4 Ingredients To Look For In Your Skin Care Products

When it comes to choosing skin cream, we're awash in products, new ingredients and must-haves. Beauty emporiums are overwhelming for all the choices they offer.

Frankly, it’s enough to make you want to run for the hills. And who out there has never succumbed to a glib sales pitch, spent more than they ever intended on something they did not need, and wound up with unsatisfactory results?

As a doctor and skin expert, I can attest that good skin care is not complicated!

It’s all too easy to forget that the skin is the body’s largest organ and therefore needs to be nourished. As it happens, the heart and brain get first dibs on nutrients, so unfortunately the benefits of what we ingest don't necessarily make it to the skin. In addition, the skin bears the brunt of exposure to heat, light and pollutants that break down essential vitamins after 20 minutes of exposure.

For that reason, feeding the skin with vitamins is essential. Twice daily. How? As Dr. Oz agrees, you need to “ACE” it.

But first, you must become a savvy label reader, one of the most important skills as a consumer. To get started, look for the following ingredients on the labels of your skin products:

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is packed into ingredients like Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate (these are like the grapes in a diet — no side effects) while Retinol, Retinyl Aldehyde and then Retinoic Acid which are like red wine — a little at night is OK but it has side effects, too much and you're pickled!

Vitamin A is imperative for normal DNA function (like the conductor in an orchestra, without it the skin cells cannot play a symphony). It helps with collagen production and cellular turnover; it normalizes skin cells, helps pigmentation and is essential in treating acne.

2. Vitamin C

The gentle form of vitamin C is called Ascorbyl palmitate, which is a “stable” variety of vitamin C — it doesn't need many preservatives to keep it active and functioning. The more irritating and unstable form of vitamin C is called ascorbic acid. Vitamin C in this form helps with pigmentation, is essential to collagen production and acts as a natural sunscreen.

It also helps strengthen those little red blood capillaries that start appearing on the cheeks and nose with time, so that they are less visible. The major benefit of vitamin C is its powerful antioxidant qualities which help fight the free radicals that cause inflammation and disease.

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is bedmates with vitamin C. They stabilize and enhance each other like an old, happily married couple.

4. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are the last essential ingredient for healthy skin. With antioxidants, the more variety the better!

They work in a group like the old military formations to tackle the free radicals attacking the skin. Look for names like rosemary, red tea, coenzyme Q10, Lycopene, green tea, pomegranate, and parsley.

Please be aware that ingredients are listed from highest to lowest concentration on the labels, so the key ingredients are best found near the top.

The first ingredient is always water, followed by a second ingredient which is the transport vehicle and texturizer (common ones include alkyl benzoate, glycerol and polyethylene glycol).

Then, the active ingredients (such as the vitamins above and antioxidants) will be listed. Preservatives in skin creams are listed last.

Once you’ve worked out which product is right for you, here's a simple and effective skin care routine to go with it. Remember, it does not have to be complicated!


1. Splash face with water, apply your multivitamin serum (vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants). Yes, all of these can be found in one product!)

2. Add sunscreen. Look for products with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and antioxidants.

3. If you're out in the sun during the day, reapply sunscreen every two hours. If you use makeup, try some mineral makeup which makes an effective sunscreen (an extra SPF of 20).


1. If you use makeup, remove it with an oily pre-cleanser. A pre-cleanser is an oil-based product used to dissolve makeup and excess oil on the skin, which is then washed off with a cleanser. Look for pre-cleansers with oils like jojoba and almond, for example.

2. Wash face with a gentle cleanser that has the correct pH level (less than 8.0). Cleansers with correct pH levels are usually marked as such on the packaging (for instance, “pH Advantage” or “Environs pH”).

3. Apply your multivitamin serum. Healthy, glowing skin can be simple, just get in the habit of reading labels, be watchful about vitamins and always use sunscreen. No need to complicate your life more than that!

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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