Skin Care Must Haves | Top list of ingredients and products for top shelf

Skin Care Must Haves | Top list of ingredients and products for top shelf

When it comes to Skin care, there are holy grails with justifiable reasons.

With Skin care, some products are just so amazing and has to be used all the time.

I am not referring to any of the above.

Here are the Skin care must haves for all skin types. Click images for source for all products I’ve tried and work like magic!

Without further ado, these are;

1. Niacinamide– NAG : Niacinamide is highly underrated. Niacinamide is a power house that greatly slows down the signs of aging. Niacin-amide, also known as Vitamin B3 visibly improves uneven skin tone, drastically slows down the sign of aging on the skin, treats fine lines, dull and weakened skin surfaces.

On the market, there are many Skin care brands that promise to slow down the signs of aging. The major ingredient is Niacinamide. It does a fantastic job for the prevention and treatment of Hyperpigmentation. It is highly recommended for all ages. Long term use is the best practice.

It should be used in the morning and not with Vitamin C serum, topically. This is because they cancel each other out. It renders both of them ineffective. Niacinamide at 5% is good for a start, then proceed to 10%. When bought as a cosmetic product mixed with other ingredients, ensure it iss at the top of the list of ingredients.

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2. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a very effective anti aging ingredient. It can be taken orally or used topically. Vitamin C is very unstable and better when mixed with beta carotene. Vitamin C should be at the top of your shelf of beauty products.

It should not be used with Retinol and Niacinamide because they render each other ineffective therefore, if preferred to use on the morning, ditch Niacinamides

20% Vitamin C serum is recommended. It is great for brightening the skin. If the skin is sensitive, consider oral administration. As a rich antioxidant, it rejuvenated the skin by improving its collagen and slows down aging.

The collagen is essential for a firm and youthful skin. I use Vitamin C serum-on alternate days with Vitamin A Retinol. This is because Vitamins A & C makes the skin photosensitive and should be used with a strong sunscreen if it’s applied in the day time. Avoid the sun at all costs. Of all Vitamin C’s, the L’absorbic is the best form. 

3. Sunscreen: “Sunscreen, also known as sunblock and suntan lotion, is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and thus helps protect against sunburn.” (Source). If you care about the skin at all, this must be a staple in your beauty regimen and must be used everyday.



The sun damages the skin when the skin is exposed to its UVA/ UVB rays. The exposure is a catalyst for skin cancer. It is recommended to use plenty of sunscreen and reapplying as much times as possible especially when out in the sun.

Application should be done after moisturising. It is not enough to use a lotion/ cream containing “SPF”. This does not do much in terms of sun-blocking. An actual “Broad spectrum” sunscreen, with an SPF of 30 at least, is the best practice. 

4. Retinol/ Vitamin A: Retinol are derivatives of Vitamin A. Retinoids are a power house for fighting Acne. This ingredient is mighty in reducing fine lines and wrinkles on the face. The recommended time of use is at night time, after a Toner is applied or after an Essence (Korean Skin care regimen).

Retinol should be used at a lower strength of 0.05 to determine how the skin reacts to it. Then switch up. It combats Hyperpigmentation, fades age spots as a result of photo-aging. Hormonal changes on the outward area of the skin can be treated using Retinol.

Apart from tightening the skin and treating blemishes, prescription strength Retinol helps rejuvenate the skin, clears discolouration and the appearance of fine line.

Retinoids should not be used with Vitamin C even if layered. It cancels each other out and render both ineffective. Weaker strength Retinol, known as Tretinoin is also effective in reversing sun damages and signs of aging.

5. Essences– Essences have become an essential ingredient in Skin care regimen. The consistency is lighter than a serum and more water-like which makes it easy to penetrate the skin’s surface. Essences are great for preparing the skin to receive treatments. It is usually used after a Toner and before an Ampoule (Ampoule, if interested in the Korean skincare regimen).

Most beauty products are more effective when applied on clean, damp skin for easy penetration of skin barriers. Therefore, it is recommended to be applied before treatment (serums) like Vitamins C, A or Niacinamide.

Additionally, this can also be easy to blend with foundation or moisturisers. Preference is to be used alone instead of blending it with lotions and moisturisers.

6. Hydroxy Acids– These are exfoliants which deal greatly on evening skin tone and reversing skin texture. There are two categories of Hydroxy acids- Alpha and Beta. As you might tell, Alphas are more superior than the Betas however, it is important to know the skin condition before administering these acids on the skin.

