Four Skin-Care Ingredients Decoded

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By News Team on November 5, 2021

It seems like there’s always some trendy new skin-care ingredient being marketed as a miracle-working must-have—until it’s replaced by the next big thing.

So how do you know which products will actually benefit your skin?
Here to set the record straight is our team of experts at the Carilion Clinic Cosmetic Center. They explain four evidence-based skin-care ingredients that will stand the test of time—while turning back the clock on aging.


What: A vitamin A derivative, and the gold standard of anti-aging ingredients.

Why: Able to penetrate the skin deeply enough to reach collagen and elastin, retinol is proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture and even out skin tone. In addition to its anti-aging bona fides, it’s also an effective treatment for acne and acne scarring.

Note from the Cosmetic Center: Retinol may cause irritation during the first several weeks of use. It can also cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so it is very important to wear sunscreen when using retinol products.

Learn how to use sunscreen correctly here.

Hyaluronic Acid

What: A naturally occurring molecule that helps the body retain moisture.

Why: As an ingredient in serums, creams and masks, hyaluronic acid reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving a plumper, healthier look.

L-ascorbic Acid/Vitamin C

What: L-ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C with powerful antioxidant properties.

Why: Applied to the skin, it stimulates the production of collagen to give skin a firmer, more youthful appearance. It also can brighten the skin, protect from free radicals, help with fine lines and wrinkles, and improve dull, uneven skin tone and texture.
Note from the Cosmetic Center: In skin-care products, vitamin C is available in different concentrations (for example, 10%, 15% or 20%). Start with a lower concentration if you have sensitive skin.

Salicylic Acid

What: An exfoliating beta hydroxy acid and an excellent choice for oilier skin types.

Why: In addition to helping the skin shed dulling dead skin cells on its surface, salicylic acid penetrates pores, unclogging them to prevent future breakouts. It also works to reduce redness and inflammation.

Get a skin-care regimen for acne-prone teenage skin here.

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