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These are the top 15 trending skincare ingredients of 2022 so far

Putting together a good skin care regime often feels like a daunting task. Thanks to an infinite range of products available today infused with various skincare ingredients. Truth is, there are so many options that it is confusing to zero down to the ones that actually work for your skin. From age-defying retinol to mark fading niacinamide, the choices are endless.

Skin is the largest and the most complex body organ that requires several types of nutrients to maintain itself. And that’s why we have to be careful of the products we include in our skin care regimen. From face washes to night serums – it is important to emphasize the ingredients present in the products and whether or not they are contributing to your skin’s health. While the chic packaging and celebrity brand ambassadors draw consumers, they aren’t the most important thing to consider while buying skincare products. From the best hydrating serums to facewashes and eye creams, skincare products claim to have the best ingredients infused in them. To help you in your research for what might work for you, we have compiled a list of the top trending skincare ingredients of 2022 and how they help in maintaining your skin’s health.

Skincare ingredients that are popular right now

Featured and hero image: Courtesy/Shiny Diamond

One of the most trending skincare ingredients, Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are a type of hydroxy acids, just like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), but these are the gentlest of the three by far.

These chemical exfoliators help to shed the dead skin cells, reduce hyperpigmentation and reverse sun damage to promote an even-toned and radiant complexion. PHAs are great for almost every skin type, as they won’t dry up the skin and can be well tolerated by those who find AHAs and BHAs too irritating.

Some of the most popular PHAs used in skincare products are lactobionic acid, galactose and gluconolactone. You can look for PHAs in cleansers, toners, moisturisers, masks and serums. Experts recommend using PHA products in combination with other moisture-locking ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

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Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and one of the most on-the-radar skincare ingredients for its anti-ageing benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant that fights free-radical damage, reduces acne, promotes cell renewal, diminishes fine lines and wrinkles while boosting your skin’s collagen production.

Experts recommend introducing retinol to your routine slowly to build up the skin’s tolerance to it. It may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so don’t forget to follow it up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies that agrees with almost all skin types. It is a powerhouse of hydration that can hold 1,000x of its weight in water. That’s why it is one of the best moisturising agents ideal for both dry and oily skin types. You can include hyaluronic acid serums and moisturisers in your skincare routine, especially during the summer and winter months. It will not only help plump the skin by retaining moisture but also prevent it from evaporating into the air.

It is also one of the ingredients used in many long-lasting lipsticks and lip stains.

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Niacinamide is a form of topical vitamin B3. It offers a variety of skin benefits that include visibly reducing the signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation, reversing sun damage, protecting skin cells against oxidative damage and evening out skin tone. It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective against acne outbreaks.

You can find niacinamide serums, cleansers, toners, moisturisers and masks. If you have sensitive skin, experts recommend choosing products with a lower concentration of niacinamide.

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This skincare ingredient has been here forever, and we have seen a rise in products incorporating ascorbic acid, which we know as vitamin C. It is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and environmental stressors, repairs UV damage, prevents premature ageing, reduces hyperpigmentation and evens out the skin tone.

Vitamin C is commonly found in cleansers, serums, moisturisers, sunscreens and masks. Look for vitamin C products available in opaque bottles or pump dispensers, as this ingredient can destabilise or lose potency after coming in contact with air.

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Also known as glycerol or glycerine, it is a major skincare ingredient found in moisturisers and lotions. It is a humectant found naturally in the skin and acts as a moisturising agent to establish hydration and prevent dryness. Glycerin’s skin-replenishing and skin-restoring properties make it the best humectant among others such as hyaluronic acid and AHAs.

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Aloe vera is a popular plant that yields clear and gooey, gel-like extract with anti-fungal and cell regenerative properties. It contains over 75 naturally active ingredients that provide antioxidants to the skin and help rejuvenate it. You can add moisturisers formulated with aloe vera to your skincare routine and enjoy smoother, hydrated, soft and plumped skin. It is an excellent remedy to soothe sunburnt or irritated skin.

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Bakuchiol (pronounced buh-KOO-chee-all) is a plant extract that has been extensively used in Chinese and Indian medicine for years. Think of it as retinol’s gentler cousin that offers a less-irritating, clean, natural and vegan alternative. Studies have shown that skincare products formulated with bakuchiol help reduce hyperpigmentation, ageing, pigmentation and photodamage when used twice a day for 12 weeks. It can be a great entry-level ingredient that is suitable for even sensitive skin types.

Centella asiatica (cica), commonly known as Gotu Kola or tiger grass, has recently gained popularity through K-beauty products, but it has been used for nearly 3,000 years in traditional medicine.

