When you purchase your cosmetic skin care creams do you know what to look for to determine an effective cream or are you blindly trying products to see what works and basically at the mercy of product marketing? Unfortunately the deception, glossy images and marketing hype used by the cosmetic industry makes it very difficult for the average person to differentiate between an effective well formulated clinical grade cream that can provide real results as opposed to one that is basically an expensive moisturiser with little benefit.
In order to help you through the maze of marketing nonsense and empower you with the knowledge required to make an informed decision and decide which cream is best for you we developed this basic guide.
When considering which ingredients you require in your skin care products it will be determined by what skin issues you may have, your skin type and age. All these variables cannot be covered here in detail so the following list of ingredients would be required for aging skin which may have any of the following signs such as Dark spots, Sagging skin, Dull glow-less skin, Lines & wrinkles, Dry skin, Patchy skin or Open pores. For other skin concerns please refer to our website.
A cream used to reduce the appearance of the above mentioned signs of aging skin ideally would include all of the following:
Antioxidants to Protect your Skin from Further Damage
It has long been well established that antioxidants are essential to protect the skin from free radical damage which is responsible for causing skin aging. There are a lot of antioxidants available to chose from which may include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Resveratrol, Lipoic Acid, Green Tea, Glutathione, to name but a few.
Unfortunately it is not as simple as having a combination of these on the product label for the product to be effective as some of these have formulation issues and if not formulated correctly can still be ineffective. Vitamin C for example is unstable and oxidises in the presence of air and water very rapidly so needs to be formulated in an anhydrous vehicle (containing no water) or an alternately a stabilised form to be used instead, such as Ethyl Ascorbate or Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, or else the Vitamin C would be oxidised well before you receive the product and thus it would be ineffective. If your cream changes colour over time the ingredients are oxidising and becoming ineffective. With vitamin C it will turn from clear to yellow to orange to brown. Once it goes past the light yellow stage discard it.
CoQ10 is bright orange in colour and produces a bright orange cream even at low concentrations (1%) so often companies will use very low concentrations to avoid the aesthetic colour concerns however it is too low to be of any benefit. Therefore if your CoQ10 cream is not a brilliant bright orange then it would be in a very low concentration and no likely to provide any real benefit. CoQ10 is also fairly unstable so needs to be formulated correctly to ensure it remains effective.
Green tea extract is potentially a great antioxidant if a quality standardised extract is used. Studies show a 95% polyphenol extract is effective however as a cosmetic manufacture who searched the globe we found it very difficult to find a supplier who can supply such an extract with the majority of suppliers providing non standardised extracts of unknown efficacy. When we did locate a source we found the 95% extract to be fairly unstable also so decided not to use it in our cream range.
Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants available but is also very unstable. It needs to be kept refrigerated and ideally in an anhydrous vehicle for it to maintain its stability for any length of time. If your cream contains gluathione and is not anhydrous and not kept in the fridge then unfortunately it would contain little to no glutathione by the time you get to use it.
Resveratrol is also unstable thus formulating a cream with an appreciable shelf life to be useful with good biological activity is very difficult.
Glycation Inhibitors to Protect Collagen and Elastin
In addition to antioxidants we also feel that glycation inhibitors are also very important to consider having in your creams. Glycation is a process that produces damaged proteins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Collagen and elastin are affected by this process causing cross linking of fibres which renders them stiff and inelastic causing a loss of suppleness and contributing towards aging. Ingredients that inhibit glycation include Carnosine, Lipoic acid, green tea and pomegranate, to name a few. Therefore look out for these ingredients in your skin products as they help protect your collagen and elastin from being damaged. Unfortunately very few companies formulate their products taking glycation into consideration.
Skin-replenishing ingredients help fortify and restore the skin surface thus improving its barrier function which helps prevent moisture loss in addition to supplying long-lasting hydration. This stunning benefit helps skin look and feel soft, smooth, supple and plump, just like when we were younger.
We prefer to use skin identical replenishing ingredients which are ingredients found naturally in your skin in order to mimic the skins composition. To determine the best ingredients we first need to consider the composition of the skin and sebum and ensure we supply the same ingredients. These include: squalene, cholesterol, Ceramides 1, Ceramide 2, Ceramide 3, Phosphatidylcholine, fatty acids, hyaluronic acid (HA), glycerol, urea and wax esters. Ideally a combination of all these ingredients should be present in your cream or at the very least a majority of them to make such each component of the skin is being supplied.
There are fewer formulation issues with this group of ingredients compared to the antioxidants however there are issues with Hyaluronic Acid. Studies show the molecular weight should be between 50,000 to 120,000 Daltons to be able to penetrate the outer layers of the skin and thus be effective but regular hyaluronic acid on the market used by most companies is approximately 1.5 million Daltons, which is 30 times bigger than it should be in order to be absorbed! Therefore you guessed it creams with this form of HA are ineffective. The HA used in Dermidenticals products is a low molecular weight version with an average molecular weight of 75,000 Daltons to ensure it absorbs and is effective. This is the “sweet spot” because if lower molecular weight HA is used it has been shown to cause inflammation in the skin which is not desirable as this accelerates the skin aging process. If your products contain HA best check the size used with the supplier to see if it is effective or not.
