What’s in Your Skin Care Products?

Going through the cosmetics counter or drugstore aisle to find the best products for your face and skin can be a little like reading a college chemistry textbook. Isopropyl, salicylic, hyaluronic ... huh?

Fortunately, equipping yourself with a little knowledge before handing over your hard-earned money can make all the difference. Dr. Leslie Baumann, CEO of the Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami Beach and founder of SkinTypeSolutions.com, helps you decode those mysterious ingredients and gives the lowdown on what your skin really needs.

Combat Signs of Aging
“Retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are the only things that improve fine wrinkles,” says Baumann. She adds that electromimetic therapy, which uses ingredients like copper and zinc to increase production of collagen and elastin deep in the skin layers, can also help to firm sagging skin.

Maintain Glowing Skin
Instead of using creams to achieve a fresh, dewy look, you should focus on removing the dull top layer of skin. “For glowing skin, you need exfoliation, like an electric facial brush, a good scrub or microdermabrasion,” says Baumann. If you have sensitive skin, however, go for products containing glycolic acid, which make your face look fresh without the harshness of scrubbing.

Refresh Dry Skin
Baumann suggests looking for ultra-hydrating products that contain oils with antioxidants, since dry skin is prone to early signs of aging and antioxidants counteract those signs. Argan oil, derived from the Moroccan Argan tree, is a good choice.

Banish Blemishes
There are two superstars in the anti-acne arena: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The most effective products contain both ingredients. “Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria, while salicylic acid reduces inflammation and cleans out pores,” says Baumann.

Even out Scars and Brown Spots
“Hydroquinone is the most effective ingredient for evening skin,” says Baumann. “Kojic acid -- derived from rice -- is a close second, while vitamin C and mulberry extracts are also somewhat effective.” For uneven or scarred skin, it’s also important to pair these products with a good sunblock to protect against further damage.

Keep Hands and Feet Smooth
Finally, Baumann recommends using a pumice stone or body scrub on your feet and hands in the shower every night. Rub in olive oil and cover with socks and gloves before bed. You’ll have softer skin for just pennies!