Busting the Jargon
Do you know your peptides from your hyaluronic acids? No, me neither... If you think that a free radical is an escapee from Guantamano Bay, then read on!
We often see such ingredients on the products we purchase and hear the terminology in the marketing and advertising of our skin care so I thought I'd have a look at the most common of these science terms so we can all understand what they are and what they do.
Antioxidants occur naturally in fruit and vegetables including coffee, tea, wine and good quality 70% or above dark chocolate (which by the way contains more antioxidants than green tea!). There are lots of different antioxidants but the most common ones we will have likely heard of are flavonols (found in chocolate), resvertatrol (found in wine) and lycopene (found in tomatoes). Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E are also antioxidants as are minerals zinc and copper; and they all have their own areas of expertise so a combination of different antioxidants is a must whether in your diet or in your face cream.
Their job is to prevent cell damage caused by oxidants, otherwise known as free radicals. Free radicals occur naturally in the body and are also found in our environment eg pollution, alcohol and cigarette smoke. We produce free radicals naturally to help ward off viruses but too many in our system can cause heart problems and cancer.
Antioxidants in skin care must be kept in either opaque bottles or metal tubes as exposure to light will reduce their efficiency. Stick to the best before dates too for the same reason.
Why do we need antioxidants in our skin care as well as our diet?
"Dr Mike Bell, skincare scientific advisor at Boots, explains... ‘Topical antioxidants target the surface epidermal layers of the skin’, he says. ‘They work by quenching the free radicals that are on the skin’s surface, and by supporting the skin’s own natural antioxidant system in the surface layers of the skin.’ Put simply, they neutralise free radicals in the top few layers of your skin, then trigger your body’s systems to fight anything that’s a bit deeper. Combining them with your internal antioxidants (which we obtain from out diets) is the ideal way to squash oxidation on the inside, too." Marie Clare.
After the age of 30, our body's own efficiency at reducing free radicals reduces, hence the reduction of naturally produced collagen and the appearance of fine lines.
Amino acids are the building blocks of all protein. A large proportion of our cells, including muscles and tissues, are made up of amino acids helping to give structure, heal wounds and repair tissue and are essential to the functioning of the body. As we age and as we are also exposed to pollutants etc, using amino acids in skin care will stimulate cellular repair, provide antioxidant protection and boost UV protection.
Peptides in skincare products help to revitalise the skin's own building blocks as they are made from proteins, helping the skin to become more resilient. As peptides are not enough to address your skin concerns on their own, they are added to a formula of other specialised ingredients such as antioxidants as well as other skin repairing, restoring and replenishing ingredients to address multiple signs of ageing, combined with using an SPF product, to give you the best results.
A moisture binding naturally occurring sugar that keeps skin plump and hydrated. 50% of the body's own hyaluronic acid is found in the skin making it a large part of the framework in which the skin cells fit. Hyaluronic acid in skincare products maximises collagen levels and keeps skin supple thus is a useful tool in the fight against ageing skin because as we age our natural production slows down. It is hyaluronic acid that is used in dermal fillers. In skincare it is renowned for its moisture-attracting properties, drawing water into the skin and creating an effective barrier.
So, now you know!