Ingredients in Skin Care Products

There are so many skin care brands with so many ingredients! How do you know what you need? Listed below are some common ingredients in skin care products used to correct various complexion concerns you may have. I've also listed a few of the products we have at Sei Bella that contain them.

1. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) include glycolic and lactic acids. These may be found in various concentrations in both over the counter and prescription strength products. They are also very popular in medical grade facial peels. Creams and lotions with AHAs help with fine lines, irregular pigmentation and age spots. They also help decrease the appearance of large pores. Side effects of AHAs can include mild irritation and sun sensitivity. So you want to ease into using these products. Sei Bella Med Spa products include Bionet's cellular turnover treatments, AHA Rejuvenating Cleanser, Young Pharmaceuticals Lacticleanse cleanser, and Saturday Night Brightener to name a few.

2. Beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid)  is found in our Obagi Clenziderm system for acne, Bionet's Rejuvenationg Cleanser, Anti-Oil Cellular Turnover treatment, and DermaTeen acne system. This ingredient exfoliates the skin and can improve the texture and color of the skin. It penetrates oil-laden hair follicles, thus improving acne. Salicylic acid products combined with benzoyl peroxide products are potent acne fighters.

3. Hydroquinone is commonly referred to as bleaching cream or lightening agent. Products containing hydroquinone are used to lighten and eliminate hyperpigmentation, such as age spots and dark spots related to pregnancy or hormone therapy (such as occurs with birth control pills and hormone therapies for menopause). You can buy up to a 2% hydroquinone solution over the counter, but best results are achieved with a 4% solution. I have used hydroquinone for years and LOVE IT! I use it everyday, twice a day. It eliminated the need for concealer. Products at Sei Bella that conatin the 4% hydroquinone include Obagi's Clear, Blender and c-Clarifying serums. Hydroquinone has been a topic of controversy over the last few years so if you are pregnant or nursing, I would recommend the following product.

4. Kojic Acid is a more recent (discovered in 1989) remedy for the treatment of pigment problems and age spots. It  is derived from a fungus and works as a lightening agent by inhibiting the production of melanin (brown pigment). Bionet's Skin Brightener and our DermaFrac's lightening peptides are two examples of kojic acid containing products.

5. Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A. Retinol's stronger counterpart is tretinoin. Vitamin A has a molecular structure that is tiny enough to penetrate the lower layers of the skin where collagen and elastin form. Retinol is proven to improve mottled pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, tone and color. Plus retinol improves your skin's hydration levels. Sei Bella carries Retinol 50 pads by Young Pharmaceuticals, Vitamin Infusion Serum and Intensive Eye Cream by Bionet. Vitamin A's stronger counterpart, tretinoin, is found in Obagi's tretinoin cream .025%, .05% and 0.1%. These are prescription strength. Common names for tretinoin include Retin-A and Renova which you must purchase with a prescription at a pharmacy. These often cost about $100/tube. The Obagi tretinoins are exactly the same ingredient and cost $66, $76 or $86 depending on the strength, plus you can get well over a month's worth out of a tube. I use the 0.1% tretinoin and the last two tubes I've had lasted me 10 weeks each. That averages out to about $8.60 per week. Not bad.....

6. L-Ascorbic Acid is the only form of Vitamin C that you should look for in your skin care products. This is the most stable form of Vitamin C. It is the only antioxidant proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen. Collagen production naturally decreases with aging, but sun exposure will accelerate this decrease. Vitamin C  will also help to minimize fine lines, scars and wrinkles. Ask me about Obagi's Vitamin C products. I personally partial to Obagi's c-Clarifying serum which has 10% Vitamin C and 4% hydroquinone.

7. Titanium and Zinc oxides are the best sunscreens you can buy. They are a barrier sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays. The FDA has recently released some stringent criteria on what companies can claim as "sunscreen" and on what they can claim their percentage of sunblock is. Sun exposure and exposure to UV rays in tanning beds are the #1 cause of skin cancer. Even if you are of Hispanic, Asian or African American descent you need sunscreen. We have several that are good under makeup and are moisturizing at the same time without making your face oily.

This was a quick overview of some of the most common ingredients in skin care products.There are multiple other beneficial products containing antioxidants, caffeine, hyaluronic acid, benzoyl peroxide, Vitamin E, etc. Consultations are free at Sei Bella Med Spa so tell me about your skin concerns and let's find the right product(s) for you. We have a wide range of skin care issues I treat in our own clinic including rosacea, melasma, wrinkles, blemishes and sun damage. We have the young and the not quite so young skin, male and female skin issues. You'll be surprised at how much difference even a single product can make in your overall appearance.

Anne R Trussell MD