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Core Skincare Ingredients Guide

Written by Vania Ahmadi

Medical Marvels LA Chapter


Based on your individual skincare needs, it’s crucial to consider the ingredients included in your skincare products. Using ingredients that are specific to your skin concerns allow you to develop the clear, glowy skin that you desire more time and cost effectively. The seven most common and useful skincare ingredients include—niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides, ceramides, retinoids, vitamin C, and AHAs. Each of these ingredients has unique benefits and can be incorporated into your skincare routine in a variety of ways.


Niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3 and is an ingredient that offers a variety of benefits such as anti-aging and UV damage protection. Additionally, it’s a great ingredient for those with oily, acne-prone skin, due to its abilities to reduce inflammation, as well as redness. It also is known for improving collagen synthesis, fading hyperpigmentation, and increasing skin resilience and firmness. While niacinamide is good for most skin types, it’s recommended to start with a lower concentration (>5%) for oily and sensitive skin, and a higher concentration (~10%) for combination skin. 

Hyaluronic acid 

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring humectant that attracts and also retains water. In skincare, this H2O magnet helps to maintain a healthy hydration level and also prevent water loss in your skin. Since hyaluronic acid decreases as you age, it causes your skin to lose its volume. Therefore, adding this ingredient into your routine plumps your skin while also reducing signs of aging. Hyaluronic acid can be found in various skincare products, including cleansers and serums, and products can be chosen based on your personal preferences!


Peptides are amino acids that are used to improve skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of wrinkles/fine lines, and promote collagen production. As peptides are known as the building blocks for protein in the skin, they also strengthen the skin’s barrier, improving the skin’s ability to heal, while also reducing irritation. Peptides provide deep hydration and are great to use for dehydrated or dry skin; to be used after toner and before your moisturizer in the morning or at night.


Skin's outermost layer contains lipids called ceramides that support the barrier's health. In addition to reducing flakiness and peeling, they are known to stop water loss, trapping moisture to promote deep hydration. Furthermore, ceramides repair damaged skin barriers and strengthen the skin's defenses against environmental stresses. Fine lines and wrinkles appear as a result of a reduction in the natural ceramide levels in our skin with age. By supplying the skin with fatty molecules and enhancing its suppleness, resilience, and smoothness, ceramide-based treatments can help prevent the appearance of signs of aging on the skin. Also linked to compromised skin barriers and lowered immune responses, ceramides have been shown to help with the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema. It’s advised to apply ceramide products twice a day; in the morning and at night, after cleansing and toning your skin. To achieve the most significant results, layering ceramides with hydrating ingredients such as collagen and hyaluronic acid is recommended.


Retinoids are a class of compounds derived from vitamin A and bring to the table many benefits such as the ability to stimulate metabolic processes within the skin. They speed cell turnover and support collagen and elastin fiber synthesis, therefore promoting smoother and firmer skin texture and making the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, less visible. Retinoids regulate sebum production which is great for those with oily and combination skin types. Retinoids specifically interact with certain receptors in skin cells that promote cell turnover, minimizing the accumulation of extra oil and dead skin cells that can block pores and cause acne. To put it shortly, they are a marvel for skin prone to acne since they fight inflammation, reduce outbreaks, and remove dead cells from the skin to avoid blocking pores. It is important to keep in mind that there are other types of retinoids that are accessible, such as retinol, tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene, and substitutes made from plants, such bakuchiol. Research indicates that bakuchiol is the better option for skin that is sensitive. A good idea for using retinol would be to begin with one to two applications per week to ensure that there will be no negative side effects. Finally, retinol should only be used in your PM skincare routine as it is UV-sensitive.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in maintaining skin health. It is a powerful antioxidant that is abundant in the human skin and protects the skin from signs of aging from free radicals. The consistent use of vitamin C also allows for collagen synthesis which is great for improving skin firmness, texture, and resilience. Vitamin C also allows your skin to become brighter over time, making your complexion more radiant and vibrant! While it is safe for all skin types, you should be aware of skin allergies and make sure to store vitamin C products in cool dark areas to maintain its efficacy.


AHAs are short for alpha hydroxy acids and is a group of acids that is mostly derived from plant sources and also acts as chemical exfoliants for the skin. Glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, mandelic acid, tartaric acid, and malic acid are the most widespread types of AHAs. AHAs have the ability to eliminate dead skin cells, clean pores, and reduce sebum production. As a result, they are a great choice for people with oily or acne-prone skin. AHAs can also brighten and balance out skin tone and lessen acne scars on the surface of the skin. AHAs are meant to be applied at night and followed by sunscreen during the daytime hours because they can make the skin more sensitive to UV-radiation.


While these ingredients were the main ones that were outlined in this article, there are several other ingredients that are also great for the skin and are effective for many to include in their routines. But before using skincare products, make sure to do research about it and be aware about what your skincare needs are, as well as what your skin type is. It’s important to also patch test new products to prevent allergic reactions from occuring. On the other hand, if you are experiencing major skin issues, seeing a dermatologist is the way to go to receive immediate help!

Works Cited:

What Are the Top Niacinamide Benefits for Skin? | SELF, 22 March 2022, Accessed 26 November 2023.

Giorgia G. “The Complete Guide To Peptides: Which Is The Best One For You?” babyface, 2 January 2019, Accessed 26 November 2023.

“Best plant-based alternatives to retinol that won’t irritate sensitive.” OK! Beauty Box, Accessed 26 November 2023.

Caldwell, Amanda, and Beth Ann Mayer. “Skin Care Ingredients Dictionary: From AHAs to Zinc Oxide.” Healthline, 1 September 2022, Accessed 26 November 2023.

“The Ceramides Difference: Skincare Innovation.” CeraVe, Accessed 26 November 2023.

Ghosh, Chandni. “5 Reasons Vitamin C is Good For Your Skin | Be Beautiful India.” BeBeautiful, 22 June 2016, Accessed 26 November 2023.

“Hyaluronic Acid 101: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” PillowtalkDerm, Accessed 26 November 2023.

Robinson, Mika. “7 Skincare Ingredients You Need to Know.” Shape, 30 May 2023, Accessed 26 November 2023.

Thakar, Khushali. “Your Guide To Understanding AHA And BHA Exfoliants.”, 2 April 2021, Accessed 26 November 2023.


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