A beauty editor on the cardinal rules of skincare: from your routine to ingredients.

Thanks to our brand partner, Nivea

The skincare world is a real fickle ol' beast, isn't it? It's so dang overwhelming. Especially when it comes to to choosing the right ingredients for your skin. 

Like, what's the rule here? When do you use hyaluronic acid? What about retinol? Does everyone need to use AHAs? WHAT ABOUT THE AHAs?

Between the mountains of products now available, the #shelfie-worthy packaging, and the fact that a fancy new ingredient pops up every 48 hours (hello! Please sit) - working out what ingredients your skin *actually* needs is a total TASK. And figuring out which products you're supposed to use when is even harder.

So, where does one start? 

To break down which ingredients do what (and when you should use them), we've pulled together a cute lesson to help you get started.

How do you know which ingredients your skin needs?

As we mentioned before (how awkward... are you skimming?), there are A LOT of different skincare ingredients out there, and everyone's skin has different needs.

Whether it be dryness, pigmentation, acne, fine lines, wrinkles and the gang - we all have our own chief skincare concerns and individual preferences as to what we want to target.

However! There are some core ingredients that can benefit most skin types - such as your hyaluronic acids (which help keep your skin stay plump, hydrated and happy) and a dedicated broad-spectrum sunscreen, which you probably already wear every single day, right?

Ideally, you'll have these ingredients, as well a couple of hard-hitting anti-ageing ingredients (such as retinol or bioxilift) in your routine to help plump and firm your skin.

What you *don't* want to do is to trash your skin with a thousand different hard-hitting ingredients and end up giving yourself a cute little chemical-peel every night and waking up with red, irritated skin and long-term sensitivity. Not fun.

And on top of that, your morning skincare routine and your nighttime skincare routine should look pretty different, because your skin has different needs during the day than when you're asleep.

Still with us?

Gimme specifics! Which ingredients should I use and when?

Alrighty. We've pulled together a simple guide to show you which skincare ingredients are best for your skin needs, along with what to use in the morning vs nighttime (cause y'know, skincare is confusing).


Let's start with the most obvious (and important) ingredient, shall we? 

We know it probably seems like a total no-brainer, but your SPF products should be part of your everyday routine in order to protect your skin against the effects of sun damage during the day. 


Even when it's cloudy. Or rainy. Or you slept weird on your neck and you can't really be bothered applying it. Right? RIGHT, YOU GUYS?

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that works to protect your skin from the nasty effects of the sun, so it's another goodie to incorporate into your daily routine.

Why? Cause this means it'll be able to fight off free radicals and reduce damage throughout the day. Simple!

However, it's worth noting that all vitamin C products aren't created equal, so it's always useful to read the label - especially if you're a dame with sensitive skin.


Heard of bioxilift before? No? 

It's an all-natural, anise plant extract and is a powerful source of peptides with two main anti-ageing benefits - it actively stimulates the production of collagen in skin cells, and improves the cells’ ability to hold the collagen network together. 

The result? Smoother, more rejuvenated skin. So, if you're looking to tackle some pesky signs of ageing, try incorporating this powerhouse ingredient into your day and night routine.

Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)

Niacinamide pops up in a lot of different products - and for good reason. Not only does it have awesome brightening benefits (lots of lovely glow), but turns out it's also a flexy little number that's cool with being used in both day and night products.

What's more, it works well with everything - so you can layer it with other powerful antioxidants without irritating your skin. 

How good.

Coenzyme Q10

This sounds 10/10 scientific and complicated, but don't worry - we got you. 

Coenzyme Q10 is basically a compound that is naturally produced in the body. It's a bit of a legend and acts as an antioxidant to ward off free radicals (these guys are responsible for skin ageing and cell damage). But as we get older, the production of Q10 starts to decrease. 

Incorporating it into your skincare routine through specific products such as NIVEA Q10 Power Day Cream SPF30 can help minimise the signs of ageing in your skin and give it that little bit of extra care both day and night.

Retinoids/Vitamin A

When it comes to heavy lifters like vitamin A, this is where things get a little trickier. 

The general consensus is that over-the-counter vitamin A products should only be worn at night, when your skin isn't exposed to UV rays. Why? Because it not only messes with the efficacy of the product, but it can also increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun (that's why retinol and sunscreen go hand in hand).


