Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Anti-Ageing Skincare - 5 Active Ingredients That Have Worked For Me (& Others You Should Take Note)

Anti-Ageing Skincare - 5 Active Ingredients That Have Worked For Me

(Disclaimer: *Some Products mentioned were purchased from brands I've previously worked with.

In recent years, the skincare aisle has seen an never-ending flow of new products being added, and new brands arriving regularly - a trend that doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. 

Even for me who's been blogging on beauty products for nearly 4 years, there are times when all these concoctions can seem a bit overwhelming when looking for something new. Those crowded shelves used to do a pretty good job to entice me to part with my money, claiming they'll provide the latest whatever latest fad my skin happen to need at that moment in time. Which made things terribly tricky to cherry pick (and still is) what I really needed rather than what I'm led to believe. Especially when the aim is pretty much the same thing - slow down ageing. 

So how did I overcome this? 

It wasn't until I discovered Deciem's affordable skincare line, The Ordinary, along with picking up  advice and knowledge from the likes of skin care specialists - Caroline Hirons and Nadine Baggot, that my shopping habits began to change.

I've discovered that by searching for specific ingredients (within the first ten, normally) has helped narrow things down a little and help me shop a bit wiser. But more importantly that's also when I started to see results. These ingredients are included in products I use everyday, every other or once a week.  

So, I thought it would be handy to share these specific ingredients with you to perhaps help take out some of the guess work for when you’re out next time shopping. Most of these ingredients will be featured in serums as the concentration will be higher than those found in creams.  

Before we move on, I just want to add that skincare products can bring its fair share of polarizing views. So, what may work for me, may not necessarily work for you.

Anti-Ageing Skincare - 5 Active Ingredients That Have Worked For Me

SPF - Broad Spectrum Sunscreen:

Ok. Perhaps I should of said six! This is more of a product I guess! However, it's still an extremely important one to have, otherwise I may as well not bother.

Born in the Seventies meant long periods spent out in the sun without hardly any protection. And having the type of skin that tans the moment the sun looks at it only encouraged me further! If only I knew then what I know now.

Never underestimate the sun. It is the number one cause of ageing (plus, there's the deadly skin cancer to consider also.) I've also learnt that even on a cloudy day, the rays can still penetrate through which is why I've gotten into the habit of applying a sunscreen regardless - whatever the weather! A daily broad-spectrum sunscreen helps protect my skin from both UVA rays (ageing) and UVB (burning) in no less than SPF30. I now apply this on top of my serums instead of my usual moisturiser, as this one is particular is very hydrating. The formula of these has come on quite a bit in recent years, and aren’t as thick and icky as they used to be. I tend to gravitate towards chemical sunscreens over physical ones when it comes to wearing under make up as they don’t leave that white cast on the skin, and are also less greasy. 

My favourite at the moment in the Soft and Airy Daily Essence SPF50 PA++++ by Klairs* because it’s hydrating without being greasy, doesn’t leave a white cast and provides a nice base for foundation to sit on top of. Another one to look out for and is far more easily accessible if you shop at Boots or Superdrug, is the Anthelios Shaka Ultra-Light or the Tint version from La-Roche Posay which also provides an SPF50.

Anti-Ageing Skincare - 5 Active Ingredients That Have Worked For Me

Hyaluronic Acid:

Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant found naturally in the body to help maintain moisture levels. It helps attract water 1000 times its weight to help keep the skin hydrated and provide that plump, wrinkle-free look. But like with most things, as we get older, supply drops. So, chemists have created synthetic versions to add to skincare products, and I can't think of that many products that doesn't feature this ingredient these days. One that's regularly included is Sodium Hyaluronate - a derivative salt form and a smaller molecule of HA. It's smaller molecule provides an easier absorption into the skin. 

Acids – Glycolic, Lactic, Salicylic:

There are many acids on the market, but I thought I’d highlight these three as they’re the most common.

Exfoliation using physical scrubs have paved way to more non-abrasive formulations that come in a liquid form known as acids. These can be used more regularly to remove dead skin as they're less abrasive and scratchy on the skin. However, they can still cause irritation if overused or used on sensitive skin.

These liquid exfoliators contain AHA’s or BHA's (Alpha Hydroxy Acid. Beta Hydroxy Acid if it's Salicylic) which depending on the type, can come either from sugar cane, milk or fruit. These can be found in various formulations, although the most common and probably the most popular form is Glycolic which comes as a toner/tonic or peels. These antibacterial formulations help unglue the bonds holding dead skin to promote fresher, brighter and more even toned, smoother skin. Plus, they can also help with acne sufferers too, especially Salicylic. 

One important thing to note is they can make the skin UV sensitive. So, it’s essential I use an SPF. Otherwise I'd be doing more harm than good. Without this and SPF, it’d be a pretty pointless for me to apply anything else because applying products on top of dead, dry skin wouldn't achieve much. So these really help get the best out of my products. I use a budget formula which works really well from The Ordinary – Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which also contains salicylic.

In a nutshell - What’s the difference between Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic?

