The gold standard ingredient is well-known for fighting acne, exfoliating the skin, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The only downside are the side effects, which can sometimes include dry, flaky skin, irritation, and redness. These symptoms can show up any time you use retinol, but they’re most likely to appear when your skin is first getting acclimated to it.
Thankfully, Biossance, a squalane-powered clean beauty brand, has heard our cries and made a product that gives you all the goodness of a traditional retinol — without the hellish side effects.
Believe it or not, this is a retinol product that’s safe to use for all skin types (yes, including sensitive. However, you should always check in with a trusted derm before adding any new products to your regimen.)
The magic is all in the formula, which uses a gentle, yet powerful, time-release retinol and retinal combo to ensure maximum results that won’t burn your face off. These ingredients are paired with sugarcane-derived squalane to help provide moisture in order to curb dryness and irritation, as well as saffron and rosemary that work to hydrate and boost radiance. Rice bran extract rounds out the formula with vitamin E for antioxidant protection.
Together, you’ll be left with smooth, bright, and gorgeously glowing skin — minus the typical retinol uglies.
If you’re new to the game, the brand recommends starting off by using the product every other night, then working your way up to nightly use. And you never, ever want to use this during the day, as retinols can increase sensitivity to the sun.
To use, pump out a pea-size amount, and apply to freshly washed and dried skin before bed. Follow up with any necessary serums, and of course a moisturizer. When you wake up, expect bright, gorgeous skin — just don’t forget to apply at least SPF 40 before heading out the door.
From slugging to squalane, we love a skin care trend that actually delivers. That’s one reason why we’ve turned our attention to fermented skin care products. If you have images of sauerkraut- and kimchi-infused serums dancing through your mind, these products aren’t quite so literal—but they do rely on the same process that blesses us with those tasty fermented foods. So, we set out to learn more about the fermentation process behind these products, what sets them apart from other treatments on the market, and whether they’re worth a try if you’re thinking about shaking up your skin care routine.
What is fermented skin care, anyway?
Lately, you’ll see skin care products with all sorts of fermented ingredients on the label, including soy, kelp, rice water, various botanicals, and even active ingredients we know and love like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and more.
When it comes to making fermented skin care ingredients, we have good old bacteria to thank, board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, tells SELF. Essentially, fermented ingredients have been exposed to microorganisms. These beneficial bugs break down the ingredients into smaller molecules, Dr. Garshick explains. The smaller the molecule size is, the easier it is for an ingredient to penetrate the skin more deeply, she says.
It’s not far off from what happens when yeast is added to grapes to produce wine, board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, tells SELF. Using fermentation in skin care may also help “enhance [the] potency” of certain ingredients, she says, which, in theory, should lead to better results.
What are the benefits of using products with fermented ingredients?
It all comes back to that smaller molecule size, Dr. Garshick says. She explains that your skin barrier is protective by design, so ingredients that can be absorbed more easily stand a better chance of having substantial effects. For example, hyaluronic acid—a beloved humectant that helps draw water to the surface of the skin—is a fairly large molecule, which makes it harder for the skin to absorb. When hyaluronic acid is fermented, it can sink deeper into the skin and work its hydrating magic more thoroughly, Dr. Garshick says. In other words, it’s possible that fermenting ingredients that we already know to be helpful in addressing common concerns like dryness, acne, dullness, and fine lines, may increase their capacity to deliver the results you want. On the flipside, because products containing fermented ingredients tend to be more potent, they could potentially cause a reaction in sensitive skin (similar to chemical exfoliants), so they should be used with some caution. If they’re more potent, they could be more irritating.
Despite its promise (and derms’ interest in it) as a trend, fermented skin care is a fairly new concept, so there isn’t a ton of specific research on it at the moment. That makes the full breadth of its effects (and possible benefits) a bit murky. Dr. Garschick points to a couple of small studies (one on animals and one on humans) that suggest certain fermented ingredients, including red ginseng and a barley and soybean formula, showed some potential in boosting skin hydration and fighting signs of aging, but they’re far from conclusive. Larger studies on diverse groups of people need to be done to better understand the possibilities of these ingredients. Ultimately, Dr. Garshick says we still have more to learn about this trend (and the skin’s microbiome in general).
This is a valuable reminder to take claims around any emerging beauty trend with a grain of salt. As Dr. Shirazi puts it: “There are potential benefits, but there’s not a lot of research on their effectiveness. So I don’t consider it the holy grail of skin care just yet.”
Who should try fermented skin care products?
“While further research is needed, fermented ingredients are thought to be safe, so if someone is interested, it is reasonable to try,” Dr. Garshick says. Just make sure to note the ingredients before you apply them and avoid any known irritants; a patch test is never a bad idea, especially if you’re trying a product that has multiple active ingredients in it. Apply a dime-size amount of the product on the inside of your elbow or on your neck and check on it a day later. If you don’t see any irritation or feel itchy, you’re probably good to go.
Now that you’re a bit more familiar with fermentation skin care, here are some standout products that employ the process to potentially boost the effects of hydration, exfoliation, brightening, and more.
Ferver Fermented Enzyme Radiance Face Mask
Dr. Garshick recommends using this fermented enzyme mask from buzzy brand Ferver once a week, explaining that it exfoliates the skin without being too harsh, leaving it softer and brighter. “It also delivers antioxidant benefits as it contains red algae and helps to reduce inflammation through turmeric,” she says.
