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by instructor Kai Jun

Popular skincare ingredients you ought to know!

Choose the right elements for the perfect skin!

It is everyone's hope to maintain perfect and healthy skin, but environmental changes combined with aging put our skin at risk of nutrient loss, dryness, flaking, sensitivity, and fragility. As a solution, we should adopt more intensive skincare routines on top of a healthy lifestyle, and choose the right ingredients to compound the effect. Currently, skincare ingredients that people are more familiar with include: hyaluronic acid for hydration, plant-based squalane for skin repair, glutathione for skin-brightening, and ascorbyl glucoside for anti-darkening. In order to keep skin at the optimal state, it is essential that we persistently supply it with essential and critical nutrients day and night.


Hyaluronic acid - the ultimate hydrating element

Hydration is undeniably the most fundamental step to supple and glowy skin. Only when the skin is adequately hydrated may the stratum corneum achieve proper alignment to produce a firm, supple, and glowy look. We cannot discuss hydration without mentioning the critical compound called hyaluronic acid (which literally means "glass-resembling acid") that exists within connective tissues and the dermis. Hyaluronic acid has been recognized as the most powerful hydrating element for the skin, as one molecule of the acid is capable of holding on to 500 times the water molecule and instantly replenish moisture to the skin. This is why hyaluronic acid has dominated the skincare industry and is used across many types of skincare solutions for such an extended period of time. Hyaluronic acid can be obtained via chemical synthesis or through fermentation of soybean. Due to the extensive time involved in the fermentation process, plant-based hyaluronic acids are generally pricier compared to those produced from chemical synthesis. Hyaluronic acids can be further distinguished by molecular size into macro, medium, and small molecule variants. Macromolecular hyaluronic acids work mainly at the outer layer of the skin due to its large molecular size, and they form a hydration film over skin surface to help retain moisture at the stratum corneum. Medium molecule hyaluronic acids, on the other hand, have been discovered to carry anti-aging properties, whereas small molecule hyaluronic acids have a molecular size of only 15nm-25nm that allows them to penetrate gaps between cells (which are typically 200nm-1000nm wide) of the stratum corneum to deliver hydration at the basal layer. It is therefore recommended to combine macromolecular and small molecule hyaluronic acids to achieve hydration from outside and within, and keep the skin firm and moisturized for an entire day. 

Ceramide - the building block for moisture barrier

While hyaluronic acid replenishes moisture, ceramide plays a key role in helping the skin repair its moisture retention barriers. Consisting primarily of cholesterol and fatty acids, ceramide is a lipid of the stratum corneum that works like concrete in a building structure. Without the concrete to reinforce steel mesh, a building cannot stay strong and would collapse under its own weight. In terms of cosmetic effect, ceramide helps skin cells bond to create a barrier at the stratum corneum that not only locks in moisture but also protects against environmental harm. Ceramide offers so many advantages that replenishing ceramides alone has become a popular topic in the beauty industry in recent years. The compounds are also being studied extensively for its ability to fill in gaps between cells and restore bonding capabilities of the stratum corneum.   

Vitamin B3 - a versatile compound

Vitamin B3, also called niacinamide, is one of the 13 essential vitamins to the human body. The vitamin can be sourced by ingesting green vegetables, meat, and whole grain foods, or applied externally for skin relief, skin-brightening, lipid regulation, anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and other skincare purposes, making it a very versatile compound. It has been published on several medical journals that combining Vitamin B3 with ceramide may promote formation of lipids and proteins for the skin barrier, which reduces loss of moisture and can greatly improve conditions such as atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis. With healthier skin, we will be able to resist higher level of irritation from the external environment, and become less prone to dryness and changes in air quality following a change of season.

Vitamin B5 - solution for sensitive and irritable skin
Also known as D-Panthenol, it is one of the most important water-soluble vitamins to human. The vitamin's mild characteristics make it suitable for external use as a skincare compound. Since B5 is structurally similar to the hydrolipidic film, it can be easily absorbed to improve hydration and suppleness of the skin, and is used as a main ingredient in skincare products for babies and children. It is also common to see B5 used in repairing creams, sunscreens, lip balms, and recuperation after cosmetic laser surgery, which makes it the essential repairing factor for those with sensitive or dry skin!

