I’ll admit it: I’m not a very trendy person. My clothes are 99% classics. I buy my kitchen tools and accessories in black and stainless steel only. I even let the early adopters wait in line for the latest iPhone, wait for the bugs to be ironed out, and then end up with version 2 (or, sometimes, 3 or 4).
Same with skin care: I used to wait for an ingredient to get some traction, keep looking at the studies periodically for updates, and then make a decision. That said, as a blogger now known primarily for skin care, I don’t always have that luxury. I dug deep for some of the research, but I’ve uncovered some great info! So here are my picks for the best (and worst) new skin care ingredients of 2015:
1.) CHOOSE: Fulvic acid
Already popular in Australia, fulvic acid is a hydrating anti-aging ingredient. Fulvic acid is also known for being anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory (Drug Development Research, 2001; Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2000). This may explain why fulvic acid effectively treats symptoms of dry skin, redness, irritation, and inflammation associated with contact dermatitis (Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2000), psoriasis (Karr), and eczema (Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigative Dermatology, 2011).
But why I’m excited enough about fulvic acid to put it first on my list is due to its antioxidant properties. Fulvic acid is a very potent free-radical scavenger in preliminary studies, so much that many scientists suspect that it may have significant anti-aging effects against fine lines, wrinkles, and skin sagging (Laub Bio Chem). I think you’ll see a lot more about fulvic acid in the future!
Fulvic acid is the main ingredient in the Fulom Skin Care line ($22-31, Fulomskin.com). This reasonably-priced line contains the highest concentrations of fulvic acid I have seen in a skin care line, and it comes in generously-sized packages. Definitely a must-try.
2.) LOSE: Probiotic Skin Care for Anti-Aging (Keep it for dryness)
There are both “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. We often hear more about the “bad” bacteria, like H. pylori, which is responsible for ulcers; M. furfur, which causes dandruff; and S. aureus, which causes MRSA and staph infections.
We rarely hear about “good” bacteria. This is because it is less urgent and the scientific and medical community still seem to have some room to grow regarding which strains should be introduced, how often, to whom, and for what.
Thus far, scientists have identified a few strains of bacteria, like L. acidophilus, that are able to improve the appearance of the skin by essentially strengthening it, a term in dermatology known as “improved barrier function” (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2011).
There is another study, though just one at this time, that suggests probiotic strains used in probiotic skin care improves barrier functions and the very dry skin associated with atopic dermatitis (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2011).
But aside from dry skin, there doesn’t seem to be as much benefit to maintaining the bacterial strains in your skin as, say, your gut. I recommend probiotic skin care for skin dryness, but not much else at this time.
3.) CHOOSE: Stabilized Retinoids
When you formulate skin care products, there are just a few ways to make a key ingredient more effective: First, you can raise the concentration. Sometimes this backfires, leading to irritation, but it can also increase the effects and decrease the time it takes to see results.
Second, you can combine it with other ingredients that enhance its performance. Ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10 are “network antioxidants,” shown to synergistically enhance the power of one another.
Third, you can stabilize it. This makes the ingredient last in the formulation and perform in your skin all the longer. Methods like microencapsulation, esterification, and micronization can make an ingredient work better in many cases. With retinoids, products like our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 (microencapsulation), Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum (esterification), and Glow by Dr. Brandt (micronization).
4.) CHOOSE: Seaweed-Infused Skin Care
In 2003, after completing his portion of the Human Genome Project, scientist Craig Venter decided to go to the sea to sample underwater creatures’ DNA. “We’re collecting all this knowledge,” Venter once told The New York Times, “and then we have to put it all together and design something that hasn’t existed before.”
Skin care scientists are conducting their own breed of sea life research. Interestingly enough, species like Okinawa red algae have been found to be remarkably similar to skin’s collagen (Science and Culture, 2005), meaning that it may enhance water retention and barrier function when topically applied to the skin. Okinawa red algae is also a rich source of skin-supporting sugars called polysaccharides (Plant Journal, 2007), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, proteins, and nearly all essential vitamins (Postępy Fitoterapii, 2009).
And if you’re a big fan of the green movement, rejoice: Seaweeds, including Okinawa red algae, are a promising part of future sustainable development in water-surrounded regions (Environmental Development, 2014). You can find them in products like the TATCHA Luminosity Set.
5.) CHOOSE: Korean Skin Care
In general, Korean skin care is at least 10 years’ ahead of the United States, due to less restrictions on ingredient and product development, as well as an increased demand per capita.
Unless you have sensitive or easily-irritated skin, Korean skin care can be a worthy investment.
And I do mean investment of both time and money: The traditional Korean skin care regimen consists of 11 lengthy steps, all of which work together synergistically to leave your skin smooth and glowing.
The 11 steps:
- Buff and Exfoliate
- Eye Cream
- Sleeping Pack
I’ve tried it, and it works. The skin looks retexturized, hydrated, and smooth. (It also took me about thirty minutes, so this is not for the weak at heart.)
These steps all unfortunately have to be sourced separately within the U.S., but if you are looking for quality Korean skin care outside of Asia, the American glowrecipe.com website has a great assortment.
6.) LOSE: Skin Care Oils for Everyone
I’m going to take a lot of flack for this, but I don’t care. I’m sticking by my guns.
