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Say Goodbye to Aging Skin with the Sexy Six: The Six Most Potent Skincare Ingredients Known to Science
IF Insider No. 68
In our last issue (IF Insider No. 67), we took off our shoes to investigate the benefits of grounding. Today, we are going to look at your skin and what you can do from the outside to help you get healthy skin, and yes, dare we say it…sexy!
For our premium subscribers, in this week’s Research Spotlight we are spotlighting a recent study looking at how managing negative emotions can not only help limit neurodegeneration but actually slow down brain aging.
Our paid subscribers also get one of Ellen’s recipes each month. Last month we featured Ellen’s plant-based, “No-Meat” Meatloaf that makes for a delicious dinner entree. Plus, the leftovers (if there are any!) make great sandwiches on whole-grain bread with mustard, avocado slices, and broccoli sprouts. This month, we are bringing you Ellen’s SuperGreen Smoothie, combining the flavors and synergistic properties of matcha and broccoli microgreens into a powerful “super” drink for your health.
Looking for a supportive group that “gets” your interest in IF and other cutting-edge health information? Our free intermittent fasting Facebook group, with over 1800 members, is a wealth of info, in addition to our new Longevity Experience membership.
The ‘Sexy Six’ - The Six Most Powerful Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients That Get Real Results
You may think you’re too old to be sexy, but listen up! Regardless of your age, all of us, women and men alike, want to look and feel our best. And that includes having skin that is vibrant, glowing, and healthy. Here at the IF Insider, we think that is the very definition of sexy!
We believe in skincare from the inside out and the outside in. This means taking care of your health and your skin from the inside out with balanced nutrition that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, a moderate amount of good fats, adequate sleep, relaxation, regular exercise, and of course, intermittent fasting.
But while the ‘inside out’ approach is absolutely essential for great skin health, if you are like most people, you will want some help from the ‘outside in’ as well. And that means implementing an effective skincare routine using products that contain proven and powerful ingredients that get real results.
TIP - Be sure to purchase products that come in opaque, air-tight containers, like tubes or pump bottles. The less air that reaches the product, the better, as exposure to air, as well as light, will accelerate breakdown of the ingredients.
While there are literally hundreds and hundreds of ingredients in skincare products on the market today, we have identified what we like to call the Sexy Six...the six most powerful and effective, scientifically proven skincare ingredients available today.
One - Vitamin C
Everybody knows the importance of getting enough Vitamin C in your diet, but this wonder vitamin is also a topical anti-aging powerhouse. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and helps to protect your skin from environmental exposure, as well as reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and can even improve the appearance of fragile or aged skin. Vitamin C also works to brighten the skin, evening out skin tone, and is useful to correct hyperpigmentation and age spots.
Be sure to choose products with a stabilized form of Vitamin C (usually sodium ascorbyl phosphate) and keep the product in a dark container away from light, as it’s easily degraded.
The science: A 2017 review article found that a Vitamin C formulation applied to the skin details the main mechanisms of action and clinical applications of topical vitamin C on the skin, including its antioxidative, photoprotective, antiaging, and antipigmentary effects.
Two - Hyaluronic Acid
As your skin ages, it loses its ability to retain moisture, resulting in dryness and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid (known as HA) is one of the very best moisturizers, holding an astounding 500 times its weight in water.
HA is what is known as a natural polysaccharide (a fancy term for a large sugar molecule) and its found in body tissues such as your skin, the synovial fluid around your joints, and in your connective tissues. HA functions to hydrate, lubricate, and adds to tissue stability, providing softening and smoothing of your skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
The science: Studies performed in the United States and published in peer-reviewed journals clearly show HA’s ability to increase the skin’s moisture content and signal your skin’s cells to initiate repair from damage.
Three - Ceramides
One of the reasons your skin loses its ability to hold moisture with age is a decline in lipid (fatty) molecules called ceramides (say SER-a-mides) which are found in the upper layer of the skin. These molecules hold skin together and form a layer that protects the skin from bacteria and environmental pollutants, as well as hold in moisture. There are nine different types of ceramides with names like ceramide AP and phytosphingosine.
Some medications such as cholesterol-lowering drugs can disrupt ceramides and harsh skin cleansers can do the same, leading to dry skin. Very low fat diets deficient in essential fatty acids can play a role in the decrease of skin ceramides. Getting enough ‘good’ fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, and cold-water fatty fish like wild-caught salmon is important in maintaining healthy skin. Taking an oral phytoceramide capsule daily can also help to restore skin ceramide levels, leading to smoother, softer skin.
The science: Several studies from Japan have shown ceramides increase moisture levels in the epidermis. A study from Belgium in 2002 found that ceramides applied to damaged skin can improve barrier function.
Four - Niacinamide
Niacinamide (say nigh-ah-SIN-amide) is Vitamin B3, which is naturally derived and is very useful for skin brightening and to even out skin tone. This vitamin can also improve the appearance of aged skin with its tendency to develop hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and damage from the sun. Niacinamide can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as it enhances the production of collagen and elastin. This versatile vitamin is also an anti-inflammatory and soothes and calms problem skin.
