How To Incorporate Glycolic Acid Into Your Skincare Regime, According To Dermatologists

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.

The best glycolic acid products to try

VOGUE

The Best Gentle Retinol Alternatives for a Skin Reboot

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.

VANITY FAIR

The 7 Questions Dermatologists Get Asked All The Time – And Their Answers

From acne and rosacea to simply not knowing where to start with a good skincare routine, we turn to dermatologists for all manner of skincare concerns. Given that they have seen, done and experienced it all when it comes to the skin, what are the questions they get asked most often? And what advice do they give? British Vogue sat down with three experts to find out.

Does your diet affect acne?

For the vast majority of people, acne purely comes down to your hormones and genetics,” says Dr Anjali Mahto. “That said, there is a small, select group of people that may be sensitive to dairy and refined sugars. I don’t recommend people cut things out of their diet at random because I think that can lead to issues around food restriction and disordered eating. But if you are noticing that your skin is breaking out when you eat dairy – and I’m not talking about a splash in your coffee, but huge amounts or taking whey protein supplements – there is probably some benefit in switching to a plant-based alternative that’s got a low GI index. Think unsweetened soy milk or almond milk, which are both better than oat milk.” Dr Justine Kluk agrees, stating that dietary changes alone are not enough to control acne. “They can form part of the management approach alongside prescription treatment, but don’t replace it in most cases,” she says.

Is the SPF in moisturiser equivalent to the one in sunscreen?

The SPF in your moisturiser is tested the same way as an SPF in sunscreen, so an SPF 30 moisturiser should provide an SPF of 30,” explains Dr Justine Kluk. “The main issue is that these formulas are less likely to be rub and water resistant and may be applied a lot more thinly than sunscreen. It’s for this reason that they may not offer the same level of protection. It is also worth noting that moisturisers containing an SPF may not contain any UVA protection and, as a result, will not protect against UV ageing.”

Do collagen supplements actually work?

If you look at the majority of data, at this moment in time, there isn’t any really good evidence that collagen supplements actually work,” says Dr Mahto. “That’s essentially because collagen is a protein – just like eating a piece of steak or tofu is protein. All that will happen is your gut breaks it down into constituent amino acids and doesn’t think, ‘I need to send it to the skin’, so it gets passed around the body. Also, if you’ve got enough expendable cash to be buying collagen supplements – they’re not cheap – you’re probably also the kind of person who is wearing sunscreen and following a good, healthy diet and using a retinol, so it becomes tricky to figure out whether it’s the collagen supplement working or the other things. I’m sceptical, but if you can show me good data that works, I’m willing to change my position on it.

Will my breakouts ever go away?

They might, but the reality for many women is that they often continue into the thirties and beyond,” says Dr Sam Bunting. “The good news is that the right anti-acne skincare routine will often be a highly effective plan for tackling premature ageing too, so your skin may well look better and better as time goes on.

What is the right age to start having injectables?

Lots of people ask if they’re too young or too old for injectables,” says Dr Mahto. “Generally, people that are in their mid-thirties onwards have figured out whether it’s a reasonable time to get started. Usually what I say in this scenario, is that it’s not actually about your age, it’s more about how your skin is ageing. That depends on your individual genetics – how your parents age – as well as how much sun exposure you’ve had, your diet, how stressed out you are and how you sleep. You can have somebody in their late twenties who’s had very little sun and their skin is ageing beautifully and they don’t need any injectable treatments. On the other hand, you could have a 28-year-old who has a really expressive face, they’ve enjoyed sunny holidays and outdoor sport, and they’re starting to get lines when their forehead is at rest or noticing a loss of volume in fat in their face. For someone like that, it might be a reasonable time to start. Different ethnic groups also age differently – somebody who has really fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes will start to get wrinkles more quickly than somebody who has Asian or Black skin, because their melanin will protect them. The flip-side is that those with Asian and Black skin tend to start losing volume in their faces more quickly, so they tend to need filler before they need Botox.”

Is my skincare routine working?

I think there is still a basic lack of understanding around what you actually need in a skincare routine and what you don’t,” Dr Mahto says. “People buy into the buzz about the latest ingredients – whether that’s niacinamide or tranexamic acid – but actually the average person does not need to be using every single one of those ingredients. What you’re trying to do is use as little as possible on your skin, and to look for ingredients that target multiple things. Vitamin A is anti-ageing, good for acne and pigmentation – so why use niacinamide and tranexamic acid and retinol when you’ve got one ingredient that will do a really good job of that? I spend a lot of time stripping back people’s routines, rather than adding things in.” 

