What separates a go-to, skin-saving moisturizer from all the rest? A well-balanced product packed with the right combination of skin-nourishing and healing ingredients that work to balance out the complexion. To help decipher the must-have skin care ingredients from all the rest, we consulted Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto-based dermatologist and medical director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, for his expert advice.

1. The must-haves.
From morning to night—and all the eye cream, serum and cleansers in between—keep your routine stocked with rich and moisturizing ingredients for round-the-clock protection.

The fix: Opt for peptides (which support collagen production and act as antioxidants), Vitamin C (to brighten up a dull complexion) and glycolic acid (to remove dead skin and leave a smooth finish) and retinol (to help maintain a healthy overall complexion).

2. For the sensitive types.
We’re referring to irritable skin here, but using harsh and drying ingredients can easily aggravate acne flare-ups and redness.

The fix:
Barankin recommends adding in ceramides (molecules that hold in moisture) and dimethicone (a silicone-based polymer and skin protectant) to your regimen. As for face wash, “Use cleansers instead of soaps,” he adds.”

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3. To keep skin hydrated and youthful looking. A lack of moisture in the skin keeps it from achieving a naturally healthy glow—no matter how much illuminator you pile on over top.

The fix:
Look for products that contain a hyaluronic acid, which provides moisture to the skin and holds it there. Also look for peptides, as they contain anti-aging properties, says Barankin.

4. For on-the-spot relief.
When a skin issue literally pops up the day before a big event, enlist emergency measures—and skin-repairing ingredients.

The fix:
Try using a product with cortisone to quickly minimize its appearance. “It can be used for anything itchy, or to help bring down a pimple faster,” says Barankin. “Polysporin or Vaseline ointment can be used for any area that is sore or not healing.”

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5. Sun protection (enough said). You probably already know what we’re going to say, but seriously, having an SPF-enriched skin care regimen is a non-negotiable.

The fix: Look for high-quality sunscreen that’s separate from your regular daily moisturizer and foundation. “Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen—and most don’t re-apply either—so applying something with sunscreen in it, followed by a sunscreen over top makes good sense,” Barankin advises. “And it will help reduce the risk of skin cancer, sunburns, wrinkles, sun spots, and cold sores.”

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