Ageing

The A to Z of anti-ageing skincare ingredients

Everything you need to know, decoded.

By Amber Elias
Best anti ageing ingredients

Anti-ageing skin care products can be confusing - what do all these so-called "miracle" ingredients even do?! To help you cut through the confusion, we've broken down each anti-ageing ingredient on the market right now into this one handy glossary, so you always know exactly what you are putting on your face. Also, by knowing which ingredients do what, you'll be able to zone in to find the best anti-ageing cream for you, plus the best eye cream for wrinkles.

Work your way around the beauty counter with this guide to the best anti-ageing ingredients and procedures that can help you turn back the clock, help you look younger and be the best version of yourself.

A
ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants work to fight free radical damage. Applied topically, they can fight sun damage, pigmentation and dull skin, while making you look more luminous.

ASCORBIC ACID
Also known as l-ascorbic acid, this is the form that vitamin C takes in skin care. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is commonly found in anti-ageing products, but is photo sensitive so must be kept out of sunlight.

B
BENZOYL PEROXIDE
Found in some over-the-counter acne medications, it exfoliates pores and kills acne-causing bacteria.

BOTOX
The trademark brand name for botulinum toxin, Botox is injected into the skin and works by paralysing facial muscles to prevent wrinkles developing and to soften existing lines and creases.

C
CERAMIDES
These are found in the oil your skin naturally produces and are essential to hold cells together and support the skin's protective barrier.

COENZYME Q10
Naturally occurring in the body, but declines with age, CoQ10 (also known as ubiquinone) is used to preserve skin-cell function and improve skin texture.

COLLAGEN
Found in the skin up the levels of 80 per cent, but breaks down naturally over time, collagen is tricky to rebuild, but non-invasive treatments and topical creams can make a difference.

D
DERMATOLOGIST
A Dermatologist is a doctor that specialised in skin problems and diseases, and often is your first port of call when dealing with skin concerns.

DIMETHICONE
A form of silicone that gives your skin a poreless finish when applied. It is often found in moisturisers and makeup primers.

E
ELASTIN
Found in the layers of your skin and allows your skin to bounce back into place (like elastic), but it's sensitive to sun damage which can cause the fibres to break down quicker.

ENZYMES
Enzymes help the skin repair, improve cell communication to speed up processes and can enhance the efficacy of skin care.

EXFOLIATION
Essential to cell turnover and removing dead skin, which leads to an even complexion, exfoliation comes in two different forms.

Physical or manual:
Small particles or grains to buff away dead cells from the skin's surface.

Chemical or acid:
Dissolves the 'glue' that joins cells to each other and the skin's surface, removing dead ones.

F
FERULIC ACID
This plant-derived antioxidant repairs sun damage in the skin and helps stabilise the ingredients vitamin C and E in skin-care products.

FRAXEL
A professional laser that injuries the skin (on a microscopic level) that stimulates the body's natural wound-healing process, producing new collagen.

FREE RADICALS
Molecules created by the body in response to sunlight, smoking and pollution that damage your skin at a cellular level.

G
GLYCATION
If you needed another reason to quit sugar, this is it. Glycation occurs when sugar molecules in your blood bind to protein tissue throughout the body, leading to inflammation and collagen and elastin damage.

GLYCOLIC ACID
A form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used in chemical exfoliants used to smooth skin and improve texture.

H
HYALURONIC ACID
A molecule found natural in your body, but when applied to your skin it draws in water from the air to visibly plump and increase volume in the skin.

HYDROQUINONE
A controversial ingredient that inhibits pigment production and lightens dark spots, but should be avoided when pregnant.

I
IDEBENONE
A brand name for a synthetic antioxidant (made to mimic naturally occurring CoEnzyme Q10) that reduces inflammation and UV damage to skin cells that can cause wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

INTENSE PULSED LIGHT (IPL)
Used by professionals and doctors, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) emits varying wavelengths of light to remove hair, erase dark spots and treat UV damage.

J

JOJOBA OIL
Jojoba oil closely resembles the skins own natural oil (sebum) production, and is often used as a moisturiser in skin care products.

JUVEDERM
A popular filler option for cosmetic procedures, Juvederm is the trademarked name of a gel made from hyaluronic acid that is injected into wrinkles and lips to restore lost volume and fill lines.

K
KERATOSIS PILARIS
The real name for those pesky red bumps you often get on the back of your arms or legs. Formed when there is a blockage in the hair follicle, it is best treated with a chemical exfoliant like lactic acid), not with scrubbing as this can further inflame and irritate the area.

KERATIN
Keratin makes up your hair and nails, and is essential to prevent breakage.

KINETIN
Found in plants, this compound is used for its hydrating qualities and its ability to encourage cell division leading to skin cell repair.

L
LACTIC ACID
Another form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), it is derived from fermented milk and used as a gentle chemical exfoliant, great for people with sensitive skin.

LED
Light-emitting diode (LED) devices give off a narrow range of a specific wavelength of light and different wavelengths target different skin issues. For example, blue light kills the bacteria known to cause acne, whereas red light can improve the appearance of wrinkles.

M

MICRODERMABRASION
Performed by dermatologists and facialists, this treatment exfoliates the top layer of dead skin cells by spraying your skin with extremely fine aluminium-oxide crystals, and then vacuuming them off, to improves skins texture and radiance.

N
NIACINAMIDE
A form of vitamin B3, it is a skin care powerhouse ingredient. It reduces red marks, smooths texture and improves the appearance of pores.

O
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Found in seafood, nuts, flaxseed and olive oil, these essential fatty acids conserve cell function throughout the body, strength cell walls and make skin look suppler.

OXYBENZONE
Used in sunscreen to block UVB rays, it is commonly combined with UVA-absorbing filters for complete sun protection.

P
PARABENS
A controversial ingredient that is used as a preservative to protect against the growth of bacteria and fungi in products.

PEPTIDES
Peptides are amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. They promotes collagen growth and also repair and firm skin.

R
RESVERATROL
This antioxidant is found in grapes (including wine) and works to protect skin from free radicals.

RETINOL
The cosmetic term for vitamin A, retinol stimulates cell turnover to reveal younger-looking skin, and increases collagen production, making it one of the best anti-ageing ingredients to look out for.

S
SALICYLIC ACID
This acne fighting ingredient is also known as a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). It removes excess oil and dead cells from the skin, reducing congestion and breakouts. It is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.

SOY
More than just a common cooking ingredient, soy is rich in proteins and vitamins, brightens skin and stops the transfer of discolouration on the skin.

T
TITANIUM DIOXIDE
A mineral in sunscreen that physically blocks UVA and UVB rays reaching the skin, causing premature ageing.

THERMAGE
A non-surgical skin treatment that works by heating collagen fibres and underlying tissue deep in the skin, which cases the tissue to tighten. Over time, new collagen is created. It is used on the body and face, to contour and redefine.

U
UVA/UVB
Both UVA and UVB are ultra violet rays from the sun that damage your skin. UVA rays destroy collagen in the skin and causes skin cancer. UVB rays cause age spots, tanning and sunburn.

V
VITAMINS
Vitamins are commonly used in skin care, and are naturally and synthetically derived.

W
WATER
Water is essential to metabolic function, and is often a key ingredient in skin care as it is non-reactive and delivers ingredients straight to the skin.

WHITE TEA LEAF EXTRACT
An antioxidant extracted from the new buds and leaves of green tea, it is minimally processed and works against free radicals.

X
XANTHOPHYLL
Is a potent antioxidant derived from plants, and is also known as lutein.

Y
YERBA MATE EXTRACT
A plant extract with high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

YEAST
Better known in bread, yeast has been shown to heal skin wounds, although full clinical trials are yet to be undertaken.

Z
ZINC OXIDE
Zinc oxide is a mineral used as physical protection against UVA/UVB rays. It is non-irritating and has no risk of skin sensitisation.