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Home>Blog>The Top Skin Care Ingredients, and What They Actually Do

The Top Skin Care Ingredients, and What They Actually Do

MIRA BEAUTY • updated Dec 18, 2020
The Top Skin Care Ingredients, and What They Actually Do

Revamp your skin care routine with these top ingredients

The world of skin care can be incredibly exciting, and also intimidating. We’re constantly exposed to trendy ingredients gracing the shelfie shots of our favorite influencers - from natural remedies like honey and caffeine to weird-but-effective ones like snail slime and bee venom.

And as much as you’d like to shop moisturizers based on pretty packaging, a love for coffee, or a whipped, creamy texture that feels like a sweet treat for your skin (looking at you, Bliss’s Mighty Marshmallow Mask,) that’s a breakout waiting to happen. Instead, you need to get up close and personal with your skin to discover all the best ingredients that work for you.

Sure, there are the classics like Vitamin C and fruit oils that are pretty safe for all skin types, but quarantine is the perfect opportunity to break out of your skin care shell and try Retinol. Or stock up on the Green Tea face masks that you’ve seen at Target a million times, but could never convince yourself to buy.

Treat yourself, and experiment with these skin care ingredients that will forever change your beauty routine.

Hyaluronic Acid

Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum by Cosmedica
Source: Cosmedica

It doesn’t matter if your skin is oily, dry sensitive, mature or anything in between… everybody deserves a moisture surge to smooth out imperfections and achieve the dewy, dreamy complexion that you thought only existed on Instagram. Your favorite imperfection-blurring filters come to life with Hyaluronic Acid - the hydration hero that holds up to 1,000 times its own weight in water to flood your face with moisture. While this substance is naturally produced by the body, your levels of HA decrease as you get older (just like they do with collagen,) and have less of the hydrating, firming, brightening and wrinkle-smoothing properties that makes Hyaluronic Acid a cult favorite. The answer? Pick up your favorite moisturizers, face creams, and more that feature this standout ingredient. HA is a natural substance that works effectively on people of all ages and skin types without the risk of irritation - and brings intense levels of hydration to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, brighten your complexion, and simply add vibrancy and vitality back to your skin. Our suggestion for beginners? Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum by Cosmedica, one of Violet Chachki’s must-have products as she completes her post-drag skin care routine!

Green Tea

Matcha Magic Super Antioxidant Mask by Boscia
Source: Boscia

We’re here for the tea. Green tea, that is. You love your midday cup of this drink for an energy boost at work, and it feels even better on your face in the form of masks, cleansers, and serums. Green tea is an antioxidant, in the same category as Vitamins A, C, and E (more on these later!) to protect your skin against free radical damage. What are free radicals, exactly? Glad you asked. These refer to molecules in the environment that weaken your skin’s collagen and drain the vibrancy from your face - which isn’t fun at all. But you can always count on Green Tea to nourish and soothe even the most stressed skin, along with protecting against environmental damage to keep your complexion looking and feeling fresh. This ingredient is derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant Camellia Sinensis, and the active components are polyphenols with rich anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Not only will Green Tea protect against sun damage, pollution, and other environmental stressors to keep the fine lines and dark spots away...it also promotes DNA repair to mix beauty and science. Those with eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis (like Queer Eye grooming expert, Jonathan Van Ness) will particularly benefit from this soothing ingredient, as it reduces inflammation and excess oil to keep skin cool, calm, and under control at all times. But regardless of your skin type, you'll feel gorgeous in Green Tea with this enriching antioxidant, which can be found in the Matcha Magic Super Antioxidant Mask by Boscia!


