You may know that peptides are pretty popular in skin care right now, but do you know why? What about alpha hydroxy acids? To get the scoop on the science of beautiful skin, we spoke with Ben Fuchs, pharmacist, formulator and founder of Sanitas Skincare.

“If you get stranded on a desert island and can bring five things for your skin, these are the things you want to bring,” says Fuchs. In no particular order, here’s what Fuchs recommends.

Peptides: These act as signaling molecules, improving just about any chemical reaction you want to catalyze on your skin. Want to regrow tissue? Detoxify the skin? Stimulate collagen production? “Every process is enhanced by peptides,” says Fuchs. “They command the cells to do things.”

Where to find them: listed as dipeptides, tetrapeptides, peptapeptides, etc.

Products we love: Sanitas PeptiDerm Moisturizing Cream and Anti-Aging Serum

Biogenic Lipids: These fatty acids are made in the skin, supporting cell growth and skin moisturization. They also improve the penetration of other beneficial materials.

Where to find them: listed as squalane or ceramides

Product we love: Cleansing Lotion

Vitamin C: This one has protective properties, and turns on production of the skin’s own moisture factors. “The most powerful, effective forms are the stable, fatty forms,” says Fuchs.

Where to find it: Listed as ascorbyl palmitate or ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate

Product we love: Vitamin C Moisturizer

Vitamin A: Skin cells divide rapidly-Vitamin A helps them grow at the right pace. It’s also an important vitamin for stimulating collagen production.

Where to find it: listed as retinol or retinyl palmitate or retinoic acid (prescription strength)

Product we love: Astara Antioxidant Light Moisturizer

Alpha Hydroxy Acids: This family of acids smooth and soften skin, even skin tone and stimulate the growth of connective fibers and sugars. Ultimately they can improve overall moisturization, as well as the appearance of wrinkles.

Where to find them: listed as glycolic or lactic acid

Products we love: Recovery Gel, Night Mist and Neck Serum

“I use all these ingredients liberally,” says Fuchs of his Sanitas formulations. “If you use all of them correctly, you’ll notice results as soon as you put them on.” Your skin should be smoother, softer and brighter, he says, and over time you’ll see a more youthful appearance and more tightness. With ingredients like these, Fuchs says, “You’re changing the health of the tissue, the inherent biochemistry of the skin. That is no small feat.”

Talk to a Pharmaca esthetician today about how to integrate these ingredients into your skin care regimen.