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Understanding Skin Care Products

Retinol

Retinol is made from vitamin A, and it's in many non-prescription skin care products. Retinol's stronger counterpart is tretinoin, which is the active ingredient in Retin-A and Renova, available by prescription only.

If your skin is too sensitive to use Retin-A, retinol is an alternative, although the effects are less impressive. Retinol may improve mottled pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, and skin tone and color.

You may also hear about retinyl palmitate. This is in the same family as retinol, but if the skin care product you choose contains retinyl palmitate, you will need to use more of this product than one that contains retinol to get the same effect. Pregnant women cannot use retinol.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps to minimize fine lines, scars, and wrinkles. It's the only antioxidant that is proven to boost production of collagen, which is a key part of skin's structure.

Be choosy when selecting a vitamin C product. Vitamin C in its most commonly found forms is highly unstable when exposed to oxygen, making it useless. Also, many topical vitamin C preparations do not penetrate the skin enough to make a difference.

If you are considering using a topical vitamin C preparation, ask your dermatologist which product will be the most effective for you.

Hyaluronic Acid

Skin care products containing hyaluronic acid are often used with vitamin C products to assist in effective penetration.

Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally (and quite abundantly) in people and animals and is found in young skin, other tissues, and joint fluid.

Hyaluronic acid is part of the body's connective tissues, and is known to cushion and lubricate. Aging destroys hyaluronic acid. Diet and smoking can also affect your body's level of hyaluronic acid over time.

Skin care products with hyaluronic acid are most frequently used to treat wrinkled skin although they don't replace anything the body has naturally lost.

Copper Peptide

Studies have shown that copper peptide promotes the production of collagen and elastin in your skin. It also acts as an antioxidant and promotes production of glycosaminoglycans (such as hyaluronic acid).

Studies have also shown that copper-dependent enzymes help firm, smooth, and soften the skin quicker than most other anti-aging skin care products. In addition, copper peptides have been shown to remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and scar tissue.

Be wary of these claims, however, since the effects on your skin may be far less than is seen in laboratory testing.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid diminishes fine lines, gives skin a healthy glow, and boosts levels of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C.

Alpha-lipoic acid can enter all parts of a skin cell. Due to this quality, it is believed that alpha-lipoic acid can provide more protection than other antioxidants against so-called free radicals that can damage skin.

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