I remember how in the times of our grandmothers, good skincare meant using a good soap and may be a good cold cream after a shower. Mind you, even using a cold cream was a luxury for most. Malai or besan would be more trustworthy options. And the ultimate pampering of the skin would be a visit to a beauty parlour. Fast forward. People today are far more concerned about their skin. Fairness creams, anti-ageing serums and magic potions promise radiance like never before. Walk past the skincare aisle in a supermarket, you’ll see a deluge of skincare products. And while your granny may not have needed them, not all of these products are to be scoffed at. In the last two decades, there has been much research on the subject of skincare. It has resulted in the marriage of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to give rise to cosmeceuticals.
What are cosmeceuticals? Cosmeceuticals are highly active skincare products that have been researched and tested and contain active ingredients and molecules that can influence the biological function of skin and can show a noticeable difference. The key word here is ingredients and one should know what to look out for. Here’s a handy list.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight and environmental toxins generates free radicals, which damage skin and make it age. Antioxidants destroy free radicals in the skin and are effective in preventing ageing-related changes. Some of the most potent antioxidants are superoxide dismutase, glutathione, Coenzyme Q10 and vitamins. Usually they work in harmony, so more than one is always welcome.
Except for vitamins A, C and E, other vitamins are ineffective, unstable or simply not absorbed by the skin. Vitamin A improves the texture of photo-damaged skin, reduces fine wrinkling, improves mottled hyperpigmentation and increases collagen regeneration; however it can have irritant potential and one needs to be careful. Vitamin C helps in synthesis of collagen and helps reduce skin damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E helps as an antioxidant and in preventing ageing. It also acts as a hydrating agent and hence its presence in skin creams can be useful.
Skin lightening agents:
Berry extract, niacinamide, arbutin, licorice extract and emblica are skin lightening agents, but one needs to be cautious of long-term use.
Matrixyl, argireline, copper peptides are claimed to have anti-ageing properties. They may not yield uniform results in everybody, but can be tried.
Presence of sunscreens is definitely a welcome sign in cosmeceuticals and should be encouraged to prevent sun damage.
Individual researched molecules varying from company to company: Some of these may be effective but it is difficult to verify claims. Hence caution is the key.
The price of a product may not be proportional to its efficacy. Expensive may not mean effective.
More ingredients do not mean more efficacy. Do your own research on ingredients before you make a buy.
Natural may not always translate to good. Not all natural products can be absorbed by the skin.
Not all synthetic products ruin your skin. A lot of synthetically-created molecules in lab are tested and proven to be far more effective than natural ones.