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

How to Build Vitamin C Into Your Skin-Care Regimen

Summer’s last weeks are upon us, and fall fever is just beginning to set in. As you ruminate over what to bring into rotation, consider a supercharged vitamin C serum right up there with a sleek coat or this season’s It boot.

For brightening up a dull complexion and erasing sun spots, vitamin C is the gold standard of ingredients, especially as the years go on. As such, getting familiar with the powerhouse antioxidant is essential for any robust skincare strategy. “Vitamin C is perhaps the most potent topical antioxidant we have,” explains dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., of the natural collagen booster. “It neutralizes free radical damage and protects the skin against UV light and other environmental aggressors, as well as blocking abnormal production of pigmentation to even skin tone and fade dark spots.” And while it’s best known for brightening, it can also be instrumental in skin firming, adds Los Angeles superfacialist Kate Somerville. “I have used vitamin C in my clinic for years to help with elasticity and tighten the skin around the neck and décolletage,” she says.

Here, how best to utilize the hero ingredient for a brighter, smoother, and plumper complexion year-round.

Choose the Right Concentration

Identifying the right concentration for your skin type is essential to how effective your topical vitamin C will be, says New York City dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler. “Begin with a low concentration of 10% and increase to 15% or 20% as tolerated,” she instructs. For oily or normal skin, L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C and can be the most beneficial, while for dry and sensitive skin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble vitamin C, is less irritating.

Buy Kate Somerville at ULTA $90
Buy Ole Henriksen at Sephora $46

Pay Attention to pH

Absorption of a vitamin C is largely contingent on its pH level. If you have normal skin, look for one with a low pH of approximately 3.5 for optimal absorption. If you have sensitive skin, you should use a formula with a pH of 5 to 6. “This is the skin’s natural pH and will not be as irritating,” says Wexler.

Buy Drunk Elephant at Sephora $80
Buy Peter Thomas Roth at ULTA $98

Go With a Serum

Designed to deliver a high concentration of actives, serums are the most common form of delivery for vitamin C. “They keep that ingredient stable and enhance penetration through the outer skin layer,” says Zeichner. As far as complementary ingredients are concerned, Wexler believes vitamin C works best in combination with vitamin E, ferulic Acid, vitamin B, and hyaluronic acid. “Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants and support each other,” she explains, adding that ferulic acid is another antioxidant which boosts and stabilizes both vitamin C and vitamin E in fighting free radical damage and collagen production. That being said, sensitive skin types might benefit from mixing their serum into a moisturizer, or opting for a vitamin C-infused moisturizer for gentler delivery.

Buy SkinCeuticals at their website $166
Buy L’Oreal on Amazon $33

Start Slowly

To keep skin happy, take a gradual approach when adding vitamin C to your regimen. “With any active, it’s important to start slowly when incorporating ingredients into your routine,” says Somerville. “I’ve seen some amazing results with clients who’ve added vitamin C into their regimen at three times a week and worked up to daily use.” To that end, don’t expect instant gratification. “It takes several weeks of continuous use to start to see improvement in skin tone,” says Zeichner, adding that because it’s a key ingredient for prevention, some benefits will be imperceptible.

Buy Tata Harper at Saks Fifth Avenue $110
Buy Glow Recipe at Sephora $49

Store It Safely

Vitamin C serums come in two broad categories: Water-based and anhydrous (which literally means “without water”). The former is more unstable and light sensitive, and is typically held in opaque or amber colored bottles for that reason, while the latter tends to be more stable, even in the presence of sunlight. No matter what kind you opt for, ensuring your vitamin C is stabilized and kept airtight in a dark, cool space is essential. “If the color becomes dark or cloudy it has already oxidized,” cautions Wexler, adding that the same is true if you detect a rancid odor.

Buy BeautyStat at Violet Grey $80
Buy Tatcha at Violet Grey $88

Layer It Under SPF

Unlike hydroxyacids or retinol, vitamin C does not make the skin more vulnerable to sunburn. That being said, the most potent forms of vitamin C are vulnerable to light exposure, and therefore the use of vitamin C must be in conjunction with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage. The good news is that, when layered underneath sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, vitamin C protects the skin even further. “Think of it as a safety net to help neutralize free radical damage that can occur from UV light penetration despite our best protection efforts with sunscreen,” says Zeichner.

