Establishing the foundations of great skin health must always start with establishing a regular at- home routine, using products with scientifically proven ingredients , at the right concentrations.
Skincare products that are defined as cosmeceuticals are a hybrid between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals and they represent one of the most important innovations in modern skincare. The huge growth in this industry over the last decade has seen the last decade has seen the introduction of a lot of products that claim this classification yet fail to deliver the high standards that we expect from this class of product.
The expectation is that, because they are a blend of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, these products should provide benefits above and beyond simple cosmetics. They are viewed as alternatives to prescriptive medications and have become a valuable tool for physicians to compliment and enhance the results of in-office procedures. So how do we know which cosmeceutical products are effective in the pursuit of healthy skin?
While it is important to understand that there is no single ingredients that will fix all the contributory factors of a particular skin concern - there is no quick fix or magic potion after all - there are definitely stand out ingredients that are "must haves" if a skin care routine is to move beyond the rudimentary. As clinicians, we must be able to differentiate between less effective products, marketing hype, and those that will actually improve skin health and appearance. The way to do this is to identify and understand the science behind their ingredients.
Yet just having a certain ingredient isn’t enough, they must also contain the right concentrations and the ingredients must be in the right form and pH to be active. An effective cosmeceutical skincare range should have a combination of targeted ingredients that work synergistically and are proven by independent scientific studies to be capable of more than simply delivering moisture to the skin.
An important group of cosmeceutical ingredients to look for are anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. Targeting inflammation and free radical damage to the skin by oxidation has become one of the most important elements of managing skin health and aesthetics. There are many anti-oxidant/anti- inflammatory cosmeceutical ingredients, but 3 of the most effective, that work synergistically, are Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Vitamin E.
Topical Vitamin C requires a pH of 3.5 or less for optimal absorption and while many products boast they contain Vitamin C, they use forms that will not remain stable in skincare formulas. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate and a few other Vitamin C derivatives have been found to be incredibly stable, absorbed evenly and therefore effective in topical skincare products. Clinical studies have found Vitamin C Phosphate splits enzymatically in the skin to release the more active, but less stable, form of Vitamin C called l-ascorbic acid. Vitamin C has been repeatedly shown to be an effective anti-oxidant, protects the cells against free radicals and UV damage. Furthermore, it has been found to counteract skin deterioration by promoting new collagen formation and also has de-pigmenting properties.
ABOVE: Improvements in skin clarity and reduction of pigmentation after 2 months of topical Vitamin C use.
Vitamin E is oil soluble anti-oxidant that cannot be synthesized by humans. It is the predominant antioxidant present in the stratum corneum and results in improved skin structure and support, leading to improved appearance of wrinkles, skin texture and pigmentation.
In addition to providing antioxidant protection, Vitamin E is thought to act as a penetration enhancer, aiding the passage of other ingredients through the skin barrier as it intercalates with the lipid bilayer of the stratum corneum, altering the characteristics of permeability. It is non-irritating like other penetration enhancers and also acts as an emollient aiding moisturisation. The ideal active form to have as an ingredient is alpha-tocopherol at 0.1-1%.
An equally important anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory in its own right, ALA is known for preventing cellular damage, having been shown to penetrate through the skin to the dermal and even subdermal layers. However a unique property of ALA is that it is a powerful co-enzyme anti-oxidant. As Vitamin C and E do work synergistically to boost each others performance, the levels of both can be readily depleted from the skin through UV exposure. ALA has the ability to regenerate levels of Vitamins C and E in the skin, regenerating them after photo- oxidation, which is why it is often combined with C and E in skincare formulas.
The active form, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, soothesin ammation; boosts collagen formation and can act as a depigmenting agent as well as reducing ne linesand wrinkles when taken orally and applied topically.
ABOVE: Improvements in skin quality and fine lines after 3 months of topical Vitamin C, E and AHA use.
The ingredients that are mentioned here are not the only important ingredients in skincare products and we will be discussing more in coming editions of the ONLINE SKIN MASTERCLASS, however they do stand out as some of the most effective ones to look out for. When deciding which products to sell within our practices, or to recommend patients to buy, it is vital we are able to weed through marketing hype and select only those products that are formulated with a combination of ingredients scientifically proven to be effective in improving skin health and aesthetics, getting the results our patients and ourselves are looking for.
Ensuring patients are following a structured at-home routine is a vital first step to improving skin health and aesthetics and must be in place prior to providing active therapies like Botox, Dermal Fillers, micro-needling, Thread Lifts etc. Make sure you attend AADFA’s “FACE” MODULE RE-LAUNCH in JUNE to get all of the information you need to achieve the best results for your patients!