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4 Multi-Purpose Skin-Care Ingredients a Derm Says Will Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck

Well+Good logo Well+Good 7/27/2021 Zoe Weiner
a woman wearing a hat and smiling at the camera: multi-purpose skin-care ingredients © Photo: Getty Images/ Popartic multi-purpose skin-care ingredients

Derms agree: As far as your skin-care routine goes, you're better off taking a less-is-more approach. Instead of stacking your regimen with a dozen products that all do different things, your best bet is to find ingredients that target multiple concerns at once. To do so, look for multi-purpose ingredients that will give you a whole lot more bang for your buck.

"Multi-functional products in skin care really refer to those with ingredients that can accomplish more than one thing at a time," says Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "For example, a multi-functional ingredient may treat acne, address early signs of aging, and brighten your skin."

Because these ingredients allow you to do more with less, they'll save you both time and money in your routine. "Instead of having to purchase multiple products with lesser quality ingredients, you can potentially get away with a single, very effective, multi-tasking ingredient to accomplish all of your skin goals," says Dr. Zubritsky. Keep scrolling for the four she says are worth investing in.

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Niacinamide

Alpha H Vitamin B Serum with Niacinamide — $64.00

Niacinamide is an antioxidant known for its ability to fend off free radical damage, improve breakouts, fight dark spots, reduce fine lines, decrease redness, and improve skin elasticity, which is why Dr. Zubritsky calls it “the ultimate powerhouse ingredient.” “It’s a vitamin B3 that not only hydrates and brightens the skin but is restorative at the same time,” she says. “It also pairs well with almost any other skin-care ingredient out there, making it an excellent addition to any skin-care regimen.”

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Retinol

Shani Darden Retinol Reform — $88.00

“Retinoids are considered the king of skin-care ingredients,” says Dr. Zubrtisky. “They act by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen renewal, so it’s the ultimate anti-aging ingredient that targets and improves fine lines, wrinkles, and elasticity. It’s also a staple in any acne regimen due its superb ability to dissolve away dead skin cells and remove keratin clogged pores resulting in smoother, softer, and more radiant skin. Finally, by encouraging our skin to regenerate faster, it aids in fading discoloration and dark spots.”

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Azelaic acid

Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster — $36.00

According to Dr. Zubritsky, azelaic acid does it all. “It treats medical conditions like acne, rosacea, and perioral dermatitis since it’s especially good at calming inflammation, reducing redness, and fighting bacteria on the skin,” she says. “It brightens the skin and prevents and treats hyperpigmentation.” The ingredient is also a gentle exfoliator, so it works to slough off dead skin cells in order to even out the tone and texture of your complexion. It’s safe for any skin type, and unlike retinol, is fine to use during pregnancy.

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Kojic acid

a close up of a bottle
Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector — $22.00

Kojic acid has become increasingly popular in skin-care formulas of late thanks to its ability to target multiple concerns at once. “It not only brightens the skin and minimizes dark spots and fades hyperpigmentation, but it prevents discoloration from forming in the first place [because] it acts as an antioxidant, protecting our skin from environmental pollutants and counteracting dangerous UV rays,” says Dr. Zubritsky. “Finally, it’s also anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.” You’ll find it in a number of cosmeceutical serums, like iS Clinical Super Serum Advance Plus ($166), or in this dark-spot corrector from the drugstore.

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Curious about which products a derm uses in her own daily routine? Check out the video below. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUcLNzPWVEA

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