Deep down you’ve always known it…
The fountain of youth doesn’t exist. There’s no magic ingredient that will make all your wrinkles disappear and take the clock back 20 years.
Aging is a complex process. You can’t stop it with a cream. But you can attack it from every front. You can stop UV rays from hitting your skin, keep collagen production up to speed, and destroy those nasty free radicals before they wreak any serious damage.
It’s too much work for only one superhero, no matter how powerful it is. You need a whole army of superstars to win this fight. Where to find them?
You’re in luck. Here are the best 5 anti-aging ingredients you should be include in your skincare routine now:
Best Anti-Aging Ingredient #1: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
What they are: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are a family of exfoliants. Their most important members include glycolic acid and lactic acid.
Why they’re anti-aging superstars: Regular exfoliation is key to younger-looking skin. Removing dead cells on the surface reduces the appearance of wrinkles and makes skin brighter and smoother. Plus, glycolic acid (my fave AHA) stimulates collagen production, the protein that keeps skin firm and wrinkle-free. Compare that to scrubs that only get rid of dead cells and nothing more!
Who can use it: Everyone can use AHAs. If you can, go with glycolic acid – it has the strongest anti-aging properties. If your skin is sensitive, lactic acid is a gentler option. If your skin is oily or acne-prone, I recommend you stick to salicylic acid (it unclogs the pores from within and prevents breakouts) for OTC exfoliation and visits you dermatologist for AHAs peels every few months.
How to use it: Every other night, after cleansing. If your skin is oily or acne-prone, go for peels every 3-4 months.
Side effects: AHAs can irritate skin if you’ve never used them before. Start with a low dose twice a week and build up amount and frequency from there.
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00): Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion ($29.00): Dermstore, Feel Unique, and Paula’s Choice
- The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£7.00): Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Should You Use?
Don’t know how to layer all these actives together in your skincare routine, so they won’t deactivate each other? Download your FREE “How To Combine Actives Like A Pro” to find out:
Best Anti-Aging Ingredient #2: Retinol
What it is: A form of Vitamin A, the only vitamin that’s been scientifically proven to reduce the wrinkles you already have (not just their appearance!).
Why it’s an anti-aging superstars: It fights wrinkles in three different ways: it destroys free radicals before they can cause wrinkles; it boosts collagen production to keep skin firm; and it speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process to keep it smoother and brighter.
Who can use it: Anyone can use it. If you have sensitive skin, try retinol products that use time-release technology (they release retinol gradually over a period of several hours instead than hitting your skin with it all at once). If these are too irritating for you, your skin may not be able to tolerate retinol at all.
How to use it: every other night, after cleansing.
Side effects: If you’ve never used it before, retinol can irritate your skin. Start with low concentrations (1% is already huge!) a couple of times a week and build up both dose and frequency.
- Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($62.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Sephora
- The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane (£5.80): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol
Best Anti-Aging Ingredient #3: Antioxidants
What they are: Free radicals’ arch-enemies. Their family includes vitamins C and E, green tea, ferulic acid and more.
Why they’re anti-aging superstars: They neutralise free radicals before they can wreak havoc on your skin and give you wrinkles and dark spots. Some antioxidants, like vitamin C, go the extra mile and boost collagen production too. Just don’t use it alone. When it comes to antioxidants, the more your skin has, the merrier!
Who can use it: Everyone can use antioxidants.
How to use it: Layer your Vitamin C serum in the morning under sunscreen to boost sun protection. If you’re using a different antioxidant serum, apply morning and/or evening, as close to clean skin as possible. Or just pick moisturisers full of antioxidants.
Side effects: Vitamin C can be irritating if you have sensitive skin. Try using a derivatives, like ascorbyl glycoside.
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum: available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% (£5.50):available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
Related: Common Antioxidants In Skincare Products
Best Anti-Aging Ingredient #4: Niacinamide
What it is: A form of vitamin B3.
Why it’s an antiaging superstar: it’s an all-round ingredient: it reduces fine lines and wrinkles, hydrates skin, fades dark spots, brightens the complexion, soothes rosacea and treats acne.
Who can use it: Everyone!
How to use it: The easiest way is to use a moisturiser with niacinamide. Or you can get a booster and mix a few drops with your moisturiser.
Side effects: None!
- Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00): available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- The Inkey List Niacinamide ($6.99): Available at Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Skinstore
Related: Is Niacinamide A Skincare Do It All?
Best Anti-Aging Ingredient #5: Sunscreen
What it is: The most powerful antiaging product in your arsenal. Its job is to protect you from UV harm.
Why it’s an antiaging superstar: UV filters absorb ultraviolet radiation and turn it into a less damaging form of energy (heat). UV rays are responsible for 80% of premature aging – none of the superstars mentioned above can do much for your skin if UV rays keep damaging it every single day. Yep, UV rays can get through clouds and be reflected on snow. Rain or shine, winter or summer, PUT IT ON.
Who can use it: Everyone MUST use sunscreen. If your skin is sensitive, opt for a mineral sunscreen (all the options below are good for you).
How to use it: It’s the last step of your morning skincare routine. Apply 1/3 of a teaspoon for face and neck and reapply as needed during the day.
Side effects: Most UV filters can irritate sensitive skin. If that’s you, switch to mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide. It’s the gentlest UV filter there is. But it can leave a white cast behind.
- Elta MD Pure Broad Spectrum SPF 47 ($22.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($30.00): available at Dermstore
- Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00): available at Nordstrom and Ulta
Related: Mineral VS Chemical Sunscreen: Which One Is Right For You?