AHAs, BHAs, Retinoids and Niacinamide: Anti-aging ingredients you should know about

by The First Refresh

Are fine lines forming on your face?

Over the years, the collagen and elastin fibres that give structure to our skin to keep it smooth and supple break down as part of the natural aging process. Additionally, external environmental factors like sun exposure, stress, and smoking among other factors also cause this breakdown, thus leading to the fine lines and wrinkles you see on your face. 

To improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, forming a good anti aging skincare routine is essential. Here are some key active ingredients you should consider. 

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids, commonly referred to as AHA, are acids from plant sources. This is also why they’re sometimes referred to as fruit acids. A popular type of AHA you might have seen in your skincare products is glycolic acid.

What’s good about AHA is that it targets multiple layers of your skin, bringing benefits both to your epidermis (outer layer of skin) and the dermis beneath it. AHAs help to exfoliate the epidermis, increasing dead skin cell shedding. At the deeper level, AHA stimulates collagen, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines. 

What are Beta Hydroxy Acids?

Beta Hydroxy Acids are also known as BHAs. The most popular type of BHA is salicylic acid, the one you see in acne treatments and masks to help combat bumps, clogged pores and blemishes. BHAs are oil-soluble, which means they can penetrate deeper into the skin surface and into the pores, to break up and remove dead skin cells, oils and bacteria. BHAs also help to smooth out the surface texture of your skin to give a more youthful appearance.

What is Retinol?

You’ve probably heard your friends talking about incorporating retinoids and retinol treatments and serums into their nightly skincare routine. Retinol is a type of retinoid, which is a form of Vitamin A. Retinol most commonly comes in the form of a serum or cream. It's known for its anti-aging properties because it protects against collagen breakdown and stimulates cell turnover, which hence helps to improve the appearance of wrinkles and helps your skin tone to even out more and look more plump.

What is Niacinamide?

Perhaps newer on the anti-aging scene is Niacinamide, and it might not have been an ingredient you’ve seen as much! Niacinamide is also known as Vitamin B3, and has strong anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to improve acne, but also for its brightening effect. It works by stimulating the skin’s natural production of good fatty acids and ceramides, strengthening the skin barrier and also calming it.

Niacinamide is gentler than Retinol, and can be a good alternative to more sensitive skin prone to side effects, as Retinol may run the risk of initially causing some sensitivity. While effective on its own, the way Niacinamide works complements retinol and may help to make the skin more receptive to retinol and decrease the potential irritation people experience when starting retinol treatments, so if you’re interested, speak to your dermatologist about how you might combine both in your skincare routine!