If you have sun damage, mature skin, discoloration, or fine lines, your complexion may need more than a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer to look its best. Enter the intensive daily treatment. Designed to be worn under, over, or instead of your regular moisturizer, these super-charged formulas contain high percentages of active ingredients to target specific problems.
If you’re at all health conscious, you probably know a bit about antioxidants. These naturally occurring substances include certain vitamins and plant extracts that fight off free radicals. Free radicals damage skin by penetrating cells and damaging the cells’ ability to renew themselves, and by degrading the skin’s collagen and elastin. When applied to your skin, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals before they can do any damage – some experts also believe antioxidants may be able to help repair past free radical damage. Among the more popular antioxidants used in skin care are:
Vitamin A: There are over-the-counter products that contain one of two vitamin A derivatives – retinol and retinyl palmitate. For a product to be effective, look for a formula that contains at least 3 percent retinol or retinyl palmitate.
Vitamin C: Over-the-counter serurns and moisturizers containing vitmain C are among today’s hottest-selling skin-care items. That’s because they are especially effective at treating the signs of sun damage. Get the most effective vitamin C product by choosing a formula with a 10 percent or higher concentration of ascorbic acid, which is thought to be the most effective of the vitamin C derivatives. Other derivatives include magnesium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate. Because vitamin C breaks down quickly in light, keep the product in a dark place, such as a medicine cabinet.
Vitamin E: Often found combined with vitamin C, vitamin E is a perennial skin-care favorite. Its chemical name is tocopherol, and it is known not only as a particularly strong antioxidant, but as a natural preservative.
Grape-seed extract: If you’re a label reader, chances are you’ve seen grape-seed extract listed on quite a few skin-care ingredient lists. Literally the extract of grape seeds, this product contains a compound of ingredients known collectively as procyanidolic oligomers. These ingredients help grape-seed extract strengthen capillary walls, reduce inflammation, and act as antioxidants on your skin.
Green tea extract According to some studies green tea precancerous skin lesions, thanks to its active ingredient, catechins.
Pycnogenol: Derived from the bark of Landis pine trees, pycnogenol is another antioxidant that contains procyanidolic oligomers.
Alpha hydroxy acids
Alpha hydroxy acids are naturally occurring substances that break down the dead cells that sit on the skin’s surface, dulling the complexion and clogging pores. Alpha hydroxy acids also stimulate new collagen growth, giving users a slightly tighter, more youthful complexion. And the acids’ light bleaching effect helps treat discoloration, freckles, and acne scars. For an alpha hydroxy skin care product to be effective, it should contain at least 5 percent of the ingredient, and preferably 10 percent or more; stronger products are available through dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Here are the acids and where they occur:
Citric acid: derived from citrus products
Glycolic acid: derived from sugar cane
Lactic acid: derived from milk products
Malic acid: derived from grapes
Tartaric acid: derived from apples
If you are trying to improve skin and pigmentary imbalances, take fastidious care to use a sunblock, even on cloudy days. This will help prevent the return of any pigment that has been successfully bleached out by a treatment.