4 Insanely Powerful OTC Skincare Ingredients You Need to Try Right Now

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As a beauty junkie, I’m always on the lookout for new skincare trends that deliver amazing results. These four OTC skincare ingredients have been around for a while, and they are pivotal to my beauty routine. If you haven’t tried them, run — don’t walk — to the store (or, let’s be honest, run to your computer and order them online) and try them for yourself.

Hyaluronic Acid

You know the fillers that people have injected into their face? Well, hyaluronic acid is one of the components in some of the most popular fillers on the market. However, if needles don’t spark joy, or if you don’t have a few thousand dollars to drop on injectables, the topical version is powerful as well.

By increasing the moisture content in your skin, hyaluronic acid has demonstrated that it can reduce wrinkles, plump up your skin to help with sagging, and speed up wound healing. As Derek Zoolander said, “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty,” and hyaluronic acid proves that.

Whether you prefer a serum, moisturizer, or even a vitamin, there is no shortage of HA products on the market. If you’re looking for something splurge-worthy, the Hyaluronic Serum by Dr. Laura Devgan has hundreds of five-star reviews. The Ordinary has a more wallet-friendly option with their HA 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum.


Most of us who have spent decades searching for the best skincare products for problem skin are familiar with prescription retinoid products like Retin-A. However, in recent years, retinols have become increasingly available in OTC formulations.

Retinols are an OTC version of retinoids. In a nutshell, they work to neutralize free radicals in the middle layer of your skin, leaving you with smaller pores, reduced wrinkles, and more even skin texture. Whether in the form of a Vitamin A serum or topical cream, retinols have gained OTC traction in the last few years.

Algenist’s Green Microalgae Retinol + Regenerating Serum gets rave reviews, with users stating that it works even for those sensitive to retinol. On the slightly less expensive side, The INKEY List has a highly rated Retinol Fine Lines and Wrinkles Serum.

4 Insanely Powerful OTC Skincare Ingredients You Need to Try Right Now PIN

Vitamin C

Touted for its antioxidant properties and ability to give skin a glow up, Vitamin C is another OTC skincare ingredient that’s not to be missed. I’ve been using a Vitamin C serum for years, and it definitely helps to keep my hormone-induced melasma at bay.

The antioxidants in Vitamin C products neutralizes those pesky free radicals that speed up signs of aging. It’s important to keep these serums in a cool, dark place, as sunlight breaks down the formulations and can render them useless.

Moon Juice makes a powder formulation that can be mixed into other serums and slathered on your skin. If you prefer a more traditional delivery method, try incorporating Paula’s Choice C5 Super Boost Vitamin C Moisturizer into your routine.


AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid) are sometimes called by their other names: glycolic and lactic acid (AHA) and salicylic acid (BHA). These acids work to exfoliate skin, sloughing away dead layers and exposing newer, brighter skin underneath.

These acids can be used separately, but are combined in some products to soften fine lines and improve skin’s texture. In some formulations, these ingredients can be used as a peel once a month or more often. I’ve had great success with AHA/BHA peels in aesthetician offices, but some are available OTC as well.

It’s important to note that if you use any acids on your skin, use sunscreen. I mean, use sunscreen anyway, but especially if you’re putting acid on your skin. The Shani Darden Triple Acid Signature Peel combines both AHA and BHA and consistently gets fantastic reviews. If a serum is more your speed, Sephora’s Targeted Pores Serum is a good option.

Regardless of your aims, these four OTC ingredients will help you achieve your skincare goals.

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