Walk down the skincare aisles of any drugstore or department store and you’re bound to feel a little overwhelmed. With so many products promising so many things, it’s hard to know what’s really behind all of that pretty packaging. Brands might promise everything from healthy skin to smaller pores to fewer wrinkles, but looks can definitely be deceiving.
Instead of relying on claims, packaging, or trends, the best way to weed out the duds from the must-haves is by getting to know your ingredients. When you understand what really goes into a great skincare product, you can zero in on those that actually deliver on their promises. Whether you want younger-looking skin, you’re battling discoloration, or you simply want healthier skin overall, always read the ingredients list. Below is a list of some of the power players you should be looking for.
1. Hyaluronic Acid (The Replenisher)
Your skin loses moisture throughout the day, and even if you drink enough water and use moisturizer, it might not be enough to replenish what you’ve lost. Hyaluronic acid is a unique ingredient because it actually draws moisture into your skin and helps it penetrate deep into the epidermal layer. Hyaluronic should be one of the first steps in your skincare routine since the hydration can help your other products work more effectively and keep you moisturized all day. Look for a hyaluronic acid that is clean and pure; the fewer ingredients, the better.
2. Collagen (The Rebounder)
That bouncy, glowy, healthy skin of your youth? That was thanks to your body’s natural production of collagen. Collagen is essentially the protein that acts as the foundation for your skin. As you age, your body’s collagen production drops, which is why you can experience sagging or hollowing (and those annoying sleep lines that take all morning to smooth out). Adding collagen to your self-care routine helps your body build up its foundation again. One of the best ways to supplement with collagen isn’t through a topical product, but a consumable one. Beauty-focused collagen powders and capsules help your body absorb more of the protein and see better benefits (don’t be surprised if you see shinier hair and longer nails in the process!).
3. Retinoids (The Restorer)
Even if you’re diligent with your skincare, daily damage happens. Pollution, sun, age, dryness–they’re all inevitable and they all contribute to skin that feels dull and doesn’t bounce back like it used to. Retinoids are your secret weapon in the fight against free radicals and daily damage. They work by speeding up cell turnover and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Be careful: typical retinoids, like retinol, can cause redness and flaking. Start by choosing a lower concentration and using your retinoid cream every other day. You can increase the concentration and frequency as your skin gets used to your new restoration routine. Or find a formula specifically designed to hydrate as it works, which makes it much easier on skin.
4. Vitamin C (The Resurfacer)
Age spots and dullness can get worse over time, so every good skincare routine should include a vitamin C formula. Vitamin C and its relatives (like ethyl-vitamin C) are powerhouse fruit acids that are super gentle on skin. These formulas help address signs of sun exposure and environmental damage, like dark spots, dullness, and fine lines. Look for a lower concentration of about 10% and you can increase to 15 or 20% as your skin adapts. Or find a formula designed with skin-comforting in mind, like VitaCorrect™. You’ll unveil glowing skin without the irritation.
5. Titanium Oxide (The Protector)
Plenty of products promise to undo the signs of aging, but one can help prevent it completely: sunscreen. Most sunscreens contain some type of titanium oxide or zinc oxide, but they both function by adding a protective layer between your skin and harmful UVA/UVB rays. And because the sun is often responsible for visible signs of damage, like spots, fine lines, and dullness, sunscreen is a must-have in your daily routine. We know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so stop thinking of sunscreen as something to bring to the beach and give it a permanent place on your vanity.