6 Powerful Ingredients That Help You Look Younger, Naturally
Looking for botanical-based skincare that delivers results? These six science-backed ingredients will have you looking younger, naturally.
This superfood does super things for your skin: For starters, it’s a powerful antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that can cause wrinkles, brown spots, and even skin cancer. And because it contains high levels of ellagic acid, pomegranate is also a great anti-inflammatory, says Fred Khoury, a cosmetic chemist in California. “It calms sensitivity and protects against what we call inflammaging—aging accelerated by high levels of inflammation,” Khoury says. Research also suggests the fruit can help smooth wrinkles: In one study, pomegranate extract improved the elasticity and hydration of skin, making it look tighter and firmer. Since it protects and repairs, Khoury recommends using pom-infused products in the a.m. and p.m.
Find it in: Murad Pore Extractor Pomegranate Mask ($38; Murad.com)
Whether topped with brown sugar or smoothed over your face, oats really hit the spot. They’re rich in avenanthramides, potent antioxidants that help deter free radical damage. They’re also important for keeping the skin’s outermost layer, the barrier, strong and intact. “A damaged barrier can’t hold on to moisture and exposes the deeper layers of skin to outside irritants,” says Macrene Alexiades, MD, PhD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale. “Your skin could end up looking dry, red, or inflamed, and wrinkles may become more visible.” When applied topically, ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal (oat flour) and oat kernel oil form an invisible film that seals in moisture. Oat-based products are long lasting, too: A study in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology showed that subjects who stopped using them were still enjoying the moisturizing benefits up to two weeks later.
Find it in: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($15; drugstores)
Anything hardy enough to survive on the ocean floor might include ingredients that could help your skin withstand environmental stressors, right? That’s why brands have begun investigating the skincare possibilities of marine plants. “They’re rich in amino acids, proteins, and vitamins, with both moisturizing and antioxidant properties, making them key players for skin barrier protection,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Research indicates that the algae- derived enzyme photolyase can prevent and even reverse sun damage when applied topically. Scan the ingredients list for photolyase or plankton, a microalgae.
Find it in: Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask ($62; Fresh.com)
Traditional Chinese medicine is big on the healing power of mushrooms, and now cosmetic chemists are tapping the fungi for their antiaging benefits. Varieties such as shiitake and reishi have been studied for their ability to brighten brown spots by stopping melanin (the stuff that gives skin its color) from overaccumulating in skin. Recently, experts have started buzzing about the tremella, or silver ear, mushroom. “Tremella appears to work similarly to hyaluronic acid, hydrating and plumping skin, but with smaller particles that can more easily penetrate,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. A 2017 study in Molecular Medicine Reports
suggests that an extract from it can stimulate collagen-producing cells that have been damaged from aging—which may mean the ingredient can reduce wrinkles, too.
Find it in: Jurlique Nutri-Define Superior Retexturising Facial Serum ($120; Jurlique.com)
The black mask craze: slightly creepy-looking on Instagram, majorly cool in real life. That’s because activated charcoal is a savior for those with oily, acne-prone skin, our experts say. “Charcoal is most commonly used in cleansers and face treatments because of its ability to absorb oil and minimize shine,” says Zeichner. It works like a magnet, attaching to and drawing out dirt and oil from deep within pores.
Find it in: L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Cleanser ($7; drugstores)
“This ingredient has some of the best science behind it,” Alexiades says. Experts have identified what’s likely responsible for it all—EGCG, the tea’s most abundant antioxidant. Studies have shown that when applied topically, green tea may prevent nonmelanoma skin cancers, possibly by neutralizing the free radicals generated by UVB radiation and absorbing the sun’s harmful rays. “There’s also some evidence that the ingredient can repair the DNA damage that may ultimately lead to skin cancer,” she adds. The green stuff can help you look younger, too. One study found that when used on skin, tea extracts could increase hydration and make skin feel smoother in just 30 days. One more for the list: Recent research suggests that green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties may calm pimples and reduce oil production, keeping pores clearer.
Find it in: St. Ives Matcha Green Tea & Ginger Cleansing Stick ($8; drugstores)
Make sure to look for botanicals toward the top of the ingredients list—the higher up, the more you’re getting. If it’s the last one listed, chances are very little of it is making its way onto your face.