The main active skincare ingredients for glowing skin

A healthy lifestyle is a great place to start, but new products and the latest technology may help put the finishing touches on a flawless natural look.

Using creams and potions to make our skin feel softer and to help us to look our beautiful best are nothing new.

The first archaeological evidence of cosmetics dates back 6000 years to Egypt where, it seems, looking good was just as important as building those pyramids.

Fast forward from the milk baths and eye make-up made famous by Cleopatra and her courtesans in 51BC to 2018 and skincare is infinitely more sophisticated.

From anti-ageing ingredients, such as topical retinoids and glycolic acids, to the nanotechnology and capsule expertise helping deliver active ingredients deeper into the dermis, new breakthroughs in the science of skincare seem to hit the headlines every month.

But which of those products among the hundreds of choices is the key to luminous, flawless skin?

Those containing retinoids are a good place to start, Australasian College of Dermatologists Associate Professor Samuel Zagarella says.

Fountain of Youth

Part of a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds known as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic acid is now being made by skincare companies.

A component of chemical peels, cleansers, exfoliators and serums, it is effective in treating fine lines, acne, dullness, oiliness and uneven texture as it helps slough off dead cells revealing brighter, younger-looking skin.

As with retinoids, different strengths can be used to boost collagen production and firm and plump the skin.

Face the Facts

“Topical retinol and retin-A are derivatives of vitamin A which work by increasing skin cell turnover. Using them consistently can lead to an improvement of fine lines, dark spots and texture,” Associate Professor Zagarella says.

“Studies have shown they increase the thickness of collagen, making them an effective wrinkle fighter.”

But he warns retinoids increase sun sensitivity, which means sunscreen use is important – even in winter and when it is overcast.

Miracle Workers

Cacay has joined the list of oils said to help with hair, skin and nail problems.

Pressed from the nuts of the cacay tree, which grows in South America, it is claimed the oil is packed with vitamin A and E, and linoleic acid.

Associate Professor Zagarella says there isn’t any scientific research as yet to prove oils are any different to moisturisers available at the beauty counter, but adds “they are fine, but start with small amounts at first to ensure no allergies”.

“Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is another one to look out for. It can help reverse skin damage from the sun and has a mild anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing effect.”


“And remember at the end of the day the best remedies for beautiful skin are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a neutral pH cleanser instead of soap, lots of sunscreen and no smoking.”

Written by Liz McGrath