The Best Tried And Trusted Ingredients In Skincare

We’re aware that a huge percentage of the population care more about which Hollywood celebrity uses a certain moisturizer than the ingredients that go into it.

But we also know some of you really DO care about what you put on your skin and you’re constantly looking for reassurance that the $100 you spent on that latest ‘miracle cream’ containing dimethihydroxy-whaaaat was money well spent.

While skincare technology is forever on the move and cutting-edge, patented formulas are constantly in the news, some ingredients just don’t go away. And there’s a reason for that. They work.

So, if you’re looking to include some of the most tried, tested and trusted ingredients into your skincare plan (and may we say, it’s a very smart move), ensure some of these power players have a place in your beauty cabinet.

Benzoyl Peroxide

As topical acne treatments go, benzoyl peroxide is one of the most effective ingredients out there. Why? Because it has the ability to penetrate hair follicles within your skin, to reach and kill the bacteria that causes acne (Propionibacterium acne) at the source. Super-effective against all kinds of acne lesions including blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and pustules, its oxidizing skills are also fast-working without being harsh and irritating on the skin.

Try: SkinMedica® Acne Treatment Lotion

Glycolic Acid

When it comes to boosting cell turnover and maintaining fresh, exfoliated and healthy-looking skin, glycolic acid is a bit of a no-brainer. A true radiance provider, glycolic acid is one of the most effective and highly researched alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Far superior to harsh scrubs, its main purpose is for breaking the bonds between dead skin cells and sloughing them clean away to help repair photodamage, smooth fine lines and fade dark spots.

Try: Jan Marini Bioglycolic® Bioclear® Lotion 

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid (also known as hyaluronan, or it’s salt derivative, sodium hyaluronate) is found naturally in the skin’s structure where it acts as a powerful humectant, meaning it ‘holds’ moisture to keep the skin soft, firm, plump and hydrated. Studies have shown that HA can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, which means just one gram can hold up to six liters of water. This makes it the superhero of the moisturizing world because it’s also been proven to promote collagen production, reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. A must for every skin type.

Try: Revision® Skincare Hydrating Serum


We’re happy to admit, retinol is one of our favorite, skin-transforming powerhouses. Visit any derm, doctor or plastic surgeon and they’ll tell you it’s one of the most trusted anti-aging ingredients in skincare and, no matter your skin type, it has the ability work for you. A derivative of vitamin A, retinol has more benefits than we’ve had hot dinners, and these all come from its ability to ‘communicate’ with skin cells to make them behave like younger, healthier versions of themselves. This, in effect, can reduce sun damage, treat acne, reduce fine lines, the list is endless. Walnut Creek-based facial plastic surgeon Dr. Haena Kim calls it: ‘the Photoshopped effect.’ Says it all, doesn’t it?

Try: PCA Skin Retinol Renewal with RestorAtive Complex® 

Salicylic Acid

Another exfoliating, declogging, acne-fighting ingredient, salicylic acid comes under the beta hydroxy acid (BHA) umbrella and is a dermatologist’s favorite. Superb at dissolving the bonds between sticky, dead cells to reveal the fresh stuff underneath, it’s also a derivative of acetylsalicylic acid (aka aspirin), so doubles up as an anti-irritant to decrease inflammation and soothe the skin when applied topically. Great for not only treating acne, but for preventing further breakouts, reducing excess sebum and fading discolorations and scarring.

Try: Obagi® Medical Clenziderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanser

Vitamin C

In its correct, stable form, vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants available in skincare. Extremely well-studied – particularly by some of our favorite cosmeceutical brands such as SkinCeuticuals and Jan Marini – when applied religiously and in its purest form (l-ascorbic acid), it works by fighting free radicals, fading scars and discoloration, reducing fine line and wrinkles, and even reversing and preventing further sun damage. So how do you know your vitamin C product is cutting the proverbial mustard? You live by the rules of SkinCeuticals founding scientist and antioxidant authority, Dr Sheldon Pinnell:

1. Ensure your product contains pure l-ascorbic acid – other derivatives don’t increase vitamin C levels in the skin.

2. Check it has an acidic pH balance no higher than 3.5. Anything above this and vitamin C won’t be able to effectively penetrate the skin.

3. Invest in a concentration between 10 and 20 percent for the most beneficial results.

Try: SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF

Vitamin E

Highly regarded and highly researched, vitamin E is another big-hitting antioxidant and often listed in your ingredients list as alpha-tocopherol – the most biologically active form. Vitamin E fights free radicals to protect the skin from environmental pollution and help keep fine lines at bay. It’s also a great anti-inflammatory so is perfect for calming and hydrating sensitive or very dry skin. When combined with vitamin C, it’s been shown to act as a natural form of sun protection. Just in case all of the previous benefits weren’t enough.

Try: ZO® Skin Health Ossential® Daily Power Defense

Written by: Georgia Gould