Do you really need a PhD in chemistry to buy a new face serum or eye cream? You might think so when you see the words that are thrown around in the skincare world! On the back of a bottle you might see the term ‘actives’….ummm…what does it all mean? If you are anything like us and want transparency, with no jargon, then let’s break down what an active ingredient is, when you might want to pick a specific one and why we should care about the quality of them in our beauty products.
What is an active ingredient?
An ‘active’ ingredient is a particular ingredient in a skincare product that will actively support a specific skin concern you are trying to remedy, whether that is improving skin texture, clearing clogged pores or boosting hydration.
We love the name that Credo beauty gives to collections of active ingredients, simply referring to them as ‘power ingredients’, because that is EXACTLY what they are. These active ingredients can be little miracle workers when you find the right quality ingredients.
You will find that not all skincare products have active ingredients (maybe the product isn’t designed to treat a specific concern and is e.g. more suited for general moisturizing). You will also find that some products have more effective active ingredients than others. According to Perry Romanowski, cosmetic chemist, scientist and writer behind the blog and podcast The Beauty Brains, there are several active ingredients to keep your eyes on.
Clean active ingredients to remedy your skin concerns:
… a word for the faint hearted – you are going to see a LOT of ‘acids’ in this list – yes, just as apple cider vinegar is top of the charts as a healing salad dressing, many natural acids make fantastic active ingredients for healthy skin!
- hyaluronic acid – can retain 1000 times its weight in water, this active ingredient allows your skin to plump up and naturally hydrate
- alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) – these acids act as exfoliants, getting rid of dead skin cells and are great for acne prone skin or clogged pores. Examples of AHAs and BHAs include: glycolic acid, lactic acid (AHAs) and salicylic acid (BHA and far better for clearing acne than chemical laden benzoyl peroxide!)
- AHAs and BHAs have fantastic benefits, but if you are someone who spends a lot of time by the pool, then don’t forget that mineral sunscreen too. Interactions with the sun could cause some skin irritation (see this post for more on mineral sunscreens)
FINE LINES AND FIRMING
- retinol – this is the active form of Vitamin A, which is great for fine lines. There are natural plant sources and synthetic sources – so make sure you go with the natural derivative from a trusted brand. Similar to AHAs and BHAs, its important to take care if spending time outside in the sun and using products containing this active ingredient, as it can increase skin sensitivity
- vitamin C – this amazing antioxidant vitamin supports your skin to feel firmer and appear brighter
- vitamin E (or tocopherol) – this anti inflammatory vitamin prevents everyday environmental skin damage – think of all those UV rays and pollutants in the Middle East atmosphere!
A note on quality:
Chemically laden active ingredients (which are found in varying amounts) in products can have a profound impact on our health. Learning what ingredients are inside products is a must when selecting non-toxic beauty products. You don’t need to have a dictionary with you every time you shop, but ensuring your product has some high quality active ingredients rather than chemical active ingredients is a great start.
Start getting to know your clean brands so you can trust a product will give you not only clean active ingredients, but will also never include other nasties inside. Here at nuqi skin we will only ever recommend products that we have researched, tried, tested and loved!
Tell us what active ingredients have worked for you?!
Lucy and Sabrina xx