The most powerful skincare ingredients you should be looking out for

Your skin will spring back to life.

Pigmentation, pores and fine lines are the most common skin issues we all face as women at various stages of life. But, the good news is, there are skincare products that can help with comabatting some of these effects of ageing – and the key to their effectiveness are the hero skincare ingredients they contain.

“The first sign of ageing is actually pigmentation, not wrinkles,” says Emma Hobson, Director of Education at Dermalogica. “Pigmentation causes skin tone to become uneven, which makes the skin appear older.” The sun is a common cause, but hyperpigmentation can also be triggered by stress, trauma or inflammation, including breakouts.

As for pores, their size is directly related to skin type: oily skin tends to have larger pores because the oil flow is more active, while dry skin has smaller, less visible pores. Although you can’t tamper with genetics, any skin type can see pore size increase during hot or humid weather. 

When it comes to fine lines, these can be a sign of dryness or dehydration – which are not quite the same thing. “Dehydrated skin shows in the form of wrinkles and crepe-y skin, while dry skin is scaly and cracked,” says Sydney dermatologist Dr Nina Wines.

So, what’s the solution?

Here are the five skincare ingredients you should try for common skin issues:


Vitamin C for pigmentation

Try: Tribe SKincare, Brightening Vitamin C Serum, $68

Vitamin C has a long-standing reputation as the go-to ingredient,” says Emma. “It has antioxidant properties that can mop up damaging free radicals, and it can inhibit tyrosinase, the pigment responsible for melanin production.”


Vitamin A for pigmentation

Try: Alpha-A, Vitamin A Serum with 0.5% Retinol, $84.95

If your skin can tolerate it, Vitamin A can take that magic erasing action up a notch by speeding up cell turnover and, over time, improving luminosity. There is a downside –  not all skin types can tolerate retinol without irksome side effects, such as redness and flaky skin, so it’s best to use retinol every second day to start with.

Or you could try a gentler plant-based skin ingredients, such as Bakuchiol, which is better tolerated if your skin tends to be reactive. “Keep your expectations realistic,” says Emma. “Fading pigmentation is usually achievable, while complete cessation is much more challenging.”


SPF for pores

Try: frank body, SPF50+ Body & Face Sunscreen, $30

UV damage can also affect pore size, so SPF is nonnegotiable. “The sun can make pores look visibly larger as it damages the structural collagen in the skin,” Nina says.


Niacinamide for pores 

Try: The Ordinary, Niacinamide 10%, Zinc 1%, $9.50

According to Emma, it is worth investing in pore-constricting products that can easily be added to your regular cleansing and exfoliating routine

“The most effective treatment  is to use a good pore-reducing toner or serum that contains astringent pore-tightening plant ingredients, such as wild rose berries, vitamin BC (niacinamide), witch hazel and green tea, as these reduce the quantity  of oil produced,” says Emma.


Hyaluronic acid for fine lines 

Try: The Inkey List, Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, $14

Dehydrated skin is thirsty, so reach for a serum or lotion that contains hyaluronic acid (it can hold a whopping 1000 times its own weight in water) to instantly boost hydration levels. If dryness is the issue, you’ll need to ‘seal’ in the added moisture with an oil-based lotion or facial oil to prevent water escaping from your skin.

Related stories