Should You Really Put That On Your Skin?

The trendy skin care ingredients you should (and shouldn't) try

When it comes to skin care ingredients, you have your retinols and hyaluronic acids of the world, tried-and-true staples that aren’t going anywhere. But there’s also another rotating cast of characters buzzy newbies that pop up on the scene, touted as the latest and greatest ‘it’ ingredient. It can make it hard to discern what’s actually worth the hype, so we asked the pros to weigh in on seven of the latest skin care trends and whether or not you should slather these ingredients on your skin. Here’s what they had to say.

The Ingredient: CBD

We’re willing to bet good money that you’ve heard of — or even tried — CBD by now. Arguably the trendiest ingredient of the bunch, it’s having a major moment and popping up in everything from lotion to lollipops to lube. As a reminder, it’s a phytocannabinoid — a molecules synthetized by plants that comes from the cannabis plant, but, unlike marijuana, it doesn’t contain THC and won’t get you high. When used in skin care, it’s touted as an antioxidant that can help reduce free radical damage, as well as fight inflammation and even ward off wrinkles.

The Verdict: It’s up to you

Sorry to be wishy-washy, but the jury’s still kinda out on this one. While CBD is a well-regarded ingredient for other uses such as pain relief, that’s not quite the case when it comes to beauty products; more robust research is needed to determine if it’s any more effective than other ingredients with antioxidant properties, says Dr. Sheel Desai Solomon, MD, a dermatologist in Raleigh/Durham, NC.

While a few small studies have shown that it can reduce redness and sebum production, many CBD claims, such as that they can reduce wrinkles, lack any evidence at all, adds Dr. Daniel Belkin of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. Still, he says it’s worth trying it, since we’re still learning about the benefits. Dr. Solomon suggests skipping it for skincare purposes, and notes that many products that contain CBS also contain other active ingredients, which may be what is having an effect.

The bottom line: It can’t hurt to try incorporating CBD into your skin care routine, just keep in mind that it’s probably not going to be the miracle cure you’re searching for.

skin care
Dr. Jart

The Ingredient: Tiger Grass

Also known as centella asiatica or gotu kola, this Asian ingredient has long been used for its wound healing and skin soothing properties. Fun fact: It got its name because wild tigers in Asia roll in the plant to heal skin lesions and wounds, says Dr. Solomon. Studies have also shown that multiple components found in tiger grass can stimulate collagen and increase hydration, too.

The Verdict: Try it! 

Do as those tigers do. “It’s soothing to the skin and can enhance the way it looks and feels, leaving it more firm and smooth,” Solomon says, who adding that products with tiger grass can also be found at affordable prices. Dr. Belkin agrees, noting that this has “good evidence for skin benefits as compared to other botanicals.”

Find it in: No7 Laboratories CICA-Rescue Skin Paste Mask ($23; ulta.com) and Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream ($48; sephora.com)

The Ingredient: Watermelon

The pretty pink fruit has taken on a starring role in many skin care products lately, lauded for its antioxidant properties and the nutrients found in its seeds. It’s rich in vitamin A and, because it’s mostly made of water, it’s also hydrating, adds Dr. Solomon.

The Verdict: Skip it

Forget putting it on your skin and snack on it instead. There is little evidence out there to support its benefits topically, and the benefits of watermelon and watermelon seeds are probably more valuable when eaten than when applied,” says Dr. Belkin. But if you do want to try a watermelon-based product, you can feel good knowing that there are virtually no drawbacks to doing so since it’s very unlikely to cause any issues or side effects, adds Dr. Solomon.

skin care trends
Neostrata

The Ingredient: PHAs

Poly-hydroxy acids (PHAs) are similar to the better known alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids in that they also act as chemical exfoliants, dissolving the superficial layer of dead skin cells to leave your complexion smoother and more radiant. (Common ones include: gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid.) Where they differ from their more popular counterparts is in their molecular size: Because they’re larger, they can’t penetrate as deeply, making them yes, slightly less effective, but also less likely to cause irritation. They also have the added benefit of moisturizing the skin, acting as humectants to draw in water. 

The Verdict: Try it! 

“These act more superficially on the skin and tend to be less irritating so try these, particularly if you have sensitive or rosacea-prone skin,” says Dr. Belkin. Dr. Solomon agrees, though she points out that it’s worth talking with your derm about how to work them into your skin care routine, since they do still have the potential to increase your sensitivity to the sun.

Find them in: Neostrata Bionic Face Cream ($60; dermstore.com)

The Ingredient: Growth Factors

Substances that promote healthy cells, growth factors can enhance wound healing and reverses the process associated with aging, says Dr. Belkin. “These are natural signaling molecules that are released during wound healing and stimulate cells to increase collagen synthesis,” he explains. They can be gathered from stem cells, which is why many of the growth factors used come from foreskin (yes, you read that right).

The Verdict: Try it! 

The caveat: If you have the cash. These products can be extremely pricey, notes Dr. Solomon, though she adds that she wouldn’t deter anyone from using the ingredient. “Growth factors have been in clinical studies to decrease the visual appearance of wrinkles, and I consider these to be one of a few medical-grade cosmeceuticals,” says Dr. Belkin, who is all for using them.

Find them in: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum ($281; dermstore.com) and Osmosis Beauty StemFactor Serum ($130; dermstore.com)

skin care trends
Her

The Ingredient: Bakuchiol

When it comes to the latest skin care trends, ret-alts top the list for good reason: Giving long-reigning retinol a run for its money, this plant-derived molecule was recently shown to have similar anti-aging effects as retinoids, but without any of the irksome, irritating side effects such as redness and dryness.

The Verdict: Try it! 

Dr. Belkin likens it to a gentle retinoid that may even have better effects against hyperpigmentation, and notes that it also has the added benefit of acting as an antioxidant. Dr. Solomon agrees: “It can be a great alternative if retinol has caused irritation and redness, and a more sustainable option for people who want to use the ingredient long term.

Find it in: Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum ($54; sephora.com)

The Ingredient: Milk-Based Products

“These are based on the fact that milk is a good source of alpha-hydroxy acids, poly-hydroxy acids fats, and proteins. While fats and proteins don’t penetrate the top layer of skin, they can help moisturize,” says Dr. Belkin. So, in theory you can be getting both some exfoliating benefits and some hydration benefits from these types of products.

The Verdict: Skip it

This is another skin care trend you can skip. According to Dr. Belkin, you’re better off looking for products that contain those specific ingredients (AHAs and PHAs) if want to get more bang for your buck. The caveat: If your skin is sensitive, Dr. Solomon is a fan of milk-based cleansers, since they will both very gently exfoliate, but also soothe the skin to ward off the potential for irritation. Try: Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser ($38; sephora.com).

You might also like: This Buzzy Skin Care Ingredient Is 4x More Hydrating Than Hyaluronic Acid

We often receive complimentary products for review at Glam. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a share of the revenue from our affiliate partners.
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