The 10 best anti-aging ingredients

There are tons of anti-ageing products on the market and in each of them a ton of ingredients. Which is the best one for you? It can be quite bewildering.
I’ve decided to select the 10 best, most effective ingredients used in anti-ageing products. You’ll see what they can do for you. There’s no miracle product unfortunately but they all have that little something. All these ingredients are not necessarily right for everyone; you have to choose the one that’s right for your skin type and your needs.


AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids), or fruit acids, are chemical exfoliants which get rid of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. They’ve been used for years by dermatologists as a peeling. This removes the outer layer of skin and stimulates cellular renewal as well as collagen and elastin production (these two elements form the skin’s matrix), revealing a new layer of skin. The results of peeling give a super-soft, brighter, more elastic skin with fewer imperfections and irregularities, including wrinkles. You get the « brand new skin » look.

As for over-the-counter products, you can get various levels of concentration. The most frequent doses are 4, 8 and 10%. I’ve never seen over 10% in a cosmetics store. In a beauty salon, the dose is often higher. However, if you use an over-the-counter product for a long period, you can certainly get convincing results. By renewing the skin, you can get a brighter, more radiant complexion with fewer imperfections (fewer wrinkles, lines, brown spots, scars, dilated pores etc.) and less dehydration (the cream penetrates more deeply because dead skin cells have been removed.)

Personally, I’ve tested glycolic acid and I’ve become a big fan. I was impressed by the results so I can say that AHA and BHA are some of the best ingredients on the market. If you want to know more, consult my article on glycolic acid.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a sort of polymer obtained by bacterial fermentation. It’s naturally present in the skin (called the polysaccharide matrix). It’s a fundamental substance which acts by filling in the spaces between the other elements of the skin so it’s a natural filling agent. Hyaluronic acid is a practically identical imitation which creates the same effect. The synthetic polymers reproduce the polysaccharide matrix when they swell with moisture.

It can be administered by injection. This is what they use when injecting wrinkle fillers or to plump up lips for example.

In topical product form, obviously you don’t get the same effect as with injections but it does have powerful hydrating properties. The spheres of hyaluronic acid swell on contact with water and retain a good quantity which stays in the epidermis. So when the epidermis is well-hydrated like this, it looks plumper and less dry so that the appearance of lines and wrinkles is diminished.


An antioxidant is a molecule which reduces the oxidation of other chemical substances. Our skin cells (like the ones in all our body) oxidise over time and this is what causes the skin aging process. Oxidation produces free radicals which cause a self-destructing chain reaction. Antioxidants can diminish or halt this reaction by reducing free radicals and canceling out their action. Unfortunately, our environment is also full of free radicals which attack the skin as well! Free radicals damage the collagen fibres of the skin which creates lines and wrinkles. This is war!

Antioxidants are probably the best ingredient for preventing aging. You can find them in many foods too: tea, berries, tomatoes, certain citrus fruits, grapes etc. So if your cream has grape polyphenols, green tea, lycopene from tomatoes, vitamin C or other antioxidants, it’s a good anti-aging product.


Ceramides are fatty acid molecules covering the cells of the epidermis. In a way, they’re the glue that sticks the cells together to give the skin its healthy structure. They are found in the outer surface layer of the skin (epidermis).Ceramides are an integral part of the epidermis’s protective barrier. A lack of ceramides causes dry, irritated or dehydrated skin, bringing with it lines and wrinkles.

A ceramide-based cream will help to repair the skin’s protective barrier and retain moisture. The skin will be well-hydrated, healthy, firm and plump.

Coenzyme Q10

The coenzyme Q10 (or ubiquinone) is an enzyme similar to a vitamin. It’s essential, not only for the skin but for the whole body because it activates the production of energy in our cells. When we age, our ability to absorb this enzyme is diminished. Its properties were first exploited only about 20 years ago so it’s quite a recent discovery.

Used as an ingredient in a skin cream, CoQ10 brings oxygen to the cells and helps the skin to renew itself. This is why those with mature skins will really appreciate it. It increases the production of collagen and elastin, giving a firmer, brighter and less wrinkled skin. It’s an excellent preventive ingredient because it also blocks free radicals, just like antioxidants!


Did you know that the sun is responsible for around 95% of the signs of aging? Take identical twins; keep one away from the sun all her life and let the other one outside every day; the first one will look 30 years younger than the other at the end of their life. It’s as simple as that!

So in fact, sunscreen is the best anti-aging ingredient up till now, as a preventive measure of course.

Night cream doesn’t need to contain sunscreen but any day cream should have it.


Peptides are one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients up till now. I’ve written an article on the subject called "The Botox-Effect Creams", because this is how they began to advertise peptides, by comparing their effect with that of Botox.

Obviously you can’t expect the same results as you get with Botox injections but some people see results after a few months of regular application of a cream with a high concentration of peptides.

There are many kinds of peptides but a peptide is a chain of amino acids which stimulates the natural production of collagen in the skin, thus diminishing wrinkles. The advantage of peptides is that they are made up of small particles which can penetrate deep into the skin and produce better results than an ingredient whose action is restricted to the epidermis.


Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. Many derivatives of vitamin A are used in skin-care products but retinol comes from an animal source. Retinol was first prescribed around 40 years ago in the form of tretinoin for acne treatment (Accutane is one version) but dermatologists soon realised that it was good for wrinkles too! There are two forms of retinol: available by prescription (more powerful and more irritating) and also in over-the-counter products (more gentle).

Retinol stimulates collagen production, fills in wrinkles and smoothes out lines.

For best results, get a cream in an encapsulated container, in an airless container or in a vial because retinol is sensitive to air and light and can deteriorate.

Vitamin E

So many vitamins are good for your skin! I decided to concentrate on vitamins E and B because they should be found in all anti-aging creams!

Vitamin E is in fact contained in almost all anti-aging products. It’s an effective antioxidant and protects skin from free radicals. It also helps the skin to repair itself and has an anti-inflammatory effect too. What’s more, it stimulates collagen production and encourages cell growth and regeneration.

Vitamin E, when added to a cream, helps the skin to look younger and also diminishes lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is found less often in skin-care products but its virtues are becoming more and more apparent. It is in fact a combination of several vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, and B12. In general, vitamin B has a brightening effect on the skin. Our skin needs it for growth and renewal. Vitamin B 12, for example, is essential for cell reproduction. A vitamin B 12 deficiency can cause dry skin, wrinkles, acne etc. B8, biotin, constitutes the base of skin cells. Without it, you can get dermatitis, peeling skin etc. As for B3, niacin, it helps the skin to retain moisture, giving you a plumper, less wrinkled and more hydrated skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe dry, irritated skin.

Creams containing vitamin B can give skin an instant healthy glow by hydrating cells and increasing the skin’s firmness.

I wonder when there’ll be a cream containing all 10 of these ingredients??

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list. And of course, each year, new, more effective ingredients are discovered. Don’t hesitate to tell me about your own discoveries! I’ll update this article next year. Stay tuned……….

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