If you have dry or normal/dry skin, or eczematous patches of skin, then skin care oils can be a blessing.
But if you have oily or normal/oily skin, or even get patches of acne from time to time, then please, for the love of God, do not use a skin care oil.
While skin care oils are often thinner and less sensitizing than they were in the 90’s and 2000’s, they still work by locking moisture and oils into your skin, drawing moisture into your skin from the environment, or both.
This is the last thing you want with oily or normal/oily skin. So please, back away from others who are trying to tell you otherwise, and listen to me on this: Do NOT use an oil as anything more than a towel-off cleansing product if you have oily, normal/oily, or acne-prone skin.
7.) CHOOSE: Digital Skin Care Providers
Nationwide, there is currently a 3-6 month wait time to see a dermatologist. And that’s for real skin conditions. If you have something to ask about like whether or not to use a retinoid with your antioxidant serum, you could be waiting a year.
Thankfully, there are services where you can ask your questions, and generally for a lesser price than a dermatologist visit. For instance, Dermatologist On Call lets you ask a board-certified dermatologist a question for just $59 ($49 with coupon code FUTUREDERM10 through 03/01/2015), and gives prescriptions (where recommended) and access to the dermatologist for 30 days. Virtual consultations are also available from Renee Rouleau through My Skin Prescription for $100, including $50 in product.
These services are the future of skin care, and I’m excited to see them being offered.
8.) CHOOSE: Massage
With increasing numbers of women choosing “No-Tox Detox” over Botox, and the natural movement still going strong, it’s no wonder that traditional spa treatments like facials and massage are making a comeback.
There is some science to back them up: A 2009 study out of Kyushu University in Japan found that a 45-minute facial massage reduced anxiety and negative mood status. The researchers concluded facial massage significantly reduced the psychological stress of the 32 healthy women who participated in the study. Numerous studies from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) also showed decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels and lessened feelings of depression following massage.
I’m a firm believer that beauty starts in your mind — when you feel good, you think good thoughts, and when you think good thoughts, you do genuinely good things for yourself and others. It’s this wonderful positive feedback loop that just keeps on giving!
9.) CHOOSE: Improving Your Diet to Enhance Your Skin Care
If you want to get great skin on a budget, there’s almost no better way than to infuse your diet with tons of colorful, vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. One study shows that eating beneficial ingredients, like vitamin C and grape seed extract, is even better than topically applying them (Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2009).
Here are some of the best foods to ingest for better skin:
- Vitamins A, B3, B5, C, D, E, and K
- Most monounsaturated cooking oils: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
- Green tea, white tea, red tea (virtually all teas except Earl Grey)
- Grape seed extract/resveratrol
10.) LOSE: (Most) Other Edible Skin Care Products
However, referring to my last point (#10), eating fruits and vegetables is great for your skin. Applying all fruits and vegetables to your skin topically is not so great.
The skin and the intestine are drastically different. The skin evolved to protect your internal organs from potential harm. On the other hand, the digestive tract evolved to absorb as many key nutrients as possible. The skin also functions best when products with a slightly acidic pH are applied, to maintain the delicate acid mantle. Conversely, the digestive tract functions best when you feed it alkaline (or basic) foods or foods that leave an alkaline ash in your system, to be neutralized by stomach acid.
For instance, lemon is a great source of vitamin C, and it forms an alkaline ash when ingested (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1968). But when used on the skin, lemon is associated with increasing the skin’s susceptibility to sun damage to the extent that too much lemon can cause blistering (Photoimmunology, Photodermatology, and Photomedicine, 2005). I have also been sent emails from readers who have used lemon on their skin and had really bad reactions to it. I recommend using lemon only with a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, or better yet, not at all.
Another example of a beneficial food that upsets the skin is milk. Most forms of milk contain trace amounts of growth hormones that may enhance DHT (androgen) production in the skin, leading to breakouts (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2008). Better to avoid and use a lactic acid treatment instead.
Bottom line — the idea that you should be able to “eat” your skin care is not only outdated, it can be dangerous.
11.) CHOOSE: Growth Factors
As you age, your body’s natural stores of growth factors decrease significantly. This results in the loss of your natural collagen, collagen-preserving chemicals, antioxidant stores, and antioxidant-preserving mechanisms, leaving you with thin, dry, sagging skin. (Sad face.)
While many skin care regimens are designed to boost collagen or antioxidant levels, growth factors are designed to increase the production of everything within your skin naturally.
As you might imagine, topically-applied growth factors have been shown to stimulate the production of collagen within the skin (Journal of Drugs in Dermatology). This results in an increase in skin firmness and elasticity.
I’ve tried a couple different brands of growth factors treatments, and my personal favorite is AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum. AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum contains a concentrated blend of over 40% stem cell derived growth factors, the highest of any brand that I have seen. This solution contains even more stem cells than water, which is exceptionally rare to find in a skin care product! Definitely a favorite.
If you are looking for the hottest trends in skin care with science to back them up, here they are:
- Fulvic acid
- Stabilized retinoids
- Korean skin care
- Digital-based skin care support
- Diet-based skin care
- Growth factors
I personally am avoiding probiotic skin care, skin care oils (except for very dry to dry skin), and most edible skin care products.
What are your thoughts on the trends in 2015? Let me know in Comments!