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Why understanding skin care ingredients is important?

Aside from general and somewhat impractical concept that one should know everything she ingests or applies to her body, there are specific reasons why the understanding of skin care ingredients is useful. In essence, a number of factors determine whether a topical skin care product has an antiaging effect:

  • Do any of the ingredients have significant capacity to stimulate any aspects of skin regeneration, remodeling or renewal (e.g. collagen synthesis or cell turnover). In other words, are any of the ingredients active?
  • Are active ingredients present in sufficient amounts and are they stable in the chemical environment of that particular formula? In other words, do active ingredients stay active during the typical shelf-life or do they degrade by reacting with air or other ingredients?
  • Does the product's formula allow active ingredients to penetrate the skin well enough to be effective?
  • Do any of the inactive ingredients interfere with the effect of the active ones? Do they have the potential to harm the skin, e. g. by causing allergic reactions, irritating or dehydrating the skin, clogging pores, etc.

An optimal skin care product should contain one or more active ingredients in an effective concentration. Its inactive ingredients should not interfere with the active ones and, whenever required, should provide safe and adequate preservation, stabilization and delivery into the skin. Also, all ingredients should lack significant potential to cause skin damage.

Unfortunately, it is not a trivial task to fulfill all these conditions cost-effectively, in an easy-to-use formula with a long shelf-life. As a result, many (if not most) skin care products on the market come short of these requirements. To find a product that fits or at least comes close to this standard, it helps to have some understanding of the ingredient list.

To learn the basics of understanding the ingredient list, read the articles in our Ingredient Guide. For further, in-depth information, we recommend an excellent reference Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary.

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