The 3 essential anti-aging skincare ingredients

Cosmetic companies rake in millions of dollars a year selling consumers skincare products that promise to lift, tighten, and smooth out wrinkles. When walking into the drugstore or even the dermatologist's office, it can be overwhelming trying to decipher which products will actually deliver on the promise of turning the clock back. Here is a cheat sheet to the best anti-aging ingredients you need to know to keep and recover your youthful skin:

1. SPF: The fastest route from smooth, young skin to wrinkled, sagging, discolored skin is sun exposure. Ingredients that block or screen UV rays are the most important because they don’t just reverse signs of aging, they prevent them in the first place. Look for ingredients like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, oxybenzone, and avobenzone that block or screen the absorption of UV rays and make sure it has an SPF of at least 30 and is broad spectrum so that you are protected from both UVA and UVB rays. And remember, UV rays are not just present on warm, sunny days. Whether you are at the beach or in the office, UV rays are always present so you should apply sun protection every day and reapply every few hours when in direct sunlight.

2. Vitamin A: There are many forms of Vitamin A found in skincare products including retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, and retinol and they are used to treat a variety of conditions ranging from acne to pigmentation and, of course, aging. Found in both non-prescription and prescription form under brands names like Retin-A and Tazorac, Vitamin A keeps our skin looking taut and tight by increasing the rate of cell renewal and stimulating collagen and elastin production. The downside of Vitamin A is that it can cause skin irritation including flaking, redness, itching, and burning. To minimize irritation, allow your skin to slowly acclimate to it by using it once a day for a few weeks then increasing or decreasing usage depending on how irritated your skin feels.

3. Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E, green tea, pomegranate, and coenzyme Q10 are all examples of antioxidants that are used in skincare products for a number of anti-aging benefits. Antioxidants not only help neutralize free radical damage, they can help reverse sun damage by repairing and and protecting skin cells. There is not one specific antioxidant that is the most potent but rather combining a number of them has proven to be the most effective.