Buy Glossier on their website $35
Buy COSRX at SokoGlam $27

VOGUE article

Best Vitamin C Serums That Could Transform Your Skin

Vitamin C can do more than just help you kick that cold! In fact, this potent antioxidant can actually help transform the look for your skin thanks to its ability to boost collagen, minimize acne scars, and reduce signs of aging. But if you think a daily glass of orange juice is all you need for a glowing complexion, think again.

When ingested orally, the vitamin’s benefits barely ever make it to our skin. Instead, you’ll have to apply it topically in the form of a vitamin C serum in order to see the multifaceted ingredient start to work its magic on your skin. Besides brightening and evening out your skin tone, the versatile antioxidant also works to improve skin’s hydration and prevent wrinkles.

No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence

With 5% pure Vitamin C. Easy to mix, at-home activation. Use for two weeks for visible results. Promotes brighter, healthier and more radiant looking skin. Evens skin tone and texture.

Shop at Target $20

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum

Formulated with amino acids and antioxidants, this face serum minimizes and prevents the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. 

Shop at Dermstore $78

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

A potent vitamin C day serum packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and fruit enzymes to visibly firm, brighten, and improve signs of photoaging. 

Shop at Sephora $80

BeautyRx Skincare Triple Vitamin C Serum

Infused with 10% Antioxidant Serum and three concentrated forms of Vitamin C, this powerful formula reduces the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, unveiling a more even skin tone. 

Shop at Dermstore $95

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum

SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, this formula improves signs of aging and photodamage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion. Lastly, this powerful formula helps neutralize free radicals induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA) and ozone pollution (O3). 

Shop at Dermstore $166

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

A serum targeted to fight the look of dullness and discoloration, while visibly diminishing the signs of aging. 

Shop at Sephora $85

DIOR Capture Youth Glow Booster Age-Delay Illuminating Serum

 Murunga plum, known to be 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges, combined with alpha hydroxy acid helps to brighten the complexion and smooth skin texture. Enriched with antioxidant-boosting iris extract, this serum has a lightweight texture that offers a natural glow and energizes skin, helping it resist aggressions (stress, fatigue, and jet lag). 

Shop at Sephora $95

TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum

With almost 8,000 five-star reviews, this serum by TruSkin is one of the most popular beauty products on Amazon. The serum’s formula combines vitamin C with botanical hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to help diminish the look of dark spots, wrinkles, and fine lines while also firming and brightening your skin. Happy customers rave that this handy product started to transform their skin in just one week! A lot of reviewers have even been uploading before and after photos of themselves to show off how clear and bright their skin looks after using the serum.

Shop at Amazon $20

Olehenriksen Truth Serum

Over 150,000 Sephora shoppers agree this is one of the best vitamin C serums around. Many customers love how quickly the product absorbed in their skin, while others couldn’t get over how delicious the serum’s citrus scent was. One reviewer called it a “game changer” before adding “seriously this stuff works. It has truly made my skin better.”

Shop at Sephora $50

Timeless Skincare 20% C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum

This potent serum is so popular it earned itself an Amazon’s Choice recommendation. You can use the powerful product on its own or add two or three drops to your daily moisturizer if your skin needs the extra hydration. One glowing review said, “This is a wonderful serum. It dramatically refined my skin’s texture and brightened my complexion. It absorbs quickly, and the smell dissipates once it dries.”

Shop at Amazon $25

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This award-winning serum combines vitamin C with hyaluronic acid and konjac root powder to help soften, smooth, and brighten your skin’s texture. Eighty-four percent of Ulta customers said they would recommend this product to their friends and family, with most customers saying the serum left their skin glowing.

Shop at ULTA $34

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum

You can say goodbye to fine lines and wrinkles thanks to this potent serum by beloved beauty brand Mario Badescu. Ulta customers can’t stop raving about how fast the product works. Many reviewers said they saw dark spots and acne scars fade in just five days of regular use.

Shop at ULTA $45

Obagi Professional-C Serum

Dermstore customers love this concentrated vitamin C serum thanks to its powerful anti-aging properties. Many reviewers gave it two thumbs up, saying the serum left them with healthier-looking skin that actually glowed. They also loved that it also helps prevent any future damage from pesky UV rays.

Shop at Dermstore $127

InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum

This nutrient-packed serum by InstaNatural is a best seller on Amazon thanks to the 2,700 five-star reviews customers have given it. Customers raved that the serum not only helped reduce the appearance of old acne scars but it also helped clear up current breakouts and blackheads. One happy reviewer called it, “the nectar of the gods for your skin.”

