Exploring the Science Behind Effective Skincare

Exploring the Science Behind Effective Skincare

Understanding the nuances of skincare is key to making informed choices that support your beauty goals. From the importance of skin pH and your lipid barrier to ingredients like anti-glycosylation agents and lingonberry stem cells, understanding how these compounds work with your unique complexion is vital.


Retinol is a vitamin A derivative celebrated for its ability to enhance cell turnover, stimulate collagen production and fade hyperpigmentation. It can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin tone and texture and help prevent sun damage. However, it is important to introduce retinol into your skincare routine slowly. Otherwise, you may experience red and irritated skin, especially in the early stages of use. For best results, choose a retinol that is low in concentration and gradually increase the dosage over time as your skin builds tolerance.

Retinoids, like tretinoin and tazarotene, work to diminish wrinkles by slowing the breakdown of collagen and increasing cell turnover. These ingredients also encourage the growth of new collagen and elastin fibers, helping to firm and tighten the skin. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving your skin a more youthful appearance.

As you age, the skin cells in the middle layer of your skin begin to divide more slowly, causing the outermost layers of the skin to thin and lose their elasticity. This is why many people notice the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as they grow older. Regular use of retinol can help prevent wrinkles and improve skin elasticity, making it one of the most effective anti-aging skincare products.

Dark spots, or hyperpigmentation, are the result of sun damage to your skin and the buildup of melanin pigment. Retinol can lighten dark spots, but it will take months and requires patience. You should see a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in conditions of the skin) for professional treatment options.

Pores can become clogged with dead skin cells and oil, which causes blackheads or whiteheads. Retinol helps prevent clogged pores by promoting skin cell turnover and blocking excess oil. This can cause your skin to look flaky and scaly at first, but it will clear after a few months.

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies that holds water, which keeps the skin plump and full. It is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture and then holds onto it. This makes it an excellent hydrator and moisturizer. It is a great ingredient to add to your skincare routine, especially in the winter, when dryness is common.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is the beauty world’s holy grail of hydration. It’s a sugar-based molecule found throughout the body’s connective tissue, where it acts like a sponge, filling in the gaps and crevices of skin cells to plump and soften your complexion. But its true calling is in your joints, where it cushions the spaces between bones, allowing them to move freely. It’s also responsible for the youthful bounce in your cheeks, giving skin that dewy look.

The trouble is, as you age, your HA stores start to deplete, leaving your skin looking dry and dull. But you can boost your levels by using a serum or moisturizer that contains this powerhouse molecule, which is great for helping reduce fine lines and wrinkles and bringing back that healthy glow.

However, before you reach for the hyaluronic acid powder on the shelf, know that the concentration and molecular weight matter. You want to look for a serum that’s high in hyaluronic acid—think 1 percent or 2 percent. Anything higher, and you’ll need a prescription from your dermatologist.

Another ingredient to watch out for is sodium hyaluronate, which has been linked to contact dermatitis. That’s why it’s important to understand what you’re getting when you pick up that bottle of hyaluronic acid serum at the drugstore. It’s easy to get sucked into the marketing hype, but remember that “percentages” don’t tell the whole story.

For the best results, use hyaluronic acid twice a day—once in the morning and once at night—on clean skin. If you’re looking to target specific areas of concern, apply it right after cleansing, then follow with your favorite moisturizer or serum. Hyaluronic acid works well with other ingredients—like retinol and vitamin C—so don’t be afraid to mix it up. And don’t forget, if you have a food allergy or intolerance, avoid products that contain poultry-derived hyaluronic acid. (Ask your dermatologist about safe, plant-derived hyaluronic acid options.) Supplementation isn’t recommended, but if you do take oral hyaluronic acid, be sure to consult your doctor for proper dosing and precautions.

Vitamin C

The skin’s outer layer protects against environmental damage and aging, but it is also susceptible to damage from the sun. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and prevents UV-related oxidation. It can also reduce dark spots and brighten the complexion. To complement your understanding of skincare, I highly recommend you read this GOA Skin review, which offers insights into a revolutionary supplement for skincare. Understanding the benefits of both topical treatments like retinol and internal supplements can truly optimize your skincare routine and help you achieve radiant, youthful skin.

It is important to maintain a healthy skincare routine that includes the right products, daily sunscreen and a diet rich in anti-oxidants. Creating an even, bright complexion is the ultimate goal for many consumers. Cosmetic-grade functional brightening agents, like kojic acid, AHAs, licorice root and water-soluble derivatives of vitamin C are being developed as alternatives to the FDA-approved lightener hydroquinone.


Niacinamide sounds like some beauty brand’s chemistry-lab invention, but this ingredient is actually just vitamin B3. Niacinamide benefits are so extensive that dermatologists classify it as a “powerhouse.” It’s proven to address acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and aging, prevent dark spots, reduce pore size, smooth skin texture, brighten and firm. It’s also a good partner for other active ingredients, such as retinoids and AHA and BHA exfoliants, because it helps them penetrate deeper into the skin.

As a nutrient, niacinamide stimulates your cells to produce NAD+, a molecule that acts as a co-factor for cellular energy production and can neutralize free radicals (unstable molecules that damage the skin) more effectively than other antioxidants. It’s also known to help hydrate the skin by supporting lipid production and increase ceramides, the skin barrier fatty acids that deplete with age.

Since it’s relatively gentle and well-tolerated, niacinamide can be used in most skin types. However, its effectiveness varies by concentration and how it’s applied. It’s best for addressing dark spots and fine lines when used in a serum or moisturizer that can be left on the skin, as opposed to a cleanser that is washed off immediately.

Niacinamide is also an excellent choice for calming red blemishes, as it can help fade the red marks left behind by breakouts and other irritation. Using it in a concentrated form, such as in a cream that contains 2% niacinamide, can help prevent rosacea flare-ups.

Aside from its anti-inflammatory and skin barrier-strengthening benefits, niacinamide is a great pick for anyone experiencing dryness. It also works well in combination with peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHAs and BHAs and all types of antioxidants to help combat signs of aging, such as uneven tone.

Keep in mind, though, that while niacinamide is considered effective by the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, there’s limited research on its effects on Alzheimer’s disease and other brain conditions. So if you’re struggling with these issues, speak to your doctor about taking oral supplements or other treatment options. And remember that no matter what ingredients are in your skincare, it’s important to pair them with a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep the body functioning optimally.

Tom Faraday