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Skincare 101: Understanding the Ingredients

There are so many products and ingredients that skincare can be overwhelming and confusing. Understanding the ingredients is key to finding the right products for your skin. Skincare also requires you to try different products and see what works for you as everyone is different.

You have probably heard of different acids in skincare products. There are different groups of acids: AHAs and BHAs. 

AHAs are acids such as glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid. AHAs are chemical exfoliants. They help with issues such as dullness, uneven texture, hyperpigmentation, and decreasing the appearance of pores and lines. While they all do essentially the same thing, lactic and mandelic acid are said to be better for more sensitive skin. 

Salicylic acid is a BHA. Salicylic acid is also a chemical exfoliant and can be found in many acne products. They help to unclog pores as well as help redness and inflammation. Some people might find salicylic acid to be too strong for their skin. If this happens, you can either try a lower percentage, a wash-off product, or try an AHA instead. 

Retinol is an ingredient that is talked about a lot. It has similar uses to products such as glycolic and salicylic acid with some extra bonuses too. Retinol helps with issues such as acne, texture, lines, anti-aging, and reducing the appearance of pores. 

Although it sounds like it should be similar to the AHAs and BHAs, hyaluronic acid is actually completely different. Hyaluronic acid helps to keep your skin hydrated. It is a humectant, which means that it keeps moisture in your skin and helps your skin look plump and dewy.


cottonbro via Pexels

Caffeine products can help with lines, inflammation, and brightening skin. You can find caffeine in products for your whole face but also for your eyes. Caffeine can also help with dark eye circles. 

Niacinamide serum has gone viral on TikTok for good reasons, it is an ingredient that does so many things. Niacinamide can help with issues such as redness, making pores look smaller, helping oil production, hyperpigmentation, acne, and texture. 

Vitamin C products help your skin glow as well as helping with hyperpigmentation and acne.

You should be careful when mixing ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C due to possible interactions. Additionally, if any products cause redness or irritation, you should stop using them as they may be too strong for your skin. 


Facial oil with rose petals
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Skincare is all about trial and error. It may take time to see results and find the right ingredients that work for your skin. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

Before you buy skincare products, make sure to do your research on the ingredients. Websites such as Byrdie.com can be helpful in understanding a variety of ingredients. 

Beth Baker

Cal Lutheran '23

I am a junior studying Psychology with a minor in Business Administration. I love fashion, baking and my dog.
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