Stress, hormones, toxins and age play an active role in the roller coaster ride our skin takes us through over our years. From a Cosmetic Formulators standpoint I’ve chosen my top five favorite active ingredients to use during those chaotic times in our skin’s life.

Activated Charcoal works wonders as a topical ingredient for chaotic skin types. It works topically much like it works internally by absorbing the toxins that our skin comes in contact with on a daily basis from both indoor and outdoor pollution. Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms. Material that comes in contact with activated charcoal attaches itself by chemical attraction and it is adsorbed. Activated charcoal is good at trapping other carbon-based impurities, as well as things like chlorine.

Many other chemicals are not attracted to carbon at all (i.e. sodium, nitrates, etc.) so they pass right through it. This means that an activated charcoal filter will remove certain impurities while ignoring others, so it doesn’t break down your acid mantle making activated charcoal fabulous for blemished skin.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) have exfoliation and therapeutic properties which help with, and minimize, photo damaged skin which is a major contributing factor to aging. Apart from ridding the skin of unnecessary dead cells, they also have a moisturizing effect on the skin, by increasing the moisture content of the upper skin and so smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, as well as reducing dryness and combating flakiness. Long-term use of low concentration AHA’s can also increase collagen and elastin synthesis, and also boost protein regeneration in the skin. Excellent examples of AHA’s include: citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, glycolic acid as well the extracts of bilberry, lemon, orange, sugar cane and sugar maple.

DMAE is one of the most effective active ingredients for products developed for chaotic skin. The most important aspect of DMAE for troubled skin types is the ability it has to reduce pore size. DMAE is also helpful in products developed for mature skin because it helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles. When applied to the skin DMAE would stimulate acetylcholine release which would trigger a response in the muscles of the face. This activity creates a firmer facial tone and less sagging. DMAE is used topically to reduce fine lines and wrinkles showing a noticeable difference within 20 minutes of application.

MSM is a must have ingredient for troubled skin care specifically because it helps reduce the pain caused by blemishes. MSM supplies sulfur to the body which allows it to heal itself. It has been used with great success in repairing cut, scraped, burned, acne and damage skin. There have been reports of MSM eliminating wrinkles, brown spots, skin tumors, and spider veins. MSM is being used for burn victims and repairing scar tissue. MSM is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. MSM feeds the formation of collagen and elastin while preventing and reducing cross-linking between cells, which is the primary cause of wrinkles and scar tissue.

Rooibos tea extract is recommended for wide range of skin problems such as eczema, inflammation and acne because applied topically it has a soothing effect on the skin. Rooibos tea is caffeine-free, low in tannins, high in minerals such as calcium and fluoride and contains high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C. The most important aspects of Rooibos are its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Recently, Japanese scientists found that Rooibos tea contains a mimic of the enzyme Super Oxide Dismutase (S.O.D.), a super antioxidant which attacks the free radicals and limits their damaging effects.

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