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Canyon Ranch Aesthetics Alphabet

A–Z skin care for your healthiest skin yet

September 27, 2018

From hyaluronic acid to zinc oxide, the definition of comprehensive skin care is constantly being updated. New advancements, trendy treatments and continued improvement can make it difficult to keep up with what’s what and what that what does. Canyon Ranch® Aesthetics is grounded in education – this guide may help. f

From Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) to Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs), these hard-working chemical exfoliants can minimize acne, erase pigmentation and blur fine lines – all by increasing cell turnover. Look for AHAs (glycolic, lactic and citric acids), for sun-damaged or dry skin, BHAs (such as salicylic) for oilier skin and enlarged pores, and PHAs, which are gentler, for sensitive skin. Whatever percentage you use, don’t forget sunscreen – your skin is more open to potential sun damage after exfoliation.

Applied topically, potent antioxidants like Vitamin A, C and E protect your skin, collagen, and elastin from harmful free radicals.

A homeopathic remedy for bruising and swelling, arnica montana is a medicinal herb that can be applied topically (as a gel or ointment) or taken orally to decrease inflammation in the body – ideal for before and after cosmetic injections.

A non-prescription medication that works to destroy acne-causing bacteria in your pores – effective against blackheads, whiteheads, and angry red pimples.

A form of botulinum toxin used in injections that target facial wrinkles, acne scars, dark circles and more. BOTOX® Cosmetic freezes facial muscles – such as frown lines – to soften and blur wrinkles.



A ceramide is a molecule made of essential fats – naturally found in the upper protective layers of the skin, but also infused into serums, masks and moisturizers. Over time, they can help restore your skin’s barrier function, which keeps water in and prevents moisture from escaping out.

The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen makes skin thick, strong and smooth. As we age, our collagen production naturally decreases, causing thinning of the skin, but certain ingredients, such as retinol and peptides can stimulate new production.

Genetics, age, sleeping habits and allergies can all play a role in under-eye discoloration. Retinol, jade rolling, Botox Cosmetic and eye cream can help. Expert tip: When you apply, use only your ring finger (the weakest of the five) and dab product along the orbital bone, avoiding any pulling or tugging. Extra credit: Apply eye cream first, before moisturizer and serum as opposed to after, allowing time for maximum absorption.

Emollients – or moisturizers – are supple, lubricating agents that form a layer over skin. They keep skin hydrated by locking in moisture, either by forming a barrier on the surface of the skin to prevent water evaporation (occlusive emollients) or by attracting and holding moisture in the upper layers of the skin (humectant emollients). There are both synthetic emollients, such as squalene, and natural emollients like lanolin – both unbeatable at reducing dryness.

A Korean skin-care staple, essences are concentrated formulas with a water-like consistency, splashed on post-cleansing to boost hydration and prep skin to absorb subsequent products.



Best applied directly to the skin in serums and moisturizers, ferulic acid is a plant-derived antioxidant that makes other skin care ingredients like Vitamin C and E work even harder and last longer.

Injectable dermal fillers, made from hyaluronic acid or other collagen-growing materials, can help restore fullness to the face – plumping lips, minimizing lines and scars, smoothing under-eye hollows, and contouring cheeks, temples, noses and jaw lines.

Our skin bears increasing stress from free radicals: heightened pollution, cigarette smoke, fast-paced stressful lives, excess sun exposure and lack of sleep. Though exposure is inevitable, antioxidants like Vitamin C are mighty barriers.

Also known as glycerol or glycerine, glycerin is a humectant, effective in combating extreme dryness and protecting and reinforcing skin’s protective barrier against the elements.

A skin care star, one single molecule of hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its weight in water. Naturally occurring in the body, it keeps things cushioned and plumped, but, like collagen, depletes over time. The more hyaluronic acid you can get into your skin, the younger and fresher you’ll look. In serums and creams, it quenches and plumps (temporarily). As an injectable, it can erase wrinkles (for months!).



From redness to swelling, inflammation exists in a broad spectrum from low to high – and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. “Anti-inflammatory” products are everywhere – from the grocery store to the beauty counter. For your best skin, fight inflammation from the inside out and avoid stress, refined sugars, fried foods… and get a good night’s sleep.