Will anyone be able to tell if I’ve had Botox?

Not if it’s done well,” points out Dr Bunting. “I talk to patients about softening strong expression lines and releasing the tension from the face nowadays – it’s a far cry from the frozen faces of the ’90s. Microdosing means no one else ever has to know.”

VOGUE

Caroline Hirons Breaks Into Beauty Tech With Skin Care App Launch

Caroline Hirons, the British aesthetician and influencer, has launched her new skin care app on 13th of July.

The free Skin Rocks app will provide curated information and advice on the type of skin users have, and will then match products best suited for the individual.

A soft launch was held on 28 June, when it was offered to the 120,000 members of Hiron’s Skincare Freaks Facebook group for testing.

The beta launch made it to number four on the top free apps in the Apple chart within 12 hours, according to Hirons.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #86 series on my blog.

We have been blown away by the response and cannot wait to share the fully loaded Skin Rocks App with our industry peers at our official launch event on the 13 July,” said Hirons.

The app has been launched as a part of the Skin Rocks Limited business, which creates skin care kits featuring products hand picked by Hirons.

Dubbed the ‘queen of skin care‘, Hirons has over 37 years of experience in retail, including 25 years working as a consultant in the skin care industry.

She launched a book in 2020 titled Skincare: The ultimate no-nonsense guide, which won the British Book Awards Non-Fiction Lifestyle Book of the Year in 2021.

COSMETICS BUSINESS

Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol Are Skin Care’s Latest Power Duo

Over the past few years, hyaluronic acid and retinol have become such skin-care staples that coming across a product without one or the other is rare. “In skin care, they’re the holy grail,” says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a dermatologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sure, 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. 

Hyaluronic acid and retinol do deliver results—but what exactly those results are might still be confusing. (Understandably.)

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 texture, and fight acne.

When it comes to incorporating a retinol into your skin-care routine, it’s better sooner than later. “Retinol works best as prevention, so don’t wait until wrinkles and dark spots occur to start using it,” says Corey L. Hartman, M.D., the founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. “Another misconception about retinols is that they ‘thin the skin.’ This could not be further from the truth. It actually thickens your skin by increasing production of glycosaminoglycans to keep the skin firm, taut, and smooth.

The prescription version (which goes by retinoic acid, or Retin-A) acts fastest, but it’s pricey—and it can be drying. Over-the-counter retinol, however, take 8 to 10 weeks to show results compared with 6 weeks with an Rx, but is normally paired with anti-inflammatories to calm the redness, peeling, or dryness. It can also cost less than a prescription—which, depending on your insurance coverage, can generally start 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, M.D. 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.

Hyaluronic Acid: For Serious Moisture

Despite its name, hyaluronic acid actually doesn’t exfoliate your skin (if you’re looking for one that does, try glycolic acid instead). This tiny molecule helps lubricate joints and keep skin plump, and is one of the world’s finest humectants, or molecules that attract and retain water. Since these molecules so effectively replenish skin with water, they’re beloved for their hydrating abilities.

In addition to being a terrific hydrator, Wechsler says, HA pairs well with other active skin-care ingredients (so you can layer it with retinol, for example, and use it daily). Not only that, but it also goes above and beyond its duties as a humectant. “Along with hydrating the skin and preventing dehydration, hyaluronic acid provides an environment that keeps wrinkles away,” says Hartman.

Bottom line: “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.”

What Are the Potential Side Effects?

As with any ingredient, no matter how ah-mazing they are, there are potential side effects that should be kept in mind when using. “When patients start a retinol, the hyper-exfoliation can oftentimes cause redness, peeling, and dryness during the first couple of weeks of use,” says New York City dermatologist Rita Linkner, M.D., founder of RVL Skincare.

If your skin tends to be more on the dry side, it’s worth considering how you can add that extra boost before and after applying your retinol to minimize excessive peeling as much as possible. (Newbies can also try the buffering trick to take down the sting.)

As for our hydrating superhero? “Hyaluronic acid is known to increase the permeability of the skin, making it more sieve-like—which is why it should be combined with a moisturizer to draw more water to itself,” she says.

What Are the Benefits of Combining the Two?

