Most often, what makes a skincare product a cult favorite is one star ingredient. An efficacious “hero” that becomes the next thing people are searching for and stocking their shelfies with, like hyped up vitamins, extracts, and minerals. Retinol, vitamin C, and niacinamide are a few you’ve probably heard of for transformative skincare results, but what about broccoli, cherries, and mushrooms? Not to be overlooked, these are some new beauty big shots. Check out these eight must-have skincare ingredients you should be incorporating into your routine right now.
Turns out, the edible fungus has tons of adaptogenic benefits for skin health. “Mushrooms are a natural source of Vitamin D, which improves skin tone and balance,” says One Love Organics founder Suzanne LeRoux. “The One Love Organics Botanical D Moisture Mist, $39, infuses skin with emollient oils and shiitake mushrooms and can be used to prep and hydrate prior to serum or moisturizer, or as a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.”
“Niacinamide is rich in vitamin B3 to revitalize, firm, and smooth skin and minimize the appearance of large pores,” says Dr. Howard Sobel, cosmetic dermatologist and director of Sobel Skin in New York City. “While it’s one of the most proven science-backed anti-aging ingredients, it’s quickly gaining more popularity among skin connoisseurs and skincare beginners,” he explains. Consider us intrigued. The trendy ingredient basically does it all: stimulates and reinforces collagen production to maintain elasticity, and hydrates and locks in moisture for supple AF skin. No wonder Sobel based one of his hero products in his groundbreaking new skincare line around it. SOBEL SKIN Rx 15% Niacinamide Gel Serum, $75, (launching in January) contains maximum-strength 15% Niacinamide in this supercharged serum that can increase elasticity by 60.5%. Prepare to be seeing a lot more of this ingredient!
Feel a pimple coming on? Sulfur to the rescue. “Sulfur is an amazing naturally occurring mineral and great acne treatment ingredient as it pulls impurities out of the body,” says celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville. “We use the highest concentrations of sulfur allowed by the FDA in our EradiKate line and we have seen our products clinically proven to shrink cystic acne and lesions.” So how exactly do you apply the smelly stuff? According to Somerville, the best vehicles for sulfur are cleansers and spot treatments, but it can be over-drying if used excessively. “Dry skin types should use sulfur as a spot treatment (no more than three days in a row), or make sure you’re following sulfur treatments with a hydrating step and incorporate hyaluronic acid in your routine, she advises. To apply her best-selling EradiKate Acne Treatment, $26, dip a Q-Tip into the solution and spot treat your active acne areas.
Check out more of our fave sulfur treatments here.
According to Angela Kim, natural K-Beauty expert and founder of Savor Beauty, cherries are packed with 17 different free-radical fighting antioxidants, all with extraordinary properties to benefit the skin. “These antioxidants destroy harmful enzymes, which help strengthen connective tissues to improve both acne and rosacea,” says Kim.
Another reason to get on board with the superfruit? “They have antibacterial properties to fight bacteria trapped under the skin and they’re loaded with Vitamin A and C, to repair cell damage. Our Savor Beauty Cherry Collagen Peel, $80, hydrates, brightens, and protects your skin in minutes, with the power of cherry.”
Not using broccoli on your face? You’re doing it wrong. Broc contains the potent antioxidant Vitamin A to protect your skin from environmental pollutants and broccoli extracts used in skincare form a protective layer that retains moisture and visibly plumps the skin, according to Herbal Dynamics Beauty Co-Founder Moe Kittaneh. “Our Hyaluronic Acid & Oat Overnight Recovery Mask, $17, is an ultra-nourishing overnight treatment that brightens, evens skin tone, and deeply hydrates, to soften fine lines,” he says. “Broccoli extracts composed of Vitamin A, C, and E target oxidation and UV ray damage, while stimulating collagen production and offering anti-aging benefits as well.”
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Celebrity facialist Sarah Akram swears by algae and its many uses at her upscale skincare spa in Alexandria, Virginia. “Algae is one of those versatile must-haves, whether it comes to applying on clients in treatment or incorporating it into a home care regimen. It’s soothing, healing, anti-inflammatory, and the potency of its antioxidants have been shown to nourish skin,” she says. Its high-tech composition has been closely compared to human skin cells and for that reason, this superstar cosmeceutical ingredient is high on Akgram’s list of go-to ingredients. “Algae is one of the richest sources of antioxidants like omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, and vitamins A, B, C, and E, plus it’s loaded with metabolites and targets one of the biggest causes of aging: oxidation!”
“When I first launched Drunk Elephant, I put retinol (Vitamin A) on my ‘no’ list, says founder Tiffany Masterson. “Like many, I was confused and scared by the ingredient. I thought retinol exfoliated the skin. It doesn’t. I thought you couldn’t use it during the day. You can. I thought you couldn’t mix it with AHAs. You can. I now know that it’s a powerhouse of an antioxidant that teaches skin cells to act better, and I can’t imagine my line without it,” she adds.
DE’s A-Passioni Retinol Cream, $28, has 1% pure vegan retinol and some other nutritious superfood extracts, like passionfruit, apricot, kale, and winter cherry. “I threw in peptides and fatty acids too, and think it’s a comforting, silicone-free formulation that skin of any age can benefit from — and fall in love with.” If you’re on the sensitive or rosacea-prone side, retinoids can be a bit much though. So Masterson advises mixing it with other products before applying and allowing your skin to ramp up to a happy tolerance at its own pace.
Check out our fave drugstore retinol here (it’s $13!)
8. Vitamin C
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nina Desai recommends Vitamin C as a crucial step to any good skincare routine since it’s a powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs reversing free-radical damage caused by UV exposure. “The ability to fight free-radicals helps to improve signs of premature again, by improving tone, texture, and overall brightness to the skin,” she explains. “Plus it promotes collagen and elastin production, which are essential for maintaining firm, plump, youthful-looking skin.” #GOALS.
Another reason Desai is such a fan of the topically-applied ascorbic (or L-ascorbic) acid is that it inhibits excess melanin production. “It’s ideal for the treatment and prevention of dark spots and hyperpigmentation,” she adds. Heads up though, if you’re new to the Vitamin C crew — or have very sensitive skin — it can be strong or even irritating, so Desai recommends starting with a low percentage and just a few drops, then working your way up.
To find out about more amazing skincare ingredients, check out our Beauty Glossary.