As a beauty editor, I have become quite the know-it-all when it comes to skincare. There's something amazing about the power that certain products and ingredients have. Whenever friends are having skin issues, I get the obligatory Whatsapp message asking me for advice and recommendation. And I give my guidance gladly.
It hasn't always been this way, I was rubbish at maintaining a decent skincare routine in my 20s (I was too busy partying on a Tuesday to worry about the benefits of double cleansing), but now that I have years of industry knowledge under my belt, there's no looking back. And I can honestly say that these are the ingredients that I can rely on to keep my skin in the best condition.
I love hyaluronic acid. As soon as I introduced this ingredient into my routine, it transformed my dry and dehydrated skin. At any given point, there will always be a product with hyaluronic acid in my skincare routine.
What is it?
It's a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the skin. It helps skin retain water. Skin that is hydrated looks plump and youthful, which is what we're all after right?
What the expert says
Dr Anjali Mahto, medical and cosmetic consultant dermatologist says that it's 'essentially a very large sugar molecule with a gel-like consistency. HA has a unique capacity to bind water 1000 times its own weight in water. Its purpose in the skin is to keep it soft, plump, and hydrated. HA is a popular constituent in skincare due to its moisturising properties. It can also be injected into, or under, the skin in the form of dermal fillers.'
Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, RRP £25 | Lookfantastic
This is my absolute go-to when it comes to hyaluronic acid serums. I like to double up on my serums - I start with my hydrator, like this one, and then top it with a treatment serum. I use it day and night.
Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Deep Moisture Miracle Cream, from £15.56 (member price)
When my skin is having a particularly tough time - let's say in winter or after a day in the sun - I will use super hydrating moisturiser, which quenches my skin's thirst immediately.
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser, £9.99 | Cult Beauty
This is a dreamy gentle cleanser that won't strip skin and helps keep your skin's moisture levels in check.
Vitamin C, alongside SPF and retinol, has become one of my trio of anti-ageing heroes. As I well and truly hit my mid-thirties, I have had to pivot my routine to start targeting new skin issues that didn't even occur to me in my twenties. Suddenly there are mornings when I wake up to lifeless, dull skin. Pigmentation is now high on my worry list. Vitamin C helps me through.
So what is it?
Vitamin C is a super-powered ingredient - not only is it key for brightening, but it's also an essential antioxidant that helps fight the effects of pollution and sun damage.
What the expert says
'Vitamin C has a number of well-recognised effects in the skin,' Dr Mahto says. 'It is a true multi-purpose ingredient. It will aid collagen synthesis (collagen is the main protein of the skin giving it support) and regular use after 6 months can help reduce the appearance of fine lines.'
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Vitamin C Serum, £140 | Lookfantastic
Yes, this is an expensive skincare product. But I promise it is worth the investment. It contains 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, which is the most effective form of vitamin C for your skin. This one is aimed at those with dry skin, like mine, but if you have oily skin opt for Phloretin CF.
Caudalie Vinergetic C+ Brightening Eye Cream, £30 | Feelunique
My dark circles are a constant stress. Mine are hereditary so they're not going anywhere any time soon. So I go through a lot of colour correctors and the best concealer. However, this eye cream brightens the area and somehow lightens the blue shading.
No7 Radiance+ Vitamin C Glow Toner, £11.95 | Boots
When my skin is dull - maybe I've had a late night, maybe it's mid-January - I sweep this radiance-boosting toner on post-cleanse.
You've probably heard about how incredible 'retinol' is as an anti-aging ingredient and everything you've heard is true. I've noticed a drastic change to the texture, tone and appearance of my skin since I started using it. However, 'retinol' is actually a type of retinoid (more on that below).
What is it?
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives and the type depends on the concentration. The strongest is Retinoic acid (or Retin-A or Tretinoin) and is only found in prescription products. Then there are retinaldehyde, retinol and retinol esters (retinyl palmitate). All of these names make it confusing, but they are all known to improve skin cell renewal, which in turn helps to minimise the appearance of wrinkles, slow down the decrease in collagen and fade pigmentation. The higher the concentration, the better results you're going to get. It's pretty punchy stuff, so start with a low concentrated product, once or twice a week, and build up gradually. You might experience some flaking - reduce how often you're using it and maybe drop down to a lower concentration. And always, always wear an SPF the next day, as your skin is more sensitive to UVA and UVB rays.
What the expert says
‘Start using retinol at the latest, when you see the first signs of reduced skin elasticity, fine lines and also irregular pigmentation,’ advises Dr Stefanie Williams, dermatologist and Director of the Eudelo clinic. ‘Even if you can’t build up to any more than two days per week it’s still effective and worth doing so don’t be put off.'
Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6, £62 | Medik8
Medik8's Crystal Retinal product line is a perfect way to navigate this sometimes tricky and confusing ingredient. You can start with Crystal Retinal 1, then work your way up to 3, 6 and then 10. I just graduated to using Retinal 6 and my skin is smooth, more even-toned and brighter.
Sunday Riley 5 Stars Retinoid and Niacinamide Eye Serum, £65 | Cult Beauty
Not everyone will like a retinoid eye cream. If you're particularly sensitive in this area, give it a miss. But I believe that I have this little tube to thank for the fact that I have barely a line or wrinkle around my eyes.
Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Face Moisturiser with Retinol & Vitamin B3, RRP £34.99 | Boots
If you want to take things slowly, then this night cream is gentle enough for everyday use and won't cause any flaking or redness. It is a rich nourishing cream that is a joy to use in the evening. It promises smoother, brighter and more firm skin in 28 days.
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Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.
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