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The 10 Best Skin Care Ingredients to Look for in Your Products

The 10 Best Skin Care Ingredients to Look for in Your Products

Many of the latest trends in skin care revolve around key ingredients. Names like hyaluronic acid and probiotics are celebrated and hailed as the next big thing. But which ingredients really earn the praise? What do they even do? With help from Dr. Joel Schlessinger, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of LovelySkin, we’ve narrowed down 10 of the best ingredients in skin care. Discover and learn about these skin care all-stars, as well as the products that use them best.

Hyaluronic Acid.

Hyaluronic acid: Able to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, this substance keeps skin hydrated and blurs age lines. Dr. Schlessinger says “I am a huge believer in the benefits of hyaluronic acid and have a healthy respect for its ability to improve the skin barrier and heal damaged skin, all while it moisturizes!”

Also Known As: Sodium hyaluronate and HA.

  • SkinMedica HA5: This serum not only provides five different forms of hyaluronic acid, but it also encourages skin to build its own natural supply to support long-term moisture.
  • Vichy Mineral 89: Combining hyaluronic acid with only ten other ingredients, this weightless moisturizer hydrates all skin types including sensitive.

Lactic Acid.

Lactic acid: An exfoliant that increases cell turnover, renewing the skin and decreasing breakouts, wrinkle depth and dullness.

Also Known As: Lactate.

Glycolic Acid.

Glycolic acid: This chemical has the smallest molecule of any AHA, allowing it to penetrate deep into the skin to increase cell renewal, improving pore health, skin tone and skin firmness.

Also Known As: Hydroacetic acid.

  • SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight: This nighttime treatment encourages brighter, smoother skin while you sleep, using 10% glycolic acid along with 2% phytic acid to renew and promote cell turnover.
  • Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex: Address dark spots while promoting a more radiant and even complexion with this hydroquinone-free brightening complex formulated with glycolic and azelaic acids.


Niacinamide: A form of vitamin B-3 that reduces pore size, improves radiance and supports the skin’s defensive barrier.

Also Known As: Nicotinamide.

  • Obagi Daily Hydro Drops: Made with Isoplentix™ technology, this serum delivers niacinamide and other potent ingredients in the purest forms possible to hydrate skin and soften fine lines.
  • EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Untinted: Perfect for acne-prone skin, this dermatologist-approved sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection while calming inflammation with niacinamide.


Probiotics: Beneficial organisms that are used to balance the microbiome, which can help relieve acne, rosacea, allergic inflammation and many other skin conditions.

Also Known As: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces and Bacillus.

Salicylic Acid.

Salicylic acid: Specializing in clearing clogged pores, this proven exfoliator is ideal for those looking to relieve acne.

Also Known As: Salicylate.


Retinol: A type of vitamin A that counteracts aging signs by boosting cell renewal and the skin’s production of collagen, leading to fewer wrinkles, improved tone and firmer skin.

Also Known As: Vitamin A and retinyl palmitate.

  • PCA SKIN Intensive Age Refining Treatment: Combining retinol with antioxidants and hydrating ingredients, this treatment encourages a smooth, fresh and clear complexion.
  • SENTE Bio Complete Serum: This nighttime serum combines SENTE’s patented, moisturizing HSA technology with retinoids to improve the appearance of wrinkles with minimal irritation.

Vitamin C.

Vitamin C: A vitamin that brightens skin by repairing photodamage and diminishing dark spots.

Also Known As: Ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid and ascorbate.

  • SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic: Using a patented triple antioxidant formula of vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid, this serum brightens skin and reduces free radical damage.
  • iS CLINICAL C Eye Advance+: Made specifically for the delicate under-eye area, this serum uses time-released vitamin C along with a copper tripeptide growth factor to reduce dark under-eye circles and minimize the appearance of crow’s feet.


Peptides: These molecules signal skin cells to increase collagen production for a firmer, smoother and younger-looking complexion.

Also Known As: Matrixyl, tripeptide, hexapeptide, and other names that include “peptide”.

Benzoyl Peroxide.

Benzoyl Peroxide: This chemical eliminates acne-causing bacteria and clears pores to prevent and treat breakouts. According to Dr. Schlessinger, “Benzoyl peroxide is a tried and true ingredient that helps with acne and a host of other conditions. It has been around for quite some time and has a great effect and no issues with most skin types.”

Also Known As: BPO.

  • Replenix Acne Solutions Acne Wash 5%: Using 5% benzoyl peroxide, this face wash cleans and purifies skin, relieving mild to moderate acne. With regular use, it also lowers the chance of future breakouts.
  • Jan Marini Age Intervention Duality MD: Made with a dual-chamber dispensing system, this physician-strength treatment uses two formulas, one with benzoyl peroxide to diminish adult acne and one with retinol to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Interested in using one of these ingredients? Shop by ingredient at LovelySkin.com to easily find products that use the ingredient you're looking for.

About the Author

Evan is a content writer at LovelySkin who enjoys providing information to help people feel more confident about their skin care. In his spare time, he likes to read, write creatively and wander through used bookstores.

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