Our top 6 skincare ingredients to treat ageing skin

Hannah Wilson

Let’s face it, the ingredients labels on skincare products can be pretty daunting.
Peppered with words ten syllables long with letter combos you didn’t know existed, it’s no wonder a lot of us shy away from the ins and outs of ‘skingredient’ science.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking to treat ageing skin a solid understanding of what to look for in products will save you an awful lot of time and money. Here at Face Dr, we know how much that healthy glow means and when it starts to fade, it can be easy to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the problem to try and fix it.

Want to skip the read and get free, professional skincare advice? You can book a free video skincare consultation with a Skin Expert by tapping the button below. Alternatively, read on to find out more.


You’ll be pleased to know that a long list of lotions and potions aren’t necessary to treat ageing skin. A solid routine using products powered by the following active ingredients will work wonders on any wrinkles and wobbles you might be concerned about…

# 1. SPF


Okay, so it's not technically a skincare ingredient, but too often forgotten, SPF is the most important element in any skincare routine. It's even more important in an anti-ageing one since sun exposure is the primary cause of ageing skin.

Excessive sun exposure will worsen fine lines and wrinkles, dry your skin out and can cause it to become uneven in texture and tone. So, you can slather on ceramides and retinol till your heart’s content, but nothing is more vital than UV protection. Look for products that guard against UVA and UVB rays with an
SPF of at least 30. Apply it 30 minutes before exposure and reapply every two hours to keep your skin shielded.

Mineral sunscreens are less irritating since they sit atop the epidermis and so are a better option if you have sensitive skin. If you find your face is more hardy, chemical sunscreens actually absorb into the skin and protect cells from the inside out.

Our Skin Expert recommendation:


ZO's Broad Spectrum SPF 50Lightweight and non-irritating, this mineral sunscreen is for the most sensitive skin types and post-procedure skin, but is suitable for all skin types. Provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, IRA and HEV light.

# 2. Retinol

ZO Skin Health Retinol Skin Brightener

Also known as vitamin A, this ingenious ingredient really does have transformative powers when it comes to skincare. It increases cell turnover, which naturally slows down as we age, and targets fine lines and sun damage to give skin a smoother finish and more even complexion.

The only downside is that it can be irritating, so less is certainly more. Minimise the chances of this by working it into your routine gradually with low concentrations to start. A Skin Expert will be best placed to tell you what kind of concentration you’ll need, so contact your Skin Expert for more information here.

It’s worth remembering that retinol becomes inactive when exposed to sunlight, so use it as part of your bedtime routine before a good dose of beauty sleep.

Our Skin Expert recommendation:

ZO Skin Health Retinol Skin Brightener is a retinol complex that targets and reduces the appearance of skin discolouration, helping to even out tone and texture. Plus, it’s available in concentrations of 0.25%, 0.5% and 1%, so you can
work your way up slowly in order to avoid irritation.

#3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C Skincare ingredient woman in water with fruit

Looking to get that youthful glow back? Vitamin C is the way to go. It’s an amazing antioxidant that’ll help fade any spots of discolouration to even out your complexion. By fighting free radical damage, it helps skin cells stay healthy and will leave you looking fresh-faced and radiant.

It does, however, become less effective when exposed to sunlight and air. Look for products that come in opaque packaging and make sure you store it in a cool, dry place.

Our Skin Expert recommendation: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating Serum. Packed with a potent dose of vitamin C, this treatment will defend your skin against damaging environmental factors while polishing and brightening to give you that sought after radiance.

#4. Ceramides

Skin is your body’s first defence against everything. As such, it gets a bit of a beating and over time needs help to maintain its strength. That’s where ceramides come in. They protect and enhance your skin’s barrier, helping it to lock in hydration and keep out any nasties.

Hydrated skin naturally looks younger, so anything you can do to help quench your skin’s thirst should be a priority if you’re looking to turn back time. The great thing about ceramides? They’re effective on all skin types and have pretty much no drawbacks to be concerned about.

