These days, it can feel like you need a science degree to understand what’s going into your beauty products. We take a closer look at the need-to-know super-ingredients that are revolutionising skincare, along with the must-try products for experiencing their high-impact results.

Vitamin C

Whilst we’ve all heard about the benefits of vitamin C in our diets, it turns out it’s pretty great for our skin, too. This powerful antioxidant fights off free radicals, protecting skin from the impact of pollution and UV damage, as well as plumping and firming the skin by boosting its collagen production. It also inhibits melanin production, meaning it works wonders for fading dark spots, as well as brightening and evening out skin tone.

Like all antioxidants, vitamin C breaks down and loses its efficacy if routinely exposed to light and air, so any products you buy should ideally use air-tight opaque packaging.

Tatler recommends: SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic is a cult-favourite, recommended by dermatologists and beauty editors the world over. This superhero serum features 15% pure vitamin C, combined with vitamin E and ferulic acid to make it even more potent.

AHAs and BHAs

Forget scratchy scrubs and harmful microbeads; the new breed of exfoliators use super-effective chemicals like AHAs and BHAs (alpha and beta hydroxy acids) to remove dead skin cells and reveal brighter, softer, smoother skin underneath – reducing redness caused by acne and preventing future breakouts too.

Frequently-seen AHAs include glycolic acid and lactic acid, whilst the most commonly-used BHA is salicylic acid; the former are better for dry complexions as they naturally enhance skin’s moisture, whilst the latter work better for oily complexions as they can penetrate clogged pores and reduce blackheads.

Tatler recommends: Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum features 12% AHAs and BHAs blended with raspberry extract to refine and resurface skin, all whilst being free from alcohol, silicone, fragrances and dyes – just expect a slight tingling sensation when applied.

See also: Sephora Hong Kong: 15 Beauty Brands Making Their HK Debut 


A derivative of vitamin A, retinol has been hailed by many as the ultimate skin saviour. Its powerhouse benefits include smoothing out wrinkles and preventing new lines from forming, boosting cellular turnover and collagen production, dramatically firming and brightening skin, and tackling a myriad of skin concerns from acne to dryness.

Retinol often aggravates skin when first used, so start with products that feature a low concentration of the ingredient to see how your skin reacts – especially if pairing it with other potentially harsh products like acid exfoliators. It can also make skin extra-sensitive to sunlight, so don’t skimp on the sunscreen.

Tatler recommends: Elizabeth Arden’s ingenious Retinol Ceramide Capsules protect the ingredient from degrading due to sunlight or air exposure and ensure you get the perfect amount of serum every application, whilst ceramides deliver an extra dose of moisturising and skin-repair benefits.


A potent form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is a great all-rounder that works well with pretty much every skin type, including sensitive complexions. This multi-tasking super-ingredient brightens and evens out skin tone, shrinks pores, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, improves hydration, and combats the effects of environmental damage by improving the skin’s barrier and helping repair past damage.

It’s also been proven to reduce acne, fade hyperpigmentation and reduce excess sebum production in oily complexions – impressive stuff.

Tatler recommends: Living up to the brand’s promise of “clinical formulas with integrity”, The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum is vegan, cruelty-free, silicone-free, alcohol-free and oil-free, with the added zinc providing an extra anti-inflammatory boost.

See also: 7 Beauty Supplements That Will Make You Glow From The Inside Out

Hyaluronic Acid

Think of hyaluronic acid as the skincare equivalent of your essential eight glasses of water a day – this incredible molecule can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water, meaning it boasts an unrivalled ability to hydrate skin.

Whilst hyaluronic acid is found naturally in skin, supplies deplete as we age; applying it topically radically boosts skin’s moisture content and replenishes your complexion to give a firmer, plumper, more supple appearance. With a naturally soothing effect, it’s also gentle enough for all skin types.

Tatler recommends: If your skin’s feeling drier than the Sahara, Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum is just the ticket – it features a whopping 75% hyaluronic acid to nourish your complexion back to its best.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in the hemp plant and no, it won’t get you high; it’s non-psychoactive, non-addictive and completely legal in Hong Kong – just make sure products don’t contain THC, another compound found in hemp that is psychoactive (and illegal in Hong Kong).

Used in skincare, CBD has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, calming sensitive skin, reducing redness and diminishing breakouts – especially for acne-prone skin. It also has antioxidant properties, helping repair damage caused by free radicals to promote healthier, younger-looking skin.

Tatler recommends: Khus + Khus’ therapeutic Sen Face Serum combines the rejuvenatory properties of CBD with a super-powered selection of natural botanical extracts to increase cellular turnover and restore balance to your complexion.

See also: Top Hong Kong Dermatologist Shares Her Best Skincare Tips

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