Look no further for potent nutrients that deliver anti-aging right where you need it. By giving your skin only the best ingredients that you can find, you ensure that your skin future looks bright. Here’s why.
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Vitamin A for wrinkles
Best overall age-fighter
Find it in: OTC lotions, night creams (vitamin A derivatives are known as retinoids), and prescription products
Proven to: Reduce wrinkles, fade brown spots, and smooth roughness. According to medical experts, there are more than 700 published studies on retinoids. “They’re tried-and-true ingredients. Anyone who wants younger-looking skin should use one,” says Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic, an aesthetic clinic in Singapore.
How to use: Apply your retinoid at night—sunlight inactivates most forms of vitamin A. Prescription retinoids work fastest, within four to eight weeks. The downside: They’re irritating, causing redness, scaling, and flaking that can last for weeks or longer. OTC products are best for beginners; you’ll experience fewer skin care side effects because the retinol they contain is slowly converted to retinoic acid, the active ingredient in prescription creams. To avoid irritation, apply an OTC or prescription retinoid every second or third night, at least for the first two weeks, and build up to nightly use. Apply sparingly; a pea-size amount is enough to cover your entire face.
Try Dr. Brandt Glow Overnight Resurfacing Serum or Age Defy. “Why patients especially like the formulation of vitamin A in Age Defy is because it combines hyaluronic acid and skin plumping emollients so there is less chance of flaking or dryness usually associated with retinoids” says Dr Low.
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Vitamin B3 for redness
Boosts hydration to reduce redness
Find it in: Lotions, creams, and serums. It’s often called niacinamide on the label.
Proven to: Increase production of ceramides and fatty acids, two key components of your skin’s outer protective barrier. “As that barrier is strengthened, skin is better able to keep moisture in and irritants out—making B3 a great ingredient if your complexion is dry or sensitive,” says Dr Low Chai Ling. In one study, a moisturizer with niacinamide improved the flushing and blushing of rosacea, a common condition that can worsen with age. Another B3 skin care benefit: It inhibits the transfer of pigment to skin cells, minimizing dark spots.
How to use: For maximum results, apply B3 vitamins in the morning and evening. To reduce irritation from your retinoid, use it in conjunction with niacinamide. “Mix them together in the palm of your hand before applying—they won’t inactivate each other,” says Dr Low. Besides decreasing side effects, the combo produces superior anti-aging benefits.
Vitamin C for spots
Find it in: Moisturizers formulated to keep vitamin C stable (opaque, airtight containers are ideal). Look for C near the middle of the ingredients panel to help ensure the 5% or higher concentration needed to see skin care benefits, advises Dr Chua Han Boon, aesthetic doctor at SW1 Clinic.
Proven to: Mop up the free radicals that trigger wrinkling, sagging, and other aging changes. Vitamin C also helps smooth and firm skin and fade brown spots. In one study, women who treated sun-damaged skin with a C cream for six months saw significant improvement in fine lines and discoloration. While some of the skin benefits are offered by more than one vitamin, Dr Chua reminds us that skin aging occurs in various ways, so you need multiple forms of defense and repair. Though the benefits of vitamin A and vitamin C sound similar, using both delivers more complexion perfection, he says.
How to use: Apply vitamin C in the morning before sunscreen to shield your skin from any UV-generated free radicals that get by your sunblock.
Try SkinMedica Vitamin C+E Complex or Citrine. These products contain ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (the skin-friendliest forms of C) in combination with vitamin E (it’s listed as alpha-tocopherol or tocopherol acetate). This duo provides 4 times more protection against free radicals when applied together.