Skin Care Products Fact Vs Fiction

With so many skin care products on the market claiming to improve your skin, how do you know which to choose? Here are some tips on how to evaluate moisturizers, creams, cleansers and more, and how to choose the best skin care products for you.

Cosmeceuticals and Skin Care

Many skin care products present themselves as “cosmeceuticals,” or products that claim to improve both the skin’s appearance (a cosmetic effect) and function (a drug effect). However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize cosmeceuticals as a unique product category, and these non-drug products aren’t subject to the same rigorous testing and regulation as drugs. The FDA has issued a number of warning letters to companies that have made inappropriate drug claims for cosmetic skin care products.

To evaluate the claims you see in skin care ads, start by asking about research that backs up the claims. An objective, double-blind study is considered best for evaluating skin care products, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (2009), but not all products undergo this kind of testing.

What Works?

According to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter (Davis, 2009), only two things are definitely proven to protect your skin: avoiding the sun (or wearing sunscreen) and using a daily moisturizer.

However, evidence does suggest that certain ingredients can help various skin problems. According to the Cleveland Clinic (2007), the following ingredients may be effective in skin care products:

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids may help decrease fine wrinkles, irregular pigmentation and large pores.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant, can help reduce fine lines and increase levels of other antioxidants.
  • L-ascorbic acid (a form of Vitamin C) can stimulate the production of collagen and help reduce the appearance facial lines, scars and wrinkles.
  • Retinoids come in various forms. Over-the-counter retinol products can improve irregular pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone, skin texture and moisture levels in the skin. Stronger retinoids are available in prescription products containing tretinoin, such Retin-A