Shop at Amazon $18

Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum

This vitamin C serum from Miranda Kerr’s skincare line Kora Organics may be new to the market, but it’s already racked up over 8,000 likes at Sephora. During a clinical study, 90 percent of participants said their skin looked smoother, while 80 percent said their skin looked brighter and more radiant. “I love this product. It’s been over a week and I noticed a difference in my skin. The smell is amazing, and the results are even better. My face is brighter and my hyperpigmentation and acne scarring is noticeably reduced,” raved one customer.

Shop at Sephora $68

LilyAna Naturals Vitamin C Serum

This popular serum from LilyAna Naturals is infused with jojoba oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid (along with the vitamin C) to help hydrate and moisturize your skin. The powerful product works to firm and smooth your skin’s texture, along with reducing the appearance of sunspots, redness, and other discolorations. The best part?  It’s non- comedogenic (read: safe for acne-prone skin), so you’ll never have to worry about it clogging your pores or causing breakouts. With details like this, it’s no wonder why more than 3,300 Amazon customers gave the serum an impressive 4.4-star rating.

Shop at Amazon $30

Tatcha Violet C Brightening Serum

If you suffer from dull or tired-looking skin, consider this vitamin C serum from Tatcha. It is specially formulated with 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA serum that work together to soften and smooth skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion. The beloved serum has more than 60,000 likes and a 4.4-star rating at Sephora. What’s more? 88 percent of customers said they love it so much, they’d recommend it to others.

Shop at Sephora $88

Kate Somerville + Retinol Vita C Power Serum

This vitamin C serum from Kate Somerville is packed with retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Along with improving the tone and elasticity of your skin, the product can also help your skin look brighter, smoother,  and more luminous. “Can’t say enough. Literally fixed my tired, acne-prone, and scarred skin in just a week! I have literally tried everything out there from $700 creams to $50 ones and this one is the holy grail,” raved one customer.

Shop at Sephora $98

InStyle article 1
InStyle article 2

The Best The Ordinary Products Worth Your Money

Few brands have revolutionized the way we shop for skin care the way The Ordinary has. Before the Canadian brand burst onto the scene, accessibility to cheap high-quality products had mostly been restricted to makeup. Even with so much innovation among drugstore skin-care brands, few affordable options really rival what luxury serums and moisturizers have to offer.

That’s why buzz for the best The Ordinary products refuses to die down. The brand takes a clinical, science-based approach to skin care and specializes in single-ingredient-driven products that deliver targeted results. The best part? Nothing costs more than $20. In fact, the majority of it clocks in for less than $10. This is largely in part thanks to The Ordinary’s dedication to transparency, resulting in prices that aren’t significantly marked up.

But despite its low price point, the brand can be intimidating. Because the names of the products refer to skin-care ingredients–not results—they all sound like something out of an advanced medical textbook. Meaning you’re left trying to decipher what the hell ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (a vitamin C derivative) or epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside (an anti-inflammatory compound in green tea) does.

GLAMOUR editors went through hundreds of dollars of The Ordinary skin-care products to help explain the cryptic descriptions of each and narrow down what’s actually worth adding to our medicine cabinets. 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

For true, deep moisture, you’re supposed to use a serum or acid that can penetrate deeper than your standard emollient. Enter hyaluronic acid. It provides a healthy glow, leaves the skin dewy but not oily.

$7 at Sephora

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Yes, part of this product’s appeal is that it looks like you’re doing an at-home blood facial, but the results are just as Instagrammable. The mix of AHAs and BHAs deeply exfoliates to clear up congestion, dead skin, and hyperpigmentation. The skin looks brighter and smoother after one use—with no irritation to sensitive skin.

$7.50 at SkinStore

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

Apply a pea-size dollop once every day for a week after washing the face. The moisturizer comes out with a sunscreen-like consistency, but it blends in with the skin in seconds. After a week of using it, the cheeks would be plump and flake-free, probably because it has hyaluronic acid, which helps skin cells retain moisture. With such noticeable results for a low-maintenance moisturizer, we can count on this for the winter months.

$7.70 at Sephora

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

The mornings after use (preferably three times a week), the skin is brighter, glowier, and a smidge bouncier.

$6.80 at ULTA

The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer 

The first noticeable thing about The Ordinary’s High-Adherence Silicone Primer is its texture, which feels just like a creamy moisturizing lotion. Once applied, it makes the skin feel so soft that you almost don’t want to put on makeup for fear of losing the silkiness. The makeup goes on smooth and stays matte throughout the day.

