In a saturated skin care market, finding the perfect anti-aging regime can take up a lot of your time and become expensive. There are new trends and studies emerging every year but ultimately, the key to finding the perfect regime comes down to optimizing the chemical processes occurring naturally in your skin during your 20s. Even though everyone’s skin ages differently, there are a series of basic steps that you can take to achieve the best results for your skin. Take a look at this list of the 6 most important things you should look for when choosing your anti-aging regime.
1. Understand your skin type and the effects of aging
The first step to finding an effective anti-aging system is to understand how your skin functions and how it ages.
Your skin is composed of three primary layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. The skin’s acid mantle that forms in the outer layer acts as a barrier to keep in lipids and moisture while blocking pollution, toxins, and bacteria. A slightly acidic mantle (5.5 pH balance) is considered the optimal ratio for your skin.
When your pH is too alkaline, your skin becomes dry and sensitive, which inhibits its ability to protect itself from enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles and sagging.
Intrinsic and extrinsic factors contribute to visible signs of aging, which may include:
- Your skin's metabolism slowing down, affecting the production of integral cell types.
- The natural production of collagen slowing down, so your skin's underlying support structure weakens, leading to wrinkling.
- Your skin losing its firmness due to the breakdown of elastin over time.
- Oil production slowing with age, leading to increased dryness and thinning, making your skin more prone to sagging.
Your skin takes approximately 28 days to renew itself but as we age, it can take up to 45 days. This is why it's so important to find an anti-aging system that supports and enhances your skin's natural rejuvenation process.
Some of the ingredients and processes used in synthetic formulae have a “wash-out effect” on natural oils in the skin, creating a vicious circle, that requires more moisturizing. “You really want to help the skin to function normally, to produce its own moisturizing. With the right system, your skin is capable of that”, explains specialist Dermatologist Dr. Mark Gray.
2. The optimal number of products in an effective anti-aging system
There is not a magical number of products that works for everyone. The needs of your skin may vary depending on your age, your skin’s pH balance, your previous exposure to UVA and UVB rays, amongst other factors. If you understand your skin, you’ll be able to address whatever is missing or not functioning well. But as a rule of thumb, a good system should be: cleanse, protect, moisturize and repair your skin.
3. Look out for these key ingredients
On average, women using synthetic skin care will apply 168 chemicals on their skin every day, which have a harmful cumulative effect on health. Regardless of whether you favor the use of natural or organic ingredients, you should always read the labels and research the main components of a product before deciding to trial it on your skin. Here are some of the key ingredients to look for in an anti-aging system:
A gentler delivery of the anti-aging but sometimes irritating retinol. Retinal (Retinaldehyde) is a powerful form of Vitamin A with proven anti-aging benefits, including helping to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.
A vitamin A substitute from the Babchi plant. Its bioactive profile is almost identical to retinoids, but lacks the typical side effects of retinoids. Bakuchiol helps to stabilize retinal and can be used alongside retinal to ‘boost’ its effectiveness. Medical research conducted on Bakuchiol has shown:
- 20% reduction in wrinkle depth in just 12 weeks of use
- 40% improvement in skin elasticity
- 90% improvement in skin roughness and dryness
An algal or seafood extract used mainly in dietary supplements. Astaxanthin is a super-powerful antioxidant, six thousand times stronger than vitamin C, that protects your cells from oxidation so they stay younger and free from damage. Astaxanthin is highly effective at reducing:
- Sun damage
- Age spots
The latest skin care products are being infused with the power of botanical ingredients. Botanicals like medical-grade Manuka honey have become popular due to their powerful restorative properties. Manuka in particular is a natural bioactive ingredient that draws moisture into the skin and nourishes and encourages rapid tissue repair. You can read more about it here.
Look for botanicals sourced from natural, renewable sources. They may include some of the following oils and extracts:
- Jojoba seed oil (Simmondsia Chinensis)
- Sunflower Seed Wax (Helianthus Annus)
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice (Aloe Barbadensis)
- Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis)
- Olive Leaf Extract (Olea Europaea)
- Green Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis)
- Pomegranate Extract (Punica Granatum)
- Licorice Root Extract (Glycyrrhiza Glabra)
- Grape Seed Extract (Vitis Vinifera)
- Mugwort Extract (Artemisia Vulgaris)
4. Understand how products are made
Many traditional skin care manufacturing processes heat products to almost boiling point in order to ‘emulsify’ the ingredients (blend them together). Emulsification damages delicate active ingredients, reducing their effectiveness.
Look for brands that manufacture their products using processes that don’t require the assistance of heat. For example, cold-processing is a technique that mixes product ingredients together using extremely low to no heat. These processes are also more energy efficient and help limit the number of emulsifiers needed in the mix.
5. Know what to look for in product reviews
Before deciding to trial a new product, make sure to some background research on both the company and the products. Read multiple independent product reviews and use these to form your own opinion on a product.
With the rise of influencer marketing, beauty blogging has become a sought-after market for big brands with large marketing budgets. So high product ratings on some beauty blogs may no longer be a result of their quality or efficacy but rather another sales spiel.
Make sure you rely on reviews that are backed up by reputable research and written by trustworthy reviewers with a long-standing reputation in the skin care market. Some good examples are Truth in Aging and Bond en Avant.
6. Directions of use
Another factor to consider in choosing the right system is the recommended directions of use by the manufacturer. Even though some products may be sold in larger volumes, if they require a large number of applications, their overall duration of use will be reduced, making them more expensive in the longer term.
The efficacy of an anti-aging system depends on its ingredients as well as how long you use it for. Finding the right products for your skin can take time and involve a bit of research but the rewards will be worth it. Understanding the effects of aging on your skin is a key step in finding the right mix of products that will optimize your skin’s rejuvenation processes.