Confused by so many skin care options? Let’s talk about essential skin care.

Confused by so many skin care options? Let’s talk about essential skin care.

Essential skin care products


Time waits for no one. This includes our skin 😟. The beauty and skin care industry know this well. Hence, it is a billion-dollar monster that continues to grow in large part thanks to us gals 😬. With so many new products, creams and serums it’s hard to know which products to choose. Everybody claims they have the secret to perfect skin and eternal youth. As you can imagine, most of these claims are baloney. So, what is real? What is the essential skin care regimen we should use?


Lucky for us, I have researched this extensively. No matter what papers I looked at or which dermatologist I spoke with, they all seemed to agree on pretty much the same four things. Truthfully, these four elements have the most robust research in terms of anti-aging and addressing a myriad of skin issues. But first, let’s look at what happens to our skin with the passage of time.


The aging face


Ok, I want to give you a heads up that you may not want to know all this!  I don’t mean to be a total Debbie Downer here, these are just the facts of aging. Please skip this section if you are easily traumatized 😜.


As we age, our actual facial structure changes because our facial muscles waste away, we lose fat pads that fill up our face providing volume and some of our facial bones thin out. This results in sagging skin and wrinkling, hollowing of the eyes and thinning of the lips. In addition, all the years of sun exposure eventually take a toll on us, resulting in photodamage, freckling and uneven pigmentation.


Furthermore, our collagen production decreases and our skin becomes thinner, which in turn affects skin integrity and leads to further wrinkling.


If you ever see a picture of an older family member when they were younger, pay attention to all these structural changes.


Now a day, with non-invasive procedures, like fillers, you can make up for that lost muscle and fat. In addition, you can use a solid skin care regimen to help fight wrinkles and uneven pigmentation. Let’s investigate these skin care essentials.


The must haves


Sun protection


This is the number one step you can take to prevent aging. We know that the sun damages the skin and causes premature aging or photoaging.


In fact, some experts believe that clinical signs of skin aging caused onlyby the passing of time should not be evident until our late 60’s! They think that environmental factors and sun exposure accelerate our aging 😱. That sounds pretty amazing to me. Although I have seen some 60 year olds that make me look twice when they tell me their age, it is certainly not the norm!


I won’t spend much time on this, because we spoke extensively about sun avoidance at peak hours and sun protection a few weeks back. Make sure you read all about it here. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (I sound like a mom! Oh wait, I am a mom 😂).




These are the oldest studied topical anti-aging products. These compounds are derived from vitamin A. Retinoic acid at a concentration of 0.025% to 0.05% is the most effective topical retinoid. However, this can be irritating to skin, so retinol (at a higher percentage) is often used instead, as it is much less irritating.


What do retinoids do? Studies show us that they stimulate the synthesis of collagen, thicken the top layer of skin and they provide a mild lightening effect by suppressing an enzyme important in the formation of melanin (which causes uneven pigmentation).


So, you want to make sure that whichever product you use contains a retinoid. Ideally, the product should say it is stabilized or encapsulated as retinoids tend to degrade when combined with other ingredients. Also, they should be in an airtight system as they degrade with exposure to light, heat and oxygen as well.


Topical antioxidants


There are several antioxidants that have been studied in anti-aging topical products. The one that is most studied is vitamin C.


Humans are unable to synthesize Vitamin C (remember scurvy?) and only a small amount of what we absorb goes to the skin. Topical formulations containing at least5% L-ascorbic acid (a.k.a Vitamin C) have been shown to be clinically effective in anti-aging regimens. A significant increase in the density of skin texture and a decrease in deep furrows were demonstrated, as well as improved pigmentation.


Furthermore, studies show that vitamin C (15% L-ascorbic acid) plus 1% vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) provide protection against UV-radiation induced photodamage.


Therefore, Vitamin C with some combination of other antioxidants should be a staple in your skin care regimen.  Of course, somebody put together all this research, developed and patented a stable formulation of Vitamin C and E. You can check it out here.  I will say I love this serum and use it daily.


Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)


We have over 30 years’ worth of research documenting the effectiveness of different concentrations of AHAs. In high concentrations, they effectively work as peels (for example, glycolic acid or lactic acid peels), improving photoaged skin. Lower concentrations lightly exfoliate the skin, hydrate and stimulate collagen production.


So, AHA is good idea to include in your daily skin care regimen. You may have to use a very low concentration if your skin is very sensitive. This SkinMedica product is great, with a combination of various hydroxy acids. You can certainly find cheaper alternatives out there, but this gives you a sense of the active ingredients you want to look for.


Hyaluronic Acid (HA)


Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our body and its production decreases with age. HA has a high capacity to hold water and studies suggest that topical application of 0.1% HA formulations lead to significant improvement in skin hydration and elasticity. Also, smaller sized (lower molecular weight) molecules helped with wrinkle depth. This may be due to better skin penetration/absorption with smaller sized molecules.


And there you have it!


The best anti-aging skin regimen should include daily sunscreen use and some form of retinoids, antioxidants (particularly vitamin C), hydroxy acids and hyaluronic acids. 


Some products have a combination of several of these, so you can minimize product number and optimize your product use.


If you are looking for brand recs, I have tried so many! There are several great ones and I mentioned some particular products in the post. From higher end, medical grade brands, I like SkinMedica and Skinceuticals. If you want less costly and more nature friendly, check out Madd Hippie’s line. If you have a product line you love, post it below so we can check it out!



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As always, thanks for reading 💕!

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