By Darlene Dunn, Staff writer

Many people abide by a daily skin care regimen to maintain beautiful, acne-free skin. But some have no idea what is in their cleansers, masks, toners or moisturizers.

Cristina Elkins, an esthetician at New Millennium Spa in Shaker Heights, Ohio, says people may want to take another look at the ingredients in their products because some may actually make a skin problem worse.

"Mineral oil is found in so many skin care and cosmetic products. This particular oil is not the best choice to be used in skin care products yet it is placed in many popular skin care product," says Elkins. "Read your labels."

Mineral oil clogs pores, she says.

High Alkaline Disrupts Skin’s Balance

Products with high alkaline content also are not good for the skin.

According to RealBotanicalSkinCare.com, alkaline is a measurement of PH levels.

Anything higher than 7 is considered alkaline. Higher alkaline disrupts the PH balance of the skin and creates an environment for bacteria to survive.

"When people have oily skin, their natural instinct is to use drying agents, such as alkaline, but by doing this they are compounding the problem by encouraging bacterial growth on the skin," Elkins says. "Alkaline products will irritate and strip the skin of its protective coat."

She adds that the PH balance of many facial cleansers is as strong as the PH balance of household cleaning products.

To test the PH, use a simple litmus paper test. Like in high-school science class, you dip a strip of treated paper in the product. A color changes tells you the PH level.

Get Help For Your Skin

While skin care should be customized for an individual’s needs, there are some ingredients that people can look for when dealing with common problems.

For example, when caring for sun-damaged or hyper-pigmented, skin some of the key ingredients to look for are lactic acid for brightening, vitamin A to help cell renewal and vitamin C to help with lightning, Elkins says. It is also important to look for a product with at least 5 percent salicylic acid. White tea extract also works well to accelerate skin brightening. This type of condition can be caused by sun exposure, trauma, medication or stress, she says.

Jen Adkins, a licensed cosmetologist, says the SPF level on skin care products is also important.

"UVA rays cause sunburn, but UVB rays cause signs of aging and even skin cancer. Look for 'UVA/UVB' or 'broad band' on the bottle," she says.

Adkins adds that alphahydroxy acids are also important.

"It helps diminish fine lines and wrinkles, lightens skin spots and even shrinks pore size," Adkins says.

Nevertheless, she suggests that everyone see a dermatologist with skin care concerns.

Get A Facial

Elkins says a monthly facial treatment and facial massage can help one’s skin immensely.

Elkins says she uses all natural and organic products, but stresses the importance of the facial massage.

"It enhances one’s natural immune functions by increasing the number of white blood cells, stimulates blood circulation allowing more oxygen to reach and nourish the skin," she says.

All-Natural Just Nonsense?

Meanwhile, Adkins says it will be impossible for a consumer to know about every ingredient in a product.

"Skin care really is a science, and you can find your way through with a little digging," she says. "Not all natural products do what they say they will, just like those with manufactured ingredients. It’s all about results, and making choices that work for our skin concerns and our lifestyle."

Adkins suggests visiting Nvwah.com or CosmeticCop.com. for an ingredient dictionary.

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