Good news: Retinol and hyaluronic acid actually have a synergistic effect. “They can be combined so that the benefits of retinol can be achieved more easily with concomitant use of hyaluronic acid, which helps to prevent retinol irritation,” says Hartman.

As for what that ultimately means when you look in the mirror: “Overall texture should improve when using the two actives, as well as fine lines,” says Linkner.

How to Get the Best Results

To max out your benefits, “I often recommend that patients use a hydrating serum like hyaluronic acid before they apply their retinol cream,” says Hartman. “Hyaluronic acid plays well with most ingredients, while caution must be taken when using retinol in combination with alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, and some types of vitamin C.”

Linkner echoes the tip about avoiding vitamin C.  “I also wouldn’t advise using a vitamin C after hyaluronic acid, as it can increase the irritation effects of the ascorbic acid.” (Ascorbic acid, the chemical name for vitamin C, is still an acid, after all.)

If you’re new to this combo, it’s worth doing a patch test to see how your skin reacts to the amped-up duo. Because hyaluronic acid can increase the potency of the secondary product, Linkner says, it could potentially draw out the acclimation period when you first start using a retinol.

That said, retinol and hyaluronic acid are a match made in heaven. And if you’re looking to level-up your skin-care routine with even more effective products, here are some fan favourites.

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Pure Retinol Serum

Thanks to vitamin B3, which can help soothe inflammation, and the gradual-release formula, this retinol serum is gentle enough even for sensitive skin types. (As with most retinols, though, you’ll still want to do a patch test and start by applying at night.) During the day, don’t forget to layer on SPF to get the most anti-wrinkle benefits.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar that your body makes inherently. It provides a plumping effect in the skin by drawing water to itself like a sponge,” says Linkner. This O.G. hyaluronic acid serum from The Ordinary delivers maximum hydration (thanks to the added B5) and comes in under $10.

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Moisturizer

While you’ll want to be cautious about mixing hyaluronic acid with peptides, the payoff is pretty incredible if the combination is suitable for your skin. “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.

GLAMOUR

These 10 Hydrating Serums Will Make Dry Skin Vanish

Hydrating serums are useful because they bring hydration into the skin,” stresses New York City dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group. Because healing dry skin calls for both humectants and emollients (that draw in moisture and lock in moisture respectively), a good humectant like hyaluronic acid, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water, will draw hydration to the skin to bouncier, glowier effect.

When the atmosphere is more arid, such as in wintertime, the dry air draws moisture out of our skin… so these barrier products prevent loss of moisture,” explains Nazarian. “Over time, as we age, our skin is less capable of drawing in and locking in moisture—so these skin habits are useful in the short-term seasonally and long-term because as we age, our skin weakens.” Below, some of the best serums for dry skin to help you lock in moisture all season long.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra Intensive Hydration serum is an ultra-nourishing cocktail comprised of vitamin B5 and fruit ceramides to brighten and heal moisture-depleted skin.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Ampoules

To instantly jolt a weary complexion back to life, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s highly-concentrated, single dose ampoules team long- and short-chain hyaluronic molecules with her signature anti-inflammatory ingredient purslane.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

SkinCeuticals’s sinks-right-in gel serum is a favorite for all skin types with its juicy concentration of hyaluronic acid and a heavy dose of hydrating b5 gel, which plumps the skin for a smoother, dewier complexion.

Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum

To target signs of aging, Kate Somerville’s Quench Hydrating serum is laced with regenerating retinol, firming wheat germ, and skin barrier function-bolstering lipids for a plumper, more luminous skin.

Tatcha The Dewy Serum Resurfacing and Plumping Treatment

The Japanese beauty-inspired brand’s buzzed-about elixir is a milky serum that lifts impurities with lactic acid and quenches skin’s thirst with hyaluronic acid and sugarcane-derived squalane.

TruSkin Hyaluronic Acid

This hyaluronic acid formula has raked in thousands of Amazon review raves not only for its wallet-friendly price tag, but the radiant results it produces with help from antioxidant-rich vitamin c, protective vitamin e, and soothing aloe vera.

Moon Juice Plump Jelly

Moon Juice’s lightweight jelly hydrator teams hyaluronic acid with unique natural ingredients such as free radical-fighting reishi and healing tremella mushroom.

Chanel Hydra Beauty Intense Smoothing Eye Gel

Given that dark circles become that much more notorious during the winter months—a 2011 study found that 82 percent of women believe they have dark circles in the winter versus 38 percent in summer—you can brighten and de-puff the under-eye area with a serum like Chanel’s smoothing Hydra Beauty Intense eye gel, which sinks right in thanks to its patented micro-droplet technology.

