First things first: the two most important steps in any anti-aging skincare routine are moisturizer and sunblock. Most of the signs of aging come from dry skin and sun exposure, so if you haven't already, start using a moisturizer and a broad-spectrum sunblock every day to prevent aging. Bonus: you'll also reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Now that's out of the way, here are five more ingredients to incorporate into your routine to prevent and in some cases reverse signs of aging skin. Even those these ingredients are tried and true, always patch test for irritation and allergic reactions before incorporating a new skincare product into your routine - everyone's skin is different.
AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy-acids. Why would you want to put an acid on your face? Because it works as an exfoliator to remove dead skin. AHAs are much gentler on your skin than physical exfoliators like scrubs which can cause micro-tears in your skin. AHAs dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together so you can wash them away to reveal fresh, glowing new skin.
Another benefit of AHAs is thickening of the under layers of skin. While this may not sound like a good thing, it is. As we age, your skin can thin and weaken. Thicker skin means stronger, firmer skin. Some popular AHAs are glycolic, mandelic, and lactic acids. Try a few to see which one works for you.
Antioxidants are great for working against environmental damage to the skin. Antioxidants fight the damage caused by free radicals. You've probably heard of free radicals before, but what are they? Free radicals are molecules that want to steal electrons from other molecules... like the ones in your skin. This causes DNA damage and can cause your skin to age through a process called oxidative stress. Enough science, though. How do we stop it?
With antioxidants, of course! There are a lot of antioxidants out there. Don't just limit yourself to one: the effects can be cumulative, so feel free to add a few to your routine. Some of the best are green tea, vitamin E, resveratrol and coenzyme Q10.
This ingredient is a real workhorse. You might be more familiar with niacinamide under the name vitamin B3. When applied to the skin, niacinamide reduces the appearance of fine lines.
It also evens out your skin tone, working to reduce darker areas like sunspots, hyperpigmentation, and redness. It's an antioxidant, too, which means it eliminates the sallow appearance free radical damage gives to your skin.
Lastly, niacinamide will also help keep your skin moisturized. Research shows that niacinamide boosts your skin's production of ceramides and collagen. Why should you care? Ceramides shore up your skin's barrier against the outside world and help you retain moisture, making your skin softer and plumper. AHAs also increase collagen production. Collagen helps your skin retain elasticity, so you don't see any sagging or wrinkles.
Vitamin C is one of the most popular, best-researched anti-aging products out there, and for good reason. Vitamin C is another antioxidant, but it does more than just protect against environmental damage. However, this is one area where it really shines: it's not a sun block, but vitamin C will definitely lend your skin a little extra sun protection, which is why some experts recommend using it as part of your morning routine.
Vitamin C is another ingredient that will help your skin make more collagen, so that you get firmer, smoother looking skin. These effects are also boosted by vitamin C's anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce swelling and redness. It also helps your skin heal sun damage, reducing brown spots to reveal a brighter, more even skin tone.
There are a few varieties, but one called L-ascorbic acid has the most research behind it. The product will fight free radicals whether it's on your skin or not, so make sure to store this in a cool, dark place.
Last but not at all least are retinoids, also known as vitamin A, the granddaddy of all anti-aging ingredients. As far as scientific research is concerned, no other ingredient packs an anti-aging punch equal to retinoids. They can come in a variety of forms, from retinol, the most powerful form you can get in over-the-counter treatments, to Retin-A, the most popular retinoid prescription.
So what exactly do retinoids do? Retinoids make your skin cells turn over faster, so you're always putting your freshest face forward. Along with thickening the underlayer of skin, they also thin the top layer. They even skin tone, shrink pores, and, most importantly, are the only product on this list that will work to actually reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
A word of caution: retinoids may cause some irritation for those with sensitive skin, so it's best to try a few varieties and see which works for you. Start at lower concentrations and take a break if you see dry skin or flaking.
One of the most important reasons to use vitamin C serum is that it can aid in protecting the skin against the damage created by environmental pollutants and in neutralizing free radicals. As a result, it enhances protection against exposure to UVA and UVB rays, two of Mother Nature's biggest villains.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UVA rays are able to reach the skin's thickest layer of skin. If the skin is left unprotected, UVA rays can cause premature wrinkling and aging of the skin. They can also lead to the suppression of the body's immune system.