Maintaining healthy skin has become quite essential these days especially with the fluctuating temperatures and pollution. Nowadays, everyone loves taking care of their skin and love using all sorts of skincare products; cleansers, toners, serums, etc.
Most of the new skincare products are enriched with skincare ingredients such as Niacinamide, Retinol, Vitamin C which are known as 'actives' in the skincare world. But seriously, what are they?
What are Skincare Actives?
If you have spent some quality time reading beauty blogs or follow skincare gurus vigorously, then there's a 100% chance that you might have come across the term 'actives'. To be precise, actives are nothing more than the ingredients used to address your primary skin concerns. For example, if you are trying on a face wash that offers skin brightness, then vitamin C present in the face wash will be the active ingredient. This is because if you add an active ingredient, it functions effectively compared to the other ingredients present in the face wash, and you can be assured about the quality of the product.
What are Inactive Skincare Ingredients?
If you are as curious as us, you might be wondering if there's something called 'Actives', then there must be an 'Inactive' somewhere in the picture! And you ain't wrong. However, unlike the name suggests Inactive Ingredients aren't actually inactive but they simply offer support to the active ingredient used in a product, or simply act as cosmetic ingredients.
Benefits of Skincare Actives
When applied topically, there are many noteworthy benefits of actives in various skincare products. These include -
Targeting specific skin concerns
Removal of dead skin cells, followed by cell renewal
Reduced fine lines
Improved skin tone
Enhanced collagen and elastin production
Formation of protective barrier against sun exposure
Reduced skin damage, age spots as well as dark spots
In addition, actives with antioxidant properties also play an important role in reducing inflammation and fighting acne-causing bacteria.
Most Prominent Actives in Skincare Products
L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Hydroquinone & Kojic Acid
Beta-Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid)
Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHAs)
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Tranexamic Acid, etc.
When Should You Apply Active Ingredients on the Skin?
When you use topical creams and serums, the number of active ingredients present in them is usually high. Some of the naturally available active ingredients include chemical exfoliants, azelaic acid, Beta-Hydroxy Acids, Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide.
When you have any chronic skin issue like hyperpigmentation and severe acne, then using a product with active ingredients can offer exceptional results. Any product with active ingredients ensures proper activity since its functions are more concentrated than the others.
How to Apply a Skincare Product with Active Ingredients?
There are a variety of active ingredients available in the market. Some of them have salicylic acid, retinoic acid in them and so on. These actives can also use used as a hero ingredient in form of face serums and you can apply them directly on your skin after cleansing & toning!
Make sure you follow it up with a face moisturizer to seal the seal and to ensure that your active ingredients work well and go deep into the skin to work their magic.
If you are planning to apply active ingredients on your face such as retinoids directly (as a single ingredient), the best option is to follow a particular set of rules;
- Before applying any such active ingredient, the first thing you have to do is conduct a patch test. Some of the ingredients like niacinamide and salicylic acid can result in skin irritation, and may not be suitable for all skin types.
- Cleanse your face thoroughly before applying any type of cream or actives on your face. Having a damp face will allow the ingredients to absorb quickly.
- Wear sunscreen every day to help fight sun damage, as well as for the anti-aging benefits it offers.
- A great rule of thumb is to start introducing actives to your regime rather slowly. Since they are potent acids, it is essential to be careful. Hence, gradually increase the dosage as per the requirement. However, once you start using them regularly, make sure to apply them evenly on the face, such that the product can penetrate deeper.
Some of the products such as hyaluronic acid may not prove to be as powerful as others for your skin concern and hence may require a larger dosage. Depending upon the patch test results, you can decide on your dosage. However, it is always best to start from a pea-sized dosage and regularly build it up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skincare Actives
How long should I wait after applying an active-based product?
Well, it totally depends upon the type of product you are using, the waiting time may vary. Any activity with a PH value less than 5.5 requires more waiting time. And similarly, for any actives with a pH value greater than 5.5, you can wash them away in 15 minutes. Again, if you experience any dryness or irritation after applying the actives, choosing a proper moisturizing agent to improve the hydration is the best option.
How Can I Combine Various Skincare Actives?
Sometimes if a person has sensitive skin, then consult a dermatologist before experimenting with active ingredients. But if you have a good skin tolerance, you can alternate two different activities like a morning product and a night product. For example, you can go for the BHA on the first day and the AHA on the second day, and so on. Always remember not to combine two or more acids within the same session, resulting in severe irritation if you have sensitive skin. Similarly, certain combinations will render one or more ingredients non-effective. For example, when you combine benzoyl peroxide with tretinoin, the letter will be rendered ineffective due to the properties of benzoyl peroxide. Unless the doctor prescribes a combination, always try to avoid them.
What to do in case of reactions?
Not all products are built for all skin types.
If you have any sudden reaction to the usage of any active ingredients, stop using them immediately. Wash the affected skin area with a gentle cleanser and reduce the irritation using aloe vera gel and other gels like hyaluronic acid, honey, and ceramides.
If you are interested in improving your face’s skincare routine, the best option is to choose a combination that might work. If you aren't very familiar with skincare and beauty products in general, then the best option is to stick to your doctor's prescription.