Do You Know What’s in Your Skin Care Products?

skin specialist in Wilsonville

Skin care products offer a number of appealing benefits that can greatly improve the overall health and appearance of our skin. From anti-aging creams to moisturizers, the skin care industry offers something for anyone looking to make their skin a little more youthful and radiant. It’s no wonder then that Americans spend $17 billion dollars a year on skin care products. But how much do you really know about the ingredients found in your skin care products if you’re not a skin specialist in Wilsonville?

Alpha, beta and hydroxyl acids, a whole alphabet’s worth of vitamins and other hard to pronounce chemical compounds make it seem like you need a degree in chemistry to know what exactly is in your skin care products.

To help remove some of the mystery that surrounds what you apply to your body, here is a simple guide that will help you better understand the ingredients that can benefit your skin. If you still have questions about the which skin care products are right for you, make sure to ask your skin specialist in Wilsonville during your next visit to the Dermatology Clinic.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha-hydroxy acid is an umbrella term where you can find many common skin care ingredients underneath. Glycolic, tartaric, malic, lactic and citric acids are all part of the AHA family, and they have become increasing common in skin care products over the last 20 years. There are more than 200 makers of skin care products that contain AHA in the U.S. alone.

Lotions and creams that contain AHAs work to help with irregular skin pigmentation, age spots and fine lines. Side effects of using products with AHAs include sun sensitivity and mild irritation. If you use products that contain AHAs, you should make sure to use sunscreen every morning.

To reduce your risk of irritating your skin, consider using products that contain low levels of AHAs until you know how your skin might react. You also need to give your skin time to get used to using these types of products. Begin by applying AHA skin care products every other day, and then gradually work towards daily application after a few weeks. Make sure to always follow the direction on the packaging so that you don’t use too much.

Beta-Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid)

Salicylic acid works to exfoliate skin, unclog pores and improve your skin’s texture and color. It also works to help combat acne.

A wide variety of skin care products include salicylic acid, and while some are available over-the-counter, many require a doctor’s prescription. Studies have found that salicylic acid irritates skin less than products containing AHAs but offers similar results in improving skin color and texture.

Caution: If you’re allergic to salicylates (common found in aspirin), you should not use any product that contains salicylic acid. The compound can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin and may cause an allergic reaction. Nursing or pregnant women should also avoid using any product that contains salicylic acid.


Products that contain hydroquinone are commonly referred to as lightening agents or bleaching creams. These type of skin care products are used to lighten hyperpigmentation, such as dark and age spots related to hormone therapy or pregnancy.

While some over-the-counter skin care products contain hydroquinone, they usually contain a fairly low concentration. Your skin specialist in Wilsonville can prescribe a product with a higher concentration of the compound if your skin doesn’t respond to the available over-the-counter brands.

If you have an allergy to hydroquinone, you can use products that contain niacinamide (vitamin B3) or kojic acid instead. Pregnant women cannot use products that contain hydroquinone.


Made from vitamin A, retinol can be found in a lot of over-the-counter skin care products. A stronger version of retinal called tretinoin is an active ingredient in Renova and Retin-A, two prescription only products.

If your skin is too sensitive for the use of Retin-A, retinol is a potential alternative, although the effects are less impressive overall. Retinol may improve mottled pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, and skin color, texture and tone.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C works wonders helping to minimize scars, fine lines and wrinkles. It also ranks as the only antioxidant proven to improve collagen production, which is a vital part of your skin’s overall structure.

Make sure to be selective when picking a vitamin C product. When exposed to oxygen, the compounds in vitamin C become unstable and lose their effectiveness. To keep your product working properly, make sure to choose one that comes packaged in a pump or tube. Additionally, many topical vitamin C products fail to properly penetrate the skin enough to make any kind of substantive difference.

If you’re thinking about using a topical vitamin C product, make sure to ask your Wilsonville dermatologist which brand will be the most effective for you.

Hyaluronic Acid

Products that contain hyaluronic acid are frequently used alongside products containing vitamin C to promote further skin penetration.

A naturally occurring compound, hyaluronic acid is part of the body’s connective tissue and is known to help lubricate and cushion. Aging works to destroy hyaluronic acid in the body. A smoking habit and diet can impact your body’s hyaluronic acid levels over time.

Products that contain hyaluronic acid are frequently used to treat wrinkled skin, however they don’t actually do anything to replace what the body has lost naturally. These types of products do make incredibly effective moisturizers.