However, some prescription retinoids (those that you have to go to your doctor for if you're suffering from acne) are okay to be used during the day (unlike over-the-counter vitamin A products, these kinda formulas are photostable), along with stringent sun protection (obviously).


AHAs (stands for alpha-hydroxy acids, if you wanna get fancy) work to remove layers of dead skin cells and help kick-start collagen production. Some of the most common AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Sound familiar? 

While these are usually best used at night to avoid sunburn (FYI: they make your skin more sensitive to the sun, similar to vitamin A), if you choose to apply them in the morning, just make sure you pack on SPF and reapply throughout the day. 


Also known as beta hydroxy acids, BHAs work by unclogging pores - so you'll usually find them in acne-fighting products. The most common form is salicylic acid.

BHAs are usually formulated to be worn day or night (always check the product, though). Just make sure you're still taking extra care with your sun protection, yeah?


Like collagen and all that other good stuff that keeps our skin plump and healthy-looking, creatine (which is naturally found on our skin) is another compound that declines as we age. 

This isn't the best news, because creatine does a lot of important stuff and helps to repair skin cells and gives our skin the power to regenerate. So, as it depletes, we start to lose that glorious skin elasticity and gain fine lines and wrinkles. 

Sad face.

Long story short, it's a great ingredient to incorporate into both your day and night skincare routine if you're looking to reap those anti-ageing benefits. Applying this ingredient to your skin not only stimulates collagen production, but it also reduces the signs of ageing. 

So, get into it.

Natural oils

Used both day and night, natural oils like argan oil, jojoba oil, almond oil and avocado oil are great for mature skin, and contain a whole heap of do-good ingredients, such as antioxidants and fatty acids. 

They can target a range of different skin issues and are particularly beneficial in regenerating the skin and maintaining skin elasticity.


Hyaluronic acid

As we age, our skin produces less and less hyaluronic acid (sad face), which results in pesky wrinkles, sagging, dryness and the rest of the gang. So, it makes sense to incorporate it into both your morning and night routine in order to ensure your skin remains hydrated, plump and healthy 24/7. 

If you're looking for some options, we recommend bringing a hardworking moisturising duo into your team, like NIVEA Cellular Hyaluron Filler Day Cream SPF15 ($27.99) and NIVEA Cellular Hyaluron Filler Night Cream ($27.99).

Wanna know what people think of 'em? 

Well, let's start with NIVEA Cellular Hyaluron Filler Day Cream SPF15

This super lightweight formula is perfect for daily wear (read: won't feel heavy, thick or go weird under your makeup). Not only does it promise to protect your skin from cell damage, but it also encourages your cute little cells to produce their own hyaluronic acid and collagen, for firm, plump and dewy skin.

We had a sneaky peek at the reviews from our You Beauty review panel, and one person said: "Firstly, I liked the texture of this product. It's very lush and creamy, without being greasy at all. I didn't need much to spread onto my cleansed skin, and it really did feel instantly plumping."

Another commented: "I found it really easy to apply. It seemed to plump up my skin and my face definitely felt plumper and hydrated as soon as I applied it." 

Sounds pretty freakin' good, but what do the day and night cream actually do? And how are they different?

Here she is (just so you're not flailing around Chemist Warehouse looking for her):

Image: Nivea


On the nocturnal side of things, NIVEA Cellular Hyaluron Filler Night Cream is a nourishing nighttime formula that promises to put the hard yards in when it comes to targeting specific age-related issues. 

It claims to boost your skin's collagen production and improve volume when its self-regenerating capacity peaks at night. 

And according to our You Beauty review panel, it certainly lives up to the hype. 

One reviewer said, "This cream feels and smells luxe. I love that when I wake up in the morning, my skin still feels moist but not oily as it can sometimes with rich overnight creams. I'm so glad I took part in this trial, I think I've found my new night cream."

Another said, "I woke in the morning to see that it had completely absorbed and my skin felt plump, juicy and fresh. I started to use over the top of my night serum and this worked a treat."

Image: Nivea

*Starts car*.

Feature image: Getty

What does you skincare routine look like? Share with us in the comment section below.