Skin care is a huge industry, but just how many of the claims made in advertisements and products are actually true? As the world of dermatology continues to discover how products improve skin, let’s talk about skincare science.
The Scientific Makeup of the Skin
In order to understand skincare on a scientific basis, you first need to understand the skin itself.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it is designed to protect the body from harm and damage. It is made up of a complex system of tissue, cells, nerves, and glands.
While we can only see one layer of the skin, it’s actually made up of three different layers:
- The epidermis
- The dermis
- The hypodermis
The epidermis is the outermost layer and the thinnest layer where new skin cells are produced. The dermis is the middle layer that provides the skin with structure and support through proteins like collagen and elastin.
The hypodermis is the innermost layer that supplies the skin with nerves and blood vessels while also insulating the body with a layer of subcutaneous fat.
A variety of different factors can influence the skin. For instance, the skin can be influenced by the environment, genetic factors, lifestyle habits, and even the products you use.
The Best Skincare Ingredients, According to Science
Now that you know how the skin works and is influenced by different factors, you need to know about some of the best skincare ingredients that you should be using based on scientific evidence:
- Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance within the body that is incredibly moisturizing as it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water.
- Retinol: Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A that supports a youthful glow and supple-looking complexion.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C can be used to brighten the skin and promote an even skin tone. As an antioxidant, it also protects the skin from damage.
- Ceramides: Ceramides are naturally occurring substances within the skin that hold cells together. As natural ceramides decrease with age, they can be supplemented through skincare.
The Worst Skincare Ingredients According to Science
Just as there are good ingredients for the skin, there are also bad ingredients. Here are some potentially harmful ingredients that could end up irritating or damaging the skin:
- Parabens: Parabens are used as preservatives but could actually contribute to a hormone imbalance that goes way beyond the skin itself.
- Sulfates: Sulfates are detergents that are used to make skincare products lather and bubble. However, sulfates are very stripping, drying, and irritating.
- Artificial fragrances: Artificial fragrances are added to products to make them smell better, but the ingredients within these fragrances aren’t actually listed.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are one of the components typically found in artificial fragrances to keep materials flexible. However, they may be hormone disruptors that can damage the reproductive system.
How to Develop a Scientifically-Backed Skincare Routine
Although people deal with different skin types and skin concerns, at the base level, everyone’s skin is the same and requires a suitable skincare routine to best care for it. But what does that look like? Science has determined that these six steps are necessary for glowing and healthy skin:
Step One: Cleanse
The first step in a skincare routine based on science is cleansing. Cleansing is needed to remove built-up dirt, sweat, makeup, and pollutants from the skin. You should use a cleanser that is strong enough to remove all the dirt and debris but still gentle enough to keep the skin barrier intact.
Finding the right cleanser will actually depend on your skin type.
- For oily skin, you may want to consider a foaming cleanser.
- For combination skin, you may want to consider a gel cleanser.
- For dry skin, you may want to consider a cream or oil-based cleanser.
No matter your skin type or cleansing product, you should be cleansing your face twice a day -- once in the morning when you wake up and once in the evening before you go to bed.
Step Two: Toner
The second step in a skincare routine based on science is toning.
Toning is needed to purify the skin and tighten the pores. In the old days, toners were formulated with harsh ingredients like alcohols that were actually harmful to the skin instead of beneficial. As a result, they were doing the skin more harm than good.
Look for toners with effective, yet gentle, ingredients like witch hazel and apple cider vinegar. These ingredients are natural astringents that are able to purify the skin without harming it in the process. Apply a bit of toner onto a cotton pad and gently swipe it across the skin. This will help your skin absorb products better.
Step Three: Moisturizer
The third step in a skincare routine based on science is moisturizing. Moisturizing is needed to provide hydration and nourishment to the skin. This step is necessary even if you have oily skin or live in a humid environment with tons of moisture in the air.
That being said, you should choose your specific moisturizer based on these factors for the best results. For instance, if you have oily skin or live in a humid environment, you may want to consider a lightweight moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
On the other hand, if you have dry skin or live in a dry environment, you may want to consider a heavier moisturizer with thick ingredients like shea butter, glycerin, and mineral oil.
Apply your moisturizer in the morning after cleansing and toning your face but let your night cream go to work in the evening.
Step Four: Exfoliator
The fourth step is to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation is needed to remove dead skin cells that are essentially stuck to the surface of the skin. A build-up of dead skin cells can lead to clogged pores, blemishes, and a dull appearance.
Exfoliation can either be performed chemically or physically with a scrub.
Recent scientific evidence suggests that chemical exfoliation may be better for the skin since it’s not actively scrubbing it as seen with physical exfoliation. Instead, chemical exfoliation utilizes active ingredients like acids that use chemicals to break the bonds between the dead skin cells.
Specifically, ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids have been found to be particularly effective yet safe if used properly.
Step Five: Serums and Night Creams
The fifth step in a skincare routine based on science involves serums and night creams. Serums are used during the day, whereas night creams are used in the evening to provide the skin with an extra boost of ingredients it needs to stay healthy.
The right products for you will be based on your skin type and skin concerns, as there are many different options to choose from. For instance, if you have aging skin and want to combat wrinkles, then you should consider products with retinol, peptides, ceramides, and Vitamin C.
On the other hand, if you have acne-prone skin and want to combat blemishes, consider products with benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids, niacinamide, and tea tree oil.
Applying a light layer of these products can give your skin the extra targeted boost it needs to look its best.
Step Six: Apply SPF
The final step in a skincare routine based on science involves SPF.
SPF is needed to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This product should be used even if you have no plans to spend time outdoors. This is because the sun’s rays are so powerful that they can penetrate windows and potentially damage your skin from inside.
Experts recommend that you apply a product with at least SPF 30 every day. If you are going to be spending time outdoors, reapply your SPF product at least every two hours -- more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.
Being diligent about sun protection now will help you avoid sun-related skin problems later on like sunspots, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
WOW Skin Science: Natural Skincare Products Based on Scientific Evidence
Skincare products don’t need to be strong or synthetic in order to be effective. In fact, the best approach backed by science involves natural ingredients.
WOW Skin Science develops personal care products where scientific knowledge meets natural ingredients.
None of our products include harmful ingredients or additives like parabens, sulfates, silicones, or phthalates. Instead, we formulate our specialty skincare products with natural ingredients like essential oils, vitamins, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, rose water, and more.
Sources:Understanding Skin Care Product Ingredients | Cleveland Clinics
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