7 Skincare Ingredients That Really Work

Knowing what’s going onto our bodies is every bit as important as knowing what goes into them, but identifying the properties of the ingredients in your moisturiser isn’t always something that beauty brands make easy. However, with the internet at their fingertips, skincare consumers are taking an increasingly science savvy approach to skincare. It makes sense to take the time to research which ingredients will address your specific skincare concerns rather than using a one size fits all product, especially if you want your products to work well and fast.

While a few basic skincare ingredients have become household names, thanks to the fast-pace of cosmetic research, favourites like Vitamin C and retinol are now accompanied by a whole bevy of new-on-the-block ingredients. If you’re struggling to translate the science jargon on your product labels, we’ve rounded up seven common skincare ingredients you’re bound to run into. And the best part? They actually work.

Hyaluronic Acid

This hydration powerhouse of an acid is found naturally in skin, but production decreases as we age. Each molecule can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water so it’s incredibly effective at increasing skin’s moisture content and preventing water loss, working like a moisture magnet to capture water on the surface of the skin. What’s more, as well as boosting surface hydration it penetrates the second layer of skin as well, leading to long-term improvements in texture and elasticity. It’s the ultimate antidote to dry and dehydrated skin.

Filorga are renowned for a science savvy approach to skincare, which is why their Hydra Hyal Intensive Hydrating Plumping Concentrate contains four different types of hyaluronic acid, each a different size, meaning the ingredient is distributed to skin at every level. The result is a 40% increase in hydration within 30 minutes of application.

filorga hydra hyal intensive hydrating plumping concentrate


Retinol is often touted as a skincare miracle, and that’s because it is. This active derivative of Vitamin A is the multitasker of the skincare world – it fixes almost everything, from acne to wrinkles, oiliness, loose skin, enlarged pores, and scarring. Retinol works by encouraging cell turnover, speeding up new cell growth, and stimulating cell repair at the deepest level. Essentially, it teaches ageing and damaged cells to behave like younger and healthier ones, ensuring that skin reaches a level of maximum health.

Alpha-H’s Beauty Sleep Power Peel pairs brightening glycolic acid with a high 0.5% concentration of retinol to create a hard-working at-home peel that rapidly transforms skin while you sleep, giving results with prescription-level speed. Applying it twice a week is enough to give results without the painful peeling of most hardcore formulas.

alpha h sleep peel


Acting as chemical exfoliants, these chemicals dissolve the bonds that bind skin cells together, allowing pore-clogging dead cells to be swept away from the surface of the skin. A gentler and more effective alternative to abrasive, scratchy scrubs, products containing AHAs are particularly effective at clearing blackheads and whiteheads from oily and acne-prone skin, brightening dull skin, and smoothing rough patches from dry skin. 

With a background in biotechnology, Algenist utilise patented skincare technologies that deliver derm-approved results. Their Triple Action Micropolish & Peel contains one of the most effective AHAs, glycolic acid, which has a small molecule that penetrates skin quickly and deeply for a strong and even exfoliation.

algenist triple action micropolish peel


Niacinamide is a B vitamin that has a particularly good ability to penetrate skin and communicate with skin cells, meaning it can address a variety of skin concerns in order to boost cell health. It’s particularly effective at shrinking the appearance of enlarged pores as it does so from within, which has more effective and long-lasting results, particularly if you suffer from congested skin. It’s also proven to reduce moisture loss by 24% in four weeks, and works effectively to erase discolouration and improve skin tone and texture.

Hylamide Pore Control Daily Visible Oil and Pore Control Serum merges the finish of a mattifying primer with the pore-refining benefits of niacinamide and zinc. The cult formula is ideal for delivering targeted results and provides a wonderfully smooth base for your makeup to glide on top of. 

hylamide pore control daily visible oil pore control serum

Vitamin C

An antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals, the harmful molecules that get into skin cells from environmental stressors, like sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke. Vitamin C also helps to lighten pigmentation, brighten skin tone, and is one of the most effective ingredients for boosting collagen production. Collagen is a protein produced by the body, responsible for making skin look smooth, firm, and plump. Production decreases as we age, but Vitamin C helps both to stimulate production and protect the collagen we already have, leading to smoother, brighter, healthier skin.

NIOD’s skincare range might be hard to decode at first glance, but their Ethylated L Ascorbic Acid 30% Serum is essentially Vitamin C in its most potent and stable form, making it much more effective than standard Vitamin C products (which are usually unstabilised). Added to this, it also contains a number of other topical antioxidants.

niod ethylated L ascorbic acid 30


Once you start getting serious about anti-aging skincare, it’d be hard to ignore matrixyl, a long-term solution to ageing skin that mimics the appearance of broken down collagen, in turn causing skin to react by producing more collagen – in some cases up to double the amount produced by cells in the body. As matrixyl is fat soluble, it’s easily absorbed into the skin and has an instant and lasting effect at filling lines and wrinkles.

The newest formulation of matrixyl is The Ordinary’s Matrixyl 10% + HA, which is five times more effective than the second strongest formulation currently on the market. Two forms are blended with hyaluronic acid for deep and effective delivery.

the ordinary matrixyl 10 HA