Still scratching your head about antioxidants? How about BB creams, CC creams, dark spot correctors and the best eye creams?
A is for… antioxidants
Antioxidants aren’t new – the beauty industry has been touting their benefits for years. But they are big news because scientists are constantly discovering more benefits from these trusty skin savers. To understand antioxidants, you need to understand free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules (unstable because they’re missing an electron) that are produced as part of your body’s normal processes. They’re a natural side effect of oxidation – a chemical reaction that occurs when certain cells are exposed to oxygen. Think of a sliced apple that turns brown when exposed to the air for a while.
Not all free radicals are caused by oxidation, though. Some are caused by toxins, cigarette smoke, pollution, overexposure to sunlight and processed or fried foods, and these are the ones to worry about. When an excess of free radicals is produced, it can damage your body’s cells, and even your DNA, which could lead to all sorts of health problems. Skin-wise, you’re looking at damaged collagen, age spots, wrinkles and sagging. In short, premature ageing.
Healthy living is your best bet for staving off free radical damage, but many skincare products offer topical antioxidant protection that can help your skin recover from, and avoid, cellular free radical damage. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect which is beneficial for rosacea and even skin cancer. Remember, there isn’t just one miracle antioxidant cream. They work best together, so look out for these ingredients: idebenone, retinol, Q-10, glycolic acid, vitamins C & E and phloetin.
Choose the right BB cream for your skincare concerns and skin tone.
B is for BB cream…
This is supposed to be the Swiss army knife of skincare, marketed as the ultimate beauty product every woman should own. The ‘BB’ stands for ‘Beauty Balm’ or ‘Blemish Balm’, and you’ll encounter a lot of claims that it can potentially replace your moisturiser, serum, primer, foundation and sunscreen. Talk about a time-saver!
However, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As beauty writer Janna Mandell put it: you should be wary of drinking the BB cream Kool-aid. Much of what you hear about BB cream is marketing hype – there is no real difference between them and fancy tinted moisturisers, but they do have active ingredients and SPF thrown in too, which is great.
Concerns have been raised about replacing all the above-mentioned products with BB cream. First up, sunscreen: since BB cream is tinted, you may use less than you would ordinarily when applying plain sunscreen, which means you might not be adequately protected. Also, you shouldn’t replace your serum with BB cream, as there’s only so much that can be packed into a product, so it is unlikely your BB cream will match the dose of active ingredients provided by a serum.
There are, however, some particularly good BB creams on the market and in many cases they do provide more radiant, natural coverage than many foundations – particularly those that are mineralbased. And if they contain antioxidants and ingredients that target dryness, acne, ageing and skinn sensitivity, so much the better.
BB cream could perhaps change your life, as the hype suggests, but don’t get rid of all your other skincare products just yet. It is important to choose the right BB cream for your skincare concerns and skin tone..
C is for CC creams
We know, we know… Just as you were getting your head around BB creams, along come CC creams. And to add to the confusion, the difference is very subtle. While BB creams are basically tinted moisturiser with a bunch of great skincare benefits, CC (‘Colour Corrector’ or ‘Colour Control’) creams, as the name suggests, focus on colour correction. They address redness, sallowness and irregularity in skin tone and texture, usually with light diffusing particles, and may also contain collagen boosting peptides, revitalising vitamins, SPF and so on.
Basically, CC cream is the same as BB cream, but with more of a focus on correcting complexion issues. The range of colours for CC creams is also more extensive than the general light/medium/dark selection that BB creams come in.
If your skin is prone to being red and/or dull, a CC cream will probably suit you better than a BB cream.
It all depends on your skincare requirements (again, you’ll have to sample a few at your local beauty counter and choose the right one for your skincare concerns).
D is for… dark spots
Hyperpigmentation. Go on, say it five times – quickly. It’s a posh word for what we call sun spots, those unattractive brown marks that most of us get as we age, also charmingly referred to as ‘liver spots’.
There are various causes of dark spots – sun exposure (the most common), acne, skin injuries, pregnancy and certain medication – but basically what happens is melanin (a pigment produced by our skin) is overproduced because of the skin’s immune reaction to trauma and inflammation, and this creates darkened areas on the skin’s surface.
There are some excellent products out there that will dramatically reduce dark spots, but it’s important to keep in mind that these products generally work over a long period of time (about eight weeks) and need to be applied diligently every day. Spot correctors come in various incarnations, from creams to serums to masks, so there are options a-plenty. It’s also imperative that you wear sunscreen, or else your dark spots are likely to multiply.
E is for… eyes
Eyes are the first to show signs of ageing, which is why looking after this delicate skin is a priority. So which eye cream is right for you, and do you even need one? If your skin isn’t sensitive and you use a good serum and anti-ageing moisturiser that don’t irritate the skin around your eyes, probably not. But if you have sensitive or oily skin, a dedicated eye cream might work better for you.