WTF are 'active ingredients' anyway?

Setting the record straight...

In your hunt for the perfect skincare product, you have doubtlessly stumbled across jargon that has soared overhead. One such term used with abandon is ‘active’ or ‘active ingredient’ to be more precise, and without a more discerning eye you may be left to think any number of things about such a product. Active would denote a positive outcome. Active is the adjective of forward momentum, so positive skincare changes are just around the corner, right?! Well, yes, but also maybe no. The risk of using the term ‘active ingredient’ is that it can be a little misleading to the uninitiated i.e., “active means good, so I’ll just get that”. So, what the hell is an active ingredient anyway?

When garnishing a skincare products description with the term ‘active’, it is simply to signify to us, the consumer, that there is an ingredient included used to treat the problem the skincare product is seeking to solve. So, for example, if you had a cleanser that promised anti-ageing benefits, the active ingredient included would be one that targets fine lines and wrinkles, which in most cases will be a form of vitamin A or ‘retinol’.

Moreover, actives aren’t just a throwaway title either. An active ingredient has been called as such after rigorous testing in a lab environment to determine the direct effects that product will have on our skin. We know, unequivocally, that these actives will do exactly what they are intended to do. This ain’t no joke.

With those basics covered, it’s equally important to know what actives you should be looking out for.

ANTI-AGEING - VITAMIN A, C AND E

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HYDRATION - HYALURONIC ACID, GLYCERINE, SQUALANE

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UVA/UVB PROTECTION - ZINC

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ACNE TREATMENT - SALICYLIC ACID, AHA'S

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PIGMENTATION - VITAMIN C, BHA'S

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