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Feel as if you need a chemistry degree to navigate the cosmetics aisles? You're not alone. According to Olay, 33 percent of women say that picking out skin-care products is more confusing than filing taxes. Chalk it up to an explosion in the number of products. Plus, the markers of aging are showing up as early as your twenties and thirties, especially if you often exercise outdoors, and that has created a whole new category of creams and lotions, says Tina Alster, MD, a dermatologist in Washington, D.C. But no worries. We've found the top ingredients to battle your most common skin problems and help you look years younger.
Ward Off Wrinkles
Your daily run might do wonders for your body, but it can tax your skin. Sunlight and toxins such as pollution and smoke unleash damaging free radicals. "These can increase inflammation in your skin and cause collagen to break down, paving the way for lines," says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a dermatologist in Boston. But just as you can halt muscle loss by lifting weights, you can help slow down collagen loss.
Your superstar ingredients: Antioxidants
A daily dose can neutralize free radicals before they do harm -- and allow cells to repair existing damage. There are a ton of options out there, but the pros suggest sticking with well-studied types, including vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and lycopene.
How to use them: "Think of antioxidants as being like the vitamin boosts you add to smoothies," Dr. Hirsch says. In the morning, try a sunscreen infused with these agents. At night, use a cream containing collagen-stimulating retinol or peptides to smooth lines.
FITNESS faves: Aveeno Positively Ageless Correcting Tinted Moisturizer ($20, drugstores) with vitamin C, and L'Oréal Paris Sublime Sun Liquid Silk Sunshield for Face SPF 50+ ($11, drugstores) with vitamin E.