Health and Beauty

Skin Care Ingredients Dictionary

The guide to active skin-care ingredients

With shiny packaging, bold graphics, and alluring promises of clearer, firmer, and brighter skin in just days, the skin-care aisle can prove overwhelming for even the most seasoned beauty junkie.

Experts say that bypassing the marketing speak and honing in on the ingredient list is a good way to narrow down the endless options that await. For those women without a cosmetic chemistry degree, however, that can seem like a daunting task—but not if you know what to look for.

First, you have to have a skin-care checklist: “If you aren’t sure what to use, I tell my patients to think of ‘buckets’ and make sure they have something to fill each bucket,” says Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., of Mariwalla Dermatology in Long Island, New York. “The buckets are to cleanse, which happens twice a day, protect and prevent for the morning, and reverse for at night.”

Keeping Dr. Mariwalla’s