What's in the Waters of the Fountain of Youth?


Do you ever feel overwhelmed when trying to choose products for your skin? From a medical skin health point of view, there are a few choice ingredients or product categories that can do the most to improve the health of your skin, which in turn will help your skin become brighter and more beautiful.

The first category to consider is an antioxidant. When applied directly to the skin, antioxidants can help neutralize damage to skin cells, increase the body’s natural defense against impaired skin cell function, and help enhance UVA/UVB protection. Some of the more common antioxidants used in medical skin care products and treatments are Vitamins A, C and E, Coenzyme Q-10, Ferulic Acid, Green Tea Extract, Superoxide Dismutase, and Squalane. Many of these antioxidants also hydrate the skin and balance skin color.

Another important component of a daily regimen is Vitamin A, also known as Retin-A or Retinol. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that has long been recognized as the “standard” in anti-acne and anti- aging protocols. It works by increasing skin cell turnover, or exfoliation of skin cells, which helps prevent clogged pores, whiteheads and blackheads. New cell formation stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which helps to smooth wrinkles and tighten the skin. Vitamin A can cause the skin to be sensitive to the sun, so caution should be exercised by using a daily sunscreen. Retin-A is prescription only and must be obtained from a physician’s office or pharmacy. Retinols vary in strength and potency and the stronger products must be purchased through medical offices or medical spas.

One of the most important products needed daily for good skin care is a sunscreen that protects from UVA and UVB rays of the sun. UVA rays do not cause sunburn but are thought to damage collagen fibers and accelerate skin aging. UVB rays cause sunburn and are thought to damage DNA which leads to photoaging and pigment formation. Both UVA and UVB have been shown to cause skin cancer. It is vital to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains ingredients that block both types of rays. The two ingredients that do this most efficiently are Zinc and Titanium Dioxide. Some chemical blocks absorb UVA rays, some absorb UVB rays, and some absorb both UVA and UVB. The list of chemical ingredients includes, but is not limited to Avobenzone, Parsol 1789, Oxybenzone, Ocitnoxate, PABA, Cinnamates, and Aminobenzoic Acid.

Improving the health and beauty of your skin need not be a daunting task if you consider these three main product categories when choosing daily products:

Apply an antioxidant in the morning, Vitamin A in the evening, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.

The ingredients in these products will improve the health of your skin, diminish aging changes in your skin, and protect your skin from further damage.

Kelly S. Alcorn
RN, BSN, Skin Health Specialist


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