Key ingredients your skin needs

We share the tried and true rules for SPF, retinols and antioxidants. Find out what your routine is missing

SPF rules
“Sunscreen is still the number one ingredient when it comes to anti-aging and keeping your skin looking young,” says skincare expert Dr. Sandy Skotnicki-Grant of the Bay Dermatology Centre in Toronto. Not sure how to get the best protection? A high SPF (minimum of 30) shields your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays that break down collagen and cause skin discolourations. Apply it at least 15 minutes before you head out the door and don’t rely on your makeup’s SPF alone – you likely don’t apply enough to get the full SPF factor so always use a separate sunscreen.

Treat it
Doctor-prescribed Retin-A, a derivative of Vitamin A, contains high concentrations of wrinkle-fighting ingredients that are fundamental in anti-aging, says Skotnicki-Grant. While this ingredient can be irritating, it will help fight those noticeable lines, all while diminishing sun spots and erasing any adult acne. Retin-A’s less potent relative, retinol is available over the counter in many common skincare brands if you’re not heading to the derm anytime soon. And of course, always make sure to test any new product on a patch of your skin first in case of a reaction.

Acid wash
Glycolic acid is another powerful ingredient to add to your regimen. Also known as Alpha Hydroxy Acid, or AHA, this natural fruit acid helps your body slough off the top layer of dead skin to prompt the cells underneath to regenerate, leaving you with a more obvious glow. Look for products that contain at least eight percent and add it into your routine slowly.

Take your vitamins
We all know that vitamin C helps boost the immune system but did you know it’s also been shown to increase collagen production? Don’t start binge-eating oranges just yet. It has to be applied topically in a stable form to properly protect skin from nasty free radicals that cause aging, says Skotnicki-Grant. Check in with a professional to see if you’re ready for a prescription-strength product or scope out your many options at a local drugstore.

Night and day
Now that you know what to add to your routine, you’ll need to know when to use each product. Those containing Retin-A, retinol and glycolic acid can make the skin a bit more sun-sensitive so it’s best to use them at nighttime. Vitamin C is best for the day because it helps protect skin from damage as you’re out and about. And of course, don’t forget your sunscreen every morning.