Let’s be real. The skincare scene can be confusing. There are a lot of skincare ingredients out there. From the trendy ones in your Facebook feed to those tried-and-true formulas your grandma used, it can be hard to discern which ingredients are actually effective — and if they’re right for your skin. “The skincare world has always been murky, overwhelming and hard to navigate,” agrees Mary Katherine Schenkel, founder of skincare and wellness brand Sweet and Kind.
But no need to Google any further. We’ve got a curated list of game-changing ingredients that will get you glowing. Some are new and groundbreaking. Others have been in medicine cabinets for decades. Here’s why these six made the list.
1. Broad spectrum CBD
CBD (and cannabis in general) is making headlines lately, and for good reason. For starters, CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and inflammation is at the root of a plethora of skin problems and conditions, from breakouts and redness to sunburn, psoriasis, and rosacea. Inflammation is also a common side effect of just, well, living in the world — pollution, free radicals, and UV rays can all irritate and inflame our skin. Because CBD is such a strong antioxidant, it can actually address everything from everyday inflammation to chronic, painful conditions. And it’s important to mention that CBD has none of the intoxicating properties of weed (that’s THC). So it won’t ever get you high. It will just lift up your skin.
“Now that CBD is legally available everywhere, we are greatly anticipating much more research being done, and seeing a growing number of people who want to experience the benefits of CBD for themselves,” says Schenkel.
One quick shopping note: Full spectrum CBD is different from some of the typical CBD that’s found in some skincare. That’s because Full Spectrum CBD includes other cannabinoids found in cannabis. “It’s important to look for full spectrum hemp when buying CBD products,” encourages Schenkel. “Full spectrum offers much higher levels of relief and anti-inflammatory benefits.”
Hello scientific dream team. Peptides are touted as one of the ultimate anti-aging ingredients. They may be renowned, but they’re not always understood. Peptides are chemical compounds that contain at least one chain of amino acids. Think of peptides as little messengers that amp up your skin’s communication system, sending positive, encouraging messages to our body’s largest organ. Our skin’s function naturally slows down as we age, and collagen production is one of the most crucial skin processes that suffers. And it shows, too. Loss of collagen is responsible for fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, and general loss of volume. Peptides essentially tell your body to keep creating collagen, which helps prevent all those signs of aging and restores skin’s overall vibrancy.
3. Green Tea
You should drink this caffeinated, antioxidant resource and put it on your skin. Just like the antioxidants in CBD, high antioxidant levels in green tea help protect your body from all those damaging free radicals that attack your skin — literally causing damage to your cells and even to your DNA. The most effective antioxidants in green tea are polyphenols, and one particularly notable polyphenol is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. This guy wards off cell damage and, as a result, protects skin from disease. Because of antioxidants’ anti-inflammatory effects, green tea can also help soothe everything from breakouts to rosacea. The caffeine that green tea naturally contains is also a skin booster and de-puffing agent. Since it’s a diuretic, caffeine helps your body ease water retention — making it helpful for reducing puffiness and pesky inflammation.
4. Vitamin C
You’ve most definitely heard of this popular vitamin — it’s another ingredient that you should be drinking at breakfast and putting on your complexion. The all-star vitamin has a ton of benefits: It’s an antioxidant that protects our skin, it’s a brightening agent that clears up dark spots, it’s an anti-inflammatory that calms skin, and it’s an anti-aging agent that boosts collagen production and helps firm up the skin. In high concentrations, vitamin C can even regulate melanin in the skin, which makes it good for tackling pigmentation (like age spots), hyperpigmentation, and dark marks from past breakouts.
It’s good to know that vitamin C can cause a slight tingling on the skin if you are using a highly concentrated product, but that’s just the ascorbic acid at work.
The healer of all healers. Aloe is a restorative, regenerative, and all around moisturizing skincare ingredient. If you’ve ever cracked open an aloe leaf, you’ve likely used the natural gel that oozes out. There are 75 (yes, you read that right!) beneficial boosters in aloe, ranging from vitamins A, C, E, and B12 to minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. Like so many of these other anti-inflammatories listed above, aloe calms redness and swelling. What puts it a step above the rest is an ability to soothe your skin and help your body regenerate new, healthy skin cells.
This millennial favorite doesn’t just belong on toast or in guac. Avocado is a source of healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins A, D, and E, and anti-inflammatory agents. Avocado oil can be used as a carrier oil, meaning it’s a good base for adding in other essential oils or skincare ingredients. Overarchingly hydrating and healing, avocado and its oil are great at healing and treating dry, cracked skin and pulling moisture into pores.
And the good news? These days, if you pay attention, you can find these power-punching ingredients all in one place, like in Sweet and Kind’s anti-aging serum or night repair cream. “We’re women who have lived our own skincare journeys. So we intentionally chose the ingredients that worked on us,” says Sweet and Kind founder Zelov.
“We aren’t in our 20’s,” laughs co-founder Schenkel. “So we’ve seen skin care trends come and go, and we know what hype looks like. When we put CBD with other powerful ingredients, like the green tea in our serum, or the peptides in our moisturizer, it’s a recipe for serious glow.”
Skincare ingredients don’t have to be shrouded in mystery. So the next time you’re looking to add some new products to your bathroom shelves — ones that will actually do your skin some good — look for one (or all!) of these six saviors.