Anti-Oxidants To Enzymes: The Everyday Woman’s Guide to Skin Care

How many times have you seen an advertisement for skincare that contains a jumble of scientific descriptions that might as well be in a foreign language for all you understand?

Image: BWA's Pinterest Board 'Breakfast with Audrey'

Image: BWA’s Pinterest Board ‘Breakfast with Audrey’


When happening upon new skincare products, most of us probably think the ingredients look and sound amazing, but in reality we have little to no idea what it all means. And chances are, that’s exactly the way the manufacturer wants it. It’s a classic example of marketing intimidation where descriptions are deliberately left untranslated to lend the impression that it’s a highly advanced formulation.

We break down the scientific skincare mumbo-jumbo for 12 common ingredients so you can buy products based on what you know, not just what you hope!

(You may want to bookmark this page for later!)


1. Anti-oxidants

Think of a banana. When it over ripens it turns brown, which is due to a process called oxidisation. Within our surrounding environment such things as pollution, chemicals, smoking and even the oxygen we breathe are slowly causing this ‘browning’ process in our bodies and skin.

Luckily for us, we have many naturally occurring anti-oxidants, but by adding a booster through our skincare and diet we can shield ourselves with armour that slows the process and replenishes our internal and external health.

2. Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)

As you would expect from the word acid, these products have a dissolving effect. In skincare, the strength of that effect is based on the percentage of the acid. The smaller concentrations for everyday use will dissolve the dry top layer of skin resulting in a fresh and smooth complexion.  Higher percentages, which are able to absorb more deeply, are the AHA’s used in salons for chemical peeling.

Common AHA’s are all derived from naturally occurring ingredients; glycolic acid from sugar, citric acid from fruit, mandelic acid from almonds and lactic acid from milk.

3. Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)

The main BHA is salicylic acid. The main difference between an AHA and a BHA is that BHA’s dissolve in oil and AHA’s dissolve in water. This makes salicylic acid the go-to choice to provide a deep clean in oily and acne prone skin types.

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  • Reply Jane Monday 23rd March, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Any ideas on what AHA products can be used at home to get rid of old skin layers.

  • Reply Zerotolove Saturday 21st March, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Great tips! Just started getting into my new routine…

  • Reply BellaB Monday 16th March, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    And this is why I love samples… Nothing beats trying before buying.

  • Reply Whatthe Thursday 12th March, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    It’s so great living in an age that creates skincare that is actually good for our skin.

    • Vanessa Roberts - Editor
      Reply Vanessa Roberts - Editor Saturday 14th March, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Agreed on that – imagine what could be around the corner!!

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