You probably already know how important it is to read labels and ingredient lists for the foods you buy. However, learning to read the ingredients contained in many skincare products is also important, because everything that goes onto your skin also winds up inside your body.
It’s important to look for products that contain ingredients your skin needs for health and wellness, and try to avoid ingredients that may be potentially dangerous or damaging.
Since companies can often say whatever they want for marketing and branding purposes, it’s really up to you to investigate more deeply and understand what you’re using and how it may harm or help your skin. If you need further guidance, you can always talk to a licensed professional about your skin’s specific needs and what ingredients to look for.
So, What Does Your Skin Need?
Sebum is a combination of fatty acids, glycerides, wax, cholesterol, and squalene that is organically produced by the sebaceous glands that are present in your skin. Sebaceous glands are found all over your body except for your soles and your palms, and the highest amount of these glands are found on your forehead, back, and chin. Sebum is an ingredient that keeps your skin healthy, protects it from fungal and bacterial attacks, and prevents water loss.
Elastin helps in retaining moisture within your skin. Although elastin is naturally present in your skin, some skin conditions result in a loss of elastin. It also may decrease as you age. When applied topically, it boosts your natural production of elastin as well.
Emollients are thickening and hydrating agents which hold moisture within your skin, creating a soothing and softening effect. Emollient is naturally present in mineral oil, plant oils, cocoa butter, shea butter, and fatty acids.
Humectant ingredients attract water molecules from your surroundings to all three layers of your skin. This unique mechanism of humectants helps prevent dryness and keeps your skin hydrated. Glycerine is among one of the most commonly used humectant ingredients in skincare products.
Antioxidant ingredients can be organic or synthetic and they help protect your skin from damage caused by various stressors in your surroundings, such as free radicals. Some of the most beloved antioxidants in the skincare space include green tea, lycopene, niacinamide, Vitamins C, and vitamin E.
Beta-hydroxy acid is an oil-soluble exfoliant that penetrates deep into your pores to clear up blackheads and acne. Among the most commonly used beta-hydroxy acids is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is naturally found in green vegetables like broccoli, cucumber, spinach, and zucchini.
Skincare ingredients you may want to skip include:
- Mineral oils
- Chemical Sunscreens
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Skincare Ingredients Suitable for All Skin Types
There are some skincare ingredients that you can reliably expect to be suitable for nearly every skin type and condition. Granted, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, these natural ingredients are big winners for everyone who uses them.
Aloe Vera is among the most popular and valuable plant-based skin-care extracts that helps to soothe and hydrate your skin. Aloe Vera extract is rich in vitamin B, vitamin C, enzymes, amino acids, and glycoprotein, all of which are essential for healthy and active-looking skin. It also has antioxidant properties, which prevents damage to your skin cells.
Argan oil is also a plant-based moisturizing oil made from Argan trees. This fragrance-free oil is rich in fatty acids, lipids, and antioxidants which penetrate deep into your skin to hydrate and repair it.
Getting ready for a party with itchy red skin? Let your skin drink your coffee! Yes, you read that right. Caffeine is an extremely popular skincare ingredient with antioxidant properties. Not only does it help to reduce the appearance of cellulite on your skin and eliminate puffy eyes, it’s also a quick remedy for itchiness and skin redness.
Clay is among the most popular organic cosmetic ingredients. Clay helps in absorbing excess oil from the skin and unclogs blocked skin pores. Bentonite clay is one of the most commonly used clay, which is extracted from volcanic ash particles.
Glycerine is a skincare ingredient that helps maintain moisturized, soft, and healthy-looking skin. It also restores exceptionally dry and damaged skin to its hydrated and glowing glory.
Green tea has both antioxidant and anti-aging properties. When used topically on your skin, green tea soothes and improves the appearance of damaged and burnt skin. One of the catechins found in green tea is also known to be effective in protecting your skin from skin cancer.
Jojoba oil is a very lightweight and plant-based oil extracted from the Jojoba tree. Jojoba oil is fragrance-free and works great for hydrating dry skin. Another specialty of Jojoba oil is that it offers a grease-free glow to your skin, unlike some other oil-based ingredients.
Lactic acid is a popular ingredient in skincare products that removes dead cells and dirt from your skin’s surface. Lactic acid is very light and easy for sensitive skin, which is one reason for its popularity among dermatologists and cosmetologists.
Niacinamide is a skincare ingredient that is becoming ever more popular for its radical action against skin damage. This ingredient is a rich source of vitamin B3, which brightens dark spots on your skin and helps to manage acne. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to look for niacinamide in your skincare products too, as it has the fewest known side effects.
Pomegranates have consistently been underestimated in the world of dermatology. However, this tennis-ball-like fruit is among the super-fruits of the world, and offers a lot of benefits for your skin. Pomegranate fruit, including its bark, peel, seeds, oil, juice, flesh, and roots, contains antioxidant nutrients which are very beneficial. These nutrients include punicic and polyphenols.
When you have pomegranate in the ingredients list of your skincare product, you can expect benefits like reducing skin inflammation, stimulating skin cell growth, repairing damaged skin cells, repairing DNA, reducing oxidative stress, and making your epidermis thicker. In other words, it’s the bee's knees of skincare ingredients!
Have we mentioned retinol yet? Retinol or retinoid ingredients go hand in hand with many sunscreen formulas. Skincare products with retinol also offer some of the best anti-aging effects. This is because retinol is a rich source of vitamin A, which can be found in foods like carrots, broccoli, eggs, and milk. If you cannot eat vitamin A foods for some reason, retinol skincare products are found in abundance.
Silicone is an ingredient extracted from silica that gives a slippery and silky texture to your skin. It also provides a smoother look to your pores. Think of the smoothness and texture of baby skin and you can start to get the picture!
Some common silicone ingredients present in many skincare products include dimethicone and cyclohexasiloxane. In your diet, green beans are probably one of the richest and most easily accessible source of silica.
Sodium chloride, present in vast amounts in sea salt and Himalayan salt, contains various minerals including magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc. These minerals are not only vital for your body in functioning optimally, they are also vital for the health of your skin. The great thing about salt is that it can be used as a topical scrub to exfoliate your skin and remove dead cells, while at the same time delivering a nice dose of necessary minerals.
Vitamin E may be among the most famous and valuable ingredients present in most skincare products today. Vitamin E works best as an antioxidant that protects your skin from free radicals and oxidative damage from your environment.
Vitamin E is present in most plant-based oils, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Some of the more commonly used vitamin E sources are sunflower oil and seeds, almonds, peanuts, spinach, and pumpkin.
You can also supplement with vitamin E orally under supervision from a healthcare professional. However, synthetic forms of vitamin E may be somewhat less beneficial than natural forms of vitamin E.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but as you can see, there are many different skincare ingredients that can be healthy and beneficial for your skin. Make it a point to learn what they are and what they can do, discuss with a professional your particular skin needs, and then look for them in your favorite skincare products. Trust us, your skin will thank you!