Those of you who have followed my writing already know that I rarely recommend any particular product. However, when I do I follow it with the disclaimer that what works for me might not work for you (or YMMV in common online language – Your Mileage May Vary). On the same breath I encourage people to be super aware of any ingredients that might cause them break outs or allergic reactions.

“Youth is the gift of nature but age is a work of art.” Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

With the above disclaimer in place, I will now list the ingredients that I think are a must have if you are trying to delay the ageing process. This is not an exhaustive list – there are other ingredients that I consider a must have, but the ones listed below are the building blocks. Please note: genes and to an extent, a healthy lifestyle play an important role in how well and slowly we age – look at your parents if you want to know where you are headed!


This should be part of your routine – 365 ¼ days of the year!

Prolonged and continuous exposure to the sun without adequate protection leads to photo ageing (premature ageing). Symptoms include appearance of fine lines around the eyes, mouth and forehead. Frown lines appear deeper even when one is not frowning and the skin starts to look leathery and saggy.


One of the major causes of skin dryness is the Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) which is defined as loss of water, through evaporation, from the stratum corneum layer of the skin. Dry, dehydrated skin tends to presents symptoms of aging worse than oily skin.

Moisturisers are formulated to mitigate TEWL.

More often than not, we need more than one moisturiser – a light water based one that is absorbed fast and a heavier occlusive one that prevents TEWL.

Sunscreen is bae! Dark skin is still at risk of skin damage from excessive sun exposure.


Retin A / Tretinoin has been clinically proven to reduce, reverse and prevent wrinkles whilst causing the skin to produce more collagen which in turn keeps the skin looking firmer for longer. It is also great for fighting acne and hyper-pigmentation.

Unfortunately, it also increases photo sensitivity and dryness – to a point of skin peeling for some users, so when using make sure you ALWAYS wear sunscreen and have a good moisturiser.

Start at the lowest possible dosage and use once a week until your skin builds tolerance. There are milder versions, other than Tretinoin, of Retin A so I would suggest starting with these and building up.


This is a powerful anti-oxidant that not only boosts the production of collagen but is also known to sort out issues like hyper-pigmentation, dull skin, acne scarring , fine lines and wrinkles

Although it is such a great all-rounder, Vitamin C increases photosensitivity and the use of sunscreen is a must if you want to reap the benefits of this potent ingredient.

Another thing to be aware of is that Vitamin C is one of the most unstable ingredients in the skin care world meaning that it loses potency pretty much every time you open the bottle. To mitigate this, make sure your product comes in a dark bottle and even better it is dispensed either using pump action or a dropper.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows the rate of free-radical damage in the skin.


The common reaction when my friends see an acid bottle on my dresser is a wince followed by “ Are you crazy?” but acids are one of the products my skin has embraced whole heartedly.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) and Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA) are all naturally occurring and derived from fruits, milk, nuts, sugars and in the case of BHAs, willow tree bark.

The most common AHA is glycolic acid whilst the most common BHA is salicylic acid, both of which are found in different strengths.

Glycolic acid stimulates cell turnover thus encouraging the production of collagen leading to firmer looking skin. This acid can be quite irritating for most people and one should only start at the lowest available strength, preferably once a week, until the skin gets used to it.

If you suffer from acne then you must have used a product containing salicylic acid. This is one of the best weapons against acne prone skin as it penetrates deep enough to unclog pores – if you have very visible pores then this is a must have.

Depending on the formulation and strength, acids can cause peeling and skin dryness for most people and a very good moisturiser is needed if you are to reap their benefits. Again, sunscreen is a must.

This is by no means a complete list of all the ingredients you should look out for if you are not favoured with Benjamin Button genes. Anti-ageing as a science is growing in leaps and bounds and there is new stuff coming out pretty much daily; these are just the building blocks if you do not want to delve too much into that world.

If you would like to see the particular products I use as well as how my skin is behaving then check out @cikuwamae on IG and FB.

For more on skincare read: Unlocking the power of Natural skincare by Purity Boyani

Article first published on Ciku Wamae’ Website.

Featured Image taken at PACC Spa.


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