Do you know your acai from your alpha hydroxy acid? Unpronounceable ingredients can make finding the right anti-agers all the more scary. We’ve picked out five standout stars backed with the latest cutting-edge technology that you’ll want to stock up on.
AHAs and BHAs a.k.a the leave-on exfoliators
Best for: Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid sound scarier than they are, but they’re essentially exfoliators. AHA’s are water soluble and are “best for normal-to-dry or sun-damaged skin because they help bind moisture and improve healthy collagen production and smooth an uneven skin texture,” says Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun. BHA is oil soluble and is able to penetrate into the pores which contain sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells, making it best for normal-to-oily or breakout-prone skin.
What to look for on the label: AHA’s; glycolic acid and lactic acid BHA; salicylic acid.
Products to try:
AHA: Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% Alpha Hydroxy Acid R339.95
BHA: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant R294.95
Retinol a.k.a the all-in-one
Best for: There are several thousand published studies that sing the praises of vitamin A derivatives skin rejuvenating abilities. Retinol has been proven to increase collagen production (plumping your skin), speed up cell turnover (smoothing your complexion) and unclog pores (reducing breakouts) as well as stimulate circulation (giving you a healthy glow). The only caveat? Up until now, retinol was best used at night as it rapidly breaks down when exposed to the sun and air. However, Verso Skincare has now formulated a new vitamin A complex, Retinol 8 which has all the typical retinoid effects without causing discomfort. And it’s safe to use during the day!
What to look for on the label: If it’s prescription, tretinoin (brand names Retin-A and Renova) and adapalene (Differin) and if it’s over-the-counter: retinol.
Products to try:
Verso Super Facial Serum R1449.95
Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer with Retinol R299.95
L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Total Repair 10 Day R218.95
Sunscreen a.k.a the preventatives
Best for: Everyone, no matter your age, skin type or complexion. The easiest way to keep skin from prematurely wrinkling and sagging? Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays which break down collagen, elastin fibres and damage DNA. If you have combination to oily skin, look for a lightweight, oil-free fluid. Normal to dry? You can handle a richer formulation like a cream. Sensitive? Choose a sunscreen formulated for allergy-prone skin.
What to look for on the label: Broad-spectrum (meaning the product blocks both UVA and UVB rays)and ingredients like avobenzone (also butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and Tinosorb.
Hyaluronic acid a.k.a the plumper
Best for: Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in our skin as a joint-lubricating and plumpiing substance. In skincare, the synthetic version plays a similar role; classified as a humectant, HA draws water to your skin and can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. This makes it a great hydrator and skin plumper for dry, dehydrated skin. Plus, it can temporarily fill in fine lines and wrinkles as the HA swells to fill in the space.
What to look for on the label: Hyaluronic acid, hyaluronan and hyaluronate.
Antioxidants a.k.a the warriors
Best for: Age-causing free radicals are all around us; the sun, pollution, inflammation and smoke damage the DNA of our healthy skin cells. Antioxidants fight these age-causing free radicals and calm inflamed skin while tightening and toning. The best defence? Mix antioxidants by layering a vitamin C-rich serum under sunscreen during the day and use a Vitamin A-rich serum at night. Antioxidants (vitamin C in particular) are notoriously susceptible to air and light. To be effective, they must be packaged in an airtight, opaque pump or tube.
What to look for on the label: Vitamin C, idebenone, green tea, vitamin E and coenzyme Q10. Vitamin C is a favourite among derms because it has been shown to not only fight free radicals but also encourage collagen production.
Products to try:
Decleor Aroma White C Brightening Spot Corrector R334.95
Skin Republic Brightening Face Mask R39.95
Yves Rocher Anti-Age Global Complete Anti-Aging Care Night R375.95