JANUARY ISSUE 2021 Real Skin

The Ingredients Index

We break down the benefits of some of the most searched for skincare ingredients, plus a few under-the-radar extras.


Vitamin C


Commonly known for its glow-boosting properties, vitamin C is our most searched for ingredient – it’s also had well over one million hits on Google. The gold-standard antioxidant also encourages skin cells to produce more collagen - making it a great choice for tackling tell-tale signs of ageing. As with all active ingredients, vitamin C vitamin C is available in varying strengths, so it’s important to introduce it into your routine gradually to build-up your skin’s tolerance. Be mindful not to use alongside other actives, such as retinol or acids, until your skin has become accustomed.

Don’t forget to show your neck, chest and backs of your hands some love too. Apply to these areas to help improve crepiness and reduce the appearance of age spots. Always replace the lid as soon as possible and once opened store in the fridge to help maintain potency.

We love: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, £40.2 – a lightweight, fragrance-free serum that can be layered under other skincare to help target loss of firmness and fade pigmentation over time.

Hyaluronic Acid


It’s not hard to believe that hyaluronic acid is our second most searched for ingredient considering it’s the go-to for all skin types in need of an intense moisture boost. This hydrating heavyweight occurs naturally in the body and is known for its ability to hold over 1,000 times its weight in water. It helps skin to retain moisture and works to plump up cells and smooth away fine lines.

Hyaluronic acid serums are one of the most successful ways of hydrating skin as they are made up of smaller molecules which can penetrate deeper into the skin and replenish moisture over time.

We love: Votary’s new Brightening Hyaluronic Serum – add two drops into your existing moisturiser for an extra dose of hydration. “The serum is formulated with sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid, which has a lower molecular weight so absorbs beautifully into the skin and can penetrate further than other forms of hyaluronic acid,” explains Votary’s founder Arabella Preston.



Your skincare routine may already include exfoliating alpha hydroxy (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA), but have you heard of their gentler cousin, polyhydroxy (PHA)? Similar to AHAs and BHAs, PHAs slough away dead skin cells leaving skin soft and smooth with even tone, but in addition to this they also lock in water to help prevent dehydration. Unlike AHAs and BHAS, PHAs have a larger molecule size and work exclusively on the skin’s surface for a milder exfoliation, making them ideal for dry complexions as well as eczema or rosacea. We still recommend easing your skin in using PHAs once a week for one minute at a time.

We love: Verso Enzyme Peel, £30 - the phrase ‘have your cake and eat it’ springs to mind when it comes to this product. Made using AHAs (glycolic acid) and PHAs (gluconolactone) this peel exfoliates both on the surface and at a deeper level, while pomegranate enzymes boost the efficacy of the formula. Lars Fredriksson, founder of Verso, explains how, “this unique combination with a variation of molecule size – PHA bigger and more active and AHA smaller, allows the peel to gently exfoliate the skin’s surface as well as a bit deeper.” The result is clear, radiant and healthy-looking skin.

Rose Oil


Rose consistently trends on Google and is a Space NK ingredient perennial. Fresh’s founder Lev Glazman, describes rose as ‘nature’s wonder’ as he explains, “the flower yields a precious oil that is known to hydrate, soothe, and tone the skin.” The oil, extracted from the petals of the flower, is packed with collagen-boosting vitamins C, A and E, which help to stimulate skin’s collagen production and keep the complexion soft and supple.

Renowned for its hydrating properties, rose oil nourishes skin cells by flooding them with moisture. It also helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier and so works to counteract redness, calm irritation and reduce inflammation. It’s particularly effective for those with extremely dry, eczema-prone or sensitive skin.

We Love: Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream, £7.5 – this velvety cream is especially effective for dry complexions as it encourages skin to rebalance and repair by attracting and maintaining moisture with ‘hydropatches’ that form a veil to prevent moisture loss throughout the day.



New kid on the block, bakuchiol is vegan-friendly and derived from the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant. Skincare experts are positioning it as a gentler alternative to retinol and it’s even been given the nickname, ‘herbal botox’. Like retinol, bakuchiol helps to increase cell turnover, which encourages collagen production and results in smoother, firmer skin and a more luminous complexion, but its natural anti-inflammatory, healing properties make the ingredient much easier for skin to tolerate. So, you won’t experience the redness, dryness, flaky skin or sensitivity that sometimes comes with retinol.

Interestingly, when used together, bakuchiol helps to stimulate retinol’s effect while its soothing capacity enables skin to better tolerate retinol in higher doses – making bakuchiol and retinol the anti-ageing dream duo.

We Love: Paula's Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment, £59 – suitable for all skin types, this lightweight lotion sees both ingredients work in harmony to help minimise the signs of ageing.



Prebiotics are the food source that feed probiotics – the tiny micro-organisms that live on the skin’s surface and help the good, skin-friendly bacteria to flourish. Without a good balance of bacteria, the skin’s ecosystem has less protection, meaning that environmental aggressors like pollution can penetrate more easily and trigger damage and irritation. Plus, without prebiotics the good bacteria wouldn’t have enough energy to fight off the bad bacteria and keep acne, inflammation and eczema at bay. “Essentially, the good bacteria are there to protect our skin, so stimulating growth supports the ecosystem of the skin,” explains Grace Coburn, Global Digital Education & Consumer Engagement Specialist at Elemis.

We love: Elemis Superfood Day Cream, £48 - the ideal way to get your daily serving of superfoods, this nutrient-rich moisturiser is packed with omega-rich extracts like broccoli and goji berry as well as antioxidant matcha tea and ginger.

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