One of the best skin tips that I’ve received is to ‘always check the ingredient list’. When it comes to skincare, we are sometimes easily sold by pretty packaging (I’m guilty of this) or marketing language that promises ‘bright, clear, youthful, flawless skin’. One way to cut through all that to find the most effective products for your skin is to look at the ingredient list so that you can give your skin what it really needs to solve any issues or problems.

In my previous post, I shared the vitamins and supplements I take that really helped improve my skin and tackle my acne issues from the inside out. While I was researching on all that, I also looked up on skincare ingredients to try and solve the skin issues that I had, namely clogged pores, blemishes and oily skin. I tested out many different skincare products and ingredients and narrowed them down to these 3 that work the best for my skin. These 3 ingredients are not only great for tackling acne issues, they also offer anti-aging and skin brightening benefits.


Also known as B3, niacinamide is a very effective skin-restoring and strengthening ingredient that offers multiple benefits. Here’s a list of what it does:

  • Improves your skin’s barrier function to protect it from pollutants, irritants and  prevent moisture loss
  • Reduces the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion
  • Calms breakouts and improves redness and blotchiness in skin
  • Balances your natural sebum levels for a shine-free complexion
  • Improves the appearance of enlarged pores and uneven skin texture
  • Minimises fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces oxidative stress to improve skin dullness

My favourite product that contains Niacinamide is the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum by The Ordinary. It also contains zinc which is an anti-inflammatory, commonly used to treat burns and scars and fight against free radicals. Zinc also encourages collagen production to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.


The 2 common ingredients derived from Vitamin A are adapalene and tretinoin (Retinol). These ingredients are known as the ‘gold standard’ in topical treatment for fighting acne and clogged pores. In recent years, they have also gained popularity as an anti-aging ingredient that reduces fine lines, pigmentation and improves overall skin texture.

Here’s how adapalene and tretinoin works: a cell-communicating ingredient, it activates cellular metabolism to encourage faster cell turnover. In the case of acne, the new cells replace the cells of existing pimples and the rapid turnover prevents new pimples from forming. In the same way, the quick cell turnover also reduces wrinkles, pigments and rough areas of the skin.

The 2 popular products in the market that contain high levels of this ingredient is Differin Gel and Retin-A. These 2 products require a doctor’s prescription (I got mine from Mizu Aesthetic Clinic) and are used for the treatment for acne. If you do not suffer from acne, you can get vitamin A from over the counter products like the Retinol 0.5 from Skinceuticals.


I tried both Differin Gel and Retin-A and my skin responded better to Differin Gel. Do note that your acne might look like it is worsening about 1-2 weeks into usage (it happened to me). This happens because the faster cell turnover rate is pushing out the blemishes that are under the skin. The situation usually improves after about 3-4 weeks, so do hang in there!


I figured that I needed to exfoliate my skin to get rid of my pore congestion issue. So, I turned to AHAs and BHAs for this. The commonly known acids for AHAs are glycolic, lactic and fruit acids. Common BHAs are beta hydroxy and salicylic acid. I tried all these acids and for some reason, they did not work for me. In fact, some of them made my skin more sensitive. I searched harder and chanced upon another lesser known AHA called mandelic acid. This worked like a charm for me. In just a few days, my skin started clearing up and looking smoother and brighter (what a bonus!).

To give you some background, mandelic acid is derived from bitter almonds and is more gentle than other AHAs like glycolic. It works by accelerating cell turnover, helping to remove dead skin on the surface that can lead to dull complexions and fine lines. It also strengthens collagen to keep your skin firm and looking youthful. Plus, it contains antibacterial properties and regulates sebum production, both helpful in treating acne.


I currently use and love the mandelic acid range by Dr Wu. My must-have is the Intensive Renewal Serum with Mandelic Acid.

Are there any skincare ingredients that you are currently using and love? Please share them with me in the comments below!


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