin.)
        You can purchase a product containing AHA's from the drug store from such lines as Alpha Hydrox, online from, or also from your dermatologist office. AHA's are usually sold in 8-10% strengths, however you can also make an appointment with your dermatologist for a chemical peel which is a Glycolic Acid peel in a much stronger concentration. You can also give yourself a yogurt mask! Take whole milk, full fat yogurt, slather it on your face and leave for 30 minutes. The lactic acid in the yogurt will gently exfoliate, brighten, and tone your skin.
        BHA's or Beta Hydroxy Acids are also an exfoliant, however, unlike its AHA sister, BHA's exfoliate the inside of the pores as well as the top layer of skin. BHA's are gentle and perfect for someone who is prone to breakouts or oily skin. The BHA's exfoliate the inside of the pore to clean out the oil and sebum which then makes the skin clear and the pores appear smaller. BHA's are salicylic acid which is basically aspirin. I personally like Paula's Choice BHA 2% Gel, however, since BHA's are aspirin, here is something you can do at home: Take 2 or 3 non-coated aspirin, such as Bayer 325mg. Place in a small plate and add a couple drops of water to create a paste. You can either spot treat pimples or apply to the entire face. Wait 30 minutes and rinse. Some people add honey to the aspirin so it stays on the face better-I don't like the sticky honey on my face so I just use the water. I f you decide to use just the water, you really need to sit back and relax because after the paste dries it becomes a bit flaky and will rub off easily if you touch it. So apply and then sit back and watch an episode of Real Housewives of Whatever. Rinse after 30 minutes.
        Lastly, I would like to discuss retinol. Retinol is the natural form of Vitamin A and retinol aids in the resurfacing of the skin. Where BHA's and AHA's exfoliate the skin, retinol is used to help generate the renewal of skin cells from deep under the skin. Using a product with retinol in it is where you will probably see the most change as it penetrates deep into the skin and wrinkles are gradually smoothed, moisture and elasticity increase, the complexion glows and damage is diminished. Retinol has also been shown to stimulate new collagen production. More and more products are starting to include retinol in their ingredients. The strongest and most efficient form of retinol will come from your dermatologist office. The most well know forms of retinol are Renova and Retin-A. They are the synthetic form of Vitamin A and prescription only.
        Now, I cannot write about anti-aging without stressing that the single most important anti-aging step you can take for your skin is to apply sunscreen-protect your skin every single day. Repeated exposure to the sun is a MAJOR cause of your skin aging and wrinkling. The sun will also break down collagen and elastin. The first defense is a broad spectrum sunscreen. Some of these products will make your skin a little photosensitive so it is important to use a good sunscreen. Have I mentioned that you should use a sunscreen? Please read my post on the importance of sun protection and which one is best for you.
        I think you need a few different products to help your skin stay youthful, there is not one miracle cream or ingredient that is going to do it all. You can use all of these ingredients together, however I would not apply them at the same time, for example you can use one in the morning and one at night but you shouldn't use both in the morning. Also, I wouldn't use the AHA/BHA's more than twice a week-over exfoliating is not good either!
        Ultimately, you will figure out what routine works best for your skin. It may take some trial and error, but products that contain these ingredients are a great first step!