Without daily maintenance, our skin can age a lot faster than we would expect.
In this day and age, the skin care industry has become massive and the ranges of products they advertise are endless. In order to help customers make the right decisions and minimise the cost that they spend on their products, customers need to have a good understanding and knowledge about the products that they use. Therefore, I have classified skin care products into 5 categories.
Skin Cleansers: These are essential for keeping skin healthy and hygienic. Clean skin will subsequently facilitate the absorption of other cosmetic products. There are many skin cleansers on the market and the choices are endless, however, the most important property to look for in skin cleansers is the pH value of the product. Normal skin is weakly acidic and a cleanser with a pH of 5.5-7 is the most ideal for normal skin.
Moisturisers/Hydrating Agents: Normal skin should contain in excess of 30% of water content. If proper water levels are maintained then the skin should feel smooth and soft, and irritating conditions such as dry and scaly skin should not appear.
- Occlusives: such as petrolatum, paraffin oil and lecithin form a temporary occlusive barrier layer which locks water in the skin.
- Humectants: such as honey, glycerine and gelatine form a temporary water absorbing layer that slows water loss from the skin.
- Hydrophilic matrix: such as colloidal oatmeal masks and hyaluronic acid form a physical barrier against water loss.
- Sunscreens: these products help protect our skin cells from ultraviolet light damage.
Sunscreens: Visible light have wavelengths of between 400 to 800 nm. Ultraviolet light have wavelengths of between 10 to 400nm, such properties are responsible for the redness, tanning and photo-aging process which occurs in our skin when we have been exposed to an excess amount of UV light. Again, there are endless choices of sunscreens from different companies; however the indicator to look for in such products is the Sun Protection Factor (SPF). The SPF of the product indicates the time a person, who has applied the product, can be exposed to sunlight before being sunburnt relative to a person without sunscreen. For example, a person who would be burnt after 15 minutes having been exposed to UV light would then be expected to be able to withstand 450 minutes of the same exposure if he is protected with a sunscreen with a SPF of 30. A sunscreen with a SPF of 15-30 is quite adequate.
Hydroxy Acid Peels: Such products are designed to induce skin exfoliation which should result in smoother skin. Most over-the-counter products have an acidic concentration of less than 20% and are safe to use once every 4-6 weeks.
Skin Supplements: There are plenty of these products floating around in the shops and they all claim to do wonderful things to our skin, however, only a handful has medical and clinical evidence to support its effects, these are the retinols, vitamin B, C and E.