By Alison McGill
It’s easy to get lost in the lexicon of beauty, especially when we’re talking skincare. Buzzworthy ingredients seem to change week-to-week so it can be hard to keep up and know what your skin really needs. “Ingredient knowledge is imperative today,” say Mark Curry, co-founder, The INKEY List and Selfless by Hyram. “It’s important to know what you are putting on your skin and how it works.”
We’re here to help you navigate what’s what with today’s skincare ingredient essentials. Here are four key skincare ingredients you should be using now to deliver the ultimate glow up.
This is the supreme hydrator. It keeps your skin’s moisture levels optimized resulting in a smooth, plump appearance. Tina Chen Craig, founder of UBeauty, says the hyaluronic acid can sound daunting to the uneducated. “It’s not an acid. In unscientific terms, hyaluronic acid is a clear, sugary goo that acts as a cushion for our skin, nerves, and joints and it’s a naturally occurring substance in the body.”
Chen Craig explains in skincare, hyaluronic acid is used as a humectant because it can hold water very efficiently. “When applied, it draws moisture into the skin—it can actually hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water!” Chen Craig has made hyaluronic acid the standout skincare ingredient of a few UBeauty products, most notably the SUPER Hydrator, a serum that she says features five unique hyaluronic acids to deliver maximum impact.
29Secrets recommends: UBeauty SUPER Hydrator, $168
Also known as vitamin B3. niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin which supports your skin to improve tone and minimise the appearance of pores. Curry reports this ingredient is an all-around all-star and plays a number of important roles in your skincare regime. “Most notably it helps maintain a healthy skin barrier function and reduces and controls sebum on the skin to reduce blemishes and redness.”
Curry says at The INKEY List, niacinamide has its own stand-alone product, a treatment serum to be used morning and night after cleansing. “We love powering a formula with a single ingredient focus,” Curry says. “It makes your skincare journey easier to navigate because you are focused on just one ingredient and the benefits derived from it.”
29Secrets recommends: INKEY List Niacinamide, $9
“This is a natural lipid found in our skin,” shares Connie Lo, co-founder of skincare brand Three Ships. “It is a natural emollient as well as a natural antioxidant which helps to fight free radicals, reduce fine lines and reverse UV damage and skin hyperpigmentation.”
Lo explains because squalane is something native to our bodies, it’s perfect for use on all skin types. It’s also an ingredient that never feels heavy, greasy and will not clog pores or cause breakouts. Three Ships Radiance Grape Stem Cell + Squalane Day Cream has become the company’s best seller (Lo reports it has sold out four times over the pandemic) and contains squalane sourced from sustainable cane sugar. “We upcycle so we don’t impact the global food supply chain,” says Lo.
29Secrets recommends: Three Ships Radiance Grape Stem Cell + Squalane Day Cream, $39
Retinol or Vitamin A is the gold standard of skincare ingredients. Technically speaking, retinol is a type of retinoid which work by increasing collagen production and rate of cell turnover. “It reduces the appearance of fine lines, boosts skin clarity and skin tone for a brighter complexion,” Curry says.
Though Retinol is incredibly effective, be warned it’s also extremely potent and can leave sensitive skin looking and feeling angry. Curry recommends starting small with retinol use to see how your skin tolerates it; if all runs smoothly work up to greater concentrations. Another tip Curry has for sensitive skin types is to use formulas like Selfless By Hyram’s Retinol & Rainbow Algae Repair Serum which pairs retinol with soothing and hydrating ingredients. “We use encapsulated retinol in this serum which means it’s slow release and less aggressive. Combined with our rainbow algae complex and squalene, it’s perfect for all skin types.”
29Secrets recommends: Selfless By Hyram’s Retinol & Rainbow Algae Repair Serum, $39