There are so many buzzy brightening, firming and smoothing products on the market, all of which promise to nix your fine lines, get rid of your wrinkles and lift up your sagging skin. But when it comes down to picking the ingredient that’ll actually work for you, it can be a little difficult to navigate the anti-ageing skincare aisle. We spoke to the pros about the proven ingredients that’ll really work, so you can scan for them on the back of your bottles, tubes and tubs.
“Ceramides are the lipids that form the outer layer of your skin and keep it hydrated, healthy and moisturised. As we age, ceramide levels start depleting and the skin starts looking dull and dry as the skin barrier gets compromised,” says Dr Madhulika Mhatre, dermatologist, Wockhardt Hospital. She suggests sealing in all the moisture into your face with a ceramide-based moisturiser. Ceramides are the glue that hold our skin cells together, and once you replenish it, it will result in skin that is plumper and firmer.
Up until your 30s, cell turnover happens every 28 days, so you’re left with a smooth, soft layer of skin always. But as you get older, this regeneration slows down, turning over every 50 or even 70 days. Retinoids work by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die more rapidly, therefore amping up new cell growth. In its active form, it helps increase cell turnover, fade hyperpigmentation, stop the breakdown of collagen and balance skin, therefore tricking the skin into thinking it is younger than it really is. It is an anti-ageing MVP for so many reasons, but because it calls for extremely quick exfoliation, it may cause dryness and redness. Dr Rinky Kapoor, consultant dermatologist, The Esthetic Clinics, suggests starting at the lowest strength and working your way up, or trying a sandwich method, in which you apply retinol in between two layers of moisturiser to prevent any flakiness or irritation.
3) Coenzyme Q10
CoQ10 aids in cell activity. More energised cells mean more healthy ones, so your skin is more likely to turn over, and utilise its nutrients in the best—and most timely—manner. Plus, as an antioxidant, it protects the skin from photoageing due to destroyed fibroblasts and degraded collagen fibres. It is a great ingredient to have in your eye cream, as CoQ10 can help prevent the formation of wrinkles in the thin skin of the periorbital area.
4) Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also called L-ascorbic acid is an antioxidant that is present in the skin—it protects healthy skin cells by giving free radicals an electron, therefore rendering them harmless. In this way, Vitamin C is able to boost collagen production, which protects the skin from fine lines, wrinkles and even sun damage—by deactivating free radicals created from UV rays, says Dr Kapoor. She suggests adding it to your daytime skincare routine, wearing it as a serum or moisturiser in tandem with a protective sunscreen.
Peptides are amino acids that supplement the reserve of proteins already in the skin, to amp up processes to fight signs of ageing like wrinkles and fine lines. Peptides are able to communicate with the skin cells to increase hydration, rev up collagen production and soften muscle contractions. Collagen serves as the scaffolding of the skin, so a lack of it causes skin to sag. Applying peptides to the skin suggests to the skin cells that there are gaps to fill, therefore tricking the skin into synthesising more collagen.
“Another name for Vitamin B3, this versatile ingredient not only helps with skin brightening but also has anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties. It especially tackles pigmentation, dark spots, discolouration and dullness well,” says Dr Mhatre. Since it deactivates free radicals, it plays a part in ensuring that the collagen and elastin reserves are high. It also boosts ceramide levels in the skin and stimulates circulation, making it a great ingredient to add to your AM or PM routine, especially if you have retinol and Vitamin C in there already.
7) Vitamin K
Vitamin K is able to improve blood circulation, so it is a great addition to under-eye and neck creams. It reverses the calcium that is deposited in the skin’s elastin fibres, which then harden and lead to wrinkles.
8) Hyaluronic acid
“A naturally found humectant in the skin, it can retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water and acts like a sponge absorbing all the water and then trapping it on the skin. The result is smooth, hydrated skin that is plump and bouncy,” says Dr Kapoor about her favourite skincare ingredient. She suggests imbibing it through a moisturiser or serum, applying it on when your skin is damp to expedite the hydrating effect.
9) Alpha Hydroxy Acids
AHAs like glycolic, lactic and malic acid dissolve the upper layer of cells on your skin’s surface. In doing so, your skin tone can appear more even, fine lines can look minimised and dry skin can become better hydrated. “Plus, they are collagen stimulators,” says Dr Mhatre, who suggests using AHA-spiked serums and face washes.
10) Epidermal Growth Factors
Epidermal growth factors (EGFs) are large proteins that target the turnover of cells and promote the increase of structural proteins like collagen and elastin. New research shows that the EGF binds to a receptor in the cell, aiding with promoted synthesis and cell proliferation. By fortifying structural tissues, you can expect bouncier, smoother and more supple skin after consistent use.