6 Skin Care Ingredients Dermatologists Say Really Work

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Trying to decipher a skin care product label can be downright confusing. Some brands use highly scientific terms and some take a more user-friendly approach. Regardless of which words are splattered on the bottle, these six ingredients are the ones to look for according to these top derms who sing their praises.

Retinol: New York dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, considers retinol the gold standard for anti-aging. “It has the ability to stimulate collagen production to keep skin looking plump and youthful,” she says. 

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Hyaluronic Acid: “Especially good for those with dry skin, hyaluronic acid draws moisture into skin and prevents it from leaving,” says New York dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD. The result? A plumper, more youthful look.

Tretinoin (aka Retin-A): “Tretinoin, out of all the topicals, has the most evidence supporting its anti-aging effects,” says Boca Raton, FL, dermatologist Robyn Siperstein, MD.  “A lot of people incorrectly believe it thins the skin because the skin can peel as a side effect, however, it has been proven in multiple studies to increase collagen and thicken the skin to decrease wrinkles if used regularly.”

Glycolic Acid: New York dermatologist Howard Sobel, MD, says this type of alphahydroxy acidworks by helping to separate dead skin cells that accumulate and stick together as we get older, making our skin appear dull and getting rid of that translucent rosy glow. “Using glycolic acid every day will help keep your skin looking young and radiant with less fine lines and wrinkles,” he adds.

Vitamin C: “It’s a fantastic antioxidant that is capable of lightening dark spots from ultraviolet radiation,” says Dr. Nazarian.

Niacinamide: “Products that contain this ingredient are great for UV protection and hyperpigmentation repair,” says New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. Dr. Nazarian adds, “It also has anti-inflammatory properties that decrease redness and allow skin to look more calm and even-toned.”

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