There are a number of skincare ingredients you should look out for in your products, ones that are good for different skincare concerns including ageing, acne, redness, clogged pores and pigmentation. We break down what each skincare ingredient is good for and its benefits on your skin.
Vitamin A aka retinol can be used to help rewind the signs of ageing. It works to rejuvenate and resurface the skin by speeding up cell turnover, leaving the skin smoother, brighter and more youthful looking.
Retinol is the number one ingredient in skincare that is aimed explicitly at diminishing the signs of ageing and reducing fine lines and wrinkles, as well as improving uneven skin tone and pigmentation.
Vitamin C is universally touted as the powerhouse skincare ingredient that restores glow, smoothens fine lines and acts as a barrier against the stresses of day to day life - everything that contributes to a more youthful complexion.
It acts as a shield against pollution, environmental stresses, excessive sun exposure and free radicals – damaged cells that contribute to ageing on a daily basis. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is in the antioxidant family and so works to protect and detoxify: it protects the structure of our skin and promotes the production of collagen to keep it looking plump and firm
Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful, non-toxic, oxidizing agent which is used to tackle whiteheads, blackheads and larger lesions. It kills bacteria quickly and people can start to see results within days, but it can cause dryness and redness.
Different products may contain different amounts of Benzoyl Peroxide in it: 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent are the strengths most common in topical skincare, though the more concentrated they are the harder they are to buy, especially over the counter. It should be noted that it can also bleach fabrics, so users should be careful when applying it.
Parabens are preservatives found in most pharmaceutical and cosmetic products to prevent mould, fungus and bacteria growing and increase the life of your favourite beauty products. There is a lot of discussion around whether parabens are harmful, since they were linked to breast cancer, however the research is inconclusive and their toxicity has not been proven. This has not stopped consumers from seeking out paraben-free alternatives such as paraben-free shampoo and paraben-free deodorants.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid are used in products to treat acne. They work by drying up pimples, blackheads and whiteheads and causing the top layer of skin to peel off. Products containing AHAs may cause a mild tingling or discomfort to the skin, and cause it to become super sensitive to UV rays, so it is advisable mostly overnight or worn with SPF.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid and is widely acknowledged as being an ingredient that is great for tackling acne. It is considered a keratolytic medication which means it exfoliates inside the hair follicle to unclog the pores, and as its related to aspirin, which has anti-inflammatory properties, it calms redness and can decrease inflammation.
Salicylic acid is extremely accessible and can be found in numerous face washes, but is not the best ingredient to use if you have really dry skin as it will dry out your skin further.
Vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamid) works to reduce inflammation and redness as well as rejunvenate and even out skin tone.
Vitamin B3 is less harsh than AHAs as it does not tend to irritate or dry out the skin. However, used with salicylic acid, for example, it is great at lightening pigmentation, strengthening the elasticity of the skin and improving its overall appearance.
Used on its own or with other agents such as salicylic acid, sulfur is considered to be successful in treating dermalogical conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and especially acne. Taken topically, sulfur helps to remove dead skin cells and excess oil as well as killing acne bacteria, so that pores become more clear and breakouts are less common.