Layers Probiotic Serum
“This serum uses lactic acid to gently exfoliate in combination with meadowfoam oil, which helps to lock in moisture,” Dr. Garshick says. Made with the probiotic ingredient lactobacillus ferment, it aims to support and strengthen the skin barrier while promoting an overall glowy appearance.
Sunday Riley Pink Drink Skin Firming Resurfacing Essence Face Mist
Sunday Riley, a cult-fave brand around here, reaps the benefits of fermentation in this delightfully pink treatment essence. Dr. Garshick explains that it contains a potent combination of peptides (chains of amino acids that provide the building blocks for collagen), fermented honey, pink yeast filtrate, and kelp, which work in tandem to soothe, moisturize, and restore skin. “It is also rich in antioxidants to protect against free radical damage,” she says.
Nourishing yet lightweight, this moisturizer “uses prebiotic beta-glucan to attract water and boost moisture, as well as the postbiotic lactococcus ferment lysate to help stimulate cell renewal,” Dr. Garshick says, referring to those beneficial bugs we mentioned earlier. She explains that prebiotic and postbiotic ingredients, when used topically, may help maintain a healthy skin barrier and reduce inflammation.
The experts we spoke to recommended this Vichy serum that contains niacinamide “to help calm inflammation and regulate oil production,” Dr. Shirazi says. Not only does this ingredient offer a host of benefits for people concerned about fine lines and dullness, but it’s also useful for those with acne-prone skin. In other words, it’s a great entry point into the world of fermented skin care, regardless of your skin type.
Andalou Naturals Deep Hydration Multi Correcting Cream
The vegan collagen in this face cream is made via plant-based fermentation, while the hyaluronic acid is made with wheat and plant fermentation. “Together, these ingredients help to boost hydration while plumping the skin,” Dr. Garshick says. Plus, the cream is intensely moisturizing without feeling remotely heavy or greasy.
Venn Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum
The main ingredients in this vegan, top-rated face oil from K-beauty brand Venn are fermented root extracts that increase the skin’s radiance while retaining moisture for as long as 24 hours after applying.
Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence
This brightening essence from Korean skin care brand Neogen is known to appear in beauty experts’ skin care routines for its ultra-lightweight consistency, which makes it a breeze to apply. It contains several fermented ingredients, including bifida ferment lysate and saccharomyces ferment filtrate, which can moisturize the skin and make it appear more supple. And, for those who want to avoid possible irritants, this product is fragrance-free.
Ferver Fermented Ginseng Eye Cream
Another option from Ferver, this eye cream can help thwart fatigued skin and dark circles. It soothes, brightens, and de-puffs the delicate skin around your eyes with the help of fermented ginseng, as well as our go-to brightening active ingredient vitamin C.
Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray
Drunk Elephant’s refreshing, antioxidant-rich facial spray has a foundation of fermented ingredients (including kombucha and fermented rice water) that create a veritable cocktail of benefits: “This product incorporates amino acids, fatty acids, electrolytes, and ceramides, which work to hydrate and refresh the skin, while helping to support a healthy microbiome,” Dr. Garshick says.
If you’ve seen beauty enthusiasts on social media carefully gliding small razors across their faces, you may have wondered what the heck dermaplaning is, what it can do for your face, and whether it’s actually safe to try at home.
Yes, the skin-care trend might look like an easy DIY treatment for exfoliating skin or getting rid of peach fuzz, but many experts say you should avoid trying this one at home in most cases. Plus, dermaplaning is not recommended for all skin types or for people with certain skin conditions.
Below, dermatologists explain what you should know about dermaplaning, including the risks, the benefits, how often you should dermaplane, and how much the treatment can cost (which may affect how often you can have dermaplaning done).
What is dermaplaning, exactly?
Facial dermaplaning is a cosmetic procedure that involves gently scraping your face with a scalpel to remove the epidermis—your top layer of skin—and small hairs, Jenny Kim, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology, medicine, and nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, tells SELF. Traditionally, people have the procedure done in a dermatologist’s office; however, you can find blades at the drugstore marketed for at-home use, like this Schick Hydro Silk tool ($6, Amazon), or you can splurge on a sonic device like Dermaflash Luxe+ ($200, Dermaflash) for an at-home experience closer to the dermatologist’s office. That said, it’s safer for a professional to perform the treatment in most cases. (More on this below.)
During a dermaplaning session performed by an expert, a dermatologist (or licensed esthetician in practice with a dermatologist) uses a medical-grade scalpel to scrape across the surface of the skin. The treatment typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes, and the dermaplaning cost can be anywhere from $40 to more than $150, depending on where you live and where you go (it will be more expensive to get a treatment from a board-certified dermatologist because they have more training).
Is dermaplaning the same as shaving?
Not exactly. Facial dermaplaning does involve shaving off layers of skin—primarily just that upper epidermis, the very top layer, Desmond Shipp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. That exfoliating effect is why dermaplaning is often done in combination with facials (in what’s known as a “dermaplaning facial”), he adds.
With an in-office dermaplaning procedure, dermatologists typically use a no. 10 scalpel blade or an electric-razor-like device called a dermatome, according to Dr. Shipp, whereas shaving entails a straight razor blade or a three- to five-blade razor. Another key distinction: Shaving is meant for hair removal, not exfoliation—it only cuts hair at the skin level, and should not remove any layers of skin.
One more difference with dermaplaning is that the scalpel or dermatome also allows for a smoother, closer removal of those tiny, fine facial hairs known as peach fuzz, since the blades aren’t guarded like a body-hair razor is.
What are the benefits of dermaplaning?
It can remove peach fuzz.
The main reason people do it is to remove the vellus hairs on their faces, which, again, some people refer to as peach fuzz. Everyone has these fine vellus hairs coating their bodies, and they serve a purpose: Vellus hairs keep us warm and add another layer of protection to the skin. But some people’s vellus hairs are thicker and/or darker (so more visible) than others, and depending on how they feel about that, they might want to have them removed. Removing peach fuzz with dermaplaning also “allows makeup to go on much smoother, and can make skin look and feel more rejuvenated,” Dr. Shipp says. (In other words, your baby-smooth face will likely glow.)
Of course, dermaplaning is just one way to do that. There are many at-home hair removal kits that may get the job done. However, board-certified dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton, MD, tells SELF that typical hair-removal methods like waxing and threading don’t always provide the results people are looking for (especially in terms of exfoliating and removing finer hairs), which makes dermaplaning an appealing option.
You may have heard that shaving hair on your face makes hair grow back thicker—that’s technically not true. But it may look thicker or darker, since shaving can cause hairs to have a blunter tip as they grow out, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, Dr. Shipp asserts that the hair doesn’t typically grow back thicker or darker following an in-office dermaplaning session that was done with a precise scalpel.
People might also try laser hair removal for longer-lasting results, Jeanine Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey, tells SELF. But note that your hair can still grow back with this method, it takes several sessions to see changes, the cost per session ranges from $300 to $400, and people with darker skin are generally more prone to hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and burning after laser hair removal compared to people with lighter skin.
And it can also help exfoliate your skin.
While the biggest reason Dr. Ingelton does dermaplaning at her office is to remove vellus hairs, she says that the blade also gets rid of a superficial layer of dead skin called the stratum corneum. This can make your skin look brighter, help your skin-care products sink in better, and help your foundation go on smoother. In Dr. Ingleton’s practice, dermaplaning is often an add-on done before other treatments like microdermabrasion or lasers like Fraxel in order to get a jump-start and exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells before these exfoliating procedures.
When it comes to exfoliating, there are no studies showing how dermaplaning compares to other treatments like retinoids or chemical peels, says Dr. Kim. That’s one reason why Dr. Downie prefers to use peels over dermaplaning—even for sensitive skin—and doesn’t offer dermaplaning in her practice. “Peels help to improve texture, tone, acne, and fine lines,” she says. “They are not equivalent at all, and many peels give deeper exfoliation than a scalpel.”
What are the cons of dermaplaning?
While it might feel like getting rid of these hairs is easy to do at home with an inexpensive blade, most professionals warn against it if you have the option of seeing a dermatologist for the treatment. Any blade you get over-the-counter won’t be as sharp—or as effective—as the medical-grade scalpel used at a doctor’s office. And there’s always a chance that you’ll cut yourself in the process of dermaplaning your own skin (since you’re not trained to perform the procedure), potentially causing scarring.
Anytime a sharp object goes near your face, there is a risk of damage to the skin. “The main risk is cutting the skin, which can lead to infection, scarring, and dyspigmentation,” Anthony Rossi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tells SELF. It’s easy for skin to get infected from bacteria if you don’t properly clean it (or if the tool you’re using isn’t clean) beforehand—and if there’s an active infection in one area of your skin, you can end up spreading that to other areas of your face as you dermaplane, adds Dr. Rossi.
Dr. Downie also says that she’s seen people with scarring after a session of dermaplaning gone wrong. Although some medical spas offer dermaplaning, she recommends seeing a professional board-certified dermatologist for this kind of procedure. Board certification is an extra step that shows a physician completed advanced training in their specialty. (You can find a board-certified specialist by visiting the American Academy of Dermatology website.)
Dermatologists can assess the full picture of your skin’s health and make sure dermaplaning is right for you, says Dr. Rossi. Also, dermatologists may be in partnership with trained aestheticians who offer dermaplaning, and if you’re going to see an aesthetician for this treatment, it’s best to see someone who’s in practice with a dermatologist.
How often should you do a dermaplaning session?
In order to keep the hair away, you might have to get treated about once a month. (Of course, the exact timeline will look different for each person.) Dr. Kim says this is not a treatment you should do too frequently. Your epidermis helps protect you from allergens and other potential irritants in the outside world—dermaplaning too often may irritate or damage that top layer of protection, she says. Again, this is why it’s best to consult with a physician who can help you decide on the appropriate frequency for your skin and needs.
How to take care of your skin before and after a dermaplaning session
For the best exfoliation results, it’s smart to prep your skin by steaming your face—either as part of your in-office treatment or with an at-home steaming method, like hopping in a hot shower—before a dermaplaning session. “The heat will loosen dirt and sebum and help to remove the dead skin cells easier. It also makes the skin more pliable, softer, and the vellus hairs easier to remove,” says Dr. Rossi.
Rehydrating your skin post-dermaplaning is just as important in order to protect the epidermal barrier you’re exfoliating, Dr. Rossi adds. Since you’re removing that layer of dead skin cells and stripping the skin of that outer protective barrier, you’ll want to wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and then apply a rich moisturizer (think hydrating, skin barrier-protecting ingredients like hyaluronic acid and strengthening ceramides).
You’ll want to keep up the moisturizing for a couple of weeks too. Since the skin cells in the epidermis take about 14 days to turn over (or up to 40 to 50 days as you age) and create a new outer layer of skin, it’s important to moisturize your face to replenish the barrier of the skin that was just removed, Dr. Rossi explains.
After a dermaplaning treatment, you should also stay out of the sun as much as possible until your skin barrier restores and you stop seeing redness, tenderness, or swelling. “You have to coat your skin with sunscreen afterward because you’re going to be more sensitive to the sun,” says Dr. Downie. The exfoliation exposes a new layer of skin that isn’t typically exposed to sunlight, so it can more easily cause U.V. damage. “You also have to be cautious of retinol and glycolic acids,” adds Dr. Downie, for that same reason.
Dermatologists recommend that people with sensitive skin use a light moisturizer like Vanicream ($36, Amazon) because it doesn’t contain fragrances or other irritants, which may inflame your already-sensitive skin.
When should you avoid dermaplaning?
There are a few instances where you should think twice before signing up for a dermaplaning facial or other dermaplaning treatment. For one, you’ll want to avoid dermaplaning if you’re experiencing an active acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema flare-up, since the treatment could cause further irritation and excessive skin peeling, says Dr. Rossi. There’s also a chance that the blade could nick a pimple, adds Dr. Downie, which means it would take longer to heal.
Also, tell your dermatologist if you have a history of cold sores. “If you have a breakout of cold sores, you need to be on an anti-viral medication like Valtrex, and the physician needs to avoid the area,” says Dr. Downie. Without the use of a preventive oral anti-herpes medication, the cold sores can spread due to microtears in the skin.
The bottom line: Consulting with a dermatologist will help ensure the safest possible dermaplaning experience—and the best, most glowing results.
Famed for its ability to brighten and refine skin texture and tone – as well as reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, breakouts and blemishes – glycolic acid is a routine essential, and with good reason. That said, as an active ingredient, a little bit of homework before you introduce it into your regime is a must. Here’s what you need to know.
What is glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that belongs to a family of acids known as alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs – a term you’ve probably heard being bandied about in skincare circles. Widely used and derived from sugar cane, other AHAs include lactic, citric and mandelic acids.
What is glycolic acid used for?
Glycolic acid works as an exfoliator by loosening the glue that holds dead cells to the skin’s outer surface, the stratum corneum, helping to reveal the younger, fresher cells underneath. “Exfoliation should be a regular part of your skincare routine,” advises consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. “It gives an instant improvement to the appearance of skin by removing the dull, dry layer of upper skin cells. Superficial exfoliation will not only make the texture of the skin look better, but will also improve age spots and uneven skin tone, as well as allowing better penetration of your serum or moisturiser.” Possessing the smallest size molecules of all the AHAs means that glycolic acid is easily able to penetrate into the skin, so it’s a hugely effective way to improve cellular turnover. Thanks to its ability to penetrate the dermis – the layer of skin beneath the epidermis where collagen is secreted by fibroblast cells – it helps promote collagen synthesis too.
Is glycolic acid suitable for all skin types?
Glycolic acid is effective when used on normal, combination and oily skin, but sensitive skins should be wary of diving straight in, as it can cause irritation. Just as you’d use retinol sparingly to start with, exercise caution when it comes to trying glycolic for the first time. “Start with a low concentration once per week and gradually build up frequency, then build up concentration slowly depending on skin needs and tolerability,” advises consultant dermatologist Dr Zainab Laftah at HCA The Shard.
Seasonality can also impact how well it’s tolerated. “As [glycolic acid] is effectively stripping away the upper layers of skin cells it can make your skin more sensitive to sunshine; using sunscreen is therefore essential,” warns Dr Mahto. Happily, for those trying to navigate the confusing world of pregnancy-safe skincare, glycolic acid (in low concentrations) is on the accepted list of ingredients to use – particularly welcome news if you’re experiencing hormonal dullness or breakouts. If you do find yourself unable to tolerate it, all is not lost: “Lactic acid is a mild gentle chemical exfoliant and a good alternative for those who are unable to tolerate glycolic acid, or have a history of sensitive or dry skin types,” notes Dr Laftah.
What’s the best form of glycolic acid to use?
If you’re new to this AHA, an easy way to incorporate it into your routine is through a cleanser, which won’t come into contact with skin for too long and is quickly washed off. It’s also a good litmus test for sensitivity as glycolic acid is immediately neutralised on contact with water. Once you’ve acclimatised you can move on to leave-on formulations including toners, serums and moisturisers, where concentration will be a little higher. “The ideal concentration used at home is between 8 to 15%,” advises Dr Laftah.
While products like cleansers and toners that contain small amounts can be used daily, most people find once or twice week is sufficient when using anything stronger. Higher concentrations of glycolic acid will naturally yield more intensive results and offer an instant skin glow, but these should only be used by professionals. “Glycolic acid can also be used as a medical-grade chemical peel, only available in clinic, in higher concentrations of 30-70%,” adds Dr Mahto. “It should ideally be started at low concentrations and built up to avoid skin irritation, particularly in pigmented skin.” As well as the concentration, pay attention to the pH of your chosen product; those formulated with a higher pH are done so in order to weaken the acid’s strength, and therefore minimise potential irritation to the skin. If the pH of your product sits between three and four then it is guaranteed that the strength of glycolic is as it is stated on the bottle.
Are there any ingredients you should avoid while using glycolic acid?
Although it can be used seamlessly with other AHAs and BHAs, including pore-refining salicylic acid, there are some standout skincare ingredients that should be avoided while you use glycolic. “Due to the increased risk of skin dryness and inflammation glycolic acid and retinoids should not be used simultaneously,” warns Dr Laftah. If you’re desperate to reap the skin-boosting benefits of both, start using one and work up to tolerance gradually. Once you’ve established that, introduce the other slowly and only use them on alternate days. The two used together at the same time is a recipe for serious irritation, no matter how robust you think your skin is.
Can glycolic acid harm the skin?
Although it’s a gentle exfoliant, as with anything active, overuse can cause damage, particularly to the skin barrier, the skin’s first line of defence against harmful pollutants and pathogens. In the winter months particularly, the skin barrier is often compromised by colder temperatures and fluctuating central heating anyway, so caution against being too overzealous with your glycolic, especially if trying it for the first time. If you have overdone it, you’re likely to experience dryness, flakiness, redness and irritation. “The good news is [that] this is reversible,” says Dr Laftah. “By stopping the chemical exfoliant, hydrating the skin and treating any active inflammation, the skin barrier can be restored.”
How to choose a skincare product? For most of us, it begins with trust. Do we believe in the efficacy of the skincare products (and brands) we’re thinking of investing our hard-earned money in? This goes some way towards explaining why doctor-founded skincare brands are having a moment. Given we’ve spent the majority of a year estranged from our facialists and dermatologists, it’s hardly surprising that we’ve sought the same kind of professional expertise and results from our skincare routines.
Online e-tailers like Space NK have continued to see growth in the entire skincare category over the last few months, with high-tech skincare, like doctor brands, leading the way. “We saw customers looking for more high tech solutions when clinics closed,” Suze College, head buyer at Space NK, tells British Vogue. “Investment in at-home tools is one area which continues to trend with our customers, with products like Dr Dennis Gross’s Spectralite Facewear Pro for at-home LED being a popular choice.” Searches for Dr Dennis Gross and Dr Sebagh are up 96 per cent and 60 per cent respectively on the site, while Augustinus Bader is up a huge 1,060 per cent.
Dr Barbara Sturm, whose skincare range is beloved by celebrities and beauty editors alike, says there is a strong argument for putting your money into a doctor-led brand. “Healthy skin and good skincare is all about science,” she says. “It therefore makes sense to buy skincare from a doctor, as the products are [reliably] focused on efficacy and ingredient science.” She started her own brand to cater to her patients’ post-treatment skincare needs, and to ensure they were following an effective regime to enhance in-clinic results.
Of course, they aren’t all made equal. “Doctor-led brands aren’t automatically infused with magic,” she says. “The only thing that sustains a brand is proven results.” With that in mind, British Vogue takes a closer look at 10 of the best doctor-led skincare brands that guarantee good skin results.
Dr Barbara Sturm
With an onus on combatting inflammation in the skin, Dr Sturm’s skincare line is built to heal and foster good skin health. What to pick from the line? The new The Good C Vitamin C Serum comes Hailey Bieber-approved, and you can’t go wrong with the Hyaluronic Acid Serum, either.
Harnessing the power of a patented molecule called TFC8 (or Trigger Factor Complex), and Professor Augustinus Bader’s (world-leading) expertise in stem cell research, this is a high-tech skincare line if ever we saw one. The formulas, which essentially prompt skin cells to work hard in repair and restore mode, are fast becoming cult. Try The Cream (or its Rich counterpart), to see what all the fuss is about.
Dr Harold Lancer is a Los Angeles-based dermatologist whose clientele is suitably starry – from Victoria Beckham to Jennifer Lopez, he is responsible for many a luminous visage. His eponymous skincare line includes The Method, a three-step system comprising the Cleanser, Polish, and Nourish, a moisturiser, to help encourage cell renewal for the smoothest skin going.
Dr Dennis Gross
If it’s smooth, glowing skin you’re after, there is a Dr Dennis Gross skincare product to help you make it happen. Opt for the Ferulic + Retinol range if you’re concerned about fine lines or lacklustre skin; the Hyaluronic range for deep hydration; and the C+ Collagen range for brightening. Oh, and you’d be silly not to try the Alpha Beta Universal Peel Pads, which he has rightly become famous for.
Founded by Harley Street cosmetic surgeon, Dr Yannis Alexandrides, 111 Skin was originally launched to offer his patients the right formulas to help their skin heal after treatments. Now it’s a line – loved by everyone from Margot Robbie to Priyanka Chopra – that offers unbeatable sheet masks (we love the Sub-Zero Depuffing Face Masks), as well as the latest Y Theorem Concentrate, a seven-day treatment programme designed to repair the skin barrier and alleviate stress.
Ocuplastic surgeon and aesthetic doctor, Dr Maryam Zamani’s, skincare line is as chic as they come – check out that blush and gold packaging. It’s also highly effective, and caters to every skin concern, from pigmentation to dullness and dehydration. The emphasis is on a glow – something Dr Zamani herself always emanates – try the Rest & Revive serum for the ultimate overnight treatment, and expect your skin to be radiant by the time your alarm goes off.
The rich and famous love the discreet Dr Sebagh for his injectable tweakments – and his skincare line is also as youth-giving. The whole line is high-performance and filled with active ingredients. Standouts include the Deep Exfoliating Mask, which contains lactic and azelaic acid for fresh, even-toned skin, and the Supreme Maintenance Serum for overall good skin health.
Founded by dermatologist, professor and skincare chemist Dr Sheldon Pinnell in 1997, SkinCeuticals is a staple in many efficacious skincare routines thanks to its medical approach to high-end skincare. Its topical antioxidants, whether CE Ferulic or the newest launch, Silymarin CF, become instant essentials for anyone who tries them.
Skin cycling is the latest beauty trend to take over TikTok. With a cool 3.5 billion views on the hashtag, the skin cycling trend is far from being a weird and wacky method (as is often the case on the Gen-Z-led platform). In fact, it actually has legs according to a number of skin experts and dermatologists. But what is it, exactly?
“The concept of skin cycling applies to a nighttime skincare routine, which involves using active ingredients only on certain days, and following them with ‘rest’ days,” explains Dr. Alexis Granite. “A four-day cycle is the most popular, which typically comprises using active ingredients for two nights of the week, followed by two nights of rest—and repeating.”
The idea is that adopting a skin cycling routine can help prevent the skin barrier from being compromised due to overuse of active ingredients—plus, it’s a great way to create a consistent and effective routine that helps the skin work optimally. The New York-based dermatologist behind the concept is Dr. Whitney Bowe, who shared her vision for the ultimate skin cycling routine on TikTok.
Night One: Exfoliation
“You want to cleanse [the skin], pat dry, then put on an exfoliating product,” explains Dr. Bowe, who recommends using a leave-on product over something that’s wash-off, like a cleanser. Seek out chemical exfoliators, which contain ingredients like AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs, instead of physical scrubs because they’re better for the skin barrier and more effective.
Night Two: Retinoid
On day two, apply a retinoid after cleansing. If you’re new to retinoids and skin cycling in general, begin by applying a hydrating cream to the sensitive areas of the face—under the eyes, around the corners of the nose, and on the marionette lines—to act as a buffer and prevent dryness and irritation. Then, apply your retinoid over the whole face, down the neck, and across the décolletage.
Nights Three and Four: Repair and Recovery
It’s time to look after the skin barrier and ensure the skin is adequately hydrated. Dr. Bowe recommends cleansing, leaving the skin damp, and then applying a serum that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and/or niacinamide. Follow with a moisturizer: “Choose a formula that’s really nourishing which will support the skin barrier,” says Dr. Bowe. “If the skin is really dry, apply rosehip or squalane oil onto the cheeks.”
A dermatologist even called it “filler in a bottle”.
If you’re on the quest to turn back the hands of time, this buzzy new launch from Murad may be just the miracle you’ve been looking for.
After seeing the 32-year-old brand’s Targeted Wrinkle Corrector all over TikTok, editors decided to dive a little deeper and reach out to experts about the latest line-smoothing miracle worker that, according to an official release from the brand, promises to erase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles “instantly” — and they didn’t mince words.
“I would call this filler in a bottle,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sheila Farhang tells PEOPLE. “It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid, which is what most filler products are made of, and when you apply this to the skin, it creates an anti-aging benefit by its ability to pull in water and plump fine lines.”
“This product is also formulated with peptides, which are proteins that contribute to the elasticity, or the ‘bounce back’ of the skin,” she says.
Buy It! Murad Targeted Wrinkle Corrector, $78; murad.com
Seconds Cassandra Bankson, skincare expert and medical aesthetician, “This is one of the best over-the-counter products you can get when it comes to combating fine lines and wrinkles. I see many clients who aren’t ready or interested in Botox or fillers, but are still looking to combat forehead wrinkles and fine lines. Skin care won’t give you the same results as injectables, [but] this one packs a punch.”
It does so thanks in part to plant-derived squalane, “which is phenomenal for skin barrier support and moisturization, so your skin is going to look noticeably better with each use,” Bankson adds.
We then turned to the pages (and pages) of rave Murad reviews praising the powerful peptide-meets-hyaluronic treatment.
One satisfied shopper said they saw “a noticeable difference right away,” while another reviewer said, “It worked so well for me [that] I immediately bought another tube in case it sold out. I am an older woman with significant frown lines, and those lines were immediately minimized after I applied the serum.”
Here’s how to use it: Tap a small amount of the cream on clean, dry skin (don’t rub) and watch it fill your wrinkles immediately — even stubborn, deep-set lines — flooding the vacant space with hydration and leaving behind smooth, plump, younger-looking skin. It’s ideal for anyone with glabella lines (more commonly referred to as “elevens”) around the forehead, as well as those with concerns around the eyes and lips.
Shop this anti-aging secret weapon at Murad for $78 and put your best face forward.
“Squalane — which is the vegan version of squalene — has wonderful hydrating properties and maintains our skin’s own moisture barrier,” triple board-certified dermatologist and Terasana Clinical‘s Skintellectual Dr. Mamina Turegano shares with InStyle. “Our skin naturally produces squalene (with an “e”), but production decreases as we age.“
Fortunately, squalane (with an “a”) absorbs well into the skin and helps to replenish lipids with no side effects. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and microbiome-nourishing properties, according to Dr. Turegano.
What Are the Main Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?
Ever been out all day in the summer, on a blazing hot day, then come back home and thanked God you stored a few water bottles in the fridge the night before so you can feel alive again? Think of hyaluronic acid as that same type of water storage — but for your skin.
“Hyaluronic acid is important for moisturizing and maintaining elasticity in the skin,” explains Dr. Turegano. “Our skin also naturally has hyaluronic acid. It serves as a humectant, meaning that it pulls in water or moisture in skin cells, which allows the skin to feel more hydrated and ‘plump.’ This not only gives your skin moisture and glow, but it can also diminish fine lines in the skin.”
Why Should I Pair These Two Ingredients Together?
Simple: the two work together as a team to help draw in moisture, then lock it in.
“While hyaluronic acid pulls in water to hydrate the cells, the squalane serves more to build the moisture barrier and keep the hydration in the skin, as opposed to evaporating,” Dr. Turegano shares. “I recommend using a hyaluronic acid serum, then layering the squalane on top of that.”
What Type of Skin Ailments Can Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane Relieve?