Our Skin Expert recommendation: ZO Skin Health Recovery Crème. The ceramides in this retinol-powered moisturiser help keep skin nourished and hydrated by protecting the barrier from any water loss. If you suffer with dry skin, as many of us do when we age, using something with ceramides is a great way to cushion the harsh side effects of retinol on the skin.

#5. Acids

It sounds like the last thing you’d want to slather your skin with, but in reality some acids have fantastic anti-ageing benefits.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid has the smallest molecule size of all the AHAs which means it can be easily absorbed and penetrates deep into the skin. It works from the inside out to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells which promotes silky smooth texture and reduces pore size. It also boosts collagen production and elastin to ward off wrinkles.

However, it can be a bit irritating if you have sensitive skin, so start off with low
concentrations. Your Skin Expert would be able to recommend how best to use this ingredient for your skin.

ZO Skin Health Exfoliation Accelerator

Our Skin Expert recommendation: ZO Exfoliation Accelerator
3-5 drops of this will help refine skin texture by reducing pore size, sloughing away dead skin cells and evening out pigmentation.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a gentler AHA, so if you find glycolic isn’t doing your skin any good, this is a great alternative. Derived from milk, this skin-perfecting molecule will leave you looking radiant and won't dry out your skin like most exfoliants.

Our Skin Expert recommendation: ZO Skin Health Dual Action Scrub
This chemically powered exfoliant will gently remove dead skin cells and surface sebum to keep pores clear of blockage and promote a smooth and refined skin texture.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid earns its spot at the head of the table when it comes to hydration. It acts like a sponge, drawing water into the skin and holding it there. It can absorb a thousand times its weight in water and therefore has the ability to leave your skin looking fresh and plump as ever.

However, if you use it alone it’s unlikely to make a difference as there needs to be moisture present for it to work. Apply it before you moisturise for a real hit of

Our Skin Expert recommendation: ZO Skin Health Wrinkle + Texture Repair
Contains ZO's patented formula to replenish your naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid to hydrate and soften the skin.

#6. Collagen

This naturally occurring protein is the skin’s integrated elastic that keeps it supple, firm and sag-free. We’re mentioning it because most people will view an anti-ageing skincare regime as incomplete without it, but the truth is it’s pretty hit and miss.

Collagen is a rather large molecule that can’t be easily absorbed by the skin. With that in mind, topical application of the protein tends to yield little results. Most collagen products you see will come in some kind of capsule that you can ingest orally, but it still has a hard job finding its way into the skin. Moral of the story?

Where collagen is concerned it’s best to take the craze with a pinch of salt. However, you can increase the natural amounts of collagen in your skin by using a Growth Factor product, which works to kickstart the production of collagen and elastin, which contribute to keeping skin appearing healthy and youthful.

Our Skin Expert recommendation: ZO Growth Factor Serum
Instead of using collagen, we suggest supplementing your skincare routine with something that’ll boost biological collagen synthesis, such as Growth Factors. ZO Growth Factor Serum is a lightweight gel formulated with a combination of plant and enzymatically derived growth factors for all skin types that strengthens the skin, supports skin rejuvenation and protects against future signs of skin ageing.

In summary

When all is said and done, product efficacy really does come down to the
ingredients you use and how they react with your skin. The anti-ageing ingredients we’ve spoken about all do different things, so pick products which contain the ones that tackle your own skin concerns.

It’s worth remembering that you can only get so much from over-the-counter skincare products, as there are limits as to how much of any active ingredient they can contain. For higher concentrations of these, opt for medical-grade products dispensed by a GP, dermatologist or GP-led Skin Expert like us here at Face Dr.

Luckily for you, you’re in exactly the right place if that’s the road you wish to go down. At Face Dr we prescribe highly effective medical-grade skincare products from trusted brands that are sure to have your skin looking younger in no time. To book a free online skincare consultation with one of our dermatologists and get the ball rolling, tap the button below.

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