La Mer The Hydrating Infused Emulsion

An instant, fast-absorbing dose of hydration, La Mer’s lightweight serum-lotion is spiked with its famed sea kelp-based Miracle Broth to heal and replenish, while fatty acid-packed soy and antioxidant-rich lime tea concentrate work their magic.

innisfree Green Tea Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Innisfree’s best-selling hydrating serum got a fresh update. The newly minted formulation includes different types of hyaluronic acid and a special green tea probiotic complex that hydrates and helps support the skin microbiome.

VOGUE

Zoë Kravitz’s 9-Step Beauty Routine For A Lit-From-Within Glow

I have always been super into skincare,” Zoë Kravitz says on a recent summer afternoon. Today, the High Fidelity actress is finally revealing the secrets behind her signature lit-from-within complexion, from what she puts on her skin to what she puts into her body. Beginning with a pumpkin lactic cleanser – “it smells like Christmas!” she quips – Kravitz’s routine includes just a handful of carefully selected skincare saviours, including a light serum from Retrouvé, the French pharmacy favourite Caudalie mist, and Isun’s SPF 27 Sun Butter – many of which she has shared with her mother, Lisa Bonet. “My mom and I are constantly sending each other things that we like,” says the 32-year-old, who notes that she also embarks on a 30-day Dr Schulze detoxifying cleanse with Bonet every year. “I really think wellness starts with diet, exercise, [and] hydration,” she says. “I think it’s all about balance, right? I think it’s about joy and happiness and laughter. I really think that affects how you look and feel. Then, you don’t have to use make-up to cover yourself up; you can use it to highlight.” 

With her face adequately moisturised, Kravitz goes on to reach for only nine make-up products, all of which leave an almost entirely imperceptible finish. “It’s fun that no one can tell you’re wearing something on your eyes or on your face,” she muses, after perfecting her complexion not with foundation but rather with light strokes of Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat concealer. “It’s like a little trick!” Here are her own above-the-neck sleights of hand: First, she dots a thin-tipped black pencil on just the outer corner of her lids, blending the mark outward and upward with her pinky finger for an opening effect. She then pats a bronze Nudestix pigment onto her cheeks and lids for a touch of believable colour. Finally, with a pink-toned Marc Jacobs crayon in hand, she softly lines her lips, paying extra attention to the centre of her mouth for peak poutiness. “There are different kinds of make-up, and everyone finds their own style, but I do like to try to encourage people to enhance the things that you love and not try to change your face completely,” she explains of her go-to approach. After all, as she puts it, “Everyone is so pretty in their own way.” 

Below, shop Zoë Kravitz’s beauty secrets. 

VOGUE

The Best Eye Creams To Look Like You’ve Had A Full Night’s Sleep

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, right now my soul is looking tired, lined, puffy, and a little distressed. Along with genetics, it seems like everything can affect that sensitive under-eye area in some way. Too little sleep, stress, wine (oops), or excess time spent in front of a screen can all contribute to your under-eyes looking a bit worse for wear. Selfie-worthy eye treatments can help when you’re feeling like a lost cause, but what about eye creams? To answer our burning questions–like, “Do they even work?”–ELLE turned to dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal, for insight.

WHY IS EYE CREAM SO POPULAR?

Eye creams have become popular in the past two years because our eyes are the only things people see due to masking,” says Dr. Lal. “I have had a five-fold increase in people asking for eyelid rejuvenation treatments and eye creams.

DO EYE CREAMS WORK?

I believe eye cream is necessary in a skincare routine because the eye sockets and eye skin change dramatically as we age,” says Dr. Lal. “The issue with eye creams is people think they work quickly when in reality the creams should be used for at least 12 weeks before making any judgment about their effectiveness. I make patients take selfies at baseline and after 12 weeks of daily use to compare.” If after 12 weeks you’re still not seeing a huge improvement, you might prefer to opt for an in-office treatment. “Eye rejuvenation includes procedures such as platelet-rich plasma to improve crepey skin, tear trough filler for hollow under-eyes, vascular laser treatment for darkness from blood vessels, or ablative resurfacing for overall skin laxity.”

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE GOOD TO LOOK FOR IN AN EYE CREAM?