$4.90 at Sephora

The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%

Pycnogenol is an extract derived from pine trees that has the ability to boost collagen and elastin production in your skin. Plus, it’s a great hydrator. The skin looks and feels healthier after using it.

$11.90 at LookFantastic

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil 

It’s great for moisturizing and nourishing the skin, yet it still feels lightweight. Using it in tandem with a retinol can significantly fade post-acne hyperpigmentation, and it definitely makes a difference in the glow factor. It has a slightly earthy smell.

$9.80 at Sephora

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution 

In reality, chemical exfoliants are much gentler and better than physical exfoliants, like face scrubs or loofas. This glycolic acid visibly resurfaces the skin, and it’s pretty gentle—though you shouldn’t use it more than every other night. Plus it’s affordable and lasts forever.

$8.70 at Sephora

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 

I’ve always been curious about azelaic acid, since I’ve heard it can treat both acne and dark spots while being safe enough to use even during pregnancy. The texture is super luxe and absorbs nicely, can provide an improvement on a stubborn breakout, and make post-acne dark spots look less opaque.

 $8.20 at LookFantastic

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

While it doesn’t help with dark circles (sadly, not much will), the lightweight serum instantly de-puffs and smooths out any baggage. It brightens the eyes in seconds, and makes it look like you got a full eight hours of sleep.

$6.70 at Sephora

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion

This is an incredibly gentle retinol option. The serum is an almost milky consistency, and after a month of using it, users report that they’ve started to see a few lines on their foreheads fade. It’s also a wonder for smoothing out the texture of the skin.

$9.80 at Sephora

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

Perfect for a pre-bedtime ritual, it’s is only $5; plus, it can be mixed with your other favourite serums to reduce its somewhat gritty texture. If you’re looking to fight wrinkles and even out your skin tone, this one is a great bet.

$5.80 at Sephora

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

Squalane is a fantastic hydrator—it’s nonsticky, fast-absorbing, and has humectant (meaning, moisture-drawing) properties that work in tandem to make your skin look crazy plump. The downside is that it’s traditionally derived from animals. But that’s not the case with this serum. Instead, it’s powered by plants, so you feel even better about using it when you see dewy, bouncy skin.

$8.20 at LookFantastic

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F

The name of this sounds insane (and impossible to pronounce), and I’ll admit that, going in, I had no idea what it did. After a little research and a test-drive, though, I’m sold. It’s basically a form of vitamin C (which helps brighten and even out your skin tone), while vitamin F is a fatty acid rich in omega-6 that helps maintain your skin barrier (when it’s disrupted, all kinds of things like acne and redness occur). You notice a major difference in the condition of the skin after just one use—it is noticeably smoother, firmer, and overall much brighter and more radiant.

$17.80 at Sephora

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

It’s lower-strength and delivered with squalane, so it’s a bit less irritating than other ones out there. Start by using it one to three times per week, use it only at night, and know that if you don’t wear sunscreen after using it, it will damage your skin.

$5.80 at ULTA

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

Mandelic acid is really slept on—and hard to find—so it’s exciting to see this hyperpigmentation-fighting superstar available at a lower price point. It’s super gentle yet has helped reduce some of the acne as well as the scars it leaves behind.

$6.80 at ULTA

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

This pocket-sized, super-affordable charcoal-colored mask is the only thing that’s been helping with my quarantine breakouts. I rate it highly for both skintertainment and effectiveness. It gives me a bright, exfoliated glow without irritating my skin. There is simply nothing more I want from a product.

$12 at ULTA

GLAMOUR article

The Best Vitamin C Serums for a Brighter Complexion

Whether you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation, skin dullness, dark marks, or sagging skin, seeking out the best vitamin C serum is likely important to you. “I look at vitamin C as that little black dress in your closet. It’s definitely one of those things you must have. It works to boost circulation, amplify the skin’s complexion and stimulate collagen production,” founder of Dermasaa and in-house esthetician at Brooklyn Face & Eye Samantha Mims tells Vogue.

