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8 anti-ageing ingredients that actually work

September 15th 2016 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ 8 anti-ageing ingredients that actually work / 7 comments


...and two that don’t. We asked a dermatologist to blow the lids off of our skincare regimes

When it comes to our anti-ageing products, which ingredients should we really be looking for?

With labels full of oxides, acids and other names that sound like they’ve just come out of a chemistry lab, it can prove difficult to decipher the true contents of our bathroom shelves. To help clear the confusion, we asked respected cosmetic dermatologist and Get The Gloss Expert Dr Sam Bunting for her foolproof plan for understanding the ins and outs of our ingredients lists and identifying the anti-agers that are truly worth their weight in gold when it comes to our skincare regimes.

This is her pick of eight ingredients that actually work and two that don’t when it comes to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, texture and tone. We’ve also made sure to respond to your comments below requesting product recommendations and have included our pick of the best ones for each category in order to provide a go-to guide. Potent with some on the pricier end of the spectrum (but with some beauty bargains thrown in too), one word of caution would be to adhere to instructions carefully to ensure maximum benefits, (e.g. to wear sunscreen following the use of certain acids and retinoids). Highly concentrated but highly effective, here’s what delivers and what doesn’t.

1. Zinc oxide

"In my opinion, this is the best sunscreen ingredient for providing protection against the long wavelength UVA rays that are ravaging our collagen and contributing to hyperpigmentation; and now that it’s available in a micronized format, it doesn’t have to cause a grey-ish finish on the skin!"

Our product picks:

Skinceuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF50

A lightweight and fast-absorbing broad-spectrum sunscreen that makes for the most wearable of high factor protectants.

£35. Buy online.

Aveda Daily Light Guard Defense Fluid SPF30

Moisturising yet non-greasy, this daily sunscreen makes for a pint-sized power player in the protection stakes.

£34. Buy online.

Obagi Sunshield SPF 50

A matte finish sunscreen that could be just what shiny T-zones have been looking for.

£49.99. Buy online.


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2. Niacinamide

"A brilliant all-rounder, it’s well-tolerated (and can even increase tolerability of more irritating ingredients like retinoids), plus it helps reduce hyperpigmentation and ageing-associated inflammation."

Our product picks:

Paula’s Choice Resist Niacinamide 10% Booster

With its water-like texture, this clever booster can be added to your serum or moisturiser of choice to help sneak in your fix.

£38. Buy online.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1%

A budget beauty buy that comes in particularly handy for stealthily targeting congestion and blemishes.

£5. Buy online.

Olay Regenerist 3 Point Day Cream SPF30

An effective addition to Olay’s impressive roster of anti-ageing day creams to brighten and tighten in one fell swoop.

£29.99. Buy online.


3. Retinoids

"The most substantiated of all the anti-ageing ingredients, I think that unless you’re pregnant or suffer from rosacea you should probably be using a retinoid! It improves fine lines, improves texture and tone, and helps improve pore quality, so they’re less prominent and unclogged."

Our product picks:

Philosophy Miracle Worker Anti-ageing Retinoid Eye Repair

Under eye bags, fine lines and dark circles may have found their match with this deliciously velvet-touch textured eye opener.

£32.50. Buy online.

This Works No Wrinkles Extreme Moisturiser

The perfect balance of hydration and anti-ageing moxy in one stylist pot.

£46. Buy online.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

A one (to three) drop shop for giving your skincare an anti-ageing upgrade.

£8. Buy online.

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4. Glycolic acid

"I’m a fan of chemical exfoliation as I find it delivers more precise and controlled improvements in skin texture and tone. It also improves penetration of other skincare ‘actives.’"

Our product picks:

Pixi Glow Tonic

An all-round glow-giver that exfoliates and tones to leave skin noticeably brighter and smoother.

£18. Buy online.

Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel

A smooth and slick leave-on exfoliator that helps minimise the effects of excess sun exposure.

£23.50. Buy online.

