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Understand what your products are made of.
January 04, 2022

These days there’s so much information available about our skin care products that it’s hard to believe that any ingredient could elude us. But sometimes an overabundance of information is exactly what makes it difficult to understand these ingredients—especially ones with complex sounding scientific names. And even if you were to read all the ingredients on the back of a product, it’s likely you don’t actually know what any of them are or why they are in the formula. So we have the need-to-know info on some of the most popular skin care ingredients, plus product recommendations if you’re looking to add that ingredient to your routine. After all, if you’re trying to take care of your skin, you should know exactly what you’re putting on it.

Skin Care Ingredient #1: Aloe Vera

During the summer months, your beach bag is probably stocked with aloe vera—and you aren’t alone. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one of the most popular uses for aloe vera gel—a byproduct of the aloe vera plant—is for soothing sunburns. This ingredient also provides antioxidant benefits. Aloe vera is also often found in moisturizing formulations and can be suitable for any skin type.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Skin Paradise Water Infused Tinted Moisturizer

Skin Care Ingredient #2: Ceramides

Ceramides are key to maintaining your skin’s barrier because of their hydrating properties. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) shares that moisturizers formulated with lipids, such as ceramides, are usually well tolerated and improve the barrier that is often compromised in people with rosacea.


Skin Care Ingredient #3: Azelaic Acid

You might have started noticing more people talking about this powerhouse ingredient more in the past few years. While it’s part of a drug classification called dicarboxylic acids, it’s often included in skin care products due to its anti-inflammatory properties. According to the <a azelaic-acid#section="Therapeutic-Uses">National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) creams containing azelaic acid are effective in treating inflammatory acne while gels containing the ingredient are effective in treating mild to moderate rosacea.


Skin Care Ingredient #4: Caffeine

You're familiar with caffeine as the ingredient that gives your coffee its kick, but it also has topical benefits for your skin. Eye creams formulated with caffeine can help awaken the appearance of your eye contour area and help combat the appearance of dark circles under eyes.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid 1% Caffeine Eye Serum

Skin Care Ingredient #5: Retinol

Retinol is definitely one of the power players in skin care ingredients. Retinol is a vitamin A compound and—according to Mayo Clinic—the first antioxidant to be widely used in non-prescription wrinkle creams. In addition to helping with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, retinol is recommended for addressing the development and maintenance of acne.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum 0.3% Pure Retinol

Skin Care Ingredient #6: Bakuchiol

While you may not find it easy to say this particular ingredient, it might be easier to identify in your products. An alternative to retinol as per the NCBI, bakuchiol is an effective anti-aging compound. Derived from a plant extract, it offers many of the same benefits of retinol—evens skin tone, reduces fine lines and wrinkles—without the dryness and irritation often associated with retinol.


Skin Care Ingredient #7: Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid may have acid in its name but it isn’t quite the same as the other acids in this guide. Hyaluronic acid doesn’t exfoliate, instead it helps moisturize. It’s a naturally occurring substance in the body, and according to NCBI has a unique capacity to bind and retain water molecules. In humans, it’s most abundant in the skin but also lubricates joints and regulates several parts of tissue repair. Add hydrating serums or moisturizers formulated with hyaluronic acid to your routine to amp up hydration on your skin’s surface.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Skin Care Ingredient #8: Niacinamide

Inflammation can have many causes, but thankfully, niacinamide is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can be used to reduce irritation on the skin’s surface. The AAD specifies that skin care products formulated with niacinamide can be used to help those who are prone to experiencing irritation or have acne prone skin.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Pressed Night Moisturizer With Retinol, Niacinamide

Skin Care Ingredient #9: Benzoyl Peroxide

If you’ve ever dealt with acne, then you know benzoyl peroxide. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends benzoyl peroxide as a topical treatment for acne because it’s an antibacterial agent. It can be found in cleansers, creams, and gels and can be used as a leave-on or wash-off product.


Skin Care Ingredient #10: Lactic Acid

Derived from sour milk, lactic acid is a chemical exfoliator, meaning it uses chemicals to remove dead cells from the skin. The Mayo Clinic recommends using over the counter creams formulated with lactic acid to help with dry, scaly skin.


