Jul 05, 2013 No Comments
From peptides to stem cells and everything in between, the latest beauty trends sound straight out of a science lab. But what do they actually mean? Do they live up to their claims and are they worth the coin?
- AHAs: AHAs stand for Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, which is a group containing glycolic acid, (which comes from sugar cane), lactic acid (which comes from milk), and citric acid. AHAs are moisturising but are commonly regarded as being a chemical exfoliate, as they gently remove dead skin cells from the top layers of your skin without the need for scrubbing. As such, AHAs help to improve the texture of your skin and encourage cell regeneration, but are strong and should not be overused. Stick to applying one product with AHAs nightly!
- BHAs: In the cosmetic world, Beta-Hydroxyl Acid refers to salicylic acid, which is most commonly found in anti-aging and acne products. It’s an exfoliating agent most effective on oily or blackhead-prone skin.
- Ceramides: Ceramides are one of three types of lipids (or fats) that help keep moisture in the skin. As we age, our ceramide levels drop, causing the skin to become drier and leading to the creation of lines. Ceramides can be synthetically replicated for skincare products to overcome this process. There are many moisturisers that claim contain ceramides, but require a specially formulated ratio of ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids to work effectively.
- Certified Organic: The word ‘certified’ is key as it indicates a product has undergone testing and inspection by an accredited government-sanctioned organization. In Australia, beauty products are certified to the same standard as food and mist contain at least 95 per cent organically grown ingredients for the business to advertise their product as ‘certified organic’.
- Evening Primrose Oil: Oils extracted from the seeds of the Evening Primrose plant, noted for its ability to treat eczema and other skin problems. The oil helps the skin retain moisture, soothing and rehydrating dry skin and protecting it from the elements.
- Fragrance Free/ Unscented: These terms tend to be used interchangeably and without restriction by the cosmetics industry. Where raw materials are used in cosmetics, companies often add ingredients to their products to cover any offensive smells and to impart a fragrance. With products that are ‘fragrance free’ or ‘unscented’, it simply means ingredients have been added to mask the offensive odor, without imparting a noticeable fragrance.
- Humectants: Humectants help retain moisture, and are often found food products as well as moisturisers. They work by attracting moisture to themselves, so they keep the layers of the skin hydrated for longer.
- Hypo-Allergenic: A common term, slapped onto products that are fragrance free, contain minimum colouring agents and are free from irritants. There’s no guarantee that your skin won’t see a reaction, however, so those with sensitive skin should test the product by dabbing a bit on their arm first.
- MMP Inhibitor: MMP is the short name for Matrix Metalloproteinases, enzymes that control the breakdown of skin tissues such as collagen. These inhibitors slow down the creation of MMPs so collagen and elastin stay in your skin longer, having you look more youthful.
- Non-Comodegenic: This one’s a mouthful, but in simple terms, it basically means ‘won’t clog your pores’.
- Parabens: Parabens are the most widely used chemicals preservatives to extend the life of cosmetics. They stop fungus, bacteria and other microbes from growing in products that often live in warm, moist environments such as the shower or basin. Found in everything from moisturisers to toothpaste, parabens are good news for those wanting a long-lasting period, but bad news for consumer wanting products free of chemicals. Parabens are common but remain controversial in the beauty world, with some claiming parabens have been linked to breast cancer, although there is no concrete evidence to suggest this.
- Peptides: A recent buzzword, peptides are protein molecules made up of amino acids that trick your skin into producing ingredients that occur naturally but deteriorate with age, such as collagen and hyaluronic acid. Applying peptides directly to your skin is a way to trick your skin into thinking that it has lost collagen recently and needs to make more. There is no concentrate proof to say peptides reduce the look of lines, but they are popping up in more products we can count!
- pH Balanced. On the pH scale measuring acidity and alkanity, 7 means neutral, any number below means acidic and any number above means alkaline, good skincare products should be ever so slightly acidic, as healthy skin has a slightly acidic reading.
- Resveratrol: Resveratrol is naturally found in the skin of red grapes and is a strong antioxidant, noted for its ability to extend the life of skin cells. There have been studies to suggest resveratrol prevents heart disease and cancer, and reduces the aging process, but these reports have not been considered conclusive.
- Retin-A: Retin-A is a Vitamin A derivative used primarily as a prescription acne treatment and for removing aging lines.