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Blush, foundation, or lip balm. Just about every cosmetic now promises to leave your skin better than before. Which ones are worth slipping into your makeup kit?

Read the Label

Many beauty ingredients do have a good track record, but you need to get enough of something to make a difference. If a key ingredient is listed first, second, or third, your makeup likely contains a decent amount.

Here are a few beauty ingredients worth a try, from those with a long track record to promising newcomers.

Vitamin C

You down a glass of orange juice every morning for the vitamin C. In cosmetics, it may help nourish your skin's collagen, an under layer that keeps skin plump so that sagging and wrinkles are less noticeable.

Vitamin C may also lighten dark spots and protect against sun damage.

Antioxidants like vitamin C stop some of the harmful changes that sunlight can trigger deep in your skin. "It helps to block the damage from free radicals that are produced by UV light that passes through the makeup or SPF," says David H. McDaniel, MD, director of the McDaniel Institute of Anti-Aging Research in Virginia.

Vitamin C is perishable, so buy only enough cream for a month. Or look for new, stabilized formulas that promise to stay potent longer.

In general, light and air weaken vitamin C. "You may gain more benefits if it's in an air-tight, opaque packaging." says Jeanne San Diego, a freelance makeup artist in southern California.

Copper Peptides

Copper peptides stimulate your skin to make more collagen and elastin, leading to firmer, tighter skin. Some cosmetics with this ingredient have been touted as a "facelift in a bottle," but this is unrealistic. "There's nothing that's going to give you a lot of lifting," says dermatologist Patricia K. Farris, MD, of the Tulane University School of Medicine.

You may still see good, but less dramatic, results from makeup with copper peptides.