Skin Care Ingredient #11: Citric Acid

You may not have heard of citric acid, but if you love skin care, you’re certainly already in the know about AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). Alpha hydroxy acids have risen in popularity for their ability to help exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Citric acid is one such AHA, which can be found in a variety of products from sheet masks to face serums.


Skin Care Ingredient #12: Clay

Clay is another ingredient that has rapidly gained fans and been added to more and more skin care formulas as of late. Most often, clay can be found in face masks but there are facial cleansers formulated with clay too.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Exfoliate & Refine Cleanser

Skin Care Ingredient #13: Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is another AHA, and as such, its main purpose in skin care product formulas is to help polish away dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Glycolic acid is an example of a chemical exfoliator, so it’s important to introduce products containing glycolic acid slowly at first to avoid over-exfoliating and irritation. It’s also important to know that AHAs can increase sun sensitivity, so be sure to pair your glycolic acid products with a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, in addition to taking other sun protection measures.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner

Skin Care Ingredient #14: Salicylic Acid

You may know by now that hydroxy acids are split into two categories: AHAs and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). We’ve already covered AHAs, but do you know the difference between AHAs and BHAs? Both help to remove dead skin cells on the skin’s surface but BHAs are more commonly found in acne formulations. Case in point, the most common BHA is salicylic acid, which the AAD notes as an over-the-counter acne ingredient that works.


Skin Care Ingredient #15: Vitamin C

Vitamin C isn’t just in your orange juice, it’s in skin care products too! The AAD recommends adding topical vitamin C to your routine to help reduce the appearance of dark spots over time—with continued use.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

Skin Care Ingredient #16: Lipohydroxy Acid

While lipohydroxy acid may not be as widely discussed as AHAs and BHAs, it’s commonly used in skin care and personal care products. As the NCBI explains, lipohydroxy acid is a derivative of salicylic acid with acne treating and exfoliating properties, as well as comedolytic properties—meaning it inhibits pore clogging. As it appears to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, it’s often effective in fighting acne.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Rosy Tone Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Skin Care Ingredient #17: Collagen

We couldn’t end a list of popular skin care ingredients without discussing a tried-and-true—collagen. In the past ten years we’ve seen the popularity of collagen grow, so much so that it’s become available in several forms, even ingestibles (collagen juice anyone?). This natural protein found in the body is used to improve skin elasticity, ward off fine lines and wrinkles, and improve skin barrier function. In other words, if you’re starting to notice your skin sagging, you may want to incorporate collagen into your skin care routine.

Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Collagen Expert Day Moisturizer with SPF 30

Next: 10 Anti-Aging Ingredients At The Top Of Our List For 2021

Skin Care Ingredient #18 : Adenosine

Derived from our own cells, Adenosine is a building block of DNA that plays an essential role in metabolism, in the form of cell energy. L’Oréal research confirms its anti-wrinkle properties on the skin’s surface.
Product Pick: L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle Cream.


Skincare Ingredient #19: Black Truffle Extract

Straight from southwest France, our Black Truffle Extract is a powerhouse of polyphenols, including gallic acid - an exclusive antioxidant from the plant world. It fights the signs of ageing and promotes a youthful glow.
Product Pick: L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renew


Skin Care Ingredient #20: Calcium B5

Calcium B5: the skin's dynamic duo, combining calcium and vitamin B5. Calcium is the most commonly found mineral in the skin and the body. It strengthens the skin barrier, weakened by age, and maintains moisture. Vitamin B5 supports cell renewal and vital skin processes.
Product Pick: L'Oréal Paris Cell Renew, Age Perfect Golden Age and Active ranges..


Skincare Ingredient #21: Ceramide 5

Ceramide 5: Patented by L'Oréal Research & Innovation, this lipid structure, biomimetic of ceramides found naturally in the corneal layer, promotes an optimal intercellular cement lipid structure to soften and nourish dry and mature skin. It also improves the skin's barrier function and quality.
Product Pick: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect’s anti-sagging and anti-age spots.


