The reishi mushroom
“Harnessing nature’s power is a huge trend in skincare, but not all natural ingredients offer results,” says cosmetic doctor Dr. Sophie Shotter. “But reishi mushrooms certainly do.” Used for centuries to promote longevity, reishi is considered the queen of mushrooms when it comes to skin benefits, thanks to its mighty anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle properties. “It’s equally a potent antioxidant and excellent hydrator, and acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor to even out skin tone.” If you have stressed, sensitive or reactive skin, you can really benefit from this soothing super-fungus, which is paired with hyaluronic acid in MZ Skin’s Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum.
For acne-prone skin, you’ll want to keep this plant-derived acid on your radar. “It’s the latest alternative to salicylic acid and isn’t as drying or irritating,” says Dr. Shotter. “Many people with breakouts actually have compromised skin barriers, and typical acne-busting ingredients will fuel the problem rather than solve it. Succinic acid works just as effectively to decrease sebum production, soften skin and get rid of unwanted bacteria.” Dr. Shooter says to bear in mind that, because it’s such a new ingredient, studies on its real benefits are still ongoing. For now, you can find it in Zelens’ Hyaluron Intense Hydro-Plumping Serum and Perricone MD’s Blemish Relief Targeted Spot Treatment.
A brilliant ingredient for calming skin by reducing irritation and inflammation, aloe vera is back in demand as so much more than just a sunburn soother. “It’s recently being used in combination with other ingredients that make it stronger and even more effective,” says dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. A brightening serum, such as Shani Darden’s Lactic Acid Exfoliating Serum, can soothe and calm in a way a typical AHA exfoliator doesn’t, thanks to added aloe vera concentrate. And, mixed into Dr. Barbara Sturm’s The Good C Vitamin C Serum, aloe vera takes the edge off any potential vitamin C-induced irritation.
Peeling is no longer the domain of strong exfoliants to get results. The general consensus among the experts is that PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) do the job to give you that fresh-skin glow, but without irritation, since its molecules are much larger than AHAs and BHAs and don’t penetrate as deep into the skin. Because they work superficially, they’re especially good for a quick refresh. “They also moisturize, reduce fine lines, prevent skin glycation and provide antioxidant protection,” says Dr. Engelman. Look for the most common types of PHA acids, such as gluconolactone, galactose and lactobionic, which is found in Zelens PHA+ Resurfacing Facial Pads.
Prebiotics and probiotics
They’ve been in the skincare spotlight for some time, but the role of prebiotics (the ‘food’ that encourages certain bacteria to grow) and probiotics (live bacterial cultures) in making our skin stronger and healthier has received even more firm evidence behind it lately. “When we use probiotics in skincare, we feed the healthy organisms of our microbiome, which balances our skin’s pH levels and keeps our skin barrier robust,” says Dr. Engelman. Find them in Nigma Talib ND + Kind.Est The Serum, which balances prebiotics with a host of other skin-restoring ingredients, such as marine collagen and algae, for a restored radiance.
Hyaluronic acid 2.0
This powerful humectant is hailed as critical for proper skin hydration by cleverly helping your cells to retain and regulate moisture. Now, a new generation of hyaluronic acid helps to deliver hydration even deeper into the dermis, offering both anti-aging benefits (because it stimulates elastin production) and longer-lasting results. “Ultra-low-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid is the smallest size of HA there is,” says Dr. Shotter. “The lower the weight, the further it will penetrate into the skin.” Look for products that combine this novel version with different weights of HA, such as Irene Forte’s Forte Attivo Triple Level Hyaluronic Serum, to treat any surface dehydration. too.
If you love the skin changes you see from retinol, this new form of the youth-restoring vitamin will give you results faster. “When you apply retinol, it’s converted in the skin to retinaldehyde (retinal) and then retinoic acid,” says Dr. Shotter. “Because retinal is one step further along this conversion process, you often see quicker results and less irritation than you do with traditional retinol. It’s also the only form of vitamin A that decreases the bacterial load in the skin – so it’s great for preventing breakouts.” However, she does emphasize that it is less stable than retinol, so the right formula, such as Medik8’s Crystal Retinal 3 Stable Retinal Night Serum, is key here.
Vitamin C plus
It’s the gold standard of any good skincare regime, and all experts we spoke to agreed that vitamin C isn’t going anywhere. This standout, multitasking ingredient brightens and boosts collagen, protects against environmental damage, and comes in many forms – with L-ascorbic acid being the most effective, and the most common, but also the most unstable. “I do think we’ll start to see new forms cropping up this year,” says Dr. Shotter. “For example, THD ascorbate is starting to appear in formulations. It’s a more stable form of vitamin C that is less of an irritant; it’s also oil-soluble, so penetrates the skin extremely effectively.”