New Beauty Ingredients and Trends, Explained

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If you've ever left the beauty aisle scratching your head at some of the latest cosmetic catchphrases (growth factors!?! sleep masks!?!), this story is for you. Here, top beauty experts break down the latest buzzwords in skin care and makeup. Consider this handy guide to some of the coolest new products and trends.

Water Gels

A heavyweight moisturizer doesn't have to feel, well, heavy on your skin. At least, that's the idea behind new water gel moisturizers. "The lightweight formula is going to release water moisture into the skin more rapidly than lotions, creams, or ointments," says David Bank, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in Mount Kisco, NY. Most formulas combine H2O with powerful humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, to bind moisture into the skin for long-lasting hydration.

Floral Essences

While they're often confused with toners, essences are not even close to those old-school astringents that were notorious for drying out your skin. These tonics (which originated in Korea) might look and feel like water, but they're actually packed with active ingredients (including hydrating hyaluronic acid) that soak into freshly cleansed skin. Yes, it's an extra step in your routine, but it's an especially good one if you have dry skin. How to use it: After you've washed your face, use your hands to gently press an essence into your skin. Top with your serum and/or moisturizer.

EE Cream

On the heels of BB and CC creams, comes the EE cream, which stands for Even Effect, according to Estée Lauder, who created the first of its kind. "The cream offers more coverage than BBs and CCs and contains ingredients to help correct uneven pigmentation over time, as well as SPF," explains Bank. Like the other alphabet creams, the EE let's you combine multiple steps in your a.m. skin routine.

Marula Oil

Marula oil is having a major moment -- and for good reason. “It’s a potent antioxidant,” says Vargas, which means it protects skin against cell-damaging free radicals. It’s especially great for protecting skin’s elasticity, the stuff that keeps it from getting saggy, she explains. Marula is also rich in fatty acids, which makes it highly moisturizing, yet it’s surprisingly fast absorbing.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

If anti-aging is your issue, consider adding sea buckthorn oil to your regimen. The oil is a powerful antioxidant that’s rich in hydrating omega fatty acids. “Sea buckthorn also contains amino acids, which are great for stimulating collagen and elastin production,” says Vargas. “It’s also an anti-inflammatory, and the first step in any anti-aging routine should be addressing inflammation, a root cause of wrinkles,” she explains.

Sheet Masks

These cotton or biocellulose fabric masks might look a little scary in a Friday the 13th sense, but really, they offer a fast pass to glowy, gorgeous skin. The one-time use masks are pre-moistened with a concentrated serum -- a mix of mega-moisturizers and anti-aging ingredients. “The cloth itself acts an occlusive material, which means it helps push the ingredients deeper into the skin,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington D.C. “They do a really great job at providing hydration,” she says. 

Cushion Compacts

Foundation has a brand-new delivery system: a squishy, cushiony sponge that releases a controlled amount of makeup when you press down on it. The result is a natural looking finish and buildable coverage, explains celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose. Want more? Just press harder. “Plus, it has the benefit of being easy to travel with -- carrying liquid foundation inside a compact.”

Bounce Balm

This new moisturizing category started in Korea and recently made the, um, jump over to the U.S. "These products are designed help hydrate and plump while feeling extra light and give the skin some 'bounce' by temporarily improving elasticity," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. "The creams and gels typically feel doughy or gelatinous, explaining their springy effect on the skin," he says. Korean brand Dr. Jart+ has brought the bounce to its BB cream, too. The squishy, textured balm, housed in a cushion compact, delivers tint, hydration, SPF 30, antioxidants such as pomegranate extract, and skin-brightening arbutin.  

Growth Factors

While it might sound a little sci-fi, dermatologists say the idea of growth factors in your skin care products is rooted in actual science. And skin doctors say it’s a growing field. “As a group, these proteins are responsible for making skin cells turnover more rapidly and normally, repair themselves, and stimulate collagen production,” says Bank. “But do all growth factors do all that, when applied topically to skin? That’s the $64,000 question.” His advice: “If you find a moderately priced growth factor containing product that also contains some gold-standard ingredients such as retinol or peptides, then go for it.”

Lip Oils

The beauty oil craze has poured into the lip care and color category. These oils melt into lip skin, and some leave behind a stain-like tint. “These go on nicely and quickly -- in one swipe, you get hydration and color without a tacky feeling,” says Bank. 

Sleep Masks

For the lazy girl in all of us: These masks do their magic while you’re snoozing. Unlike regular face masks, overnight formulas are rich and creamy and don’t get rinsed off. Instead, it forms a transfer-resistant film on your skin (so it doesn’t smear all over your pillowcase) that seals in hydration for eight hours (or however long you sleep). “It’s like a really, really heavy-duty moisturizer,” says Tanzi. 

Serum Foundations

Another marriage between skin care and makeup: This new category offers the coverage of a regular foundation along with the hydrating, slippery feel of a skin serum. They even include a dose of anti-aging ingredients. The all-in-one formula is easy to massage and blend all over your face, says Barose. An insider tip: "They do tend to go on sheer, so you might want to go one shade darker to give skin a natural-looking warmth."

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