A Canyon Ranch Aesthetics specialty, injectibles are non-surgical, syringe-injected dermal fillers that can offer total rejuvenation of the face with minimal downtime – and actually kickstart your own cell turnover.

A gel made from hyaluronic acid that’s injected into wrinkles and lips to restore lost volume and move naturally with facial expressions. The JUVÉDERM® line includes Juvéderm Ultra XC and Juvéderm Ultra Plus XC, as well as Voluma® XC and Vollure XC – there’s something for almost every concern.

A naturally occurring clay mineral that absorbs oil and minimizes shine – best used in wash-off products like masks, scrubs and peels.

This Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) gently exfoliates dead skin cells – ideal for those with sensitive skin or rosacea. Since it’s part of our natural moisturizing factor, it’s especially compatible with human skin.



A minimally invasive treatment that exfoliates dead skin cells with a wand that sprays on, and then vacuums off, miniscule crystals.

A roller with tiny needles pierces skin to incite the body’s natural healing response and allow products to penetrate deeper into the skin. This treatment is a favorite at Canyon Ranch Aesthetics.

A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide helps with pigmentation, improves elasticity, and blocks redness and irritation.

Oils can work wonders on skin, and not just for those with dryness – oilier skin types can benefit, too. Just remember to save oil for the last step in your skin care routine (after moisturizer!). You can’t moisturize your skin with an oil – oils work as a sealant to keep moisture in.

Peptides are short chains of amino acids – the building blocks of protein – that can help regulate hormonal activity and stimulate wound-healing. Different types of topical peptides have different effects, from promoting collagen growth to helping repair skin.

Delivering quick bursts of energy, quality-switched (“Q-Switched”) lasers heat and destroy pigment in the skin, making them effective at clearing brown spots, sun freckles and tattoo ink.



Retinol, retinoic acid and pro-retinols are all forms of vitamin A – known for boosting skin cell turnover and increasing collagen production (“Retinoids” are the catchall phrase). Retinoic acid is the strongest of the three, generally only found in BTC products. Retinol is next, appearing in varying percentages (the max amount allowed in OTC products is 1%), and pro-retinols are weaker, and potentially less irritating. However, all retinoids can cause irritation and sun sensitivity, so phase into your routine slowly and never skimp on SPF.

With super-thin, layerable formulas containing high concentrations of skin-saving active ingredients, serums can give you all the hydration your skin needs (sorry, moisturizer!).

This natural emollient is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants and can be derived from olives, sugarcane and palm trees.

Pure tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is a naturally occurring antibacterial and anti-blemish treatment that can be as effective as benzoyl peroxide.

Toners are used directly after cleansing to remove leftover impurities like dust and pollution. No longer limited to treating acne and oily skin, there’s a toner for everyone.



Exposure to the sun = UVA and UVB rays taking a toll on your skin. These wavelengths of ultraviolet lights lead to signs of aging by destroying collagen and elastin and stunting the body’s ability to create more. Constant throughout the year (the reason you should wear sunscreen regardless of season), UVA rays are deep-reaching, doing aging damage to your skin cells underneath the surface – the rays responsible for skin cancer. Strongest in summer months, UVB rays, on the other hand, can lead to wrinkles, freckles, leathery skin, dreaded age spots, and, of course, sunburns. The answer? Simple: a daily SPF.

Not just found in OJ, topical Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that combats UV damage and even improves the efficacy of sunscreen when layered beneath it.

A well-researched antioxidant, Vitamin E is naturally found on skin, but is easily depleted due to UV exposure and environmental factors. An extra dose will give skin a protective boost.



Piling on hyaluronic acid-filled serums is great, but nothing beats the real deal when it comes to skin hydration. Drinking plenty of water is the easiest way to give skin a boost – hydrating from within and flushing out toxins. It’s also used as a vehicle to deliver other ingredients into the skin topically.

A neurotoxin similar to Botox Cosmetic, Xeomin stops the release of chemicals that cause muscle movements to soften frown lines.

Yeast extract is believed to tackle pigmentation, inflammation and aging by inhibiting the production of melanin.

A mineral found in sunscreen that prevents ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB rays) from entering the skin and doing damage.





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