Alpha H Liquid Gold

A night exfoliator with the golden touch to help fast-track your way to clearer looking skin.

£33.50. Buy online.


5. Salicylic acid

"A great choice of chemical exfoliant for those with oily/combination skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, exfoliates and therefore increases cell turnover and also gets into pores to keep them clear and unclogged, reducing visibility."

Our product picks:

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid

Provides an easy yet effective way to decongest combination to acneic skin types.

£23.50. Buy online.

Skinceuticals Blemish Age Cleansing Gel

A far-reaching cleanser of the most thorough.

£35. Buy online.

Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Cleansing Wash

A lightweight foaming face wash that delivers extra cleanse for your cash.

£7.99. Buy online.


6. Kojic acid

"This is a great ingredient for targeting hyperpigmentation, a sign of ageing that women loathe. It works well in combination with AHAs."

Our product pick:

Bakel Brightening Serum

A high-end, high performance face serum that provides potent anti-pigmentation for your pennies.

£95. Buy online.

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7. Ascorbic acid

"Vitamin C is vital for healthy functioning collagen, so correctly formulated and appropriately packaged vitamin C in its L-ascorbic acid is a worthwhile investment."

Our product picks:

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

A dark spot diminisher that helps to rectify the effects of sun damage.

£129. Buy online.

Lancer Advanced C Radiance Treatment

A butter-like textured cream with a mixture of 10% vitamin C, retinol and shea butter to exfoliate and brighten.

£68. Buy online.


8. Azelaic acid

"This is a great ingredient for those who are prone to redness but want to tackle pore clarity and exfoliate without irritation."

Our product picks:

Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Trans Multi-correction Treatment with Azelaic Acid and BHC

A effective multi-tasker for refining and smoothing skin's texture.

£34. Buy online.

Rodial Super Acids Sleep Serum

An intensive pore-minimising overnight treatment to leave skin looking and feeling more refreshed and awake.

£78. Buy online.

Medik8 Beta Gel

A professional strength blemish buster that provides a more targeted helping hand.

£31. Buy online.


...and two ingredients that don't work...

1. Collagen

"This will function as a moisturiser but it won’t penetrate into the dermis to restore declining levels of collagen."

2. Elastin

"Again, this large molecule has to be made on-site in the dermis to be of any use. It can’t penetrate the outer layer of the skin so unfortunately it won’t restore elasticity in sagging skin."

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  • Bonnie Alvarez
  • September 23rd 2016

Thanks for providing wide range of good skin products available. I have used Olay products for a while but didn't got the results I wanted. I'm now using Image skin Care products which I purchased from https://www.imageskincare.com/by-concern/anti-aging/total-repair-cr.html on recommendation of one of my friends and I'm glad with the results.

  • Lisa haiden
  • September 16th 2016

Yes, those ingredients actually work. I’m only wondering if they work better used in over the counter products or in DIY skincare receipts. I am doing some testing of my own on the subject, but got no conclusive answer up to now. Does anyone have any insides on this? Thanks.

  • Lisa Hilton
  • July 16th 2016

Yes, very useful yet it would be very informative and helpful to have a few product recommendations for each area! Please do include the doctor's top product choices. Many thanks!

  • Miller Smith
  • March 28th 2015

Great tips , loved these. I would like to add help protection to eyes with sunglasses. These help in protection to eyes and sensitive area around the eyes.


  • Sam Rullan
  • March 17th 2015

I agree a great feature, but some examples of some of the better products out there would be wonderful !

  • Fiona Knight
  • March 17th 2015

This is a really useful, helpful feature from a dermatologist I respect very much.
But could we have some suggestions from Get The Gloss of those products that contain the highest proportion of active ingredient that Dr Bunting suggests.
I'm particularly on the look-out for zinc-based suncreams for the face. My fair, freckled skin has managed to go red twice already this year, even in the first weak warmth of Spring sunshine! What a lightweight....

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