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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

The Truth About Skincare for Your Face

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Antioxidant Creams

Many creams contain antioxidants, which help prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Some of the creams claim to diminish wrinkles, sallowness, and other signs of sun damage. But there are very few scientific studies that prove they really work as claimed.

If you want to try antioxidant face creams, look for products containing niacinamide, which is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, or the antioxidants coenzyme Q10, coffee berry extract, and soy extract. Dermatologist Robin Ashinoff, MD, says these ingredients may help reduce the signs of sun damage.

Skin Lightening

Ashinoff says over-the-counter creams containing licorice extract or kojic acid, a fungal ingredient, may lighten those unsightly “age spots” that crop up on the face and neck. But they won’t get rid of the spots completely. She recommends that women who want to lighten spots on their face look for a cream that contains hydroquinone which has been proven effective in lightening skin.  

The FDA allows over-the-counter skin lightening products to contain up to 2% hydroquinone. In 2006, the FDA proposed banning hydroquinone, but that ban has not gone into effect.

The FDA also advises consumers not to use any skin lighteners that might contain mercury, a toxic metal. Those products are made abroad and have been sold illegally in the U.S. If you see "mercurous chloride," "calomel," "mercuric," "mercurio," or "mercury" on the label, stop using it immediately, wash your hands and any other parts of your body it's touched, and call a health care professional for advice.

 

Sun Protection

About 80% of visible skin changes attributed to aging are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. Preventing sun damage is the single most important thing you can do for your face. 

Many facial moisturizers and creams contain broad-spectrum sunscreens that filter out UVA and UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 30 every day. Limiting your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, can also help protect your skin from sun damage.

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Reviewed on November 19, 2012
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