We’re no strangers to elaborate skincare routines; chances are you may even be an avid fan of the famous Korean 10-step routine, where layering on different products is strongly encouraged if you want to get the best possible results.
Before you get around to doing so, it always pays to know exactly which ingredients work, and how you can combine them to make them work even better for you. Mix the wrong ingredients together, and they can turn into irritants that cause allergic reactions, or even cancel one another out, rendering your skincare routine ineffective.
Whether you are a beginner looking to build a new skincare routine or a seasoned skincare junkie who wants to experiment with active ingredients and create the most effective skincare cocktail, you’ll definitely find this guide useful when considering new ingredients to add to your arsenal.
Be sure to stay tuned till the end for a special discount exclusive to DV readers only! There’s also a 11.11 discount so keep your eyes peeled.
L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Most of us know that Vitamin C is good for our health, but did you also know that Vitamin C is one of the best anti-ageing skincare ingredients that you can use?
Vitamin C not only helps to gently brighten and smoothen your skin, but it is also a powerful antioxidant that protects against environmental aggressors, which break down collagen in your skin. In fact, research has shown that as little as 0.6 percent of Vitamin C can help prevent skin damage by free radicals and minimise skin sagging!
L-Ascorbic Acid is a form of Vitamin C that probably has the most amount of scientific research surrounding its benefits, hence it is commonly acknowledged among dermatologists as the ‘king’ of Vitamin C – a good reason why you should definitely try using this if you haven’t done so!
Do mix with: Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid
Do not mix with: AHAs, BHAs (for beginners)
Try: Paula’s Choice C25 Super Booster
This booster is a powerful 25% L-Ascorbic Acid lotion for the spot treatment of brown spots, hyperpigmentation, red marks, and wrinkles – perfect for those who have mature and hyper-pigmented skin, as well as those who are familiar with using Vitamin C in their skincare routines. With routine use, you should see your skin tone becoming more visibly even, and skin texture feeling much softer than before.
You may pair this with a serum or moisturiser when starting off, or if a different texture is preferred. This may also be used with other skin-brightening products for enhanced results. Apply this as the last step in your skincare routine, and make sure to pat in – instead of rub – onto affected areas!
Tip: Consistent sunscreen use is important with this product to prevent dark spots from reappearing, so remember to protect your skin during the day with a product rated SPF 30 or greater.
Ferulic acid is an antioxidant found in the cell walls of plants such as rice and oats, as well as the seeds of apples and oranges, where it plays a key role in the plants’ protection and self-preservation.
When applied topically, Ferulic acid helps to slow the ageing process by reducing the damaging effects of free radicals on the skin. It is also thought to protect against sun damage, as well as assist in skin’s regenerative functions to restore skin that has already been over-exposed.
This active ingredient is known to be safe for use on most skin types, although you may want to take extra precaution when using it in your skincare routine if you have sensitive skin or any grain allergies.
Do mix with: Retinol, SPF, Vitamin C, Vitamin E
Do not mix with: NIL
Try: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster
If you are looking to improve uneven skin tone and lighten pigmentation, but are completely new to using Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid, the C15 Super Booster from Paula’s Choice is the best product for you to start with.
This is a water-based serum formulated with 15% pure L-Ascorbic Acid, as well as antioxidants like Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid – its lightweight texture is easily absorbed by the skin, which makes it perfect for all skin types to use, especially if you layer multiple products in your routine.
For complete beginners, start off by mixing only 1-2 drops into your favourite serum or moisturiser before use. If you have tried other Vitamin C derivatives before and want better results, go ahead and apply it directly onto your skin!
Tip: Layer a few drops of peptides after C15 Super booster to better minimise lines and improve spot fading.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that works with the natural substances in your skin to help visibly improve a plethora of age-related problems, including enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, and a weakened skin barrier. It also reduces the impact of environmental damage because of its ability to strengthen your skin barrier while repairing prior damage done to your skin.
Topical application of niacinamide has been shown to boost the hydrating ability of moisturisers so the skin’s surface can better resist moisture loss that leads to recurrent dry, tight, and flaky skin. It has also been proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles after prolonged use.
However, although niacinamide can reduce the look of blemishes and balance visible sebum activity, take note that it does not work as a single treatment for acne.