For treating Acne for example, no acid works as good as Salicylic acids. Skin lightening and evening skin tone is best achieved with the use of Lactic acid. Salicylic acids are Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) while Lactic acids are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA).

AHA are groups of natural acids found in food and fruits such as sugarcane and citrus fruits. Vitamin C (serum) is a very mild exfoliant. Glycolic acid, the strongest of the AHAs are found in sugarcane, Lactic acid, which comes next to Glycolic acid in strength, is found in milk as the name might make it more obvious. Malic acid is found in apples and Tartaric in grapes.

The preference of using Malic acid for facial exfoliation is due to its mild nature. AHAs are used topically for exfoliation. Ultimately, they remove dead skin cells, improve the appearance of acne scars, forming and smoothing the skin especially in dry skin such as Xerosis.

Xerosis is an inherited skin condition, shown by visible dry scaly skin. It is also used as a topical remedy for pregnant women who go through hormonal changes in skin. It is great at improving the texture of the skin in Melasma. The concentration of AHA is to be watched.

Must haves

10% or less is recommended especially for sensitive skin. AHA at higher strengths can cause redness and inflammation of skin. It can also make the skin sensitive to sun. Although it promotes firmness, AHA should be used once a week to prevent the skin from thinning. Always use with a sun screen. Alphas are water soluble.

BHA is an organic acid extracted or bio-synthesised from the bark of a willow tree. As a derivative of Aspirin, the BHA is known popularly as Salicylic acid. BHA, is mostly used for anti Inflammation, anti dandruff, skin and hair treatment.

BHA works on the skin’s surface and goes beyond, penetrating the skin layers. It is oil soluble and most recommended in the treatment of acne because it works on the surface and the inside-epidermis and dermis.

Therefore, it is excellent at working on clogged pores. BHA are good in treating large pores and blemishes too.

Momo1211- Pixabay - Skin care


These contain natural skin calming ingredients, making it a great choice for sensitive skin- prone to acne or rosacea. There’s more. BHA is safe in treating warts and corns in lower strengths to avoid post inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). It has a remarkable reputation of cell turnover in 6 months especially in targeting dead-skin removal.

The preference of a Beta to an Alpha is usually due to its mild nature. It’s less irritating on the skin however, it causes stinging, itching and scarring therefore, it is advised to be used with caution and at the appropriate PH level for your type of skin.

The best concentration is at 1-2% at a PH level of 3-4. As with the AHA, a strong, effective sunscreen must be used as it makes the skin sensitive to the sun.

7. Peels– as with manual exfoliation which is achieved through the uses of brushes-in dry brush type of exfoliation and the use of exfoliating sponges and towels, chemical exfoliation is usually preferred. This is because manual exfoliation is said to be too abrasive on the skin.

This is where the peel comes in- where you can apply a liquid chemical substance for minutes and wash off, than the rigorous type of brushing and scrubbing. “Chemical peel is a technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin. Facial skin is mostly treated, and scarring can be improved.

Chemical peels are intended to remove the outermost layers of the skin”- Source. Choosing the right type of exfoliation is a personal choice.



Chemical peels are excellent for reducing wrinkles and fine lines, treatments of acne, scars and freckles. It generally improves skin’s texture. Chemical peels comes with “down time” such as skin flaking and extreme drying therefore, after a peel, use a very good moisturiser and sunscreen. I usually wear a hat after chemical peels until I’m fully recovered.

The preferred way is to consult a dermatologist or medical professional. The professional who does the “peel” must clear the area with Isopropyl alcohol or Witch hazel, after that, the manual application of the chemical solution- AHAs or BHAs, phenol/carbolic acid or TCA/ trichloroacetic acid.

Most of these chemical solutions would required sometime to allow penetration into the skin at a controlled time, where sometimes, there is a burning sensation.

Some peels require to be rinsed off with a neutraliser or baking soda. Others can be left as a “leave in”.
While some experience scarring, it’s usually a simple but careful procedure and THEN, a new skin resurfaces with a few applications. At these times, exfoliation should not be done few days before a peel and a couple of days after.

In Skin care regimen, consistency is key. What are your Must-Haves?


Your Aurora

SHE is a Lawyer and Procurement advisor. With an avid interest in skincare and beauty, lifestyle, health and general well-being, I am the author and content creator of YourAurora.