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Not All Chemicals Are Bad: Skin Edition

Who said chemicals are bad for the skin? Some of the most effective skincare products feature safe chemicals that you may be unknowingly using already. Find out which ones to keep on your radar.

By Agnes Wong
August 19, 2022

When we think of healthy skin, using chemicals to achieve our skincare goals may be unheard of. The word chemical” itself holds a more negative connotation than not. Little do people know that some of these chemicals are skin-friendly and naturally found in our bodies. Featured below are four chemicals that deserve more praise than they’re given to keep skin in optimal condition.  

See also:10 Beauty Essentials to Your Summer Glow

Photo: The Ordinary

Despite the word acid” in its name, hyaluronic acid is one of the safest skincare ingredients for all skin types. It’s naturally found in our body’s connective tissue and joints as a lubricant. For skin, it acts as a moisturiser with the ability to retain one thousand times its weight in water. Hyaluronic acid deteriorates with age due to factors, like diet, so feeding skin with this miracle worker does wonders—boosted hydration levels, improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and having an overall plump complexion. Hyaluronic acid comes from biofermentation of bacteria and rooster combs (luckily, the latter is rare now). The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a trusted source to incorporate into your skincare routine, pairing well with other moisturisers to prevent water loss. 


Photo: Dr. Barbara Sturm

Step aside Vitamin C! For those who want a brightened and more even-toned complexion, make niacinamide your best friend. This antioxidant-rich ingredient, a Vitamin B3 derivative, can diminish hyperpigmentation and dark spots and revitalise dull-looking skin. Among other benefits, niacinamide shrinks and tightens enlarged pores and reinforces the skin barrier by building up defence mechanisms against free radical damage and moisture loss. It’s like a one-hit-wonder! Niacinamide is found in foods, like green vegetables and cereals, and is compatible with other skin-friendly ingredients, hyaluronic acid being one of them. To get a potent dose of niacinamide, opt for serums and creams. Dr. Barbara Sturm’s The Better B Niacinamide Serum features 5% of niacinamide and fares well on sensitive skin. 


Photo: Youth to the People


Equivalent to protein for skin, peptides are gaining traction in the beauty world suited to tackle skin ageing. Peptides are naturally found in our skin, smoothing skin and keeping it resilient. They stimulate collagen production and boost skin elasticity. They’re becoming a skincare powerhouse now that model and beauty guru Hailey Bieber’s highly anticipated beauty brand Rhode dropped peptide-infused products left and right. Though we’re dying to try Rhode, it isn’t available in Asia yet! While waiting patiently, other worthy items to try include Youth to the People’s Triple Peptide + Cactus Oasis Serum that blends in hyaluronic acid for added skin benefits.  


Photo: REN

For easily inflamed and acne-prone skin that needs some gentle reinforcement that things will be alright, look to azelaic acid. Naturally produced on skin by yeast, azelaic acid encourages cell turnover, minimises scarring and rids bacteria from pores that could lead to breakouts. It’s quite the underrated skincare ingredient approved by dermatologists. Azelaic acid also exfoliates dead skin cells and boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thus, treating skin conditions like rosacea. REN Clean Skincare’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Toner features azelaic acid to use after cleansing skin that keeps skin clear, smooth and glowing!