Squalane - solution for dry skin
Most people are probably familiar with the word squalane; it is derived from squalene and has a different chemical composition. Squalene can be extracted from animals or plants, and once hydrogenated, the substance becomes squalane, a more well-known form of squalene. Animal-based squalane is mainly obtained from shark liver, but due to rising environmental awareness, manufacturers have moved away from animal-based squalane. Furthermore, plant-based squalane is more stable and less prone to degradation. The purpose of squalane in skincare products is to relieve dryness and lock moisture inside skin. The compound forms a protective film over skin surface, which helps repair dry and damaged skin.   

Glutathione - a new star ingredient for anti-oxidation

Glutathione is an antioxidant found in human body. Its main purposes are to support metabolism and help detoxification in the liver. We lose glutathione reserves as we age, but can still replenish it from foods such as asparagus, spinach, and garlic. Its powerful anti-oxidant properties help inhibit free radicals and tyrosinase activity to achieve brightening effect for the skin, and is therefore commonly used in skin-brightening supplement and brightening treatment. Glutathione can also work in conjunction with other brightening factors to yield better results.

Ascorbyl glucoside - the mainstream skin-brightening ingredient

Ascorbic acid is the most widely used skin-brightening ingredient on the market. There are many derivatives of ascorbic acid, each has a difference chemical composition, and the most popular ones are L-Ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), and ascorbyl glucoside (AA2G). L-Ascorbic acid comes in high concentration and has a low ph value that tends to irritate skin. In comparison, ascorbyl glucoside (AA2G) is highly stable and capable of inhibiting tyrosinase activity for extended periods of time to reduce melanin formation.


Mandelic acid - acne remover

Work stress and irregular lifestyle disrupt the skin's natural renewal recycle, and may cause problems such as widened pore, acne, and acne scar. There is no better solution than mandelic acid in these situations. Mandelic acid is a natural citrus extracted from almonds. Its large molecular structure slows down the rate of penetration to avoid irritation, whereas its lipophilic property works deep into pores to soften skin and dissolve acne at the root. By clearing pores of blockage, the acid promotes complete renewal of dead skin cells as well as proper alignment of the stratum corneum. 

Customized x mix & match
Add one bottle to daily routine for healthy skin

Hopefully this article gives you a better understanding of popular skincare ingredients on the market.
The star ingredients introduced above not only work well on a standalone basis, but can also be used in conjunction with other products to address specific problems. Feel free to mix them up like cocktail to replenish moisture and relieve skin condition at the same time for better results.


Skin-brightening combo: glutathione X ascorbyl glucoside
As explained above, glutathione inhibits free radicals while ascorbyl glucoside is a government-approved skin-brightening ingredient. When used in conjunction, they inhibit tyrosinase activity and melanin deep within the basal layer to produce clean and flawless skin.

Hydration combo: hyaluronic acid X ceramide

Hyaluronic acid and ceramide make a perfect hydrating combination. DR.WU's latest offering, Bionanoceramide 2% NMF 15%, for example, is a highly effective, high concentration, and high purity ceramide-based formula that combines macromolecular and small molecule hyaluronic acids at the optimal concentration. Using Japan-made ceramide, the solution delivers two times the repairing strength and works deep into the skin to restore lost lipids back into cell gaps, and thereby enforce the skin's water barrier from outside and within. We recommend using the solution in conjunction with Intensive Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acid to replenish and lock in moisture at the basal layer, and rid dryness and flaking for good for easier makeup.

For sensitive and irritable skin: Niacinamide X vitamin B5
Vitamins B3 and B5 are a godsend for people with sensitive or irritable skin. Backed by immunology knowledge, Dr. Wu combines the strengths of vitamins B3 and B5 to introduce Niacinamide 10% Panthenol 1% that regulates, relieves, and calms sensitive/irritable skin.

This article provides the ultimate guide to skin perfection; adhere to the routines consistently and you will be able to maintain skin at the optimal condition!