With a beauty landscape so flooded with options, it can be a real struggle to decide which is really best for you. differentiating quality, effective products that will give you results from products that may not is difficult enough, let alone deciding which active ingredients you should be incorporating. And there are SO many to choose from. We of course always recommend seeking a tailored skincare and treatment routine from a professional skin therapist, but if you aren’t currently in a position to do so, we’ve compiled a list of active ingredients to make your skincare selections a little easier. These are based on common skin conditions that these active ingredients are best suited to treating, according to the age brackets that experience these skin conditions the most.
Vitamin A was first used by physicians as an acne-fighting ingredient because of its ability to slow down and regulate oil production. This makes it a fantastic option for teens experiencing problematic skin who want to avoid going on prescription Vitamin A medications (such as Roaccutane). After healthcare physicians began noticing Vitamin A’s collagen-promoting and cell-stimulating effects, it became one of skincare’s most highly sought-after anti-ageing ingredients. For prevention of signs of ageing, we recommend starting to explore retinol-based skincare at around the mid-twenties, when collagen production slows significantly.
Vitamin Bs are excellent calming agents, and are known to reduce inflammatory responses in the skin and aid in healing. They also help to regulate barrier function. We recommend these at any age, either as a skin-regulating and hydrating ingredient or to reduce discomfort associated with inflamed skin or barrier impairment.
Vitamin C assists in collagen production, but also helps reduce inflammation, boost cellular processes, and act as an antioxidant. This makes it a wonderful protector and preventor of natural ageing caused by free radicals and collagen breakdown. Again, mid-twenties is a good point to start finding Vitamin C products that your skin responds well to.
This helps skin maintain water, and one of the primary causes of ageing is lack of hydration and moisture in the skin. Start this as early as possible if you’d like to help improve your skin’s hydration levels.
Lactic Acid also assists in holding onto water molecules, while also acting as a mild exfoliating agent and renewing tone, texture and clarity. This makes it a popular anti-ageing ingredient for those in their 30s or above, but can be used at any age.
Glycolic Acid is an excellent leveling exfoliant, making it ideal for textural concerns like roughness, buildup or congestion. It’s often used to revive dull ageing skins, but can also be enjoyed by just about any age depending on its strength, quantity, and frequency of use.
Another active that can vary depending on its strength, quantity, and frequency, Salicylic is generally the chosen ingredient for problematic skin. It’s very effective at dissolving pore blockages and combatting breakouts, so a lot of the time is used by younger skins. Though of course; acne, breakouts, and blackheads can be experienced at any age!
Essential Fatty Acids (long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from linolenic, linoleic and oleic acids) can assist with the body’s production of ceramides, which help us produce and maintain moisture in our tissue. They also help reduce inflammation, and improve cell membrane integrity and barrier function. This means they are perfect for dry, more sensitive-prone skin, or those wishing to maintain extra nourishment – such as those in their 40s and 50s who are beginning to notice an increase in dryness. If you are younger and suffering from an impaired barrier, EFAs are also ideal.
Peptides are a little complex, but essentially messaging substances that can trigger certain cellular communications in the body, or assist in carrying certain ingredients where they are needed. There are many different types that all do different things. This means, depending on the peptide, they can be used to treat or improve certain skin conditions or functions, such as stimulating collagen, down-regulating inflammatory mediators, or interfering with the neurons responsible for facial muscular contractions in a similar way as injectable toxins. These are associated with your needs, not your age.
We cannot stress enough how significantly skin ageing is accelerated by UV light. Many still believe that if their skin does not burn after sun exposure, there is no detrimental impact or risk. This is not the case, and any exposure above the daily recommended 10-20 minutes (based on your Fitzpatrick skin type/darkness) can leave unseen collagen destruction and deep-seated pigmentation that goes completely unseen until suddenly, in your 50s or 60s, it all becomes apparent. Be sure to apply sunscreen daily in order to protect your skin from early-onset age spots or wrinkles, and of course to reduce your risk of cancerous lesions developing.