For those reasons, Mims has a few go-tos that she recommends to her clients: Epi.logic’s Daily Dose SerumSkin Regimen’s 15.0 Vitamin C Booster, and the Solavedi Organics Rx Remedy. “Each treatment serum is developed to address concerns associated with aging,” she notes. Mims adds that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way when it comes to applying the serum– what’s more important is what you do afterwards. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental factors such as pollution and UV light. So whether you’re deciding to use your serum in the morning, evening or both, it’s important you’re following up with a layer of broad spectrum sunscreen daily.” Celebrity esthetician Vanessa Marc, of Vanessa Marc Spa—who counts Jasmine Tookes, Alton Mason, and Justine Skye as clients—recommends Teami Blends Vitamin C Serum because “it has hibiscus and vitamin C in it. This product is all natural which makes it vegan, plant-based, and cruelty free.”

As for Paula Bourelly, MD, a dermatologist at Olney Dermatology Associates, she recommends products with ingredients like arbutin and ubiquinone, as they both have “brightening properties which help to lighten brown spots, and as antioxidants the ascorbic acid and tocopherol add another layer of defense to traditional sunscreens.” Citrix C Pro-Collagen, Brightening Serum by Topix is her favorite product to recommend to her patients who struggle with hyperpigmentation issues like melasma and freckling. She suggests using it in the morning before applying SPF 30 or higher.

VOGUE article

The 5 Active Ingredients You Actually Need In Your Skincare Routine

How do you approach your skincare routine? Is it with a certain sense of abandon, incorporating any and every strong active ingredient? Or have you taken a more measured route – stepping back, consulting a professional, and considering what will work best for your skin? If you’re in the first camp, a little swotting up is all that’s required to get you back on the beauty straight and narrow. Thanks to LA-based celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, who has worked with everyone from Julianne Moore to Emma Roberts, we have her book Glow From Within to consult on the rules of skincare. And Vargas knows a thing or two about what makes for a robust, radiant complexion. 

An advocate of a “pillar-based”, 360° approach to the skin, Vargas has conquered all manner of concerns in her time as a facialist. “Beauty isn’t skin deep,” she says. “Today, most of my clients know that they need to eat nutritious meals, avoid particular foods, and drink enough water to achieve their own brand of youth.” Other positive lifestyle choices she recommends are good self-care, paying attention to your body, prioritising sleep, reducing stress, and doing some exercise. She sums it up as making “time for connection and joy” in her book.

As for products, “I recommend a minimalist regimen,” Vargas says. “Cleanse at night and apply a serum or a mask for sleeping. In the morning, cleanse or rinse, apply a serum, moisturiser and a sunscreen,” she says. “I also exfoliate twice a week and do a beauty mask once a week.” Finding the right cleanser for you is relatively straightforward – simply use a gentle formula that targets your skin issues and doesn’t leave your face feeling tight after washing. So far, so simple. But Vargas is also enthusiastic about another, potentially confusing pillar of good skincare: active ingredients. So where to start?

Vargas says any effective routine should incorporate a retinol at night. “It’s great for all skin types, and using a vitamin C in conjunction for the day will help brighten skin.” Despite what many people think, good retinoids can be bought over the counter – brands like Skinceuticals and Medik8 offer an array of options that cause little to no skin irritation. Medik8’s Crystal Retinal 3 Serum is a brilliant entry point and will help to increase cell turnover, leading to more even skin tone, smoother texture and, of course, fewer fine lines. No 7’s new Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex is a good high street option. There’s also Vargas’s own brilliant vitamin C serum (the Rescue Serum), which combines vitamin C with super-hydrating squalene and elderberry extract, a powerful antioxidant. You can also find it more potently in Vichy’s LiftActiv Peptide C Ampoules, which contain 10% fresh vitamin C as well as hyaluronic acid within each capsule.

Exfoliation is also at the top of Vargas’s list when it comes to encouraging a glow back into the skin. “It usually acts as a mini facial and brings back glow immediately,” she says. She recommends a fruit enzyme-filled mask or treatment, with one or two other alpha hydroxy acids (actives that are excellent for keeping skin healthy and luminous), like lactic, kojic, mandelic or glycolic, to gently nibble away at the pore-clogging dead cells that can sit upon skin, making it look far less happy than it should.
Try Sand & Sky Emu Apple Enzyme Power PolishHerbivore’s Prism 20% AHA + 5% BHA Exfoliating Glow Facial,or Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask. Note that she recommends performing a treatment like this twice a week, rather than every day.

For hydration, Vargas is a fan of hyaluronic acid, the wonder molecule that can hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water, meaning it hydrates and plumps the skin as no other active can. Niod’s Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex is a great option, since it contains 15 different forms of hyaluronic (which means it’s more likely to conquer the skin barrier), or Dr Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Acid is also highly concentrated, with long and short chain hyaluronic molecules for better penetration.

