The ‘science’ of skin care – the ingredients that make for youthful and healthy skin

Knowing the different elements of your skincare products can help you to tackle various skin care concerns effectively.

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There are various type of skin care issues that many grapple with, mainly acne, wrinkles, and pigmentation. While there has been an increase in the number of multi-purpose skin care products, skin care problems vary with each individual and knowing which ingredients to look out for when purchasing skin care products can help us to tackle our skin problems more effectively.

Acne and how it happens

Acne is usually caused by excessive sebum production, often a result of hormone dysregulation. This is the reason acne is often associated with puberty. As sebum in our skin accumulates due to overly active oil glands, it starts to block our pores and hair follicles, which subsequently develop into comedones – blackheads (open comedones) or whiteheads (closed comedones). When these comedones become inflamed and infected, a pimple is formed. An unpopped pimple may turn into a deep cyst, spreading the infection underneath layers of the skin. A ruptured pimple can also cause infection to spread to surrounding tissue, resulting in acne.

Treatment for Acne

Many skin care products uses different types of ingredients to treat acne. But what are those ingredients and how are they effective in treating acne?

For this example, we have used Science on Skin’s Acne+ product as an example of the kind of ingredients you can look for. Acne+ is a dual-action essence containing zinc PCA and botanical extracts was created to tackle acne, as its name suggests.

Science on Skin is a line of dermatologist-formulated treatment skincare products from France. It was awarded as the winner of Women’s Weekly’s Best beauty buys 2017 for the best acne control treatment.

1. Zinc PCA is an essential mineral that controls the skin’s sebum production, preventing excess sebum from being produced. According to Simple, various studies have proven the efficacy of zinc in alleviating acne and eczema cases.

2. Vitamin C is the most common antioxidant found naturally in our skin, which experiences great stress due to our environment. This vitamin is essential for the synthesis of collagen, an important structural protein. It also plays a key role in repairing free radicals and slowing down the aging process, on top of preventing free radicals from turning cancerous.

3. Vitamin B3 can help to improve our skin’s elasticity, lighten pigmentation spots, and enhance the overall tone and texture of it.

4. Provitamin B5, due to its water-binding component, helps to retain moisture in the skin, keeping the skin soft and supple while stabilising its barrier function. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, enhances the repair of the skin barrier through accelerating new tissue generation, and offers relief from itch, redness and pain.

5. Licorice is suitable for all skin types. It helps to relieves irritation, inflammation, and lightens acne scars. This essence also reduces both blackheads and whiteheads and aids in preventing the production of excess sebum.

The combination of zinc PCA, vitamins C, B3 and Provitamin B5 provides intensive acne control that penetrates deep into the pores, destroying bacteria and preventing breakouts.

Other ingredients that may not necessarily be in Acne+ but are also helpful would be:

6. Benzoyl peroxide can also help to reduce acne lesions, including whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. It does so by killing bacteria, removing excess oil, and exfoliating dead skin cells, according to Neal Schultz, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and author of It’s Not Just About Wrinkles.

7. Salicylic acid also helps to keep pores clear by exfoliating away excess sebum, dead skin cells and other impurities inside the hair follicle, according to Diane Berson, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a dermatologist in New York City. It also aids in reducing the abnormal shedding of cells. Its chemical link to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) also means that salicylic acid contains anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Wrinkles often come together with age, as our skin loses its elasticity and becomes more delicate. Contrary to acne, a lower production of natural oils causes the skin to dry.

Fat or lipids in the deeper layers of skin also decrease, resulting in loose, saggy skin as well as distinct lines and cracks.

However, wrinkles may also occur due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A study conducted in 1995 discovered that exposure to UV rays produces chemicals such as free radicals that are damaging for skin. This quickens the natural aging process and is the main cause of early wrinkling. Exposure to UV rays breaks down the skin’s connective tissue – collagen and elastin fibers – resulting in saggy skin.

Smoking and repeated facial expressions may contribute to wrinkles as well.

According to WebMD, selenium, as well as vitamins C and E, have been found to aid in combating wrinkles.

“There are three antioxidants that have been proven to decrease the effect of the sun on the skin and actually prevent further damage: selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin C.”

– Karen E. Burke, MD, in a presentation to the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting in New Orleans in 2002

Selenium is a mineral that helps to prevent skin cancer and maintains tissue elasticity. It also hampers the aging and hardening of tissues related to oxidation. Selenium can be found in whole grain cereals, garlic, seafood, and eggs. Animal studies conducted have proven the effectiveness of selenium against damage from UV rays. While further studies involving humans are still required, Burke has said that results are promising.

Vitamin E is yet another key antioxidant, safeguarding cell membranes and the enzymes linked to them. This can come from vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, grains, oats, nuts, and dairy products. Its effects on the skin are similar to vitamin C – reducing photodamage, wrinkles and improving skin texture.


Pigmentation occurs when one’s skin is lighter or darker than the rest of the face or skin on the body, and brown patches are often an indication of hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is often caused by heightened levels of melanin, which is the pigment in skin that produces colour. This could be due to injury, inflammation, sun damage or hormonal changes.

Examples of genetically determined pigmentation are birthmarks and freckles.

While wearing sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection daily can help to prevent pigmentation, vitamins A, C and B12 are also effective in tackling skin pigmentation, according to

1. Vitamin A provides multi-functional treatment for skin, one of them being the treatment of slight discolorations in the pigment, balancing out pigmented skin.

2. Vitamin C, beyond preventing wrinkles, is also able to brighten the skin tone and tackles skin pigmentation through its tyrosinase inhibitors. These inhibitors aid in preventing the production of excessive amounts of melanin by enzymes.

3. Vitamin B12 assists in regulating the skin’s production of the melanin pigment.

Treatment for aging skin

Multivitamins+, another product by Science on Skin, is rich in vitamins A & C concentration, potent peptides, collagen and proprietary botanical extracts, tackling both aging skin and pigmentation.

The combination of powerful antioxidants vitamins A, C and E neutralises free radicals and prevents early aging of the skin. The blend of stem cells and botanical extracts help to support collagen and elastin production, enhancing skin firmness, as well as to brighten and even one’s skin tone. It also helps to treat hyperpigmentation by suppressing melanin production, brightening skin complexion, and providing a healthy radiance and glow.

Knowing in detail the ingredients used in skin care products is vital. Besides keeping a healthy lifestyle and managing stress levels wisely, it is equally important to stay informed about what ingredients work for your skin.

Science on Skin’s Acne+ and Multivitamins+ are available online on and exclusively at most Watsons stores across Singapore.

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