Retinol Reform by Shani Darden Skincare
Source: Shani Darden

Okay, let’s talk about Retinol - as the classic skin care ingredient has a bit of a reputation. On one hand, it’s an anti-aging, collagen-inducing powerhouse that celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski and Chrissy Teigen have praised for treating their quarantine skin. More specifically, with the Retinol Reform product by Shani Darden, which is a holy grail for A-listers and beauty influencers. But as groundbreaking as Retinol is, you also need to take it slow, as too much of this ingredient can be harsh on sensitive skin and cause major irritation. As a Vitamin A derivative, Retinol has been known to prevent wrinkles, exfoliate the skin, treat acne and prevent long-term signs of aging. People in their 20’s love it for preventing crow’s feet before they even happen, while those with mature skin benefit from the increased collagen production and cell regeneration that create a fresh, youthful glow. “Out with the old, in with the new” isn’t just a cliche term, it’s the basis behind Retinol and its ability to fight wrinkles, dullness, blemishes and all the bad stuff. It’s the closest thing (alongside Hyaluronic Acid!) you’ll find the perfect skin care ingredient, as long as you use it with caution!


Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe
Source: Glow Recipe

There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of watermelon, especially during a warm summer day or when you just need a boost of healthy hydration. And it’s not just the ideal seasonal snack, but one of the best skin care ingredients to infuse your skin with moisture, amino acids, and essential vitamins for a dewy glow. While the ingredient has been trending in the beauty world for the past few years, there’s one brand that comes to mind immediately when you think about watermelon skin care, and it’s Glow Recipe. The K-beauty brand made headlines in 2017 with the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask - which sold out instantly and racked up a waitlist of 5,000 people. In 2020, the brand has launched an entire Watermelon Glow skin care line - with a toner, moisturizer, and mist to deeply hydrate and infuse the skin with essential vitamins and acids. As for why you need watermelon in your beauty routine, the Glow Recipe co-founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee explain it the best. The fruit “is made of 92% water and is jam-packed with protective vitamins A and C, skin-plumping amino acids, and the phytonutrient lycopene,” says the Glow Recipe website. “It basically does it all: moisturizes, plumps, and soothes, as well as helps to treat pores, flakiness, fine lines, and wrinkles.” You can’t argue with that, and your K-beauty routine will be complete with this ultra-moisturizing skin care savior.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C Serum by Mad Hippie
Source: Mad Hippie

Antioxidants are the real MVP’s when forming your skin care routine, and there’s one that truly stands out above the rest: Vitamin C. It doesn’t just belong in your orange juice or the tablet you take every day, it’s also an incredible nutrient that effectively repairs and prevents damage to your skin. We’re talking about protection against free radicals and environmental damage, such as dark spots and dullness resulting from sun exposure, and a brightness boost to help you work hard, and glow harder. Vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen production and speed up the cell regeneration process, which any beauty enthusiast knows is the key to a brighter, clearer, firmer and more radiant complexion. Goodbye fine lines and age spots, hello glowing skin. We could go on forever (and let’s be honest, we do) about the incredible benefits of Vitamin C, but you should let your skin do the talking. With the Vitamin C Serum by Mad Hippie, perhaps? But if you’re more of a moisturizer or cleanser person, this beloved antioxidant is present in any skincare product you could imagine - each one helping you look on the bright side and upgrade your beauty routine.


Moisturizing Cream by CeraVe
Source: CeraVe

Dealing with dry skin? Ceramides are your friend. Like Hyaluronic Acid, this ingredient is naturally produced by the body and provides incredible hydration. But ceramides are skin care saviors in their own right. They make up about 50% of our skin barrier, and seal in moisture while protecting against environmental damage, softening and smoothing your complexion, and reducing inflammation and visible signs of aging. Although these lipids can be found in your body, they’re often depleted by the natural aging process, or overusing exfoliants or harsh soaps. Which is a hint to take it easy on the body scrubs! But a ceramide-infused moisturizer, like the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, will leave your skin feeling hydrated, refreshed, and softer than ever. 96% of our MIRA guests say that this face cream is gentle and hydrating, which is evidence that ceramides are ultra-effective and suitable for all skin types.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E Moisture Cream by The Body Shop
Source: The Body Shop