Niacinamide is generally well tolerated by all skin types, and you are encouraged to use multiple products containing niacinamide in your routine. It is even suitable for use by those with sensitive or rosacea-prone skin!
Do mix with: Retinol, Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid, AHAs, BHAs
Do not mix with: NIL
Try: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
For hydrated, supple, and youthful skin, we recommend that you try Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster.
This is a water-based serum with 10% niacinamide that effectively minimises pores and improves uneven skin tone. It is also formulated with a Vitamin C derivative called ascorbyl glucoside known for its brightening properties, two forms of tone-improving licorice extracts, as well as antioxidants to refine the appearance of enlarged pores.
While niacinamide is ideal for use by any skin type, it is best used if you are looking to target enlarged pores and uneven skin tone. The brand promises that you’ll see a brightening effect in as little as two weeks of consistent use, faster than most other brightening products that only show visible results only after about three to four weeks!
You may find that some niacinamide-based products have heavier formulations and hence thicker textures, which make them unsuitable for use by those with oily skin. Fortunately, this booster boasts a sheer, ultra-light liquid formula, making it perfect for layering without clogging pores. Use this alone or add 1-2 drops (for beginners) to your favourite serum or moisturiser – it won’t cause breakouts used that way!
Tip: Layer with 2-3 drops of Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol booster after using the 10% Niacinamide Booster for better results!
If there’s one active ingredient more lauded than any other for its wrinkle-fighting, complexion-perfecting abilities, it’s this amazing derivative of vitamin A.
Retinol is one of the foremost ingredients that top beauty brands and doctors alike are rushing to include in their products and treatments, thanks to its impressive ability to boost the amount of collagen your body makes and plump up the skin, hence reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Once absorbed by the skin, it speeds up cell turnover, causing your body to churn out fresher, smoother skin – essentially tricking your body into thinking it’s younger than it is!
In fact, many dermatologists prescribe retinol’s stronger counterpart, tretinoin, to slow skin ageing, improve irregular colouring, and clear up acne. The majority of us who don’t require such heavy-duty, prescription-only products but still want to enjoy the numerous skincare benefits of tretinoin can turn to over-the-counter retinol products that work similarly.
Do mix with: Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid
Do not mix with: Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide
Try: Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster
Because retinol causes the skin to shed cells faster than normal, you may experience a few weeks of flakiness, dryness, irritation, and/or breakouts, while your skin is trying to adjust to this new ingredient. During this adjustment period, carefully controlling the amount of product used will definitely help in minimising the likelihood of experiencing discomfort.
The best way to do this is to use a retinol booster that’s mixable and allows you to add as much as your skin allows into your existing skincare products. This 1% Retinol Booster from Paula’s Choice contains a pure, concentrated form of retinol in a slow-release delivery system which decreases the probability of skin irritation. It is a light fluid lotion, which is best used by those looking to rid fine lines, wrinkles, and bumps.
We know you may be eager to see visible results but take note that you should not use this daily! Start out by using it 1-2 times a week for 2 weeks, and then increase the frequency gradually when you notice your skin taking to it better.
Tip: As retinol tends to cause dryness, mix with 1-2 drops of a hydrating booster (e.g. Paula’s Choice Moisture Renewal Oil Booster) for better hydration.
Hyaluronic acid has been the ‘it’ ingredient in recent years and chances are you’ve seen it in many moisturisers, hydrating serums, as well as sheet masks.
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our bodies to keep it refreshed, and is most loved for its incredible water retention properties. However, as skin ages, it becomes drier as its ability to retain water lessens. As collagen consists mainly of water, a loss in water also equates to a loss of skin firmness and the emergence of fine lines. Hence, hyaluronic acid is typically applied to rehydrate skin, giving it a plumper appearance and reducing the appearance of wrinkles!
One of the best things about hyaluronic acid is that it can benefit all skin types, although those with dry and mature skin will definitely get the most mileage from its anti-ageing and hydration properties.
Do mix with: Vitamin C, Retinol, AHAs
Do not mix with: NIL
Try: Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster
Besides containing hyaluronic acid, Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster contains a specialised matrix fortified with ceramides, another ingredient that is well-loved for its hydrating and skin-protecting properties. This powerful combination of active ingredients helps to lock in skin’s moisture and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you struggle with dullness and dehydration, you definitely need to check this product out.
