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Face Cream: What Is It and How Does it Work?

The world of skincare can sometimes seem confusing and overwhelming. There’s terminology to learn, products to compare, ingredients to try, and more. When you’re looking to add a new product to your beauty regimen, it’s helpful to have a guide to follow. 

This helpful article will give you all the info you need on face cream, a powerful component in your skincare arsenal. 

You’ll learn what face cream is, how it works, and how to use it, as well as the key ingredients to look for when choosing a face cream. In addition, this article provides guidelines for pairing face cream with other skincare products.

What’s in Face Cream?

Face cream is used to supply your skin with a specific set of ingredients based on your skin’s needs. 

Typically, a face cream contains one primary active ingredient. This is the ingredient that is usually included in the name of a skincare product that has the most significant effect on your skin. Some common active ingredients in face creams are antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A, also known as retinol. You can also find face creams that include acids that have numerous benefits for your skin. These include alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid, beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid, and hyaluronic acid. 

Each active ingredient found in a skincare product has specific benefits for your skin.

Face creams also often contain secondary ingredients that are beneficial for your skin. For example, retinol as an active ingredient in a face cream can be complemented by topical antioxidants like green tea and other ingredients including witch hazel, aloe vera, and more. These ingredients are strategically combined to work in harmony with each other.

In addition to active and secondary ingredients, face creams contain ingredients that carry the ingredients in a form that you can easily spread on your skin. These include bonding agents like xanthan gum, fats like lecithin, and water. These and other ingredients give a face cream its texture and allow for more generous amounts of the cream to be spread on your face.

Face Creams with Antioxidants – Why to Use Them 

Some of the key active ingredients to look for in face creams are antioxidants. Antioxidants provide your skin with defense against the harmful effects of environmental stressors on your skin, which can result in wrinkles, lines, dark spots and other signs of aging. 

Fortunately, supplying your body with a sufficient amount of antioxidants reduces the impact of these environmental stressors on your skin and can keep age-related skin issues at bay. As you get older, getting enough antioxidants becomes especially important. As you age, your body’s ability to stave off the effects of these stressors weakens. This means supplementing with antioxidants, getting them from dietary sources, and including them in your skincare routine is essential to minimize signs of aging and keep your body and skin healthy and strong as you age. 

Face creams often contain antioxidants as active ingredients because of their ability to fight aging and improve your skin’s overall appearance. 

Antioxidants like vitamin C and retinol boost your skin’s shape, structure, and fullness with their nourishing rejuvenating properties.

Boosting your skin with topical antioxidants can actively reduce the appearance of wrinkles, lines, hyperpigmentation and more.

When you use topical antioxidants in the form of a face cream, you’re setting your skin up to have what it needs to stay flexible. 

Using face cream with antioxidants can also aid in rejuvenating your face. Whether you struggle with acne, post-acne scarring, or age-related skin issues like wrinkles, boosting your skin’s overall health can help. 

Face Creams with Acids – Why to Use Them 

Acids are another important category of skincare ingredient to know about. The primary acids you will find as ingredients in face creams are hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Each of these acids serves a different purpose for your skin. 

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by your skin and helps keep collagen production at a healthy level. 

In addition, hyaluronic acid helps your skin retain water, keeping it looking full and moisturized. Hyaluronic acid is often found as an active ingredient in moisturizing face creams because of its ability to aid in your skin’s water retention. Some skincare ingredients can dry your skin out or leave it more prone to irritation, and using moisturizer with hyaluronic acid can be a big help in counteracting this. 

Using a face cream with this acid is recommended for dealing with a wide variety of skin issues, including the visibility of scarring and wrinkles and lines.

Glycolic acid is often used as an ingredient in exfoliating skincare products. Exfoliation ideally gently sloughs off dead skin cells and prevents them from negatively affecting your complexion and clogging your pores. However, some exfoliating products are too harsh, getting rid of dead skin cells with irritating chemicals or rough particles. 

Glycolic acid is a great option for an exfoliant because it is much gentler on your skin and does not require any scrubbing to work. Glycolic acid can also improve the way your skin looks when light reflects off it, getting rid of any unflattering glare that might come from a buildup of oil and dead skin cells. Your skin tends to overproduce oil and look “shiny” when your skin’s rate of cellular turnover is too low, your skin isn’t being properly exfoliated, and when your skin does not get enough moisture.

Use of hyaluronic acid in a moisturizer alongside glycolic acid as an exfoliating agent can help reduce that unpleasant shine immensely. 

Salicylic acid is the more common term for the category of acids known as BHAs, or beta hydroxy acids. Salicylic acid is most commonly used for treating acne because of its ability to get rid of pore-clogging dead skin cells. This acid is found in many different forms in products used to treat acne on both your face and body. Alongside benzoyl peroxide, it is one of the most common anti-acne ingredients.  However, salicylic acid usually needs to be paired with a good moisturizer to prevent it from drying out your skin. 

How to Use Face Cream

Face cream works best when applied towards the end of your skincare routine, after you have put any lighter products on your face. Lightweight skincare products like toner and serums need to have direct access to your skin to do their best work. Putting on face cream before them can hinder their ability to permeate your skin. 

The best order for your skincare regimen is to start with cleanser, exfoliator and toner, then serums, then creams, including face cream. After applying face cream, finish up with sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. 

Face cream can be applied in the morning and at night daily, with a few exceptions. If you are using a face cream with retinol, spacing out your applications of the cream can help reduce irritation, especially when you first start using it. Introducing any new skincare product into your routine can sometimes cause irritation. 

If you have concerns about how your skin is reacting or might react to a new product, it’s always a great idea to consult your dermatologist.