Here's a look at some of each, starting with cleansers.
Not-so-smart cleansers are those containing sodium laurel sulfate.
The ingredient is known to aggravate eczema and cause other reactions.
It has been implicated as a problem ingredient in a study concerning cancer tumors.
Sulfur-based cleansers are smarter options, especially for people with acne, eczema or other chronic skin conditions.
Sulfur can have a strong smell, but it is possible for companies to make a more pleasant smelling product.
Sulfur is smarter, because the pH balance is similar to the skin's own acid mantle.
Some companies use ingredients called TEA, MEA and DEA to balance pH levels.
That's not the smartest choice.
Those ingredients are known to have cancer-causing activity.
Their inclusion in cosmetics has been restricted by the European Union for several years.
The US has no such restrictions.
The inclusion of sunscreens in cleansers is just plain dumb.
The compounds may add to the price, but they provide no benefit at all.
How could they? We rinse them off.
Sunscreens can only protect against sunburn if applied and reapplied as directed.
Sunscreen might not be a smart skincare option.
That all depends on how heavily you rely on them and which compounds you choose.
Studies have shown an increased incidence of malignant melanoma among regular sunscreen users.
But, scientists are not sure why.
A broad spectrum sun block like zinc oxide is a good choice for days at the beach or sitting around the pool.
Zinc oxide creams are thick and white.
They don't fade away, which is a good thing.
The ingredients that penetrate have affects that could be carcinogenic.
A really smart skincare option is the regular use of creams containing nano-particles of coenzyme Q10.
COQ10 particles can reverse damage done by the sun or exposure to toxins.
The damage is referred to as free radical damage.
COQ10 is a potent antioxidant, naturally present in the skin.
But, the skin's content is quickly depleted during sun exposure.
That's what gave scientists the idea of applying it directly.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.
Some, like coenzyme Q10, can repair damage that has already occurred.
Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Vitamin E can be a smart skincare ingredient, but only if it is the naturally occurring version.
Most companies choose to use synthetic vitamin E.
The benefits of synthetics (which are really nothing more than plastic vitamins) are unknown.
Another thing that makes natural vitamin E a good choice has to do with preserving the other ingredients.
Natural vitamin E in specific concentrations is known to be an effective preservative.
Synthetic vitamin E is probably not.
If a company chooses to include natural vitamin E, they won't have to use artificial preservatives.
Artificial preservatives are the most common cause of allergic and adverse reactions.
Companies choose to use them, because they are cheap.
There are many other smart skincare options and lots of not-so-smart ones.
Why not take the time to learn more about them?