Any expert will tell you that choosing an anti-ageing cream should be pretty simple. And yet, when the time comes, the experience can be totally overwhelming. Hundreds of potential products, all promising to be the miracle to eternally youthful looks, and long lists of complex ingredients confusing matters even more.
The fact is, when choosing an anti-ageing product, there are a few key ingredients you should be looking out for. As long as your regime incorporates at least some of them, your skin will thank you.
"There are certain pillars of cosmeceutical skincare - and there's really only a few," says Cherry Robinson, President of . "These pillars are retinoids, AHAs, peptides and Vitamin C."
To simplify things, we've laid out each one of those key ingredients and explained how it will benefit your skin...
You've probably heard a lot about retinol, and so you should; it's a powerful wrinkle-smoothing, skin-restoring ingredient and a crucial part in any comprehensive skincare regime.
Retinol is the term used for a Vitamin A molecule and comes in many different strengths (up to 1% retinol is available on the consumer market with higher doses available through dermatologists and skin clinics).
This photo showing a woman's skin before and after using retinol truly proves the skincare ingredient's power
Topical application helps to reduce pore size, improve firmness, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and create a smoother skin surface.
While there are many myths surrounding the use of retinol, it's always best to go by how your skin reacts and the concerns you're trying to address. If you don't have advanced signs of ageing, a lower concentration is probably sufficient. If you have more pronounced signs, opt for a higher concentration and see how it goes. It's always better to start low, and work your way up.
Another myth is that you can't wear retinol products during the day. This isn't strictly true; you can! Research has shown that retinol combined with antioxidants can actually help protect the skin from environmental aggressors), but you should always wear a reliable SPF over the top.
Peptides is a bit of a blanket term as there are hundreds of different types, but essentially, they are amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which is pretty useful since skin is made up of the protein Keratin.
All peptides, both natural and synthetic, can work to improve skin tone, loss of firmness and the appearance of wrinkles, but the results will always be more impressive when combined with other peptides, which often why brands boast about a "blend of peptides".
Vitamin C is another key pillar of anti-ageing skincare, mainly because of its potent antioxidant qualities.
A good quality Vitamin C product will help to counterbalance oxidative stress caused by UV rays, pollution and stress resulting in brighter, clearer skin.
The big Vitamin C skincare guide
Ascorbic Acid is a form of vitamin C and is widely considered the best. It's been scientifically proven to boost collagen and help prevent photo-ageing.
Glycolic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and, alongside lactic acid, is the most widely researched and understood in its category.
The ingredient acts as an exfoliant to rid the skin surface of dead cells and encourage cell turnover resulting in brighter, smoother and younger-looking skin.
It's important to use a good sun screen if you're using AHAs as they can make your skin more sensitive to the effects of the sun.
For a comprehensive skincare guide, be sure to check out our A-Z skincare.