The 3 Holy Grail Skincare Ingredients You Need Now!

As a skincare chemist I work with hundreds of amazing ingredients that I could (and do) talk about all day long. It can become overwhelming for someone who doesn’t work, live, and breathe skincare so I’ve decided to narrow it down to the three most important ingredients that EVERYONE must use to have their best skin, regardless of age/skin type/concerns. These are the basics that you should start with before moving on to any specialized corrective protocols whether they be anti acne, anti-aging or anything else.

#1 Niacinamide

 (aka Vitamin B3) best at 5%, with a PH of around 5

WHAT IT DOES:

Clarifies skin, minimizes pores, improves texture and tone, fights acne, brightens skin and lightens hyperpigmentation, helps to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, provides the gentlest exfoliation, and is full of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) that help keep your skin plump and hydrated while maintaining your barrier function! PHEW! It’s a lot I know, which is why you shouldn’t be without it!

TIP: If you can’t do BHAs, AHAs, or vitamin C, this is the best alternative and has the gentlest exfoliation.

I love niacinamide so much that I put it in two different powerhouse Amazonia products that are formulated to hydrate and moisturize while treating, correcting, and protecting from aging all at once. I also have listed two products that contain just niacinamide if you don’t want all of the other anti-aging ingredients! Clickable links.

PRODUCTS:
Amazonia Rejuvenating Moisturizer – Restores, Firms, Prevents Loss of Elasticity  $88/oz
Amazonia Neroli Toner + Hyaluronic Hydrating Essence + Barrier Repair Serum $15/oz
Glossier Pure – Serum – Unkown % of NIA (has silicones, not for acne-prone skin)  $56/oz
Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Boost – Serum (phenoxyethanol, not 4 sensitive skin)  $42/oz

#2 Urea

Occurs naturally in our skin, not to be confused with the toxic Diazolidinyl Urea, a totally different ingredient. 

WHAT IT DOES:

The best ingredient for repairing barrier function, it allows skin to maintain hydration, regulate sebum levels, keep allergens out and moisture in. It is also paramount in fixing all types of inflammatory acne and is a powerful penetration enhancer! Not the kind you’re thinking, but the less exciting kind that helps the other ingredients in your skincare products to really get in deep. Other ingredients help your skin to feel moisturized, urea helps your skin to BE moisturized. It is the unsung and forgotten hero, the necessary base upon which all skincare should be layered, like the perfect pair of underwear that is comfortable, beautiful, and turns invisible underneath any outfit. If you wash your face, if you apply anything to your face, if you are alive, you need this. 

TIP: An awesome ingredient for eczema, as damaged barrier function is present in all eczema.

After adding this “basic” ingredient to my regimen with Amazonia’s Neroli Toner Essence I not only stay better hydrated and plumped, with less sensitivities, I am able to use WAY more acids (like BHA + vitamin C in the a.m. and AHA + BHA every night) without ANY stinging or irritation.

Making up about 35% of top layer of the skin, ceramides hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture. Ceramides are the glue that holds our cells together.
 

WHAT THEY DO:

Help restore skin’s natural oils that are lost from exposure to harsh environmental factors, use of drying or exfoliating products, and AGING. They restore moisture, strengthen the skin’s natural barrier (are you sensing a trend?) and help protect it against harm and irritation from foreign elements. They also help maintain firmness by supporting the skin’s cellular matrix.
 

TIP: Make sure you check the ingredient lists when buying something with ceramides because many of the products I found had parabens in them still… 🙁 

PRODUCTS (clickable)
Amazonia Morning Glow – Brightening Antioxidant + Ceramides + Wrinkle Reducer $98
Amazonia Rejuvenating Moisturizer – Prevents Loss of Elasticity + Ceramides $88
Amazonia Nightly Renewal – AHA + BHA Corrective + Ceramides + Antioxidants $78
Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream – Not very green or clean but no parabens, an ok alternative. Dimethicone, so not for those prone to pore clogs. $33 EWG rating here.
Skinmedica Ceramide Treatment Cream – Not very green or clean but no parabens, an ok alternative. Dimethicone, so not for those prone to pore clogs. $69

#4 SUNSCREEN!

Ok I know I said three, and sunscreen is a category and not one specific ingredient, but I had to add it in because everybody needs to wear it, every single day, to prevent aging and cancer. Just do it.
 
These are the uber basic four ingredients that you need to be using every single day right now for healthy skin. Next I’m going to post ingredients that everyone needs for a more advanced healthy anti-aging skin protocol and then the following post series will go into ingredients that correct specific skin conditions like acne, age spots, textural issues etc.

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