She started as a model before moving into the world of makeup artistry and founding Runway Room cosmetics, salons and makeup academy, so it's safe to say Alex Fevola knows all about beauty.
The 45-year-old mum has spent years applying makeup on every face imaginable, from teen girls heading off to their formal, to 60-year-old mother of the bride clients.
She's seen firsthand how a woman's skin changes through the years and requires different makeup and skincare as time goes on.
But as she tells Now To Love, it can be hard for busy women - especially 40+ mums like her - to research every beauty brand an ingredient on the market to figure it all out.
Fortunately, Alex has made it easy with a crash course in the most popular makeup and skincare ingredients right now and how women can get the most out of them.
From retinoids, to AHAs and BHAs, to hyaluronic acid and everything inbetween, these are the best beauty and skincare ingredients for mums over 40 explained.
What kind of ingredients should women over 45 be looking for in their skincare and makeup?
WATCH ABOVE: The most searched skincare ingredients.
"In my opinion, a couple of absolute must haves for age prevention are Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Natural Oils and Vitamin E," Alex says, adding that each one offers a different benefit.
"Hyaluronic Acid gives your skin an instant moisture deposit and helps lock in moisture for longer. It also helps improve elasticity and strengthen your skin."
Meanwhile, Vitamin C can brighten and improve pigmentation while preventing the signs of ageing, and Vitamin A promotes cell production/renewal and supports collagen production.
"Natural Oils, such as Jojoba Oil, Rosehip Oil, will help with nourishing and hydrating the skin," she adds, and Vitamin E is great for moisturising, nourishing and soothing the skin.
Of course, those aren't the only ingredients on the market and there are some - like retinoids and hyaluronic acids - that can be a bit confusing, so Alex has explained them all.
How do retinoids work?
"Retinoids are a class of chemicals that derive from vitamin A. They can play a role in immunity and skin health and offer several benefits such as reducing inflammation, unclogging pores, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles, and regulating the growth of cells on the skin's surface," Alex says.
"Retinoids help your skin make more collagen that aids to soften wrinkles and fine lines. They also stimulate new blood vessels. Retinoids can also help fade age spots and smooth rough patches. Tretinoin (Retin-A) is a popular prescription choice for aging skin. Best used in a cream form & before bed to avoid sun exposure."
How do AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) work?
"AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits. They help peel away the surface of your skin so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells may generate and take their place. AHAs are primarily used to exfoliate, working to remove the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal fresh new cells underneath," Alex says.
These products can also help to:
- promote collagen and blood flow
- correct discoloration from scars and age spots
- improve appearance of surface lines and wrinkles
- prevent acne breakouts
- brighten your complexion
- increase product absorption
"After use, you'll likely notice that your skin is smoother to the touch. You can find AHA in daily anti-aging products, such as serums, toners, and creams, as well as chemical peels. They are safe for all skin types but you will want to take care if you have extremely dry and/or sensitive skin," Alex continues.
"You may need to gradually work up to daily use to avoid irritating your skin. AHA exfoliants should be applied after cleansing your skin. Follow with your other skincare products, applying them in order from the lightest to the heaviest texture."
How do BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) work?
"People use BHAs to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on the skin and improve the skin's overall texture. Salicylic acid, which is a type of BHA, is a common ingredient in acne products," Alex explains.
"Beta hydroxy acid works mainly as an exfoliant. It causes the cells of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) to become 'unglued', allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for the regrowth of new skin. Beta hydroxy acid is reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after at least six months of daily application. Beta hydroxy acid that's found in skincare products works best in a concentration of 1% to 2% and at a pH of 3 to 4."
Different BHAs include:
- salicylic acid
- beta-hydroxybutanoic acid
- tropic acid
- trethocanic acid
"AHA & BHA - both acid types are found in a wide range of skincare products, including serums, moisturizers, toners, peels, scrubs, cleansers, and masks. However, using beta hydroxy acid in a moisturizer base may be best and cleansers containing beta hydroxy acid are not very effective because the beta hydroxy acid must be absorbed into the skin to work. Cleansers are washed off before this absorption occurs," Alex adds.
How does hyaluronic acid work?