If you check the ingredients of your favorite lip balm that you keep in your car, purse, and work desk… it probably contains this antioxidant. Why? Because Vitamin E has an incredible ability to soothe the skin while sealing in moisture - even on the delicate areas like under eyes and lips. "Vitamin E keeps lipids fresh in your skin," explains celebrity esthetician (and brand founder!) Renée Rouleau. "This helps to keep your skin's protective barrier intact. It can help seal up little cracks created in the skin's barrier that can cause moisture to escape and leave the skin feeling tight and dry." Indeed, there’s nothing worse than dry or chapped skin, and Vitamin E should be your go-to if your skin starts to lose moisture during the fall season. It moisturizes, protects, heals, and soothes to act as the ultimate conditioner for your complexion, and you’ll feel instantly at ease once you add it to your beauty routine. Vitamin E Moisture Cream by The Body Shop keeps your face feeling fresh and moisturized with up to 72 hours of hydration, while the Kiehl’s Lip Balm lets your lips do the talking with this powerful antioxidant.

Avocado Oil

Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe
Source: Glow Recipe

It’s not just the trendy food that millennials love to eat on toast, it’s also a powerful ingredient for smoother, softer, and more protected skin. High in healthy fats and rich in nutrients like Potassium, Magnesium, and Vitamins E & C, there’s very little that avocado can’t do. It hydrates and locks moisture into the skin, has anti-inflammatory properties that work beautifully on the acne-prone, and protects against environmental damage and stressors. If you’ve made it this far down the list, you know that last one is the key reason behind fine lines, loss of elasticity, dark spots and other symptoms of aged skin… so why not treat it with one of the most tasty skin care ingredients, ever? Dermatologists recommend using Avocado alongside Retinol for maximum results, and Julie Russak, MD agrees. “The most absorption of the retinol happens with a fat-soluble content,” she told Byrdie. “Combining it together with an oil will increase absorption and decrease the irritation from it.” You heard it from an expert, and the Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe will let you ease your way into Retinol while getting all the most beautiful benefits of Avocado.


Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel by Paula’s Choice
Source: Paula's Choice

Glowing skin is the goal for many (if not most) beauty enthusiasts - and we seek out moisturizers, face washes, and serums to make it happen. But do you know about Niacinamide, one of the most underrated skin care ingredients for a brightness boost? Step away from the Vitamin C and try Vitamin B3, a restorative antioxidant that “helps restore cellular energy, repair damaged DNA, and reduce the immunosuppressive effects of sun-induced UV rays," says dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann. In simpler terms, it protects your skin from internal and external stressors to keep you looking youthful and radiant. It’s also been shown to prevent the transfer of pigment within the skin, reducing dark spots that occur from sun exposure or simply growing older. You won’t have to worry about the effects of Niacinamide drying out or irritating your skin, as it’s one of the best nutrients to lock in moisture and enhance glow for all skin types. In fact, the anti-inflammatory properties of this nutrient make it a top choice for those with a sensitive or acne-prone complexion… and you’ll be looking luminous with the Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel by Paula’s Choice.

Glycolic Acid

 T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum by Drunk Elephant
Source: Drunk Elephant

We all love the softies like Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides, but sometimes you want your skin care ingredients to get a little gritty... in the good way. Yes, we’re talking about exfoliation, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with Glycolic Acid. This ingredient is an AHA, or alpha-hydroxy acid, which reaches deep into your pores to remove dead cells, regulate oil production, and unveil your most glowing skin. Say goodbye to acne and blackheads as your favorite Glycolic Acid products, like the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum by Drunk Elephant, unclog pores and balance out skin tone for a new type of exfoliation. Glycolic Acid differs from other AHA’s, like Lactic and Tartaric, in that it has extremely small molecules that penetrate deeper into the pores - dissolving every last trace of dirt, oil, and dead skin that dulls your natural radiance. Choose this AHA for a glow up that eliminates even the most stubborn blackheads and blemishes!

Have you tried all of these skin care ingredients? Choose your favorite and shop them all on MIRA.