The ‘gold standard’ active ingredients

The ‘gold standard’ active ingredients

We’ve created a well-rounded breakdown of some of the most beneficial ingredients to look out for to help you rejuvenate your skin.

Vitamin A When it comes to anti-ageing ingredients that give you more bang for your buck, retinol (vitamin A in its most potent form), is king. Aside from stimulating your skin to create more collagen (the substance that keeps your skin ‘plump’, firm and wrinkle-free), it’s also a great antioxidant and can even minimise pigmentation.

There are several types of retinol available so be sure to check which one is being used in the skincare product you’re buying. There is a large disparity between the results of a cosmeceutical product which contains Retinol (and only has to go through two conversions) versus an over-the-counter product where the retinoid needs to be converted multiple times before it can be used by the skin. It's like taking an already diluted cool drink and further diluting it with large amounts of water, rather than taking the concentrate and mixing it with the correct amount of water. Retinyl palmitate, for example, is a very weak form and won’t be as effective as pure retinol. The percentage is significant too. While 0,5% and 1% retinol sounds incredibly low, that’s the amount you should be looking out for if you’re a new or advanced user respectively.

As strong retinol might cause redness and irritation like peeling if you use too high a percentage straight out the gate, your skin care therapist should advise you on how to introduce retinol into your skin care routine to avoid a typical “retinol reaction”. It is crucial that you start with a low percentage and only apply it every other day (preferably at night) before working your way up to a higher percentage.

We like SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 which contains 1% pure retinol that’s safely packaged in an opaque, airtight container. This is important because retinol won’t remain stable if exposed to light or air which is why jar packaging is a no-no. It’s also available in less potent forms (0,3 and 0,5 percent) so, if you’re a retinol newbie, you’ll have a starting point.


Every day your skin is exposed to environmental aggressors, like unprotected sun exposure and pollution, that oxidise your skin and damages it over time. Antioxidants, however, are natural and synthetic ingredients that can negate this.

There is a multitude of antioxidants for you to pick from that include the vitamins A, C and E as well as those that are plant-derived, things like green tea and resveratrol found in red and purple berries as well as grapes. The thing about antioxidants, however, is that they all work differently, so you need a variety of them, not just one, for maximum benefit. In the same way that you need to eat a balanced diet that includes several vitamins and minerals for optimum health, you need a buffet of antioxidants, so making a point of using skincare products that contain them, be it sunscreen or a face wash, is a must.

We like: Lamelle Correctives Recharge CE Complex serum, it delivers a potent form of vitamin C (ascorbic acid used at 20%, a very high but stable concentration) along with vitamin E which boosts it’s efficacy in both an immediate and slow release delivery system to minimise the chance of irritation. Aside from being a great antioxidant, vitamin C also boosts collagen production while discouraging pigmentation.

Alpha hydroxy acids

Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) have the ability to dissolve the bonds between dry, dead skin cells and slough them off to reveal a brighter, fresher-looking complexion while diminishing the look of pigmentation. Ultimately, it’s a highly effective chemical exfoliant and can be used in high concentrations by anyone who doesn’t have sensitive skin.

There are several forms of AHA, and these include glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane) and the slightly less potent but more hydrating lactic acid (derived from milk). Glycolic acid, being more potent, is best suited to those with sun damage and has the added advantage of encouraging collagen production.

We like: NeoStrata Ultra Smoothing lotion 10AHA, it contains 10% glycolic acid to peel and reveals a smoother, more evenly-toned complexion as well as citric acid that acts as an antioxidant.


While collagen is essentially a protein, your skin is made up of other proteins that help support it. This is where peptides come in. When they form in a certain way, they can create the protein that’s essential to your skin’s firmness.

There are several types of peptides, and those that are most researched are the ‘signal peptides’, those that tell your skin to perform a particular task, like stimulate collagen or inhibit things that trigger pigmentation. These include copper peptides, Matrixyl 3000 and Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4.

At one point, a lot of hype surrounded copper peptides, and while these are beneficial, peptides are similar to antioxidants in that they need friends to do their best work. For example, did you know that the free-radical scavenging benefits of vitamin C are turbo boosted when it’s used together with vitamin E? You should apply the ‘it takes a village’ theory to peptides and not just focus on one, but attempt to get a healthy mix of several of them via your skincare routine.

We like: Lumixyl Topical Brightening Crème it contains Decapeptide-12, the only peptide that’s been proven to inhibit the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme that helps your skin to produce melanin. This makes it a fantastic choice for anyone wanting to minimise the appearance of pigmentation from the bottom up.


Growth factors are large proteins that found naturally in your body, they communicate instructions to other cells, signalling them to do things like heal or produce more collagen. As we age, our skin starts producing fewer growth factors which is why certain processes start to slow down. Including growth factors in your skincare routine, however, can help mitigate the loss and stimulate your skin to behave as though it were younger.

We like: Lamelle Correctives Intensive GF serum, it contains a growth factor called thioredoxin, inflammation-reducing cytokines and a copper peptide blend. Together, they stimulate collagen production while serving up excellent antioxidant protection.

Stem cells

One of the most remarkable types of cells that can be found in your body, stem cells can develop into any type of tissue, be it skin, muscle or bone. At present, the cosmetic industry can’t use human skin cells in products, but they can include plant stem cells, usually from fruits like apples, grapes and melon. Because they’re of a different genus, they can’t tell your skin to produce more of anything, but they can act as powerful antioxidants by helping your skin to protect itself from environmental aggressors.

We like: NeoStrata Skin Active Cellular Restoration cream, it contains apple stem cells as well as collagen-encouraging peptides and glycolic acid, an AHA to help smooth your skin’s texture while diminishing pigmentation.

To learn more about anti-ageing skincare as well as the best in-office solutions to help enhance them, visit You can also shop the brands we’ve mentioned along with other well-formulated, proven skincare products at

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