Bolster your beauty routine with high-performance active ingredients that offer visible results.
Try: Hyaluronic Acid
Although its name, derived from the Greek term hyalos, which means “glass” in English, is hard to pronounce, hyaluronic acid has been on everyone’s lips (and face) for the past few years. And with good reason: The molecule, which was discovered in 1934, literally quenches tissue thirst. “This sugar molecule, which is naturally present in skin, can absorb up to 1,000 times its weight in water,” explains Marisa Dufort, director of research and development at NeoStrata. “It fills up with ambient water and humidity to give the epidermis a bouncier appearance.” Hyaluronic acid is synthesized with a fermentation process before “the molecule gets fragmented as if we were chopping it into pieces,” she says. That’s why we hear about so many different types of hyaluronic-acid molecules. “High molecular weight” hyaluronic acid, for example, stays on the surface of skin to hydrate and smooth fine lines caused by dehydration, while the “low molecular weight” type penetrates the deeper layers of the skin for long-term replenishing results.
How to use:
Anyone, regardless of their skin type, can use hyaluronic acid on a daily basis, both in the morning and at night. “It can be combined with other ingredients, no problem,” says Dufort. Note: Although it’s very efficient when applied topically, thanks to its hydrating properties, hyaluronic acid is also available as an injection to plump or enhance targeted areas such as lips or cheekbones.
Try: Exfoliating Acids
Acids are often feared – many will recall Samantha Jones’ bright-red post-peel face in the iconic scene from Sex and the City – but they are increasingly recognized for their exfoliating and regenerative properties. “AHAs [alpha-hydroxy acids] made their appearance in the skincare world at the start of the ’80s,” says Ole Henriksen, founder of the eponymous brand. “As it turns out, they are a great replacement solution for retinol, as they quickly improve the appearance and texture of skin. They possess a small molecular structure that enables them to interact with skin both on the surface and in depth. They lift and dissolve dead cells, which brightens up the epidermis, evens out skin tone, reduces the appearance of pores and smooths out fine lines. They also stimulate the production of new collagen, which makes skin firmer and more elastic.” Thankfully, they don’t irritate skin in the way Samantha experienced. They’re actually regulated by Health Canada: AHA products sold over the counter are limited to a 10 percent concentration, while those intended for professional use can contain higher concentrations.
How to use:
“Anyone can benefit from using natural acids,” notes Henriksen. Those with sensitive skin will want to turn to mandelic acid or lactic acid, both of which present a low risk of irritation. AHAs come in different kinds of products, but they are most efficient in ones that don’t need rinsing off because the skin can absorb a greater quantity. AHAs can be used daily, but a nighttime application is recommended since these products cause photosensitivity. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
Vitamins have a special place in our skincare routine as well as in our diet. Many people understand the benefits of vitamins A, C and E, cosmetically speaking, but fewer are familiar with those of niacinamide, an active form of vitamin B3. This water-soluble vitamin plays a key role in improving the appearance of skin. It helps to reduce redness, treat acne and tighten pores. “It accentuates the synthesis of ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol in skin, which means it reinforces the epidermal barrier and limits the loss of water,” explains Jessica Kizovski, co-founder of Veriphy. “Niacinamide also increases protein intake and optimizes the renewal of dermal and epidermal cells, thus reducing the effects of skin aging.” The niacinamide found in cosmetics is produced by synthesis, but small quantities are also found in meat, fish, wheat and certain types of vegetables.
How to use:
Niacinamide suits anyone looking for a bright and even complexion as it is tolerated by all skin types, even atopic and sensitive ones. Whether it’s in an eye cream, a toner or a serum, niacinamide can be integrated into your daily beauty ritual, morning and night. However, make sure not to layer it directly on top of products containing vitamin C as this can minimize its effectiveness.
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