Ask the expert: How do I find out if new skincare ingredients are actually any good?

Cosmetic companies are not regulated by the same standards as pharmaceutical agencies, so they can make a brand new cosmetic ingredient and say it’s the greatest thing in the world, but they don’t have to release details on exactly what it is.

Often, when salon owners and therapists go to the manufacturers to find out more about the ingredient, they will just say how great it is rather than explaining how and why it works on the skin.

To cut through the hype and get the real story, it’s important to have trusted experts that you know in these fields – perhaps scientists or physicians who are recognised experts in their field, who can look at these things objectively, and who aren't paid by the manufacturers.

You can also look at peer-reviewed trials, which you can find at the website Pubmed. To get on to Pubmed, these studies to be vetted by experts, but sometimes that takes a while. The latest and greatest ingredients take between three and five years to make it on to Pubmed, so I think speaking to physicians who have expertise is the best way to go.  

Trying finding these people through LinkedIn, or via recent research they’ve published. Even if they’re blogging on an ingredient, that will give you some evidence. But remember, what comes out first is all the hype. 

Dr Steven Dayan is a plastic surgeon and professor in the US. He regularly publishes research for numerous journals, and sits on the editorial boards for Aesthetic Surgery Dermatology, Facial Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology.