6 Skin Care Ingredients You Should Be Using

By now you know the drill: Every few months a new wunderkind skin care ingredient is discovered in some remote locale, and pretty soon it’s everywhere—in your masks, serums, foot creams, insert-step-in-your-beauty-routine-here. But at the end of the day, there are only a handful of ingredients that have stood the test of time and truly become essential. “In skin care, they’re the holy grail,” says Cambridge, Massachusetts, dermatologist Ranella Hirsch.

You’ve probably heard of all these by now. (Retinol, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, peptides, and vitamin C all make the list.) But you may still be a little confused on what exactly each one does—and how you should be using them. Here, I break it all down.

Retinol: For Softening Wrinkles and Fighting Acne

If there’s one ingredient lauded more than any other for its wrinkle-fighting, complexion-perfecting abilities, it’s this derivative of vitamin A. “Here’s the deal with retinol,” explains Hirsch. “We were talking about it in 1975, and we’re still talking about it now because it works.” In study after study, retinol has been shown to build collagen, decrease fine lines, improve skin’s texture, and fight acne.

The prescription version (retinoic acid, or Retin-A) acts fastest, but it’s pricey—and it can be drying. Over-the-counter retinols take eight to 10 weeks to show results (compared with six weeks with an Rx), but are normally paired with anti-inflammatories to calm the redness, peeling, or dryness; they can also cost less than a prescription, depending on your insurance, generally starting around $100.

Whichever type you use, you’ll want to ease into your retinol use slowly. “I start patients on the mildest version, one night a week at the onset,” says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler. As your skin begins to tolerate a pea-size amount, you can eventually go up to two nights a week. But stay off harsh physical scrubs and peels while you’re using retinol; remember to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize; and use extra sunscreen for the first six months.

Try Lancôme Visionnaire Skin Solutions 0.2% Retinol Correcting Night Concentrate $75

Hyaluronic Acid: For Serious Moisture

This tiny molecule helps lubricate joints and keep skin plump, and is one of the world’s finest humectants (elements that attract and retain water). What does that mean for skin? “Hyaluronic acid is awesome,” says Wechsler. In addition to being a terrific moisturizer, she says, it partners well with other active skin care ingredients (so you can layer it with retinol, for example, and use it daily). “The beauty of hyaluronic acid is that it doesn’t have any fine print,” says Hirsch. “It benefits any skin type, at any age. And the truth is that everyone looks great with hydrated skin.”

Try L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensive Hyaluronic Acid Serum $30

Vitamin C: For a Glow Boost

Doctors love vitamin C because it’s an incredible antioxidant and it stimulates collagen production—in other words, it increases glow and evens out spots. For best results, look for a high concentration, up to 20% in a serum or cream.

Vitamin C does have a downside, though: It breaks down when exposed to oxygen and light. Seek out truly airtight packaging, watch out for discolored formulas, and know that because vitamin C loses efficacy in the sun, it’s best as a nighttime product, says Montclair, New Jersey, dermatologist Jeanine Downie. But “use it on the nights you’re not applying retinol,” she adds. It’s also great in an eye cream to help soften fine lines and spots.

Try SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic $166

Peptides: For Firming

“Think of peptides as Legos—they’re protein building blocks,” says Hirsch of the skin strengtheners. Studies show certain peptides can boost collagen production and speed wound healing; or they can mimic the effect of Botox when applied topically. That means you’ll likely want to introduce peptides in your 30s, when you notice your skin doesn’t feel quite as firm or bouncy as it did in your 20s. They can also be used on your body to smooth and firm skin, and they may fade old scars and stretch marks. There’s emerging science that some peptides have been found to safely treat eczema.

Try Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Life & Firm Moisturizer $95

Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide: For Eradicating Acne

Okay, these are technically two ingredients—but the pair is name-dropped so frequently in the same acne-fighting sentence that it seems a shame to split them up.

“Salicylic acid is a lipid-soluble acid, so it penetrates into oily pores to clean them out, and it’s anti-inflammatory too,” renowned dermatologist Fredric Brandt once told us. “Benzoyl is antibacterial, so together they work synergistically.”

Look for bacteria-zapping benzoyl peroxide in face washes or spot treatments. It’s widely available in drugstores, ranging from 2.5% to 10% concentrations. (To minimize irritation, start with the lowest.) Try salicylic acid in an allover toner or cream to prevent breakouts, or on pimples if you have sensitive skin—it’s gentler than benzoyl, explains Wechsler.

Try Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 $5

Alpha Hydroxy Acids: For Smoothing

“My patients love, love, love AHAs,” says Downie, who explains that the powerful exfoliators are genius for clearing up sun damage, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines. Multiple AHAs exist, but the most popular (and potent) is glycolic acid, which penetrates damaged skin to spur fresh, new skin cell production. Glycolic acid does its exfoliating work in everything from once-monthly in-office face peels to nightly washes, but it’s best not to use glycolic acid while you’re on retinols. And if your skin is sensitive, try glycolic’s less intense AHA cousin, lactic acid, which also chemically exfoliates but isn’t as drying.

Try Pixi Glow Tonic $14

GLAMOUR article

Colourpop’s 9-Pan Eyeshadow Palettes

ColourPop’s 9-pan palettes have taken the makeup world by storm; from monochromatic color stories to complementing colors that make great looks – they’ve got it all. At this point it’s safe to say there are over 20 of this style of palette made by ColourPop, with new releases every week!

Each collection has a cute pun-ny name and usually comes with blushes, highlighters, lip glosses, lipsticks, and even some of their FourthRayBeauty or SOLBody products.

The palettes I own:
MAR (part of SOL + MAR Collection)
Uh-huh Honey
Main Squeeze
– Brown Sugar (not available on the website)
Strawberry Shake

The formula is incredible, and not just for the price. The shadows are pigmented, easily bendable, and last all day long on the eyes with the right eyeshadow primer. More than half of the palettes in this shape come with at least one pressed glitter, which may turn some makeup lovers away from the product.

Overall, these shadows and color stories sometimes resemble their expensive counterparts very precisely (HUDA Beauty), while others have their own unique color story.

At $12USD, 10/10 recommend!

Have you tried these palettes? What do you think about them? Let me know in the comments below!

Rimmel London #BossBabe

Rimmel London Power Palette in #BossBabe – I like the simple design and the lightweight packaging. The eyeshadows are pigmented, blendable, and crease-proof all day; the lip & cheek gloss doesn’t disrupt the makeup underneath; the highlighter is subtle yet gives a natural glow and complements the eyeshadow tones very well.

Rimmel London Wonder’Ink Eyeliner – the formula of this felt-tip liner is extremely black, dries very quickly preventing smudging and is easy to work with.

Definitely recommend to check out this collection when it hits the shelves!

For more eyeshadow palette shades in this line, visit their website.
For the eyeliner, visit their website.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Palettes Dupes

With Urban Decay expanding their Naked eyeshadow palette line at an increasingly high speed, the collectors mentality comes to a halt for many beauty lovers. With the release of Naked Cherry and Naked Heat, drugstore brands Makeup Revolution and Rimmel London lost no time in making affordable quality dupes for those palettes. I’m still waiting for them to dupe the Naked Honey!

Here is the Naked Cherry and Makeup Revolution & Rimmel London dupes:

Here is the Naked Heat and Makeup Revolution & Rimmel London dupes:

Formula comparison: Makeup Revolution eyeshadows are slightly more pigmented and blendable, but do have quite a bit of fallout so tap off the excess from the brush before applying and do your eye makeup first. The Rimmel London eyeshadow formula is less pigmented, but allows for color buildup with less fallout.

Have you tried these palettes? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

NYX It Up

I adore the formula of these NYX palettes! They’re great for travel and offer a wide variety of shades.
Even within the Warm Neutrals color family there’s a definite distinction between the shades, none are completely similar.
The Ultimate Brights does require a little bit of work, otherwise they show up pastel, still love it though.
Great palettes for a great price!

Products from the top:
Ultimate Multi-Finish Palette in “Sugar High”
Ultimate Shadow Palette in “Phoenix”
Ultimate Shadow Palette in “Warm Neutrals”
Ultimate Shadow Palette in “Brights”

Have you used these palettes? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Beneficial Ways To Use Vaseline

  1. Use it as a lip scrub – apply a small amount on your lips and gently scrub with your toothbrush. Vaseline provides a nice layer of moisture while stripping away dead skin.
  2. Use it to prolong the scent of your fragrance – it stays on the surface of your skin, so apply it in places you would normally apply fragrance and voila! The scent lasts way longer.
  3. Use it on the cuts from shaving to stop bleeding and scarring, it helps heal it faster as well.
  4. Use it to maximize the benefits of your night cream – Vaseline doesn’t clog pores despite its heavy texture, and when used in particularly dry areas where you’d like your night cream to be particularly active, it can really help.
  5. Use it to maximize the benefits of your eye cream – it helps lock in the moisture (applied on top of the eye cream) and provide a plump and energized feeling in the morning.
  6. Put a light layer of Vaseline on the outside of your top teeth to help the lip slide up and down if you need to smile a lot during an event or a photoshoot.
  7. Use it to tame your eyebrows – instead of a brow gel, put a small amount of Vaseline on your brows and comb through with a spoolie as you normally would.
  8. Use it to help you during allergy season – apply a light coating on top and bottom lashes, and on the inside of the nostrils, which will help prevent the pollen from getting into your eyes and nose.
  9. Use it to help your nails – apply a generous amount on the base of the nail, cuticles, and wash off after about 10 minutes. Vaseline provides a lot of moisture and can help strengthen your nails.
  10. Use it to help tame baby hairs – apply a small amount and smooth the hairs into place. Don’t worry, it doesn’t look greasy, it creates a natural hair-like shine.

Do you use Vaseline at all? What do you use it for (if you do) and why don’t you use it (if you don’t)? Let me know in the comments below!

So Aesthetically Pleasing

One of my favourite lipstick formulas has got to be by L’Oreal, they just knock it out of the park with their bullet lipstick formula and this line is no exception. I’ve collected the shades that I would use the most and I have to really try to get myself to use other products!

Intense hydration, rich, matte colour, comfortable wear, smooth, creamy feel. Take a closer look at the line here!

Here is a list of shade names from left to right:

102 Matt-ly In Love
370 Jennifer’s Nude
401 Julianne’s Red
402 Blake’s Red
403 Eva’s Red
405 Doesn’t Matte-r
610 Eva’s Nude
707 Matte-jestic
800 Matte-caron
802 Matte-sterpiece
804 He Thinks He’s Matte-cho
806 Matte-itude

Best Blush Palettes

As a working makeup artist, I also prefer palettes for blushes, as they usually have 3-8 different tones, guaranteed to suit any look that I create on a client.

These are some of my personal favourites, varying in formula and pigmentation. However, do keep in mind that almost each of these palettes comes in more than one shade variety! That means I’m only showing you one of them here, but there are other shade families to be purchased if you like the formula.

NYX Sweet Cheeks Blush Palette (one shade family only)
Maybelline FaceStudio Master Blush Colour & Highlight Kit
Morphe Blushing Babes Blush Trio (comes in 7 shade families)
Alamar Cosmetics Colorete Blush Trio (comes in 2 shade families)
E.L.F. Blush Palette (comes in 2 shade families)
Rimmel Kate Blush Palette
Anastasia Beverly Hills Blush Trio (comes in 5 shade families)

Do you use blush palettes or stick to singles? What are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!

Best Drugstore Single Eyeshadows

I find single eyeshadows to be useful when one palette can’t provide “this one color that you need to complete the look”, therefore, I have way more of them than I should admit. And although, of course, I have a wide range of high-end and drugstore ones, here I will give you some of my most-reliable ones from the drugstore:

What are some of your favourite single eyeshadows, from high-end to drugstore? Let me know in the comments!