Cica extracts help regulate collagen synthesis, prevent oxidative damage from environmental stressors and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. You can use cica serums or creams to reduce acne, scars, dryness, skin inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles.

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Another trending skincare ingredient, Collagen is heralded as one of the most potent anti-ageing ingredients in skincare products. So, what is collagen? It is a protein that occurs naturally in our skin and plays a significant role in how our skin looks and ages. This plentiful protein forms 75 to 80 percent of our skin and acts as a water-binding agent to lock in moisture. Topical collagen and its effect on the skin are still controversial. However, taking collagen supplements has proven effective to aid collagen loss, that happens naturally with age. It may also help increase skin elasticity, reduce eye wrinkles and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

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Extracted from bearberry plants, it substantially prevents melanin formation, like kojic acid (derived from mushrooms) which is another skin brightener. Gentler than its competitors, it’s safer to treat uneven skin tone, melasma and hyperpigmentation without any irritation. While it is NOT a new skincare ingredient and many doctors like Dr. Rekha Sheth, dermatologist and founder of YUVA clinics, have been talking about it for a whole decade, arbutin is making a comeback in 2020.

Arbutin is considered safer and less controversial than hydroquinone. The latter was banned in Africa due to its side effects and declared carcinogenic by the US-FDA. However, it is still found in over-the-counter products and prescription treatments.

“Hydroquinone is not safe for long-term use, and that’s why there has always been a search for an ideal skin lightening molecule which is safe and effective,” says Dr. Apratim Goel founder Cutis Skin Solutions, Mumbai. “Alpha-Arbutin, a part of normal arbutin, can be useful to treat pigmentation when combined with kojic acid or vitamin C,” adds Kiran Sethi.

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An underdog in the world of powerful acids, ferulic acid is also found in foods like oats, bran and rice. Known to stabilise vitamin C, it also boosts the efficacy of vitamin A and C. Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant and not a chemical peeling agent like other acids, says Dr. Sethi. “The antioxidant properties of ferulic acid help fight the free radicals and slow down the ageing process caused by oxidation,” says Dr. Pai. Avoid air exposure and layering it with glycolic acid or salicylic acid on the same day.

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Derived from bitter almonds, mandelic acid helps remove dead skin cells and increase cell turnover, say both Dr. Sethi and Dr. Pai. A gentler, less irritating option than other AHA’s, it’s great for gentle AHA peels at the dermatologist, or for some mild OTC exfoliation. It may suit sensitive skin better when it comes to exfoliation or acne, but “since it’s gentler, it may not work on acne scars,” reminds Sethi.

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“Sacha inchi made headlines a few months back as mountain peanut oil for its moisturizing properties in addition to other systemic benefits,” recalls Dr. Goel. High on Omega-3-fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acids (ALA), it is also a vegetarian source that has quickly caught the eyes of the skincare industry.

“As we age, we lose the effectiveness of the barrier of our skin, and healthy fats help keep the skin strong, and prevent water from escaping. The more hydrated your skin, the younger, supple and hydrated it is,” explains Sethi. Sacha inchi shows great promise for those of us with dehydrated skin or skin conditions like ichthyosis and psoriasis. Still, for now, the ingredient is being seen in supplements and hair products.

Discovered in the 1950s, growth factors are the signals that tell cells to produce collagen and elastin, and boost skin renewal and rejuvenation. “You can get them from different sources- the most effective would be those that are derived from human cells or are bio technically created to mimic human growth factors,” explains Dr. Sethi. Think of a procedure like a PRP facial or PRP hair transplant where a dermatologist uses your own EGFs for facial rejuvenation and hair growth. “We have EGF available in our body which helps in skin repair and collagen production thus making skin firmer, smooth and reducing pigmentation,” says Dr. Goel.

They have not been launched in India yet, says Goel, while Dr. Sethi recommends sticking to hyaluronic acid, retinol, AHA’s and vitamin C for visible results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What are the most harmful ingredients to avoid in your skincare regime?

Answer: Some of the ingredients to avoid in the skincare regime are sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours and fragrance.

Question: Which is the most hydrating skincare ingredient?

Answer: Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients to get hydrated and plump skin.

Question: What ingredient blends are most effective on the skin?

Answer: Some of the best ingredient blends are: Vitamin C and vitamin E: Vitamin C brightens your skin, while vitamin E is an excellent hydrating and skin-comforting antioxidant. Niacinamide and salicylic acid: While niacinamide is an all-rounder ingredient that fights acne, fine lines and pigmentation, salicylic acid works excellently in keeping acne and acne-related problems at bay. Retinoids and peptides: Retinoids increases collagen production and repairs visible damage, while peptides help in firming the skin.

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