Pretty much anything that has to do with, or stems from, dryness. Dr. Turegano adds that squalane itself can help to soothe sunburns, treat acne (because of its anti-inflammatory properties), and can even be used for dry cuticles and nails. Hyaluronic acid, on the other hand, can help with wound healing.
Both ingredients can also be used to hydrate dry hair.
Which Skin Types Are These Ingredients Most Beneficial For?
Any and everyone who can get their hands on them, pretty much.
“Even acne-prone, oily, or sensitive skin would benefit from squalane and hyaluronic acid,” the derm shares, adding that it’s also helpful for anti-aging. “There are serums that make higher concentrations of hyaluronic acid that would be more helpful with advancing age to help replenish the natural hyaluronic acid that we naturally lose with age and to help diminish the appearance of fine.”
Is There a Catch?
Nope! It’s really not too good to be true — unless you’re just not a fan of oils in the case of squalane. But luckily, you’ll still have options.
“There are still plenty of creams, lotions, or gel-based moisturizers that incorporate squalene into the product,” says Dr. Turegano. “But not all squalane is also created equal. I would look for squalane derived from sugar cane — as opposed to olives or sharks — since it is more consistent in quality and is more sustainable. With hyaluronic acid, I do recommend adding a separate occlusive moisturizer layer over the hyaluronic acid product, which allows it to keep the moisture in place. This is more important for those with dry skin.”
Another plus? Both of these ingredients are non-irritating, even if you have sensitive skin.
Among the many skin-care ingredients on the shelves, few have attained the hero status of retinoids. That’s the umbrella term for all forms of vitamin A, which include prescription-strength tretinoin along with over-the-counter derivatives. The very word retinol stirs a certain reverence, given its proven efficacy in minimizing wrinkles, speeding cell turnover, and clearing up acne—and that’s despite a well-known drawback. “Retinoids are very irritating to the skin,” says New Jersey dermatologist Naana Boayke, MD. It’s a testament to retinol’s abilities that many users have the patience to tolerate the mild discomfort, which often appears as redness, dryness, and occasional flaky skin.
But for some, retinol is simply too harsh. Plus, the ingredient can pose a challenge in the summer, given that it increases sun sensitivity, thereby making skin particularly prone to redness and burns. (SPF is a must.) That’s where retinol alternatives can be advantageous. These new, up-and-coming actives tout results comparable to retinol, but without the telltale side effects.
“Mineral-, marine-, and plant-derived ingredients have been found to have retinol-like biological pathways,” says Marisa Plescia, a research scientist at clean retailer NakedPoppy. Those shared effects range from stimulated cellular renewal to collagen synthesis, she points out.
Chief among these gentler substitutes is bakuchiol, which is derived from the babchi seed. “It’s a ‘functional analog’ to retinol, meaning it has similar chemical, physical, biochemical, or pharmacological properties,” Plescia says, noting a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Another promising ingredient is rambutan, which, she says, supports natural collagen synthesis through a mechanism similar to retinol and bakuchiol. “We are seeing this with other botanical sources, such as moth bean extract and certain algaes,” she adds.
They’ve proven so appealing that some products even pair actual retinol with retinol alternatives, such as Dr. Dennis Gross’s Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream, which offers a skin-renewing trio of rambutan, bakuchiol, and retinol. While the evidence behind retinol alternatives is still growing, there’s enough promise to make such a product worth incorporating into your routine.
Dermalogica Neck Fit Contour Serum
As the delicate neck and décolletage areas are particularly vulnerable to the effects of sunlight, this formula takes a strategic approach. Not only does it combine peptides and rambutan to smooth lines (a sign of the aptly named tech neck) and address discoloration, but it also features a dedicated Flex Lift Contour technology, which creates a mesh-like network on skin to lift and tighten.
Herbivore Botanicals Moon Fruit Serum
Herbivore isn’t new to the world of retinol alternatives, but this addition to its portfolio is a welcome one. The formula pairs bakuchiol with plant-based peptides that help to further firm skin, and simultaneously hydrates to give skin a touch of radiance. Its fruity scent has proven polarizing, but early reviews suggest that it’s worth it.
The Outset Restorative Niacinamide Night Cream
One of the mainstays of Scarlett Johansson’s new, minimalist-minded skin-care line, this velvety night cream pairs bakuchiol with a proprietary Hyaluroset complex—a plant-based alternative to hyaluronic acid that deeply hydrates skin—giving it the power of a serum and moisturizer in one.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Renewal Serum
As Plescia mentioned, marine ingredients can often replicate the effects of retinol—as is the case with this serum, which is anchored in red algae, alfalfa, and stevia extracts. It’s designed to target signs of sun damage in particular, such as uneven tone and fine lines.
Tula Skincare Wrinkle Treatment Drops Retinol Alternative Serum
Delivered in an appealing dry-oil texture, which leaves behind no greasy or slick feel, this serum combines bakuchiol, alfalfa sprouts, and stevia to spur cellular turnover. Meanwhile, probiotic and prebiotic extracts (a hallmark of the brand) bring balance to the skin barrier.
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
Powered by bakuchiol, this elegant serum is ideal for more sensitive types: The blend of sugarcane-derived squalane and niacinamide work in equal measure to soothe skin, keeping it calm and comfortable.
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème
One of the first brands to debut bakuchiol in skin care, Ole Henriksen has come to showcase the ingredient across its offerings. In this lightweight eye cream in particular, it works alongside orchid-derived stem cells to firm and brighten around the eyes, minimizing both crows’ feet and dark circles at once.
