Sangre de drago (translation: dragon's blood) sounds like something you'd find in a cocktail, but it's actually an Amazonian sap known for its protective powers, and it's the muscle behind this firming gel. The sap forms a thin barrier on your skin that blocks out pollution and—this is our fave part—tightens saggy skin when you mix it with hyaluronic acid. Smart!
Smooth Rodial Dragon's Blood Sculpting Gel, $95, on your face and neck.
Erase sun damage.
OK, you know that the cons of tanning (wrinkles, cancer) outweigh the skin benefits of vitamin D. But now there's really no reason to tan; 7-dehydrocholesterol, the precursor to vitamin D that protects skin against hyperpigmentation and other sun-related damage, is available in a cream. Use it to spot-treat wrinkles around your eyes and forehead, or all over to keep skin glowy.
A vial of Masqueology by Beauty Architects Advanced 7D Solution, $68 for four, packs a week's supply.
Retinol may be a star for gorgeous skin, but it can cause irritation. If you're prone to peeling, try gentle-but-it-works retinyl palmitate instead. The vitamin A derivative helps skin create new, healthy layers, so you stave off wrinkles and breakouts.
Try Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body, $45 for eight wipes; it's spiked with retinyl palmitate to exfoliate as you wipe, so tanner applies more evenly.
Astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment found in red algae, is a new u?berantioxidant that wards off skin damage from free radicals and stress from the sun and pollution, explains Patricia Farris, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at Tulane University. Layer on a face cream with astaxanthin to soften the first signs of wrinkles.
Layer Super Crinkle Eraser, $48, under sunscreen.
Look prettier faster.
Active ingredients can do their job only if they have a way to get from the cream in your jar to the cells right below your skin. Enter liposomes, "delivery systems" of teeny-tiny spheres that encapsulate active ingredients and make their way into your skin. The newest liposomes (sometimes called nanospheres) are much smaller than old-school versions, so your body can absorb them faster and easier.
The liposomes in Murad Firm and Tone Serum, $77, send cellulite blasters below skin.
More love for algae: Alguronic acid, a compound that protects algae in the ocean, also has skin bennies.
A dose of sea-sourced goodness (get it from Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Moisturizer, $90) helps regenerate tired cells so your complexion holds moisture better, making it firmer, smoother and soft as a baby's tush.
Think of it as Botox without the needles. GABA, which naturally exists in your body as a neurotransmitter, can block signals between nerves in your skin and the muscles below, says Tina S. Alster, M.D., a dermatologist in Washington, D.C. But don't worry: You can't overrelax muscles with the cream. A GABA-laced eye cream may slow crow's-feet caused by squinting in the sun. (Diva shades help, too.)
Dab Freeze 24-7 Eyecing Fatigue-Fighting Eye Cream, $115, on lines daily.
Copper peptides—a cocktail of copper and proteins—can help you heal faster. How? They increase collagen production to repair wounds. Derms say adding them to cream can also tighten skin.
Pamper and protect before bed with Neova Night Therapy, $85, which also has humectants to hydrate as it firms.
There's no ctrl+z for wrinkles or oversize pores, but silicon dioxide is about as close as it gets, Dr. Alster says. Its micro molecules stick to the surface of your skin and refract light to blur pores and wrinkles until you wash it off. Use it daily as a primer under makeup. It's like having a concealer for creases and craters.
A squeeze of silicon dioxide–enhanced Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner, $45, also cuts oil.
Lignin peroxidase is a tree-fungus enzyme. And, yes, we want you to put it on your face. Stay with us: It can actually break down excess melanin, the source of uneven pigment, helping restore your skin's glow. "It's great for reducing the appearance of melasma and uneven tone," Dr. Alster says.
Try Elure Advanced Skin Lightening Lotion, $150, to minimize brown splotches as you hydrate.
(spotlight image: health.howstuffworks.com)