It’s not just the brand, it’s the ingredients

When we choose skincare products, the first thing that we tend to consider is the brand. But is it that important?


Many of the generic brands available in most department stores come from the same or very similar research and development, with the same level of technology.

Generally, the high-end brands have higher moisturising factors and a higher percentage of active ingredients and target very dry skin.



I personally recommend spending your money on dermatologists’ quality skincare individualised to suit your own skin. Doctors’ skincare products use the latest ingredients and, because they can be customised, do not have to be watered down for the mass market. Alternatively, cosmeceutical or skinceutical brands (products with biologically active ingredients) contain a higher percentage of active ingredients than generic brands.


Active ingredients to look for and their functions. In all skincare products, active ingredients are the key to getting the results you desire.

Active ingredients are the components in a cream (or medicine) that complete specific functions. The inactive ingredients act as a base.

The actives you choose depend on the effect you want, whether it’s anti-ageing, whitening or age prevention.

Pot of moisturizing face cream with green leaf on white background


In the past we were limited to products like collagen for anti-ageing effects such as reducing wrinkles and fine lines, but new developments in skincare have taken us beyond the beyond!

Biopeptides: Now everyone is talking about biopeptides, the cutting-edge in anti-ageing products. A peptide is a short protein chain that works significantly in the skin by repairing damaged cells. This has been an amazing anti-ageing breakthrough as it is believed that these miniscule strings of amino acids are able to reverse signs of ageing and even restore elasticity because they contain chemical messages that encourage skin cell rejuvenation and repair.

Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient found naturally in the skin, regulating moisture and the transport of nutrients to the cells. It grabs and holds moisture in the skin, retaining it for up to eight hours. There are also other bio-extracts, which come from bacteria, that can hold the water in the skin even longer than 72 hours.

Vitamin A is referred to as retin A, retinoic acid, tretinoin (trans-retinoic acid) retinyl actate and retinyl palmitate. It is an effective active anti-ageing product proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and even stimulate the production of collagen. Choose a retinol product that tells you how much retinol you’re going to get.


Coenzyme Q-10 Idebenone are antioxidants, helping to neutralise free radicals, one of the main causes of ageing. When we are young, the body can produce as much CoQ10 as it needs. Ageing and stress lower the levels of CoQ10, resulting in less collagen and elastin production. The other advantage of CoQ10 is that it is a small molecule able to penetrate into skin cells more easily.


In the past, hydroquinone was believed to be the safest and most effective product to lighten the skin. New research suggests however, that there may be side effects with long-term use, so manufacturers have found natural alternatives.

Vitamin C comes in stable and non-stable forms but the ones to look out for are, l-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, said to slow down hyperactive melanocytes.

Vitamin C also increases the production of collagen and elastin but it is difficult to stablise it against oxidation.

Alpha Arbutin: Bearberry, Cranberry, Mulberry, Blueberry Extract.

Have melanin-inhibiting properties, providing a skin lightening effect. Arbutin is a natural derivative of hydroquinone, but does not have the same negative side effects.

Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is another natural alternative to hydroquinone. It is a by-product in the rice fermentation process for making sake, Japanese rice wine.

Licorice Extract: The licorice plant serves many purposes in skin care. The ingredient that is responsible for the skin whitening aspect of the plant is known as glabridin.

NB: For spot-whitening use a concentrated serum.


Salicylic Acid, Azelaic Acids and Sulfer, are natural exfoliating products effective in the treatment of acne. They encourage shedding of dead skin within the hair follicle, keeping pores clear of debris and reducing blockages and breakouts.

Skincare delivery systems

The skin is a highly effective barrier to anything, including actives into the skin. Sophisticated ingredients need sophisticated delivery systems to take active ingredients and nutrients past the protective layer of the skin – the stratum corneum. Active ingredients enter into the skin in several ways: the type of system depends on the chemistry of the active, site of application, desired effect and time release.

A wide variety of delivery systems are now available – colloidal systems, encapsulation and patches to name a few. The actives enter the skin as liposomes, nanosomes, mircosomes or microspheres. A small unit penetrates better. An effective delivery system also helps to maintain the bioavailability of the ingredients.


Cream is able to maintain the condition of the skin whereas technology is able to change it. Creams, even those containing neuro-peptides, are about 1000th of a percent effective as a skin laser.

However, if you have wrinkles because of dry skin, then creams are more effective than laser and that is where cream beats technology.

Happy hunting!