Behind the Label: What Your Favorite Skin Care Products ACTUALLY Do!

Behind the Label: What Your Favorite Skin Care Products ACTUALLY Do!

Do you consider yourself a skin care expert? Are you that friend who’s always introducing everyone else to the latest and greatest ingredient that promises firmer, smoother skin? Or are you the one who nods uncomfortably, pretending that you know all about the latest blemish clearing acid and cold-pressed oil?

Whichever one you are, doesn’t matter, we all have much to learn. What’s important though, is getting to know the ingredients before you pick up the latest product du jour to smooth, tone and clean your skin.

Some of these ingredients sound like they shouldn’t go anywhere near your skin so read carefully before you judge!

Hyaluronic Acid

If we were to judge skin care ingredients by their names we would all walk around with dry, pale skin that looks about a thousand years old. But the truth is that hyaluronic acid is your friend.

It occurs naturally in the human body so that’s already one big advantage. It helps to regulate the renewal of old and dying cell while helping the skin maintain its elasticity and moisture. Finally, it helps lubricate connective tissue.

When you find hyaluronic acid in your skin care products it is applied topically to create a moisture barrier right on your skin. This helps give you softer and smoother skin. But the real key to why this ingredient is so effective for skin care lies in its ability to hold up to one thousand times its own weight in water, so if you have dry skin this is the ingredient you need.

Did you know hyaluronic acid can also be injected? Because it occurs naturally in the body it is somewhat safer than many other skin care injectables. What it does is make the skin appear plump (think lips) and younger because it fills in fine lines and wrinkles.


Remember way back in the early nineties when Retinol-A was the go to product for bad skin? Though that product is packed away with your Doc Martens and plaid skirts, the key ingredient is still around.

Retinol is, in simple terms, an active form of the molecule for vitamin A. I know, that doesn’t really explain anything, right?

Retinols as a group are very powerful exfoliants which help the skin shed dead, dying and problem skin. The end result is vibrant, refreshed skin that looks younger and healthier. Using products that contain retinols will make skin appear firmer, reverse signs of sun damage, dark circles, wrinkles and fine lines.

The best part of all is that retinols can increase the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid that will give your skin that supple look promised by plastic surgery and high end beauty products.


You’ve probably heard of alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) and beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) but you have no idea what they do because they sound so scary. But they are separate classes of organic acids that act as natural exfoliates. When I say natural that is exactly what I mean.

Alpha hydroxy acids come from milk and fruit, and more importantly include several acids including lactic (milk), malic (pears & apples), and glycolic (sugar cane). BHAs are derived from salicylic acid which comes solely from plants.

There are important differences between AHAs and BHAs, the main one being that AHAs are water soluble and BHAs are oil soluble. This means AHAs work on skin at a surface level while BHAs go deeper to get rid of dead skin, clogged pores and helps heal damage to layers of skin. Though both are essential parts of skin care, knowing the difference in what they do is crucial for each of us.

For example if you’re prone to acne breakouts, whiteheads, blackheads and oily skin then you need BHAs in your skin care products. But if you have dry skin or dull, lifeless skin then you need the power of AHAs. If you find products that contain both, consider yourself lucky.


Peptides are parts of active proteins that communicate with your cells to make sure they’re doing what they should be. For example peptides my send a message to elastic producers to help skin remain firm. Or to trigger the healing response in skin after a wound.

When it comes to skin care, you’ll find peptides found most often in anti-aging products because you want to increase the messages telling your skin to product more collagen, relax muscles to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Though peptides are not some magical fix-all for the skin, when combined with a healthy diet they can do wonders to help you achieve your skin care goals.


It’s important that you know what these products do so that you don’t spend unnecessary money on products you don’t need or that might not be suitable for your skin type. Next time you’re stocking up on beauty products, flip that jar around and see if the list of ingredients match the claims found on the label.

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