The science: Peer-reviewed scientific studies show that niacinamide can indeed stimulate collagen as well as reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, decrease dark spots, smooth texture, and calm red blotches.
Five - Retinol
Retinol is an anti-aging workhorse found in many skincare products, including makeup. Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, works by forcing the skin to produce more new cells as well as boosts collagen production. Because it forces the skin cells to turn over more rapidly, this new skin is more tender and delicate and should not be exposed to the sun.
We recommend, as do leading dermatologists that retinol only be used at night to give the skin cells time to mature. Using products that contain retinol in the daytime can actually cause damage to your skin because it’s more susceptible to the sun, something that even using sunscreen cannot prevent.
Look for products that contain retinol palmitate which is the ester form of Retinol and is less irritating and more stable than Retinol (vitamin A).
The science: Retinol is one of the most well known and best studied of all the skin anti-aging ingredients.
NOTE: Products that contain retinol should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Six - Peptides
Peptides, like proteins, are made up of chains of amino acids. But peptides are smaller than proteins and comprise between 2 and 50 amino acids. Plus, peptides have a less well-defined structure and are more flexible, allowing them to adopt complex shapes and forms.
Peptides communicate with cells and give them instructions to carry out. For example, in the skin, peptides can signal cells to produce elastin (which helps skin to bounce back), decrease redness, signal muscles to relax (minimizing wrinkles), and also signal cells to repair and heal the skin after damage. Some very small peptides, because of their size, can actually penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and can serve as delivery vehicles for other ingredients.
One of these peptides is known as Matrixyl, produced and patented by the Sederma corporation of France. This peptide (palmitoyl pentapeptide-4) has been shown to decrease wrinkle depth by an amazing 68% by stimulating collagen synthesis and skin repair. And Matrixyl is apparently very different than many of the other skincare peptides in that the results are long-lasting, not just having an effect in the hour or so after application.
The science: A 2013 study at Reading University established that Matrixyl doubled the levels of collagen in the skin.
And there you have it, the Sexy Six skincare ingredients that really work, without irritation, needles or surgery. What could be sexier than that?
De Paepe K, Roseeuw D, Rogiers V. Repair of acetone- and sodium lauryl sulphate-damaged human skin barrier function using topically applied emulsions containing barrier lipids. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2002 Nov;16(6):587-94. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-3083.2002.00527.x. PMID: 12482041.
Rosso JD, Zeichner J, Alexis A, Cohen D, Berson D. Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(4 Suppl 1):S2-S8.
Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):860-5; discussion 865. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31732. PMID: 16029679.
Kajal Babamiri, MD, Reza Nassab, MBChB, MBA, MRCSEd, MRCSEng, Cosmeceuticals: The Evidence Behind the Retinoids, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 30, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 74–77, https://doi.org/10.1177/1090820X09360704
Jones RR, Castelletto V, Connon CJ, Hamley IW. Collagen stimulating effect of peptide amphiphile C16-KTTKS on human fibroblasts. Mol Pharm. 2013 Mar 4;10(3):1063-9. doi: 10.1021/mp300549d. Epub 2013 Feb 4. PMID: 23320752.
Why It Matters
“Beauty is being comfortable and confident in your own skin.”
~ Iman (b. 1955) Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid is a legendary Somalian-born supermodel and beauty icon, as well as the founder and CEO of IMAN Cosmetics, Fragrances & Skincare. She was married to the late English singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie.
What We Are Reading 📚
Denise - On the long drive from Northern to Southern California this past week, I listened to the first half of Tim Ferriss’ podcast episode with Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep. I haven’t read the book, and now it’s on my library “hold” list. Until a few years ago, I never gave sleep much thought or the amount of sleep I get. Now I track it and consciously work on getting a minimum of 7 hours, and this is why:
“If sleep is a missing piece in the explanatory puzzle of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, then maybe we can do something about it. Sleep is a modifiable factor.”
— Dr. Matthew Walker
Ellen - Lately I have felt an unusually strong pull to explore my Celtic ancestral roots in Ireland, England and Scotland. I am doing that in a couple of ways. First of all, I am re-reading (or rather listening this time to the audio version) The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers by Frank MacEowen. This book is a perennial favorite of mine, as Frank’s purpose is to show the reader “how to draw on ancestral roots to find a personal spirituality that also works for the greater good.”
I also recently purchased an Irish tin whistle, a relatively easy to play and learn instrument used in traditional Irish music. One of my favorite Irish whistle players is the incomparable Joanie Madden, a native New Yorker who has deep ancestral roots in Ireland. Joanie is best known as the leader of the phenomenally successful all-woman Irish music group Cherish the Ladies, but she has also recorded and performed with many other musicians, as well as a solo artist.
Here is her soaring, plaintive rendition of Women of Ireland, from the album Celtic Twilight. Women of Ireland is a poem written by Peadar Ó Doirnín, an 18th-century Ulster poet, but it’s most famous as a song, set to an air composed by Irish composer and arranger of Irish traditional music, Seán Ó Riada (1931–1971).
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Intermittent Fasting Insider is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.