Some things in life are just better together—peanut butter and chocolate, for instance. Sure, PB is good on its own, but drop some chocolate in there and it’s beyond delicious. It just so happens that the same mentality applies with your skincare routine: Whether you’re looking for major hydration, exfoliation, serious sun protection, or some extra glow, the best things in skincare — just like in life — work better together. We asked Dr. Mona Gohara, Associate Clinical Professor at Yale University Medical School Department of Dermatology, why these duos are the peanut butter and chocolate of the beauty world.
For Smooth-As-A-Baby Skin: Salicylic Acid & Hyaluronic Acid
Although the former is a known acne fighter and the latter is a hydrating powerhouse, when paired together, the two not only exfoliate like a boss, but also leave you with a silky smooth texture. “The Salicylic cuts through oils and the Hyaluronic Acid hydrates and plumps,” explains Dr. Gohara. “Together they create a great canvas for more treatments, makeup, or just as an au naturel look.” See it for yourself by pairing a hyaluronic acid serum, such as Make P:rem Micro Oil Serum ($44) with a Salicylic Acid-spiked moisturizer such as J. One Hana Capsule Cream ($30). Apply the serum first, waiting five minutes before applying the cream in order to let the oil-based serum really sink into skin.
For Serious Sun Protection: Antioxidants & SPF
For the most part, we all know what sunscreen does on its own, but according to Gohara, layering an antioxidant underneath it will help amplify the SPF, offering you even more protection from the environment. “Antioxidants get rid of free radicals caused by UV rays, outdoor pollution, and blue light” emitted from digital screens, says Dr. Gohara. Use an antioxidant-laced serum or moisturizer, such as Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer ($39), which is ultra-lightweight and grease-free, then follow up with a powerhouse sunscreen, such as Dr. Oracle EPL Daily Sunblock SPF 50 PA++ ($44). This versatile sun guard also doubles as a makeup primer. Score!
For Seriously Effective Exfoliation: AHAs & BHAs
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (known as AHAs) and Beta-Hydroxy Acids (or BHAs) both exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface, allowing increased product penetration and uncovering a more radiant, silkier complexion. However, AHAs, such as Glycolic or Lactic acid, are water-soluble ingredients that are particularly efficacious for drier skin types, while BHAs are oil-soluble and actually penetrate inside your pores to clear them out. “I like mixing AHAs and BHAs,” says Dr. Gohara, “because we lose millions of skin cells each day and if they don’t (naturally) come off the skin, it makes it harder for protective or anti-aging ingredients to penetrate.” Try using Blithe Patting Splash Mask Rejuvenating Purple Berry ($45), which is spiked with Lactic Acid, then doubling down with BHA-infused Common Labs GGultamin B Real Jel Mask ($4) before applying your regular serum and moisturizer.
For An Otherworldly Glow: Vitamin C + Vitamin E
Antioxidants like Vitamins C and E don’t only offer environmental protection, but they also strengthen your skin’s natural collagen production while helping to fade any hyperpigmentation or discoloration, says Gohara. Get the most benefits from this duo by first prepping skin with Liz K Super First C Serum Pure Vitamin C 13% ($23) for a concentrated boost, then immediately apply the Common Labs GGultamin E Real Jel Mask ($4) and let sit for 15 minutes.
For Going Back In Time: Retinoids + Niacinamide
If you’re looking to combat the signs of aging — think everything from discoloration to fine lines and dullness — Retinoids are your best bet. “Retinoids are the ultimate in terms of collagen production and decreased collagen degradation,” says Dr. Gohara. Reach for Yuripibu Cucu Black Truffle Serum ($38) for a luxe anti-aging treatment. But, as Gohara warns, while Retinoids are the gold standard in anti-aging, they can cause some sensitive skin types to react or become irritated. In case you’re worried about any potential redness or inflammation, reach for a cream that’s spiked with Niacinamide, a type of vitamin B. “It’s incredible at mitigating inflammation,” says Gohara. Post serum application, layer on a generous scoop of the Blithe Inbetween Tone Correcting Cream ($45) to keep skin calm while the retinoids do their thing.
For Quenching Thirsty Skin: Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides
Winter weather, indoor heating, and dehydration can all lead to dry skin, which requires some intensive moisturization. While both Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides are hydrating ingredients, they both provide different benefits. “The HA is bringing water in,” explains Dr. Gohara, “while the Ceramides help trap [the moisture] into the skin — it’s a great combination that keeps you smooth and plumped.” Layer a Hyaluronic Acid serum, like Leegeehaam Grow Hyal B5 Ampoule, underneath a cream infused with Ceramides, such as Make P:rem Micro Tension Cream ($30), for what Gohara calls “hydration station.”
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