  • Glycolic contains smaller molecules which helps penetrate the top layer at a deeper level to help remove dead skin and help soften lines. Due to its penetration, it’s considered the strongest, which is why probably why I love it so much! Lol! It’s perfect for dry, normal, sun damaged  and mature skin. Unfortunately, it can lead to irritation for some or those with sensitive skin, so don't go crazy! So, you may need to start off gradually or you could switch to something gentler such as Mandelic Acid which has a larger molecule, therefore less penetrative.  

  • Lactic Acid is derived from milk and contains a larger molecule, which means it doesn’t penetrate as further, so there’s less risk from irritation. Caroline Hirons describes it that it works like Pac Man munching away the top layer of dead skin.

  • Salicylic Acid is considered more for acne prone/oily skin due to its antibacterial properties and ability to penetrate through the oils to exfoliate and unblock pores.

Anti-Ageing Skincare - 5 Active Ingredients That Have Worked For Me


Antioxidants help protect the skin from free-radicals which come from the effects of everyday environment such as: sun, pollution and smoking. They provide many benefits to the skin, including fighting visible signs of aging (wrinkles), help revitalize and even out skin tone, and also calm redness. There is an abundance of antioxidant ingredients out there these days. But the ones I've found to be particularly effective are Ascorbic Acid or L-abscorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Niacinamide.

Vitamin C is great for targeting pigmentation issues caused by sun damage. It also provides a whole host of anti-ageing benefits including fighting wrinkles, texture irregularities, brightening and evening out skin tone.

Vitamin C can, however, be tricky to work with due to its lack of stability when coming into contact with air, water and sunlight. It is often packaged in U.V protected bottles or tubes for this reason, otherwise the formula will oxidise (go orange) and its effectiveness is lost. My experience of higher concentrations of Ascorbic Acid is they give a gritty feeling, making it tricky to apply under makeup and can also give an uncomfortable tingling sensation on the skin. I tend to steer clear of those for during the day and leave for them for night time use instead. But they do work. 

For during the day, I prefer a much lower dosage such as the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop* which only contains 5% Ascorbic Acid. It allows me to wear without the worry of irritation and doesn't leave my skin greasy either!

Niacinamide also known as vitamin B3, is suitable for all skin types, and is what I consider to be a bit of an unsung hero. As well as promoting anti-ageing properties, its fantastic for calming down redness caused from spots, helps slows down sebum production, reduce enlarge pores, wrinkles and dullness. 

Other antioxidants to look out for – Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Coenzyme Q10, and Vitamin C derivates such as Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Glucoside and Ascorbyl Palmitate which may be helpful if you found Ascorbic Acid to irritate.


Just like Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides is also a natural source found in the skin. But like all good things, age outstrips supply causing that loss of firmness. Peptides help stimulate collagen by sending messages that it needs to produce more. For me, they've worked in a similar way to how Hyaluronic Acid works, in that they help plump, firm and smooth out fine lines – only better. As they're also a humectant, they make a good combo for preventative measures by preventing the skin from dehydrating and help slow down new lines forming. However, peptides only provide part of the battle against wrinkles. Unfortunately, when it comes to deep wrinkles, these won't be as effective as Retinol. But what I did discover is they work particularly well combined with antioxidants, such as Niacinamide. When using a cocktail formula called Buffet (from The Ordinary) I found my skin to look a lot smoother and plumper.

Another pepetide called Matrixyl 3000 which is a blend of some of the peptides listed below, is found in a lot of products. However, I've only ever found this peptide to be good for softening fine lines around the eye area. There is also another which is meant to work in a similar way to botox called Argireline (Acetyl - Hexapeptide). Again, for me, the eye area proved to be best when promoting its effectiveness. 

Other peptides you may see in the ingredients listing: Pentapeptides, Oligopeptides, Neuropeptides,  Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-28 and Palmitoyl Hexapeptide -12

a selection of retinol skin care


Retinol is known as Vitamin A or Retinoic Acid, is considered to be the gold standard in skincare. It is the only ingredient that has clinically proven to help reverse the effects of ageing and sun damage. Retinol works by increasing cell-turnover, so newer, smoother skin comes through. 

Prescription strength Retinoic Acid (such as Tretinoin) can only be obtained from your GP or dermatologist. It was originally prescribed for acne sufferers until they discovered its effectiveness for wrinkles too. However, these are super strengths we are talking here, and are likely to cause irritation due to the Retinoic Acid being at full strength. However, the Retinol formulas you buy from the shelf aren't as strong as they contain encapsulated forms and gentler derivates. These formulas work at a much slower rate which help reduce irritation as they need work with the contents in your skin in order to produce the retinoic acid for them work - hence why the results take longer.

However, first time users would still need to apply with caution as they can still cause some irritation or flakiness. You need to start up slowly to allow your skin to become accustomed to it. Once or twice a week would be a good starting point, and I would do that for quite a number of weeks before building up to every other day. Also, don't apply to wet skin as that can also cause irritation too. Other side effects Retinol can bring is dryness. So, I always amp up the hydration levels when using these and always ensure I wear an SPF during the day too as retinols can make you skin U.V sensitive. 

It’s also essential to check with your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding before using Retinol.

Ingredients I look out for: Retinyl Palmitate and Retinol Propionate, Retinaldehyde and Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate.

There are so many more great ingredients out there. But these are the ones I'm loving so far.

Which active ingredients feature in your daily or weekly routine? 

Toni. xx


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