Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Beauty Product Jargon Buster! What is that ingredient and what does it do?

Gone are the days when you could look at the ingredients of a product and understand exactly what had been thrown in the mix without any extra training in chemistry or alchemy.  You need a lifetime of learning and a lot of study to fully understand enough to select from those heaving shelves exactly the right product for your given skin type. 

But, beauty geek or not, there are a few things that it really helps to know;

Free Radicals
These are in the air we breathe and the food we eat.  They are unstable compounds that attack human cells and damage DNA, effectively speeding up the ageing process through damage to skin cells. 

Our best defence comes in the form of:-

These are Free Radicals natural enemy.  Eating foods rich in antioxidants is a great way to limit the damage.  In beauty products, ingredients like green tea, copper, vitamin C, A and E, grape seed and kinetin are effective antioxidants. 

Some Antioxidants of note include:-

This is another name for products made from Vitamin A, being an anti ageing antioxidant.  It improves collagen production, plumping out skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. 

Co-Enzyme Q10
The body naturally produces this in it's defence against free radicals, but as you age, levels go down.  This is why it appears in beauty lotions, to supplement your bodies own natural levels.  Products containing it are generally a shade of orange (as it is bright orange in colour).

Other ingredients that you may come across are:

Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These strip of dead skin cells revealing the smoother, new, younger looking skin underneath.  Particularly popular are glycolic and lactic acids.  These can be strong, so if you have sensitive skin be wary of the appearance of these high up the ingredients list.

Beta-hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Salicylic acid is the most commonly used.  These work in a similar way to AHAs above, but are less irritating to the skin.  Salicylic also fights bacteria on the skin.

However, if you are allergic to salicylates (found in aspirin), you shouldn't use products containing this.  Neither should you use products containing salicylic acid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

These help to protect skin by reinforcing the moisture barrier in the skin.

Usually the main ingredient, and is obviously simply water.  But it's vital for healthy skin.

Essential Oils
Lavender is popularly used in skin creams to avoid irritation, but many oils are used in beauty products, often to provide a nice scent. 

However, you should check with your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or epileptic

Ingredients known to block pores less than others.

Not an ingredient as such, but a way to deliver ingredients like vitamins deeper into the skin.

You may also want to check out:
Winter Skin Care
5 Quick Beauty Tips for Busy Women

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