Skincare Ingredient #22: Dipeptide

Unlocking the power of two amino acids - valine and glycine - L'Oréal Research & Innovation presents its breakthrough Dipeptide. With an inherent anti-aging action, this powerful ingredient preserves your skin's elasticity for a firm and youthful appearance.
Product Pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle and Firmness<.


Skincare Ingredient #23: Fermented Black Tea

Our Fermented Black Tea unlocks the powerful benefits of nature's fermentation process. Biotechnologically produced from sweet black tea with yeast and bacteria, this elixir is rich in B vitamins and minerals. It protects and regenerates mature skin, improving the texture and radiance of the skin's surface.
Product Pick: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renew.


Skincare Ingredient #24: Flavonoids

Enter the world of natural antioxidants with Flavonoids, powerful molecules in the polyphenol family that are naturally produced by plants to defend themselves against aggression. Hesperidin, a flavonoid found in orange peel, is an important vasculoprotectant that fights oxidative stress.
L'Oréal Research & Innovation has shown that certain flavonoids have a broad antioxidant spectrum that protects the skin's stem cells from harmful oxidative stress such as UVA rays and help boost the skin's natural regeneration process.
Product Pick: Age Perfect Renaissance Cellulaire.


Skincare Ingredient #25: Glycerol

Meet Glycerol - a skincare hero known for its dual-action capabilities. As both a moisturizer and humectant, Glycerol works tirelessly to replenish skin moisture and combat water evaporation, keeping your skin hydrated and supple. Glycerol is an essential ingredient in most cosmetic products. L'Oréal Paris uses glycerol of vegetable origin.


Skincare Ingredient #26: HEPES

HEPES, or 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazine ethane sulfonic acid, isn't just a substance used in cell biology for pH stabilization. It's a game-changer in skincare. Patented by L'Oréal Research & Innovation, HEPES has physiological desquamating properties and acts as a biological exfoliant By increasing protease activity, HEPES promotes the breakdown of protein bonds between corneocytes, resulting in smoother, softer and more radiant skin.
Product Pick: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser X3 Glycolic Peel Pads.


Skincare Ingredient #27: Honey

Honey has been known for centuries for its therapeutic properties. Rich in trace elements and vitamins, honey is a powerful ingredient used for its nourishing, moisturizing and emollient properties. Consisting of 80% sugars, mainly fructose and glucose, Honey's hygroscopic nature helps the epidermis retain water, ensuring optimal hydration. Its repairing, disinfecting and antioxidant properties further enhance its skincare properties, making it an essential ingredient in many skincare products.


Skincare Ingredient #28: Iris Extract

Derived from the Mediterranean Iris, this extract has been known since ancient times for its soothing and relieving properties. Extracted from the rhizome, it contains polyphenols, including 66% isoflavones, known for their potent anti-aging benefits for mature skin.
Iris extract protects mature skin from oxidation and prevents the dulling of a rosy complexion.
Product Pick: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Golden Age Rosy Cream.


Skincare Ingredient #29: Lavender Essential Oil

The jewel of aromatherapy, Lavender Essential Oil is celebrated for its soothing and calming properties. It has protective antioxidant, soothing and antibacterial properties on the skin, making it a valuable skincare staple.


Skincare Ingredient #30: Manuka Honey Extract

Harvested from the nectar of the Manuka Flower in New Zealand and Australia, Manuka Honey is a prized single flower honey. Rich in moisturizing sugars, antioxidant polyphenols and essential nutrients and minerals, it's a powerhouse for strengthening the skin's barrier function, especially for dry skin.
Product pick: Age Perfect Nutrition Intense range.


Skincare Ingredient #31: Micrometric Hyaluronic Acid

Micrometric Hyaluronic Acid, 1,000 times smaller than conventional hyaluronic acid, is a breakthrough in skincare technology. This biotechnologically produced fragmented form easily penetrates the epidermis for intense and deep moisture-replenishment.
Micrometric Hyaluronic Acid works synergistically with conventional Hyaluronic Acid to promote natural Hyaluronic Acid synthesis by living epidermal cells, improving epidermal cohesion and restoring skin substance.
Product Pick: L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Filler Range.