"Hyaluronic acid (or HA) is a sugar molecule found naturally in our bodies that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water working to keep our skin hydrated and plump. HA binds with collagen and water molecules, which traps the acid in our skin and prevents it from evaporating into the air. Similar to collagen and elastin, the amount of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we get older. As we age, we lose collagen and hyaluronic acid naturally, so the skin becomes dehydrated and can cause tiny breaks in the protective skin barrier, allowing water to escape," Alex says.
"When used topically in skincare products, including creams and serums, hyaluronic acid gives your complexion a boost by quickly increasing the skin's moisture level. As an added bonus, hyaluronic acid plays well with most other skin actives, making it easy to pair with peels, retinols, vitamins, and other acids."
How do peptides work?
"Peptides are amino acids that are the building blocks of certain proteins needed by the skin, like collagen and elastin. Using a serum or moisturizer that contains peptides can lead to firmer, younger-looking skin, and maybe even fewer breakouts. Without these proteins, we will see wrinkles, brittle nails and dry hair that's prone to breakage. Aside from being essential to the skin's structure and function, peptides are found in every human cell and play an important role in how the body functions. If we are deficient in them, our body simply cannot function," Alex explains.
"When it comes to skin care, not all peptides are created equal. For example, carrier peptides deliver trace minerals to the skin to boost collagen, while enzyme inhibitor peptides work to slow down the skin's natural breakdown of collagen. Signal peptides send messages to different parts of the skin to promote collagen, elastin and other proteins; and neurotransmitter peptides, touted as 'Botox-like', block the release of chemicals that cause the muscle contraction of expression lines, thus smoothing wrinkles."
"When it comes to enhancing the skin, it is recommended to get peptides from topical skin care products and a consultation with your dermatologist may be helpful to determine exactly what your skin needs. Once you find the right cream or serum applying it to clean skin twice daily, under makeup and SPF is the best way to incorporate this ingredient into your skincare routine."
How do Vitamin C work?
"As one of the most powerful antioxidants around, Vitamin C is every bit as important for our skin as it is for our bodies. Best known for its brightening abilities, this powerful ingredient has also been shown to hydrate, reduce redness, even skin tone, fade hyperpigmentation, reduce the look of dark circles, and boost collagen. It's also particularly adept at shielding skin from harmful environmental aggressors, like pollution, UV rays, and free radicals," explains Alex.
"Face serums, meanwhile, are concentrated treatments used to deliver key ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, retinol, and, of course, vitamin C, directly to the skin. Unlike a facial oil or face moisturizer, serums are more potent and can travel deeper into the layers of the epidermis, fighting specific skin issues, such as wrinkles, redness, and dark spots, right at the source.
"For maximum benefits, it's best to apply vitamin C serums in the morning in order to defend your complexion against the elements all day long. Simply place a couple of drops directly onto your face, massage it in, and let it dry completely for proper absorption before moving on to the next step of your skincare regimen."
How does Vitamin B work?
"When applied topically, Vitamin B will improve your skin's texture and moisture retention. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles because it helps skin stay moist - wrinkles and lines are exaggerated with dry skin. The Vitamin B complex helps even out skin tone and reduce those dark spots that age us. Vitamin B is also a natural antioxidant, so it combats free radicals, those molecules responsible for aging and disease, and helps heal a damaged complexion," Alex reveals.
"While you absolutely should also consume vitamin B-rich foods (like salmon), topical application is crucial. While our skin is the largest organ, it's not necessarily considered to be the most important by our bodies. The nutrients we ingest typically go to other more vital organs first, with little left to nourish the skin."
How does niacinimide work?
"Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is generally available in serum or moisturizer products and offer a wide range of skincare benefits that is fantastic for nearly any concern," Alex says"
"Learning how to take care of our skin as we age can be tricky. We are always looking for products that can help with wrinkles, age spots, moisture, and overall skin health. But some ingredients only work their magic for certain skin types and ages, however using niacinamide for skin can help with multiple issues and it's even great for all ages."
Some skin benefits of using Niacinamide are:
- Lightens Age Spots
- Reduces Lines and Wrinkles
- Clears Complexion
- Improves Rosacea Symptoms
- Reduces the Appearance of Large Pores