Chemicals, sun damage, or lack of proteins required for healing can all compromise your skin’s barrier and make it unable to protect itself or recover on its own. When this happens, it’s vital to apply restorative ingredients to support skin repair and reinforce the barrier. That’s why today, we’re covering the most effective skin-repairing ingredients that work hard to speed up healing and restore the natural skin’s defense.
What are skin-repairing ingredients?
Repairing ingredients are actives that target the skin’s barrier repair, aiding in accelerating the recovery process. Due to age, environmental aggressors, chemicals, dryness, and other factors, the protective barrier weakens, and the skin becomes less able to repair itself. In turn, this can lead to extreme sensitivities and dryness, low tolerance to skincare products, a dull appearance with a lack of radiance, and breakouts. Repairing ingredients help by supporting the skin’s natural ability to repair, consolidating the protective barrier, replenishing the proteins necessary for healing, and reducing water loss.
Depending on their role and site of action, skin-repairing ingredients can be classified as follows:
- Barrier repair ingredients: ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol, niacinamide
- Cell-communicating ingredients: peptides, epidermal growth factors, niacinamide, retinol, adenosine
- Water-retaining ingredients: natural moisturizing factors (hyaluronic acid, glycerin), squalane
- Skin-identical ingredients: natural moisturizing factors, ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids
- Protectors: antioxidants like vitamin C and EGCG
- Soothing: Centella asiatica, snail mucin, squalane, vitamin E
What are the best ingredients to repair damaged skin?
The most effective skin-repairing ingredients include retinol, niacinamide, ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol, peptides, vitamin C, snail mucin, and adenosine. Although all share the same skin-repair goal, these actives don’t work equally for all conditions. Hence, to make sure you get the results, you should use the ones that target factors that led to your skin damage. Don’t fret. It’ll become clear-cut what skin-repairing ingredients are best for you once you finish this post.
Ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol
Ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol are often found together in restorative products and are one of the best skin-repairing ingredients to heal damaged skin. This is because all three are lipids naturally found in the epidermis that make up about 90% of the protective barrier, having an essential role in preventing water evaporation and shielding skin against irritants and bacteria. Besides, all of these act as emollients, softening the complexion and working to fill the gaps between cells to keep the barrier intact. For the record, a 2020 study showed that a cream containing ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids (mostly linoleic and linolenic acids) could drastically increase skin hydration and instantly relieve dryness, redness, and itchiness.
External damage, age, over-exfoliation, and aggressive treatments, can all affect the natural levels of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol, leaving the skin’s barrier vulnerable. When you’re dealing with a compromised barrier, it’s best to apply a repairing moisturizer containing all three lipids — like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 — to encourage repair and ease sensitivities.
Although retinol is the beauty industry’s favorite anti-ager, it’s also a great skin-restoring ingredient for fair reasons. First of all, this vitamin A derivative promotes collagen production, which in turn accelerates wound healing and thickens the epidermis (skin’s outermost layer). Secondly, it boosts cell turnover, helping skin to recover, and since it’s an antioxidant, retinol also strengthens the defense against free radicals. Finally, retinol supports the production of hyaluronic acid, helping increase hydration, a required factor for skin repair.
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and one of the most versatile ingredients in skincare with replenishing and barrier-strengthening abilities. As far as skin repair is concerned, niacinamide can stimulate collagen synthesis, upregulates ceramide levels, reduces inflammations, boosts hydration, and delivers antioxidant protection, all of which help restore the skin’s defense and encourage healing. We recommend these niacinamide creams to tackle all your skin concerns.
Peptides are incredibly great ingredients for healing damaged skin since they act as building blocks for proteins such as collagen, elastin, and keratin. They are often used in skincare thanks to their regenerative properties, as well as for their ability to improve skin firmness and reduce wrinkles. Studies show that applying some types of peptides can drastically enhance texture, accelerate skin repair, and relieve conditions like eczema and dermatitis. These include:
- Palmitoyl-tripeptide-1 and tetrapeptide-7 (known as Matrixyl 3000).
- Palmitoyl tripeptide-38 (known as Matrixyl Synthe’6).
- Palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 (known as Matrixyl).
- Sh-oligopeptide-1 (known as epidermal growth factors).
- Copper peptide.
Vitamin C is a staple in skincare not only for its anti-aging and dark spot-fading benefits but also for its capacity to encourage skin repair and counteract oxidative damage. More precisely, vitamin C is an extremely potent antioxidant that shields cells against free radicals, reducing the degradation of proteins and other lipids found in the protective barrier. By extension, this further improves the skin’s ability to protect itself from pollutants and transepidermal water loss. Furthermore, vitamin C supports collagen production, speeding up skin healing, has anti-inflammatory properties, and reduces redness.
Interestingly, studies confirmed that a deficiency of vitamin C results in poor wound healing and rough skin. And since the body can’t synthesize it, you must use topical products or oral supplements to ensure your vitamin C intake — both of which help repair the skin. For the best results, use stable forms of vitamin C in concentrations of at least 10%.
EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is the most abundant and active catechin in green tea possessing antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial benefits. It can support skin healing by scavaging free radicals, promoting collagen production, and reducing inflammation at a cellular level. To get the most out of its perks, it’s best to use skincare products containing green tea or EGCG. This is because green tea topical application is more effective at repairing skin than drinking it, as studies point out.
Snail mucin (also known as secretion filtrate or snail slime) is a substance naturally produced by snails as a protection mechanism that comes with a long list of benefits in skincare. Briefly, it does wonders in repairing skin since it’s highly moisturizing, boosts collagen, has emollient effects that soften, and acts as a protective barrier between skin and external stressors.
If that wasn’t enough, snail mucin also contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, including polyphenols, glycolic acid, collagen, growth factors, and allantoin. According to a study, it can significantly enhance the speed and efficiency of wound healing when applied topically for more than 14 days. You can try these snail mucin products to nourish, hydrate, and repair your skin asap.
Adenosine is another tried and true ingredient for skin repair. It’s a chemical naturally found in our cells with a cell-communicating role in the body that makes it critical for wound healing and tissue renewal. More precisely, adenosine binds to fibroblasts’ receptors, which are responsible for synthesizing collagen and regulating inflammatory cells. In skincare, it’s used in concentrations of up to 1% and found in all sorts of products — we bet these adenosine creams will be on your liking.
Natural moisturizing factors(NMF)
Hyaluronic acid, betaine, glycerin, and amino acids, are all part of natural moisturizing factors, which are natural components of the skin responsible for retaining water. They play a vital role in maintaining proper barrier function and skin hydration since they reduce transepidermal water loss. If your protective barrier has been damaged, it could be a sign of dehydration. In this case, applying natural moisturizing factors can help restore the barrier and reduce dryness.
Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.
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