First of all I am no skin care expert - far from it but one of the perks of being a beauty blogger is that I often get to meet skin care specialists and on occasion scientists to pick their brains and explain just what certain ingredients do in those lotions and potions cluttering up your bathroom shelf.
With that in mind I have taken some of the more complex (in my opinion anyway) ingredients and explained in laymen's terms what benefits they have to the skin. Hopefully this will make understanding skin care that little easier for those like myself who found Science difficult at school (I also struggled with maths - I blame that for my often dismal bank statements ha!)
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha-hydroxy acids may include glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric acids and can often be found in toners. Such properties within the alpha-hydroxy acid group are often added to help diminish lines/wrinkles as well as pigmentation and age spots. Alpha HydroxyAcids work to help increase the rate of cell-turnover by removing the top layers of the skin (it sounds scarier than it is). Any product with the above acids should be approached with a certain amount of caution as on occasion they can be the root of irritation and should be combined with a good sun protectant.
Alpha-lipoic acid is often added to skin care products to as anti-ageing ingredient to help reduce signs of ageing such as fine lines, it also gives the skin a natural glow while naturally boosting any traces of natural antioxidant levels found within the skin to increase protection against free radicals such as pollution and environmental damage. Beta-Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid)
Salicylic acid is another exfoliant and much like the above when used in skin care it can help to improve the texture and tone of the complexion as well as aiding acne/blemishes. Salicylic acid tends to be less irritating than the alpha-hydroxy acids yet can give similar effects as far as creating an even skin tone is concerned.
Bisabolol is derived from Chamomile. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps to soothe and calm the skin as well as reducing redness which isn't all that surprising considering the product in question does claim to on that calms the skin.
This oily substance is a natural inflammatory, anti-bacterial agent, and antiseptic which is derived from the Marigold flower, you will often find this addition in redness reducing or calming skin care products.
This is said to help to promotes the production of collagen and elastin levels. It may also help to firm, smooth, and soften the skin as well as repairing skin and scar tissue. However it has be noted that some these claims are a little far fetched and not entirely effective.
The brain makes DMAE all you have to know is that it doesn't have a great track record (by that I mean it won't cause the skin any harm but isn't the most effective) and is used to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Kojic acid was first discovered in 1989 and is is obtained from mushrooms that are native to Japan. In skin care products, kojic acid functions primarily as a skin-lightening agent for treating common problems such as uneven pigmentation age spots.
Perhaps not as bad for the skin as some have let on basically mineral oil which is derived form petroleum and is widely used in cosmetic products because it rarely causes allergic reactions. It cannot become a solid and clog pores and is a natural ingredient derived from the earth. Cosmetics-grade mineral oil and petrolatum are considered the safest, most nonirritating moisturising ingredients ever found and for that reason many brands use it in place of preservatives in skin care to prolong shelve life. As a few readers (thanks ladies :) ) rightly pointed out it doesn't really get absorbed by the skin and can prevent some ingredients from fully penetrating the skin barrier but in laymen's terms it is a filler used by many a brand.
Omega 3 comes from oily fish but a little further search shows that this addition is actually a wonderful anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 is more commonly found in food such as nuts and seeds and when found in skincare it can help the skin to regenerate and repair. Omega 7 which can be found in macadamia nuts and cold-water fish is a skin care wonder supplement which helps boost collagen and can help to protect the skin against environmental damage. Lastly we have Omega 9 which truth be told I can not find all that much about but apparently the human body naturally produces this and that it is a really fatty acid that can help the skin to glow and look more plump but like I said I found very little about Omega 9.
Retinol is derived from vitamin A and again is added to skin care to help problems with pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture as well as skin tone and color but beware it is fairly common to have an illergic reaction from such ingredient. Retinol can also help to shrink pores.
Vitamin C is of course known for its brightening properties but did you know that it can also be beneficiary in the anti-ageing fight - minimizing fine lines and early signs of ageing as well as helping to make scar tissue less noticeable.It's the only antioxidant that has be proven to boost the production levels of collagen which we all know is crucial for keeping skin plump and supple.
UV Protection (Briefly Explained)
UVA (longwave, the main cause of skin cancer) and UVB (short wave and the rays that commonly cause sunburn and of course can lead to skin cancer).
For the moment that is all I have wrapped my brain around (I've never claimed to be the sharpest tool haha!) but as I learn more I will be sure to update this post and perhaps have a mini skin care ingredient encyclopedia so to speak. Like I said I'm not expert so do feel free to elaborate, correct or add on to anything above.