Step 3: Serum
Using the wrong products (or too many products) can actually be harmful for your skin and cause a bevy of woes like acne and rosacea flares, irritation, or allergic reactions. That's why Dr. Palep says a serum with the right active ingredients for your specific needs is a must to keep your skin healthy.
She says the most important ingredients to look for on the label is retinol, followed by alpha hydroxy acids (also known as AHAs). Adding a serum with these actives to your regimen early on will make a big difference in your skin health and help prevent fine lines or wrinkles from forming later on. (Note that these can be potentially irritating for people with sensitive skin, so make sure to do a patch test first.)
Other ingredients you might want to adopt are hydrating hyaluronic acid, a powerful ingredient naturally found in the skin that can reduce redness; brightening vitamin C and plumping peptides, that can help reduce spots and other hyperpigmentation; and ceramides, which are lipid molecules that strengthen the skin's barrier and help it retain moisture.