Q: I want to take very good care of my skin to keep my skin looking young and healthy. What types of skin care products would be best for me?


A: Everyone should have a good skin care regimen to treat, nourish, protect, and moisturize his or her skin. In recent years, skin care products have been significantly improved. Outstanding moisturizing, anti-aging, skin calming, and pigment reducing products are now available. Because these products contain ingredients that influence the physiological functioning of the skin, these products are referred to as cosmeceuticals.


There are many different types of ingredients used in cosmeceuticals today. Antioxidants remove the free radicals resulting from excessive sun exposure and other environmental factors that can cause injury to normal skin cells. Botanicals are plant extracts and they form the largest category of skin care ingredients in use today. An appropriate botanical can be chosen to reduce inflammation, sooth the skin, or act as an antioxidant. Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that act as antioxidants, increase cellular turnover, stimulate a beneficial thickening of the epidermis, and promote the removal of excessive skin pigment. Alpha hydroxy acids increase cellular turnover and improve the color and texture of the skin; they have been shown to produce younger looking skin. Depigmenting agents are skin-lightening ingredients that remove excessive brown pigment from the skin. Peptides are protein fragments that can be used in cosmeceuticals to either increase the production of collagen or to reduce the breakdown of collagen; this is important because loss of collagen in the skin is one of the causes of wrinkles. Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors are substances that also block the breakdown of collagen.


The best cosmeceuticals combine many different types of ingredients in one product. Because there are literally thousands of skin care products in the marketplace from which to choose, it can be quite confusing as to which products would be best for a particular person. For this reason, it is best that each person have his or her skin care program designed by a skin care expert. These professionals are able to customize a skin care program by selecting from the large number of skin care products available those products that would be best for each individual person.