While we all love seeing instant results, few products can deliver such efficacy, which is why you’ll be superbly impressed with this booster. From the first use, you’ll enjoy noticeably smoother, more hydrated, younger-looking skin!
Tip: You may have noticed that most hyaluronic acid products have a tacky finish, so try not to use too much of the product in a single application. You are recommended to use 1-2 pumps alone for dry skin or in dry/cold weather, and mix just half a pump into your serums or moisturisers if you have oilier skin.
Peptides are one of the most skin-friendly ingredients for mature skin. They increase the production of collagen, restore the skin after damage, and are even able to work as muscle relaxants to prevent the formation of wrinkles and fine lines!
Despite the complexity of the formulations of products made with peptides, you will find these products virtually incapable of producing unexpected irritations, inflammations, and allergic reactions. They also work well with many other active ingredients without losing their effectiveness.
Do mix with: Niacinamide, Vitamin C
Do not mix with: AHAs
Try: Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster
The high peptide density formulation of this booster includes eight distinct peptides and amino acids, with great supporting ingredients like phospholipids that strengthen the skin’s barrier and make it more resilient.
This booster is best used by those who are looking for a powerful anti-ageing product, as it is highly effective in combating loss of firmness, dullness, wrinkles, and discolorations in mature skin. You just need to add a few drops to your serum or moisturiser, adjusting the amount used according to your skin type (consumers with dry skin are encouraged to use more).
Tip: Thanks to the versatility of peptides, this is one of the most versatile boosters that work well when layered with other products, so try using this with Paula’s Choice’s Niacinamide, Vitamin C and Retinol boosters.
Ceramides are lipids, a.k.a fats that occur naturally in the skin. They make up over 50% of the skin’s composition, so it’s no wonder they play a crucial role in protecting your skin against environmental threats and helping it look younger.
Although your body naturally produces ceramides, the quality and quantity of ceramides produced actually drop over time as you age and suffer sun damage. This can lead to a damaged skin barrier, which is why you may find yourself suffering from a plethora of unprecedented skin problems over time – think dry, rough skin, wrinkles, redness, irritation, and dehydration.
Hence, many consumers are turning to ceramide-enriched skincare products in a bid to restore and obtain firm, supple, and younger skin.
Do mix with: Omega fatty acids, Hyaluronic Acid
Do not mix with: NIL
Try: Paula’s Choice Moisture Renewal Oil Booster
Facial oils have been gaining popularity for their light textures and surprisingly non-greasy finish. The only issue is that many blends out there contain fragrances, which can backfire on those with sensitive skin!
As with all products from Paula’s Choice, the Moisture Renewal Oil Booster is one of the rare facial oil blends on the market that is completely fragrance-free. The blend of nine essential, non-fragrant plant oils, fatty acids and ceramides work to revitalise dull, flaky skin and provide a more youthful and dewier glow. You’ll definitely love this if you have dry, sensitive, and irritated skin!
Tip: Despite being a blend of oils, this booster has a light and non-clogging texture – perfect for mixing just 1-2 drops with your regular serums and moisturisers to get that extra glow for all skin types!
Important tip for mixing active ingredients in skincare
With so many possible active ingredients to incorporate into your skincare routine, it’s easy to get too excited and start using everything all at once.
However, as with all skincare products, it’s important when introducing new active ingredients into your routine to allow a timeline of at least 1-2 weeks for your skin to adjust to each active ingredient separately. Yes, that means you shouldn’t be starting on retinol, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and peptides all at the same time!
The simple reason for this is that it makes it easier to detect any possible allergies – after all, how would you identify the cause of any skin irritation when you’ve used so many new ingredients? This also makes it easier for you to adjust and determine the right amount of product suitable for your skin at any point in time.
To help you get started on crafting the best anti-ageing skincare routine, Paula’s Choice is giving up to 40% off their Anti-Aging Boosters and other selected products during Singles Day (11 November). Plus, Daily Vanity readers get to enjoy an exclusive discount of 15% off your first order!
What are you waiting for? Mix and match your way to glowing skin while stocks last!
This article is brought to you by Paula’s Choice Skincare.