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Skin Care Ingredients Decoded: Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Glycolic Acid and More

Skin Care Ingredients including Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Glycolic Acid, Retinol, and Vitamin C are all the rage at the moment. In this article, let's take a look at why these 5 skin care ingredients are widely used and how they work.

A Look At 10 Widely Used Skin Care Ingredients And How They Work

In the world of skin care, the quest for radiant and youthful skin has led to the rising popularity of key ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Glycolic Acid, Retinol, and Vitamin C. Discover why these skin care ingredients are superheroes currently stealing the spotlight in our article.

Knowing which ingredients can help correct skin issues that trouble you helps address your situation without any kind of ill effects.

Investigating the benefits each ingredient is supposed to render to your skin can only help you if you’re sure that they won’t interfere with other skin functions and lead you to develop a new set of skin problems.

To safeguard the likelihood of undesired side effects arising from the use of certain skin care ingredients, it’s worth studying each of these ingredients in detail and the best ways to incorporate them into your skin care regimen. 

1. Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid

One of the most loved ingredients that routinely appears in anti-acne and anti-ageing products, Hyaluronic acid holds a prominent place in skin care, no matter what type of skin issues you might have. 

A natural humectant, it helps maintain necessary hydration levels in skin, and easily lifts its appearance leading it to become taut and plump with no sign of wrinkles or fine lines. 


  • Restores elasticity
  • Promotes moisture retention
  • Erases wrinkles, dark spots
  • Fights pigmentation
  • Treats flakiness
  • Renews skin
  • Treats inflammation
  • Prevents acne

How does Hyaluronic acid work?

Hyaluronic acid works by improving moisture levels in the skin to restore normal functions such as skin cell renewal and the formation of collagen. 

For inflamed skin, it helps calm down the inflammation by channelling blood flow to the affected parts to help regenerate and repair damaged tissues on a cellular level. 

Products to use

  • Topical Creams, gels
  • Peels
  • Skin serum
  • Lotion
  • Moisturiser
  • Face mask
  • Face wash

Food Sources

Leafy greens, Soy, Tofu, Citrus Fruits, Nuts, Seeds, Bone Broth

2. Niacinamide


A truly wondrous ingredient featured in skin-brightening potions, Niacinamide is a Vitamin B3 variant that holds the power to revamp dull, ageing skin with its expert abilities to renew skin. It boosts skin hydration and normalizes skin function to maintain glow and youthfulness. 


  • Brightens uneven skin tone
  • Smoothes rough, patchy skin
  • Heals acne
  • Minimizes pore size
  • Treats wrinkles, fine lines
  • Blues sunspots, pigmentation

How does Niacinamide work?

Niacinamide boosts collagen manufacture to maintain suppleness and hydration. It also works to protect skin from moisture loss and ageing by building a protein called keratin that helps regulate skin functions to restore its glow, texture and health. 

Products to use

  • Over-the-counter creams, gels and ointments (up to 5%)
  • Skin brightening creams, lotions, gels
  • Anti-ageing and anti-acne formulas
  • Face serums
  • Face masks
  • Face washes

Food sources

Broccoli, Avocado, Banana, Mangoes, Cherry tomatoes, Flaxseeds, Pine nuts, Almonds, Sesame seeds, Mushrooms, Chicken Liver, Turkey

3. Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid

In a large number of skin products loaded with AHAs, it’s easy to find a key ingredient Glycolic acid that claims to end all skin troubles with its profound skin-renewing features.


  • Firms up sagging skin
  • Fills lines, wrinkles
  • Hydrates drying skin
  • Reduces suntan, dark spots
  • Purifies and tightens pores
  • Clears blackheads, acne

How does Glycolic acid work?

Glycolic acid acts as a strong exfoliating agent that removes dead and damaged cells on the top layer of the skin. Once they are dissolved, Glycolic acid helps hydrate the skin and boosts collagen production which leads to new skin regeneration.

It also has the smallest molecular structure of all the AHAs and hence has very high penetrative capacity.

Products to use

  • Topical Creams, gels ointments
  • Anti-acne, Anti-ageing formulas
  • De-pigmentation creams, lotions
  • Pore tightening products
  • Peels
  • Face Masks

Food Sources

Pineapples, Tomatoes, Sour milk, Beets, Citrus fruits (Orange & Kiwi)

4. Retinol


Hailed for its miracle anti-wrinkle and regenerative properties, Retinol is a key player when it comes to battling signs of ageing. This ingredient works to rebuild and repair skin cells so they begin to act the way they do in young skin and make it appear youthful again. 


  • Smoothes wrinkles, creases
  • Restores firmness
  • Lightens scars, spots, blemishes
  • Treats pigmentation
  • Protects skin from oxidative damage
  • Prevents breakouts

How does Retinol work?

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A that helps trigger skin cell repair to correct its flaws on the cellular level. It helps regenerate tissues and delivers nutrients needed to produce healthy levels of elastin to make skin appear firm and plumped up. 

Products to use

  • Over-the-counter creams, ointments
  • Anti-wrinkle, Anti-blemish formulas
  • De-pigmentation creams
  • Skin brightening products
  • Face washes
  • Face masks

Food sources

Spinach, Carrot, Broccoli, Fish liver oil, Cheese

Caution: Retinol works better as a standalone ingredient as its effects are negated when used in combination with products containing ingredients like Vitamin C.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C

This vitamin has caught all the buzz in the skin care department due to its easy availability to solve an endless variety of skin purposes. Vitamin C helps nurture skin health with its antioxidant properties that work to restore suppleness, moisture and illumination to dull, ageing skin. 


  • Firms up sagging skin
  • Restores skin elasticity
  • Lightens blemishes
  • Fades suntan, dark spots
  • Fights free radical damage
  • Erases wrinkles, creases
  • Tightens skin pores

How does Vitamin C work?

The antioxidants found in vitamin C encourage skin repair which takes place at a quicker pace helping to blur unsightly scars, spots, blotches and wrinkles on the skin’s surface. This vitamin also speeds up collagen synthesis to make it appear younger without any sign of skin sagging. 

Products to use

  • Topical Creams, gels, lotions
  • Anti-ageing, anti-acne formulas
  • De-pigmentation, Anti-blemish creams
  • Face serums
  • Face washes
  • Face masks

Food sources

Citrus fruits, Pineapple, Kiwi, Papaya, Guavas, Broccoli, Bell peppers, Red chillies, Brussel sprouts, Chicken

Recommended Article: Best Vitamin C Serums for Ageless Skin in India

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are all skin ingredients added in store-bought skin care products safe to use on all skin types?

No. All active ingredients in skin care products do not suit all skin types. Also, it is essential to use the right ingredients for any specific skin problem. Care should be taken to avoid using ingredients that react with other actives.

Q. Can you use these ingredients on inflamed, acne-prone skin?

Ingredients deemed safe for acne-prone skin are Hyaluronic acid, Salicylic acid, Glycolic acid, Retinol, and Vitamin C.

Q. Are there any chances of breakouts resulting from the use of these ingredients?

On normal skin, these ingredients do not pose any risk of acne or pore clogging. These ingredients work to maintain healthy pores and keep inflammation at bay.

Q. Which ingredients are safe to use on ageing skin?

You can use all these ingredients safely on ageing skin to address specific issues which they can successfully treat. However, it is always safe to consult a dermatologist before using strong active ingredients such as Retinol.

Written by Sukomal Joshua

Sukomal Joshua is a Beauty Writer with an incessant pursuit for everything that's natural and organic. With over a decade long experience in researching natural beauty products and recipes, she wishes to instill awareness about the power of nature in nurturing beauty and health.

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