Pycnogenol is the collagen-stimulating ingredient to add to your skin-care routine pronto


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Were there an Atlas Obscura for skin-care ingredients, rest assured that you’d find an entry for pycnogenol. Because while retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid might get most of the buzz, the collagen-stimulating ingredient offers up the road less traveled (so to speak) when it comes to skin care. And it could pay off big time to add it to your routine because it’s got a lot of clout for plumping, hydrating, and protecting your complexion.

Pycnogenol is a research-backed ingredient that’s a potent antioxidant, so it helps to fend off free radicals, and it’s also been shown to restore elasticity within the complexion. According to Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist, it’s derived from a maritime pine bark and can be applied topically or taken as a supplement to absorb its good-for-skin benefits. “It’s been studied for several years to determine its effects on skin and aging,” she says. “Many studies have supported its use as a supplement taken orally that enhances the skin’s ability to produce more hyaluronic acid to maintain hydration and water in the skin.” Similarly, the ingredient has been found to help with collagen production in the skin, which keeps your complexion looking plump and youthful.

“I call it one of my desert island supplements because of its multitude of health benefits,” says Fred Pescatore, MD. “When pycnogenol’s applied topically, it works at the cellular level to selectively bind to collagen and elastin. Its natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also help to reduce hyperpigmentation.” And what’s more, while many superstar ingredients are too potent for the most sensitive skin types, that’s not the case with this antioxidant. “Pycnogenol’s a great choice for all skin types, especially those that are susceptible to redness, irritation, sensitivity, or those with symptoms of rosacea or other inflammatory conditions,” he says.

If you’re on the hunt to add it to your beauty regimen, you’ll notice it’s available in all different forms, from lotions to masks to oral supplements. Dr. Pescatore’s advice? Just make sure pycnogenol itself is listed as an active ingredient. “If you’re using it as a supplement, I recommend starting with 50 milligrams a day, but a combination of both oral and topical applications offers a full spectrum solution for healthy skin,” he says. Meet your skin’s new friend on the shelf.

Other complexion-boosting ingredients you should know about include rice water for soothing and hydrating, and azelaic acid for fighting acne and dark spots. 

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