The skincare industry is packed with new ingredients being touted as the next big breakthrough; ingredients that promise to brighten, tighten, and any other adjective you can think of to convey the idea of glowing, clear skin – the ultimate goal of any skincare aficionado. But all of that information brings a new question: which ingredients should you be looking for in your products? Which ones are actually effective?
There are so many skin types out there, so to say one ingredient would solve everything would be a bit of a stretch. A good place to start would be looking at ingredients suited for sensitive skin regardless of your skin type, as they are least likely to cause a reaction. Looking for anti-inflammatory ingredients may be beneficial, to reduce inflammation caused by stress, diet, etc. While it may be tempting to buy into the buzziest ingredient of the moment, or shun anything that falls under the “chemical” label, choosing a combination of effective, safe plant-based and active ingredients is likely to give you the best of both worlds.
When considering ingredients, think about what you would like to accomplish with your skincare routine. A general rule of thumb is to have an ingredient to exfoliate, hydrate, and moisturize. Other additional ingredients can be to soothe stressed skin, brighten dull skin, or to protect against environmental stressors. According to Dr. Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist practicing at MDCS and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medicine, “it can take up to several weeks to months for the skin to adjust and see changes from products [and ingredients],” therefore don’t be discouraged when you introduce new ingredients. Here’s a list of ingredients to keep an eye out for in your products:
Niacinamide: A form of Vitamin B-3, niacinamide works to strengthen your skin’s barrier, offering protection while also aiding in repairing. In addition, Niacinamide is known for reducing fine lines, minimizing pores, and can even help with reducing breakouts.
Bakuchiol: Extracted from the ayurvedic Babchi plant, Bakuchiol helps gently exfoliate by simulating cellular turnover, much like Retinol or Retin-A. But this plant-based alternative is far less irritating, while offering anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. According to Dr. Marisa Garshick, “It is especially good for those who are unable to tolerate retinoids and those with sensitive skin.”
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic acid is a molecule naturally occurring in our skin that can potentially hold up to a thousand times its weight in water. As we age, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our ski depletes, which leads to loss of moisture and dehydrated skin. Products with hyaluronic acid can help hydrate and plump skin.
Squalane: Squalane is a form of Squalene, which is naturally occurring in our skin as well. While the ingredient is originally found in shark liver, most companies now extract from plant-based sources such as olives and sugarcane. Squalane is an effective moisturizer for those with dry, combination or sensitive skin.
There are plenty of other ingredients, of course, so don’t be afraid to do some research and experiment!