True Botanicals Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster Serum
Encased in vegan capsules to guarantee freshness (and therefore efficacy), this serum offers a blend of vitamin A–rich botanical extracts, such as buriti and carrot root oils, which skin then converts into retinoic acid upon application. In other words, the formula works in concert with the skin’s natural processes.
Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream
Formulated with guidance from a dermatologist rooted in clean beauty, this staple in singer Alicia Keys’s skin-care line delivers radiant skin with a blend of bakuchiol and ceramides. In keeping with the brand’s ritual-minded ethos, it also contains malachite, a stone that signifies transformation.
Of all the burning questions our minds have been inundated with this year (Who will date Pete next? Do I need curtain bangs?) perhaps the most common one asked is: Do we really need another celebrity beauty brand? It’s no secret we’ve hit peak celebrity beauty brand fatigue, with each release that enters the fold—seemingly every other week—eliciting constant eye rolls from consumers who are still trying to catch up to the last one. However, there’s a new celebrity brand from Ciara that might make you, dare I say it, 1, 2, step.
Like her other purpose-driven extracurricular ventures—House of LR&C (Love, Respect, and Care), which the star founded with husband Russell Wilson and entrepreneur Christine Day, and its in-house ready-to-wear brand LITA (Love Is The Answer)—Ciara is launching a skincare brand, OAM (On a Mission) that further drives the notion that love is at the root of everything, even skin.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #96 series on my blog.
How you view yourself in your most natural state sets the tone for how to speak to yourself and the level of confidence you radiate when you step out into the world. For a moment, the red carpet darling struggled with accepting her bare face, so she challenged herself to forgo makeup when necessary.
“When I was younger, I used to think that I needed to have a full face of makeup to love my most beautiful self. As I got older, I told myself I’m not going to allow myself to feel like I have to have makeup on all these different enhancements to feel beautiful and confident,” Ciara says. She admits she frequently used body wash and body lotion on her face, and dabbled in microdermabrasion occasionally. Despite efforts from her makeup artist, Yolonda Frederick, who serves on the OAM advisory board and suggested the singer start using eye creams (“I didn’t believe they actually worked”), it wasn’t until OAM’s inception that Ciara realized the power of a simple skincare routine, effective ingredients, and reliable skin experts.
It’s that three-pronged approach that OAM is based on. Two years in the making, OAM’s aim is to simplify your skincare routine with clinical-level formulas that make maintaining healthy skin less intimidating.
“When I talk about being on a mission to make clinical skincare simple, the idea is a simple, one-two step process is all that you need. We’re not going to overcomplicate things. Because honestly, when you go into the skincare stores, it is overwhelming. Where do I start?” she says. With the Vitamin C Hydrating Cleanser, of course. About 10 minutes into the interview, Ciara reaches for the interviewer’s hand to give an impromptu demonstration of the entire OAM regimen, starting with step one. Each bottle is designed with a numbering system (in the shape of a C) to help guide the consumer through the routine.
“The cleanser gets your makeup off really good, in one wash. If you have on eyeliner, that’s a little more tricky,” she warns. She’s correct; the rich foaming lather of the cleanser is a godsend for folks who typically wear more sheer foundation formulas or powders. Thicker formulas will need the assistance of cleansing oil, followed by the Vitamin C Hydrated Cleanser, which doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped of its nutrients.
“I wanted a line that tells me the key things that I need for my skin to be radiant, to have that glow up, to be as smooth and even as possible, and to eliminate the dark circles and the lines,” she says. Enter: Vitamin C Brightening Pads. Designed to be the second step in the routine, these pads are lightly doused with OAM’s signature Tri-C Pro-Peptide Complex, which contains a mixture of peptides and three different forms of vitamin C, along with other active ingredients (like ascorbic acid in the Vitamin C Serum—step three). The potent use of vitamin C isn’t just a clever spin on the singer’s first initial.
“Our bodies don’t produce vitamin C, so I wanted to create products with very unique, very special forms of vitamin C. The way it performs in our products is different. With the Tri-C Pro-Peptide Complex in all of the products, it releases vitamin C in micro doses throughout the day so your skin’s not getting irritated with the amount of vitamin C that it’s receiving. I call these the liquid gold for the face because it really is game-changing,” she explains. Don’t be intimidated by all this vitamin C talk—OAM is safe for sensitive skin. Ciara sampled the range throughout the pandemic and even during her pregnancy with her youngest child, Win. “More than anything, this stuff works. I literally was building up my line when I was pregnant in the pandemic, and that was the most sensitive skin I possibly ever had,” she says.
The singer speaks of the products’ ingredients and benefits with the knowledge of a student who’s never missed a day of class. It’s a testament to the board of trusted skin experts she personally selected to help her along this journey. Ciara, along with board-certified Dr. Tiffany Libby, former Sally Beauty VP of Digital Strategy and Innovation JC Johnson, celebrity makeup artist Yolonda Frederick, and a cosmetic chemist named Maha, married their respective passions to produce a line that’s not only backed by experts, but also addresses the concerns of women of color.
Ciara admits she’s well aware of celebrity brand fatigue, but what sets OAM apart, she says, is that commitment to women of color.
“When I was preparing to launch, I had no idea there were that many celebrity skincare lines. But what I also realized is that there are only a few women of color skincare brands in this space. And for me, being a woman of color, I thought hopefully I can be a part of that great space where you’ll see more women of color-led brands. I don’t think that one person has to be doing it and only one person can win,” she adds.
OAM’s range is priced between $28 to $62 for single products, with the option to buy the complete bundle for $160, available now on oamskin.com.