"This is a good time to use those kinds of ingredients that have an initial downtime associated with them, where you don't necessarily want to be going out," says Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta skin care. "Some of these ingredients can [also] make you sensitive to the sun, and most of us will be spending a lot less time being exposed to it."
Besides ingredients that have some downtime, there are others that just simply take a few weeks to really show their skin-boosting benefits (like vitamin C). So, in the name of upgrading your beauty regimen as you're social distancing, keep scrolling for the four skin-care ingredients Dr. Ciraldo recommends to start using so that we all come out of our quarantines with the best skin ever.
Shop now: The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane, $6
1. Retinoids: First up is any retinoid, especially retinol in high concentrations, or tretinoin, the prescription strength option. A retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that has a slew of perks, from gentle exfoliation through increased cell turnover to stimulated collagen production to fighting acne. "At first, retinoids can give you what we call retinoid dermatitis, which means your skin gets a little red and starts peeling," says Dr. Ciraldo. If you're using a high percentage, like 0.5 percent or higher, she says you can see visible results after a few days, but then some of that irritation can kick in after about a week. "At that point, you can cut back to using it every other day," says Dr. Ciraldo. "About three weeks in, you'll really start to see an improvement in your skin."
Shop now: Dr. Loretta Micro Peel Peptide Pads with 10% Glycolic Acid, $60
2. Glycolic acid: "A lot of times, acne-prone skin types are afraid to use ingredients like glycolic acid," says Dr. Ciraldo. "This is because it's common to experience purging. [Purging is when you get breakouts from trying a new active ingredient.] But that's really just reflecting the fact that you're getting an ungluing of the dead skin cells that are clogging your pores, which is really effective for fighting acne." She points to strong glycolic acid products—those with over 10 percent concentrations—as mimicking the effects of a retinoid, because both are acids (retinoids are a vitamin A acid). "About a week in, you can experience purging or a little irritation, but after about three weeks, you'll have pretty good results," she says.
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3. Peptides: Peptides are naturally occurring amino acid chains that make up proteins, and using them in your skin-care routine gives you a long list of benefits. "Any type of peptide won't show results very quickly, but they really have so many benefits, like increasing hydration, supporting collagen production, and helping skin elasticity," says Dr. Ciraldo. She notes that these take two to three weeks to really show an improvement in your skin (and they don't cause any sort of irritation). Look for words that end in "peptide" on your ingredients list.
Shop now: Pixi Vitamin C Serum, $24
4. Antioxidants: Another one that doesn't typically give you irritation but takes a while to show benefits? Antioxidants, which help combat free radical damage from pollution and also to brighten the skin. "Antioxidants tend to be more protective and preventative for our skin rather than necessarily giving us an immediate result," says Dr. Ciraldo, who recommends any antioxidant-based skin-care product (not just vitamin C). Just note that if you go the vitamin C route and use one with L-ascorbic acid, it's more potent and "can give you a little irritation, but not purging." There are many different antioxidants to choose from, from other vitamin C derivatives to fruit-based extracts. "Typically, you won't see big improvements for about two weeks, a lot of times up to four. Use these daily to protect your skin from the environment," says Dr. Ciraldo.
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