Decoding Skincare Ingredients So You Don’t Get Scammed

It’s a bad time to be someone who is easily influenced. With TikTok raging in popularity and the holiday season approaching, everyone is trying to sell you something. I have no idea what’s good for me anymore and what’s merely a ploy to get more money out of my pocket.

Either way, it’s working. Because of the likes of SkinTok and influencers, I’ve convinced myself that I need a skincare routine. I mean…let’s be honest we all want flawless skin like Hailey Bieber. There’s no shame in being influenced into a self-care routine, I guess.

And while skincare products used to be a novelty, now they’re everywhere. Brands and celebrities are nearly shoving skincare down our throats. We have little skin left to care for with all these products.

Yes, I believe rhode skin by Hailey Bieber is probably worth the money, but who am I to decipher which ingredients make the product worth it? They always stress big words like “niacinamide” and “hyaluronic acid” but that essentially means nothing to me.

Another pressing, yet equally important question is what makes one hyaluronic acid worth more money than the next? I always wonder if the Sephora-level skincare brands are just slapping on a $90 price tag for fun. At the end of the day, I care about what makes a difference in my skin.

So when my entire social media page is filled with skincare products and new additions to a skincare routine that allegedly make a world’s difference, I had to crack down and truly understand what I was getting into. Understanding the ingredients in your skincare can help you target which problems you want to fix and get quicker results.

Here’s what I learned…

Hyaluronic Acid - The Moisture King

HA is able to bind up to 1000 times its weight in water, keeping a ton of moisture on your skin’s surface. It’s known for its anti-aging properties, so using some sort of hyaluronic acid twice a day can greatly improve your skin’s plumpness and moisture.

Use this after cleansing and before moisturizing to give your skin all-day hydration. The Ordinary has a great, affordable HA for the winter months when your skin dries out.

Niacinamide - For Clearer Looking Skin

Including niacinamide in your routine is beneficial for reducing the appearance of blemishes and congestion. It also provides redness relief by visibly brightening your skin, so you can start fighting those problem areas.

Hailey Bieber credits her glowing skin to niacinamide, including it in both the Peptide Glazing Fluid and Barrier Restore Cream to use twice in your routine. However, if you couldn’t get your hands on rhode, The Ordinary has a cheaper alternative that works just as well.

AHAs/BHAs - The Chemical Exfoliants

AHA and BHAs are often used together in one product as a chemical exfoliant to remove dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. It provides a more even texture to your skin tone and brightens the area altogether. It’s a little harsh on your skin but can completely clear your pores, so start off using it once or twice a week.

Using a chemical exfoliant can get the patchy, dry skin off that cakes your makeup every so often. My personal favorite is Paula’s Choice, which I use twice a day to gently exfoliate after cleansing. Then serums, then moisturizer.

Peptides - Anti-Aging Queen

Peptides can improve your skin barrier, reduce wrinkles, and restore elasticity. Although not entirely necessary for your daily routine, sometimes your skin may need extra love. If you want to use peptides, don’t use them alongside AHA exfoliants because they will not work as well.

The Ordinary has “The Buffet” which is a cocktail of peptides to restore your skin’s natural state and give it that youthful glow again.

Salicylic Acid - For Your Breakouts

This is probably the ingredient I notice the most in spot treatments and for breakout-focused products. Salicylic Acid decongests your pores and targets problem areas to gently exfoliate your skin.

The Ordinary’s version improves skin tone and clarity over time, so using it daily will help you prevent breakouts in the future.

Squalane - More Moisture

Squalane is moisture for your whole body - including hair. It gives your hair extra shine and moisture to avoid breakage. Squalane helps fight skin damage, which can accelerate the aging process.

Squalane also boosts collagen production, which improves the firmness of your skin. The Ordinary’s is great for overall moisture, or the Biossance Squalane Eye Cream lifts and brightens your undereyes.

More from Trueself