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:
1. Alpha Hydroxy Acids
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 AHAs) stimulate 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!
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.
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 you can still use glycolic acid but not if it means giving up on salicylic acid. Salicylic acid unclogs the pores from within and prevents breakouts so either stick to that or use both.
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00): glycolic acid + salicylic acid. Available at Sephora.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion ($29.00): glycolic acid + antioxidants. Available at Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
- The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£7.00): a dupe for Pixi Glow! Available at Asos and Cult Beauty.
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; it speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process to keep it smoother and brighter.
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.
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.
- Neocutis Nouvelle + Retinol Correction Cream ($150.00): time-released for sensitive skin. Available at Skinstore.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00): best for beginners. Available at Look Fantastic and Paula’s Choice.
- The Ordinary Granactiv Retinoid 2% Emulsion (£8.00): for advanced retinol users. Available at Cult Beauty and Look Fantastic.
Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol
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!
Side effects: Vitamin C can be irritating if you have sensitive skin. Try using a derivatives, like ascorbyl glycoside, instead than pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid).
Who can use it: everyone can use antioxidants.
- Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00): Vitamins C + E + ferulic acid + superoxide dismutase + green tea + more. Available at Look Fantastic and Paula’s Choice.
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($165.00): Vitamins C + E + ferulic acid. Available at Dermstore.
- The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% (£5.50): resveratrol + ferulic acid. Available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty.
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.
Side effects: none!
Who can use it: everyone!
- Nia24 Skin Strengthening Complex ($93.00): best for dry skin. Available at Dermstore.
- Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00): ideal to mix with your fave serums and moisturisers. Available at Look Fantastic and Paula’s Choice.
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5.00): best for oily skin. Available at Asos and Cult Beauty.
Related: Is Niacinamide A Skincare Do It All?
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.
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.
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).
- Elta MD Pure Broad Spectrum SPF 47 ($22.00): 10% zinc oxide + 5.5% titanium dioxide. Available at Dermstore.
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($30.00): 2% titanium dioxide + 17% zinc oxide. Available at Nordstrom.
- Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00): 9.1% titanium dioxide + 19.3% zinc oxide. Available at Nordstrom.
How many anti-aging superstars are you using? Leave a comment and let me know.
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