Of course, there are other active ingredients that can prove beneficial in any good beauty routine, but as Vargas points out, these are the key power players that form the basis of excellent skincare. Listening to your skin and what it’s telling you, however, is also key – what works for one face won’t necessarily work for another. “Unhealthy skin can appear red, inflamed or irritated and, when pinched, may not bounce back but will tent up in a wrinkly shape. Or you could simply be struggling with breakouts,” says Vargas. If that’s the case, combat irritation with soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide, aloe vera, green tea or cica, to name four, then reconsider the product you’ve used and whether you might have overdone it. 

After that? Your fifth and perhaps most important active, SPF (which is actually a cocktail of different actives). Apply, and you’re ready to take on the world. 

VOGUE article

Best Beauty Foods

Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage your metabolism, cause weight gain, and even damage organs, such as your heart and liver.
But what you eat also affects another organ — your skin.
As scientists learn more about diet and the body, it’s increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.

  • Fatty fish – salmon, mackerel, and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. They’re rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining skin health.
    Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized. In fact, an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin. The omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
    Some studies show that fish oil supplements may help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting your skin, such as psoriasis and lupus.
    Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for your skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for helping protect your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation.
  • Avocados – associated with more supple, springy skin. Preliminary evidence shows that avocados contain compounds that may help protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging.
    Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage.
    Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
  • Walnuts – they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
    Zinc is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier. It’s also necessary for wound healing and combating both bacteria and inflammation.
    Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, in addition to 4–5 grams of protein per ounce.
  • Sunflower seeds – One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% of the DV for selenium, 14% of the DV for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein.
  • Sweet potatoes – one 1/2-cup (100-gram) serving of baked sweet potato contains enough beta carotene to provide more than six times the DV of vitamin A. Also helps keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock, preventing sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
    Interestingly, high amounts of beta carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier appearance.
  • Red or yellow bell peppers – Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. One cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 156% of the DV for vitamin A.
    They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong. A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 211% of the DV for vitamin C.
  • Broccoli – full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C (for collagen production).
    It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta carotene. Lutein helps protect your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled.
    But broccoli florets also pack a special compound called sulforaphane, which boasts some impressive potential benefits. It may even have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer.
    Sulforaphane is likewise a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body.
  • Tomatoes – a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene. Beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling!
  • Soy – contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body. One small study involving middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. These isoflavones not only help to protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation — which may reduce the risk of some skin cancers.
  • Dark chocolate – After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn, and had better blood flow — which brings more nutrients to your skin.
    Another study found that eating 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate
    Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum!
  • Green tea – help protect your skin from sun damage and aging. Green tea also improves the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of the skin.
    While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk, as there’s evidence that milk could reduce the effect of green tea’s antioxidants!
  • Red grapes – Resveratrol helps reduce the effects of aging by slowing the production of harmful free radicals.
    This beneficial compound is also found in red wine. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to affect your skin.

What you eat can significantly affect your skin health.

Make sure you’re getting enough essential nutrients to protect your skin. The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong, and attractive. Remember to drink enough water, as well!

Reference: HealthLine article

Skincare Techniques I Wish I Learned Sooner

  1. Don’t over cleanse – depending on your skin type and needs, one cleanse in the morning and one before bed (followed by moisturizer and serums, respectively) is enough. When you use more than one cleanser, they can strip the skin of moisture and have an opposite effect.
  2. Retinol, Vitamin C, etc in cleansers are just a marketing ploy – these ingredients should be in the leave-on treatments (such as moisturizers and serums), because you won’t get any benefits from it if the cleanser is on your skin for ten seconds.
  3. Don’t overcomplicate your skincare routine – be especially careful with AHAs and BHAs in exfoliants and toners, there IS such a thing as too much when it comes to skincare routines, sometimes the simpler and the less products – the better and more effective.
  4. Oils don’t moisturize – they soften up the top layer of the skin, but they can’t pull the moisture into the skin (you need a humectant to do that), so the oil should never count as your moisturizer. It’s a nice last step in a skincare routine to lock everything in and make the skin nice and soft, though.
  5. Use humectants on damp skin – they’re pulling the moisture into your skin, for example hyaluronic acid: it looks for moisture to pull into the malleable skin, so if the skin or the environment are dry, it’s going to reach into the lower layers of the skin to pull the moisture out of there and dehydrate your skin. When the skin is damp, apply the humectant, followed by moisturizer and a serum for best results.