Skin-restoring ingredients are often referred to as cell-communicating ingredients and actually tell skin cells to make better, younger cells. This category of ingredients are very important and a must have for any cream to be effective. These cell communicating ingredients support the production of certain components of the skin matrix such as collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid and thus very useful.
Well-researched examples of skin-restoring ingredients include the anti-aging superstar retinol and niacinamide. Various peptides, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (found in green tea), adenosine and Stem cell extracts also exhibit enough research to make them well worth having in your creams.
Again formulation issues occur with ingredients like retinol. Some companies prefer to use the cheaper ineffective form called retinyl palmitate yet still refer to it as Retinol. This is deceptive as it is not retinol at all and studies show it is ineffective. Therefore if your using a Retinol cream make sure it contains real retinol and not retinyl palmiate otherwise your are being deceived by the supplier. Retinol itself is fairly unstable and can be irritating to the skin so Dermidenticals prefer to use micro-encapsulated Retinol which provides advanced stabilisation and penetration technology. This is where the retinol is incorporated inside tiny microspheres which protect it from oxidation and thus significantly prolongs its shelf life when compared to free retinol. The retinol is released from within the microsphere upon application which has also shown to reduce any irritation associated with retinol use.
Many peptides used may have poor absorption so in order to increase their penetration through the skin may have a fatty acid attached to them. Palmitic acid may be used and the peptide will usually bear the name with Palmityl or PAL – at the beginning. These ones you know will absorb well.
Many companies will trademark a fantastic sounding name for the peptides (and many other ingredients for that matter) they use in their products which allows them the ability to not disclose exactly what they are using which in the majority of cases is more hype than proven results. If they have to hide what they are using behind a trademarked name then I would be sceptical because there is a reason they are hiding what they are using.
Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids
For daily resurfacing of skin to help skin cells shed like they did before age and sun damage got in the way, an AHA or BHA ingredient in the right concentrations can significantly improve the appearance of your skin. These ingredients commonly include: glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid. For home use ideally a 5% to 10% leave on cream is ideal. The pH (a measure of the acid alkaline balance) of the final product is important for the product to be effective because if the pH is above 4 the product becomes ineffective.
Another thing to look out for is you often find these ingredients in skin cleansers claiming them to be exfoliating cleansers. These are generally ineffective as they are washed off after a couple of minutes (if not sooner) which does not allow sufficient contact time to have any real benefit.
It is well recognised that skin damage caused by the sun is a major contributing factor towards aging skin. The use of a quality sunscreen is very important. We generally recommend to keep this as a seperate cream as you may not want sunscreens in your everyday creams if your not venturing out into the sun. Many sunscreens contain a lot of chemical sunscreen agents which ideally would only be applied when necessary and avoided when not needed. In addition be sun smart like wear a hat and do not stay in the sun for prolonged periods.
Another consideration when formulating skin care is what ingredient combinations works best? Many companies may only use three or so active ingredients (and often less) in any one cream which means it is only addressing a limited amount of what the skin needs. If your looking for a comprehensive combination to cover all the bases mentioned above using these types of creams you will need to apply several creams at once. This not only becomes expensive but also time consuming. The Dermidenticals range is formulated with everything you need in a single cream which not only simplifies your skin care routine but also makes it less expensive.
All the best ingredients still will not work if they are not delivered deep into the skin where they are needed. Small fat soluble ingredients (Skin Replenishing ingredients) absorb well on their own however larger water soluble ingredients need some help to be effectively absorbed which is why we developed and utilise advanced delivery systems such as liposomes and micro encapsulation to not only ensure that the ingredients penetrate deep into the skin to where they are required but also remain stable during their shelf life. We recommend you check to see if the products your currently using utilise advanced delivery systems otherwise they may not be reaching where they need to in order to be effective.
With all the chemical pollutants in our environment we prefer to minimise our exposure to those found in most skin creams. Repeated exposure to lots of chemicals in your cream over a long period of time could potentially lead to an accumulation in the body over time which we do not feel comfortable with.
Toxicology experts agree that based on current knowledge cosmetics ingredients in the marketplace are safe to use as directed however at the risk of sounding like an alarmist in the future, when these chemicals have been in use for many decades and/or more rigorous studies have been conducted, some long-term detrimental effects may be discovered for ingredients currently accepted as safe so we prefer to err on the side of caution just in case. Remember it was only 60 years ago that doctors were telling us that smoking cigarettes was good for us!
We avoid the use of many chemicals which are known or suspected to be harmful or known to cause skin irritation. Such ingredients we avoid include: propylene glycol, paraffins, alcohol, parabens, sulphates, PEG’s, fragrances, silicones, certain solvents, hormone disrupters, gluten, dairy, to name but a few. We also avoid most surfactants which can disrupt the structure and packing of lipids and proteins within the outer most layer of the skin.
We also made a conscious attempt to minimise the chemical load of our creams by keeping the number of inactive chemicals that offer no benefit to the skin (such as preservatives, thickeners, emulsifiers, etc) to a minimum while ensuring the majority of ingredients used nourish the skin. The majority of inactive thickeners we use were chosen because they are too large to be absorbed by the skin as we do not want unnecessary chemicals in our range being absorbed through your skin. We recommend you read the label on your creams to see how many chemicals are actually in them.
Hopefully this brief outline will give you enough information to help you chose wisely which brand and cream are best for you.