When I am shopping, for cosmetics I look for certain ingredients in the formula, which I consider "must haves." While this list is different from body care to skin care to makeup to hair care, there are some key ingredients for which I am always on the lookout in all categories of products.
1. AHA/BHA exfoliators:
These gently resurface skin with little risk of irritation. When blended into a skin cream, the need for using a manual exfoliator is eliminated. My favourites are: gluconlactone, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and cirtic acid.
2. Vitamin E:
This works in a number of different ways, but the most important function is it will protect the cells from oxidative damage. A highly reliable free radical fighter, this ingredient should be in every cosmetic product you own. Look for tocopherol and tocopheryl acetate on the ingredient list.
These are natural compounds produced by the skin, and each does something special. When used in a cosmetic formula, the skin can readily metabolize these ingredients and the results provided can be very quick to appear. Ceramide 1 and 3 will stop water evaporation from the skin, while ceramide 9 will restore the natural lipid content of the skin.
These cell communicating ingredients will make all the other active ingredients work more quickly and effectively in the skin. Look for polypeptides and oligopeptides for the most dramatic effects, however all peptides are beneficial.
5. Plant-based, non-fragrant oils:
These are called Natural Moisturizing Factors and they have the same molecular structure as human lipids. Any non-fragrant plant oil will work, and I prefer Avocado Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Shea Butter.