Most people want to get rid of dark circles and crepey skin,” says Dr. Lal. “I love eye products that have arnica in them, which helps with darkness and pigmentation from fragile under-eye blood vessels. I also love products that have peptides that stimulate collagen production. One of my favorite peptides in argireline, because it tightens the skin similar to how Botox works.” 

WHAT INGREDIENTS SHOULD YOU AVOID IN AN EYE CREAM?

I avoid eye creams that have a lot of fragrance because eyelid skin is very thin—one of the thinnest parts of our body—and this can lead to irritation, which can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Lal.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream

Sleepless nights might be the cause of your under-eye crinkling. If so, this product taps retinol to combat those lines. Over time, your eye area will start looking brighter, with more even skin tone, and fewer crow’s feet.

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

Our eyes go through a lot, which is why they need a little bit of extra protection and nourishment. with a combination of moisture building and sealing hyaluronic acid and ceramides, this eye cream forms a barrier that will help minimize the effect of stress and reduce and prevent puffiness.

Naturium Multi-Peptide Eye Cream

With the help of argireline and squalane, Naturium’s treatment visibly tightens the skin around your eyes, while also delivering plenty of hydration and nourishment. You’ll look so refreshed and awake that people will think you actually sleep eight hours every night.

Clarins Total Eye Lift Eye Cream

No need to book that appointment with your friendly plastic surgeon. This eye cream works double-time to eliminate signs of aging like crow’s feet and other fine lines. Plus, it works fast. In just one application, you’ll notice a definitive difference in your eye’s contour.

Strivectin Advanced Retinol Eye Cream

Odds are you’re already aware of using retinol on your face, but this product uses the ingredient to specifically target many of the same skin concerns around your eyes more gently. In addition to reducing fine lines, the cream also plumps and hydrates for a firmer appearance.

Shani Darden Intensive Eye Renewal Cream

Using peptides, ceramides, squalane, and niacinamide, this product works to reduce dark circles. Plus, it also fights against puffiness and imparts crucial hydration to the under-eyes.

Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream

The trick to looking younger, for longer? Intense hydration. This eye cream uses squalane and soothing marine algae to make the under-eyes look smooth and radiant by diminishing dark circles and puffiness. Over time, the treatment can also help fade fine lines.

Ole Henricksen Banana Bright Eye Crème

The skin under our eyes can start looking dull when they’re not properly cared for, emphasizing dark circles and puffiness. This brightening cream uses collagen and vitamin C to help your eyes look younger, brighter, and more contoured.

Clinique All About Eyes Rich

Nothing says “I haven’t slept” more than puffy under-eyes. This cream helps reverse that look to well-rested—even if you spent the night drinking wine instead of sleeping. Plus, it’s also a great primer for under-eye concealer to prevent creasing while covering dark circles.

Olay Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Brightening Eye Cream

As the name suggests, peptides and vitamin C in this eye cream promise to brighten and firm the under-eyes, alleviating dark circles and hyperpigmentation. For people with sensitive skin, the formula is also fragrance-free.

ELF Holy Hydration! Illuminating Eye Cream

If your under-eyes desperately need some soothing hydration, this eye cream brings all that and more. Using hyaluronic acid, peptides, shea butter, and green tea extract, eyes will feel completely rejuvenated like a day at the spa.

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Cream

You need coffee to look like a functioning adult in the morning, but why leave your eyes out of the fun? This eye cream uses caffeine, shea butter, and natural extracts to brighten and de-puff your sleepy under-eyes.

ELLE

This “Face Altering” French Retinol Blows Other Anti-Aging Creams Out of the Water

When it comes to skincare heavy hitters, retinol is often the first and last thing out of savvy shoppers’ mouths. In a world where marketing lingo runs rampant and the majority of products are hit or miss, it’s reassuring to know that retinol, at least, has reversed signs of aging for decades. From there, the decision comes to which over-the-counter retinol cream is best, and French brand Avène’s found the sweet spot. 

As a successor to the brand’s beloved RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream, Avène one-upped itself with the RetrinAL Advanced Wrinkle Corrector. The former excels as an anti-aging moisturizer that smoothes skin with added vitamin E and peptides, while the latter is a targeted treatment you dab anywhere you’d like skin to look significantly more plump and firm.  

According to dozens of elated reviews, abracadabra, the Corrector grants that wish. Two weeks sees fine lines start to disappear, shoppers’ “deep nasolabial folds” receding in a “face altering” feat. “I saw results right away! I used this on certain parts of my face and put another retinol on the other parts to test its effectiveness, and by far this blew my other retinol out of the water,” a reviewer writes of the Corrector’s effects. 

