Twenty years ago the most a face cream could offer was to lock in extra moisture. But today's cosmeceutical formulas offer results we never thought possible.
Keeping up with what's new can be difficult as cosmetic brands each tout their own skin-saving 'miracle'. But there is a handful of cosmetic innovations that stand out. They are the ones that make it possible to treat problems such as ageing, acne, and pigmentation with topical solutions that actually make a difference. Here, we take a look at ingredients which make 'hope in a jar' a reality.
Retinoids, which help normalise the turnover of skin cells, have been used since the '70s as an effective treatment for acne in the medication Retin-A. It wasn't until the '80s retinoids effect on wrinkles was discovered. "This was the first ingredient with scientific evidence showing it could reverse skin ageing," explains cosmetic physician Dr Geoffrey Heber. These derivatives of vitamin A go under a number of names such as tretinoin, retinol and retinyl palmitate.
BENEFITS: Retinoids can help improve the appearance of wrinkles or even out skin tone.
WARNING: In stronger concentrations retinoids may cause irritation. They should be used in conjunction with a sunscreen and should be avoided during pregnancy.
- Sothys Retinol 15 Night Cream, $95. Pure retinol is delivered via 'microsponge' technology.
- Roc Retin-Ox+ Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Serum Max, $54. A retinol serum that moisturises too.
- Ederma Skinsilk-A capsules, $88.95. It contains 0.75% retinol in single-use doses.
AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) include glycolic, lactic, malic and citric acids, that are either synthetically produced or derived from natural sources such as fruit or milk. They effectively exfoliate skin and also have a moisturising action. "AHA-based treatments are key to addressing acne, wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation,” says US dermatologist Dr Howard Murad.
BENEFITS: AHAs work very well to ‘refine' ageing, sun-damaged skin. By exfoliating, they help reduce fine lines and uneven pigmentation.
WARNING: As with any product that exfoliates, AHAs make the skin more sun sensitive and should be used in conjunction with a sunscreen. For some people AHAs may be irritating, particularly when used in stronger concentrations.
- Priori Advanced AHA with LCA Complex Skin Renewal Cream, $110. Contains highly moisturising lactic acid.
- J an Marini Bioglycolic Cream, $95. Smoothes texture; increases hydration.
- Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturising Peel, $59.99. A glycolic peel with soothing botanicals.
Hyaluronic acid is a moisturiser that occurs naturally in the skin. It makes an ideal moisturiser base, reducing the need for other lubricants and emollients. New technology using hyaluronic acid fragments activates the skin's own production of hyaluronic acid, says Dr Daniel Maes, the US vice president of research and development at Estée Lauder.
Powerful perfecting ingredients are showing their face in today's skincare.
Hyaluronic acid is a must for severely dry skins, but is also good for all skins.
- Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, $72.55. Hyaluronic acid enriched with B5.
- Avéne Eau Thermale Eluage Crème, $59. With the latest hyaluronic acid fragments and vitamin A.
- Murad Night Reform Treatment, $92. With AHAs and hyaluronic acid.
Antioxidants have made it possible to protect the skin against free radicals, which damage the DNA of skin cells, leading to wrinkles and other signs of ageing. "Each antioxidant has activity on a different form of free radical,” says Dr Maes.
Potent antioxidants include vitamin C, green tea, alpha-lipoic acid, resveratrol found in red wine, co-enzyme Q10 and idebenone.
Ingredients such as green tea or grapeseed extract make perfect preventive skincare for all.
- Estée Lauder Daywear Plus Multi Protection Tinted Moisturizer, $76. Has antioxidants and sunscreen.
- Cellex-C High Potency Serum, $180. Pure ascorbic acid serum.
- A'kin Rose de Mai Anti-Oxidant Day Creme, and Lavender & Rose Repairing, Anti-Oxidant Night Creme, $36.95 each. All-natural, with alpha lipoic acid and vitamins A, B5, C and E.