5 Superstar Anti-Aging Ingredients

Meet the super star players of the skin care world – and learn how to make the work for you.

1. RETINOL (a.k.a. the Cure-All)

What It Does: This vitamin A derivatives that unclog pores, boost collagen to reduce fine lines, and speed cell turnover to even out discoloration and smooth the skin—sometimes in as little as four weeks. Forms of retinol “are among the best anti-aging ingredients we have,” says Jeffrey Dover, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine.

How It Works: Retinol works so well for skin care because of its molecular size. Vitamin A has long been known to help keep skin healthy and young-looking. However, most forms of vitamin A have molecules that are too large to get through the top layer of skin and into the lower layers of skin to work on the collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are both important components for the prevention of wrinkles. Once applied, the retinol sinks into the lower levels of the skin and stimulates the collagen and elastin. This causes the skin to look smoother and feel firmer.

How to Get the Best Results:
Pay attention to packaging. Buy it in an aluminum tube or an opaque plastic pump bottle so light and air don’t degrade it.
Use it at night. The vampire of the skin-care world, retinol works best in the dark.
Put it on after cleansing. Wash your face with warm water and make sure it’s dry before applying retinol. Then, blood vessels and pores are dilated, making more space between cells for absorption. (Prescription versions, called retinoids, in particular must be applied to dry skin or they absorb too quickly and irritate.)
Make sure it tingles. If you can’t feel it, it’s not strong enough, says Dover.
Go easy on your eyes. Dab around the eye area every third night. Retinol is great for undereye crepiness.

Products We Love:

2. ANTIOXIDANTS (a.k.a. the Fixers)

What They Do: A layer of vitamin C, green tea, pomegranate, CoffeeBerry, or idebenone in the morning can help prevent wrinkles, spots, and can save cells from environmental damage.

How They Work: When it comes to caring for your skin, antioxidants can help to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Unlike sunscreens and moisturizers, antioxidants can protect your skin from the inside out by guarding your cells from damage. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium are thought to be particularly helpful in skin care. In addition to helping fortify cells against free radicals, vitamins A and C also encourage cell and tissue growth, helping the body to repair itself. This is very helpful to the skin, which is constantly shedding and regrowing cells. For this reason, any antioxidants that protect cells and encourage cell growth could be helpful in an anti-aging regimen, as they may help fight fine lines and wrinkles.

How to Get the Best Results:
Use a blend. Choose a formula with multiple antioxidants, since they’re more powerful in packs. They tackle free radicals in different ways, so the overall protection is more potent.

Products We Love:

  • Revaleskin Intense Recovery Treatment with Coffeeberry
  • PRIORI Idebenone Even Tones
  • NeoStrata Antioxidant Defense Serum
  • SkinMedica Vitamin C + E Complex

3. HYDROQUINONE (a.k.a. the Eraser)

What It Does: To even out sun spots, blotches, and mottled skin, a little hydroquinone goes a long way. It’s the most effective ingredient for bleaching skin.

How It Works: Hydroquinone fades hyperpigmentation by blocking the enzyme that triggers melanin production in the skin.

How to Get the Best Results:
Be direct. Dab hydroquinone right on the dark spot.
Get vigilant about SPF. If UV rays hit unprotected skin, you’ll undo any fading.
Combine it with other lighteners. In the morning, wash with a glycolic or salicylic acid cleanser to help buff away blotches and make other ingredients penetrate better. Then, smooth on an antioxidant-laced brightening lotion to inhibit melanin while protecting skin.
Find the right blend. If you have mottled skin or widespread freckling, choose a brightener that also contains arbutin, licorice extract, or kojic acid.

Products We Love (Non-Prescription Strength, 2%):

4. SUNSCREEN (a.k.a. the Preventer)

What it Does: Keeps skin from prematurely wrinkling, sagging, and getting blotchy by protecting it from harmful UV rays, which destroy collagen and elastin fibers and damage DNA.

How It Works: Sunscreen molecules, called UV filters, absorb or scatter UV light.

How to Get the Best Results:
Choose a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Look for one with antioxidants. They boost the effectiveness of sunscreen.
Don’t skimp. A teaspoon is the right amount for your face. If you’re outside, reapply every two hours.
Layer like a pro. To keep it from messing up your makeup, touch up your face with a wedge makeup sponge.
Work on it. Wear sunscreen on your body every night for a few weeks before a beach vacation. The sunscreen builds up in your skin, making it less likely to burn.

You can find a full list of sun protection products available on here.

5. ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (a.k.a. the Radiance Makers)

What They Do: Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, add radiance, smooth lines, help fade blotches, and allow other anti-aging ingredients to penetrate faster and work more effectively.

How They Work: Of all the ways to refresh skin, doctors love alpha hydroxy acids for their precision. People rub too harshly with scrubs, causing irritation and an uneven finish. You smooth on a peel, and the acids easily break the bonds between the dead cells and skin.

How to Get the Best Results:
Don’t overdo it. Using peels too often can weaken the skin barrier. For best results, give skin time to recover between treatments. Twice a week is enough—even if the box says otherwise.
Consider your regimen. When you do the peel, switch your glycolic-based cleanser for a creamy one at first. Apply the peel, and then follow with treatment serum and barrier-boosting moisturizer.

  • Products We Love:
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel
  • SkinMedica 15% AHA/BHA Face Cream
  • PRIORI Advanced AHA Pro Peel Kit

The SkinMedix Team

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