Shop now: $56; aveneusa.com

Others say the formula’s diminished deep wrinkles around their mouth and forehead so much they’re now looking for other places to put the cream, an accomplishment if we’ve ever heard one. Even 54-year-olds with “deep lines between [their] eyebrows” say a couple nights of the treatment has made an enormous difference — so, to get the science behind exactly how the Corrector puts other treatments to shame, InStyle asked Sheila Farhang, board-certified dermatologist and YouTube creator, for her thoughts on the ingredients. 

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives, and are considered one of the ‘gold standard’ ingredients for anti-aging,” Farhang says. “They increase cell turnover, thereby increasing collagen stimulation to help with fine lines and discoloration. Retinoids also ‘de-plug’ clogged pores, which is why it’s commonly used for acne as well.” Speaking to the Avène formula specifically, she notes that it uses retinaldehyde, which is the most potent over-the-counter retinoid — so if you’ve tried other retinol creams and haven’t seen a big difference, it would be your best next step. 

The stronger the retinoid, the higher the risk for redness, flaking, and irritation, so Farhang says you should always take it slow if it’s your first dance with the ingredient. Thankfully, Avène anticipated the potential sensitivity and added hyaluronic acid and thermal spring water, which she notes calm skin for “a win-win situation.” 

Fellow dermatologist and YouTube creator Dr. Alexis Stephens agrees with Farhang, writing that the addition of algae-derived collactintm also helps skin look younger and more radiant. “The beauty of this formulation is that the powerful retinaldehyde is alongside Avene’s thermal spring water, which is clinically proven to smooth, soften and calm the skin,” Stephens says of the safe-for-sensitive-skin treatment. “I recommend this product so often, I carry it at my private practice for my patients.” 

All of the above makes for a trauma-free experience, even for 49-year-old shoppers with “hyper-sensitive” skin. “Almost EVERYTHING gives me a bad reaction and/or breaks me out. Two and a half weeks in, and [I’m] seeing reduced neck wrinkles and pores shrunk to almost unnoticeable. I’m impressed.” As the French would say, voilà; in American English, whoomp! 

INSTYLE

The Eye Cream Olivia Wilde Says Gets Rid of Her Dark Circles Is Finally Back in Stock

If you suffer from dark circles, you know that finding a brightening eye cream that actually works isn’t always an easy feat. This is especially the case if you’re on the hunt for a formula with natural ingredients. Well, that was before the True Botanicals Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream came on the scene last June. Since then, it has become a go-to for celebrities among the likes of Olivia Wilde and Brooke Shields, who called it “pure magic in a jar” as it “works wonders for my dark circles and I wake up looking so well-rested.” 

With such glowing A-list testimonials, it comes as no surprise that the Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream sold out hours after it launched. Now after months of waiting, it’s finally back in stock — and our dark circles couldn’t be happier. 

Shop now: $78; truebotanicals.com

So, what makes this eye cream so special? It features an innovative combination of illuminating ingredients to restore radiance and moisture back to the sensitive under-eyes. At the center of it all is Resurrection Plant extract, which is used in the brand’s bioactive moisture retention complex to lock in hydration, reduce puffiness, and make tired eyes instantly look more awake. It works in harmony with tree bark extract to create smoother and brighter-looking under-eyes. 

This new product from True Botanicals is bananas,” Wilde said in an Instagram video back in June. “It also has turmeric, and coffee, and licorice extract, and tree bark extract, which is really good for the redness [and] dark circles — which I know quite a lot about.” 

She continues, “People used to call me Wednesday Addams — like ever since I was, like, 8. So, I’ve been waiting for this product for a long time, and it’s amazing. I’ve been editing, I have kids, I don’t sleep. But this stuff is really helping. And I’m going to use a lot more of it.

Both Wilde and Shields pair the eye cream with the True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil and Chebula Active Serum, which target common signs of aging while supporting the skin barrier with hydrating and nourishing ingredients. “This is my holy grail,” Shields says of the Chebula Active Serum. “It’s a dream for anyone like me who is trying to avoid the excessive use of injections and fillers.”

Shop now: $90; truebotanicals.com

Banish dark circles once and for all with the Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream, which is now available on truebotanicals.com. Hurry, before it sells out again! 

INSTYLE