Skincare Ingredient #32: Natecium® DHC

Enter Natecium® DHC, harnessed from bitter orange bark extract, a potent hesperidin derivative with broad-spectrum antioxidant properties. This powerhouse ingredient protects cell renewal to keep your skin vibrant and youthful..


Skincare Ingredient #33: Peony Polyphenol

Native to Asia, peony root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to combat slowed blood circulation. Rich in paeonol, an antioxidant and protective polyphenol, peony extract protects and preserves the skin's natural rosy glow.
Product Pick: Age Perfect Golden Age Rosy Cream.


Skincare Ingredient #34: Peptides

Peptides, chains of amino acids, are essential for cell communication and the production of proteins such as collagen and elastin. Used in cosmetology, peptides, often produced through biotechnology, are key players in anti-aging skin care. Peptides work to restore firmness and density to the skin, either alone or in combination with other active ingredients.


Skincare Ingredient #35: Probiotics

Derived from live micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeasts, probiotic extracts offer a wealth of skin and health benefits. By maintaining the balance of microflora, probiotics exert their positive influence on the skin and overall wellbeing. Found in yoghurts and fermented products, probiotics have been extensively researched, revealing their effects on digestion, immunity, inflammatory processes and neurological imbalances..


Skincare Ingredient #36: Pro-Xylane

Developed and patented by L'Oréal Research, Pro-Xylane is a cutting-edge anti-aging molecule. Derived from xylose, a natural sugar found in beech wood, this eco-designed ingredient has remarkable benefits for epidermal regeneration and skin redensification. Its efficacy is backed by 7 years of research, 7 patents and numerous studies.
Product Pick: L'Oréal Paris RevitaLift Laser X3..


Skincare Ingredient #37: Red Ginseng Extract

Derived from ginseng, widely used in traditional pharmacopoeias, Red Ginseng Extract is a treasure trove of over 30 antioxidant species, including polyphenols, flavonoids and ginsenosides. Concentrated by steaming and drying the roots, Red Ginseng Extract has superior antioxidant power, as confirmed by numerous scientific publications.

Red Ginseng Extract is your ally against oxidative stress, protecting the skin's natural luminosity and revealing its radiance.


Skincare Ingredient #38: Retinyl Palmitate (Pro-Retinol)

Pro-Retinol, also known as Retinyl Palmitate or Provitamin A, is a stable derivative of Retinol, ideal for sensitive skin. Stored in the epidermis, it gradually converts into Retinol, directly promoting skin regeneration and improving epidermal structure. Pro-Retinol works to reduce the appearance of surface wrinkles and dark spots for a smoother, more youthful skin.
Product pick: L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-wrinkle and Firmness, Revitalift Cicacreme..


Skincare Ingredient #39: Soya Peptides

Derived from the bio-fermentation of soya protein, Soya Peptides are a powerful skincare ingredient. Packed with amino acids such as Glutamine, Aspartic Acid, Proline, Glycine, Alanine and Leucine, they are found in the skin's underlying fibre network and promote skin tone.
As one of the leading anti-sagging ingredients, Soya Peptides firm the skin and restore a youthful appearance.
Product Pick: L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Anti-Sagging and Anti-Age Spots Range.


Skincare Ingredient #40: Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5, also known as Panthenol, is an essential skincare ingredient involved in vital biological processes. It soothes the skin and promotes its health and resilience. Vitamin B5 helps to balance the intense action of glycolic acid for a gentle yet effective exfoliation..


Skincare Ingredient #41: Vitamin CG

Vitamin CG, also known as Ascorbyl Glucoside, is a stable derivative of vitamin C that is gradually bio-converted by the skin into pure vitamin C + glucose. Like pure vitamin C, it helps smooth the skin surface, restore the skin barrier, improve radiance and reduce the appearance of dark spots..


Skincare Ingredient #42: Yeast Extract

Bio-engineered from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Yeast Extract is rich in essential B vitamins and minerals that support proper skin metabolism. It acts as a soothing antioxidant for the skin and promotes the health of the skin's microbiome.
Product Pick: L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-wrinkle and Firming Range.


Written by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn

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