The best ingredient combinations for a top-to-toe glow up

Power couples that’ll rival Tom and Zendaya

Digital Beauty Editor / October 13 2021

However you slice it, some things are just better as duos. Case in point? Fries and ice cream – we won’t be accepting any rebuttals at this time…

But while there’s no doubt there’s something straight up magical about said sweet and salty combo (again, no comments, please), that one’s more of a personal preference style scenario than a rock-solid one.

See, when you’re working with skin care instead of snacks, you can’t just be putting any old pairings together; the stakes are a bit higher in the land of topicals. Team two that don’t get along and you’ll be in big trouble, but opt for a combo that does work a treat and you’ll be made in the shadiest of shades.

So in the name of power couples that nobody can argue with, here are the best ingredient combos to rely on for radiant skin. Jack Johnson said it best; they’re always better when they’re together.

Retinol & Niacinamide

Retinol has a long list of enemies, so we wouldn’t blame you for letting it fly solo wherever possible. Better safe than sorry, right? However, you might soon be more sorry if you don’t start to reap the benefits of this complementary combo.

Yep, niacinamide is indeed on retinol’s ‘nice list’. While both ingredients are incredibly effective on their own, they share (and can work together toward) the common goal of getting your tone and texture as plump, bright and fine line-free as possible.

Niacinamide, however, also boasts the impressive ability to strengthen the skin’s barrier while simultaneously calming reactivity, making it the most beneficial sidekick retinol may ever find. You’ll still want to keep up that SPF application, though; calm does not mean untouchable. An evening option that combines the two (such as the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream) is our top pick.

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Oats & Oils

The need for quality combinations definitely doesn’t stop at your neck. Your body wants in on the action, too. Luckily, we’ve got a foolproof combo to get it glowing: Oats and oils, two ingredients that are devoted to restoring moisture and nourishing skin. Even more luckily, Aveeno have just launched a duo that teams naturally-derived oats and oils together to create lightweight products that’ll help to keep skin hydrated and healthy-looking all day long.

First on our oats and oils wishlist? Aveeno’s Daily Moisturising Oil Mist ($16.99 at Priceline), AKA a nourishing, hydrating (and impressively fast-absorbing) dry-touch mist that works to soften and smooth skin in as little as one week. How does it pull that off, you ask? With a skin-conditioning, roughness-targeting combo of oat, soybean and jojoba oils, of course. Its major goal is to get skin from rough to radiant, and its hypoallergenic status even means it’s suitable for sensitive skin. Did we mention it’s also formulated without nasties such as parabens and silicones? That’s a big bonus in our book.

AVEENO Daily Moisturising Oil Mist

The other star of our oat and oil lineup is Aveeno’s Daily Moisture Creamy Oil Lotion ($12.99 at Priceline) – its formula harnesses moisture-boosting benefits with both oats and sweet almond oil to create a non-greasy, nourishing and beautifully creamy lotion that’ll help to lock in moisture for the long haul.

In fact, it’s actually clinically proven to soften and smooth skin. It’s suitable for sensitive skin, too – oats and oils are quite the soothing combo. Kind of like rain on the roof and a Bridget Jones flick, you might say.

Aveeno Daily Moisture Creamy Oil Lotion

Vitamin C & Vitamin E

You know how they say opposites attract? Well, that’s definitely true for these two. Vitamin C is pretty much the cream of the luminising ingredient crop, able to reduce pigmentation, brighten tone and aid collagen production all on its own. But it can be a little unstable and hell, we’ll say it, downright unpredictable depending on the concentration and formula you’re working with.

Having vitamin E by its side helps vit-C to keep calm and focused (the effect of any great partner), leading to more noticeable results and less irritation. Sounds like a positive pairing to us. The Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster sure agrees; it harnesses the talents of both vitamins to leave skin radiant and redness-free.

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

Glycolic Acid & Hyaluronic Acid

Acid duos can sound super scary, but fret not; these two are practically the Yin and Yang of the acid crew. Glycolic’s goal? Breaking the bonds between the cells that are alive, well and thriving, and the ones that are dead, dull and harshing your glow game. Hyaluronic’s talents on the other hand lie in the hydrating arena – it’s all about replenishing moisture levels while also soothing the skin (a welcome bonus considering glycolic is extremely effective, and so has a tendency to be a touch harsh).

So what do you get when you pair a silky smooth, congestion-free complexion with through-the-roof plumpness and no post-exfoliation redness? Incredible skin, exactly. 10 points to you. 11 points if you try Sephora Collection’s Overnight Glow Mask, enriched with both acids to get you (fittingly) glowing overnight.

Sephora Collection Overnight Glow Mask

Main image credit: Getty Images

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