Active Ingredients in Skin Care Explained

Active Ingredients in Skincare YouGlowGal You Glow Gal Sarah Payne Dallas Hiatus Spa Beauty Blogger Skincare Esthetician

Active ingredients can be a deal breaker for me. Why spend your money on skin care if it’s not doing anything to better your complexion? Sure, all natural facial oils smell amazing and will soften your skin with moisture. But those wrinkles and sun spots aren’t going anywhere. That’s why you should care about active ingredients in your products: because they are going to change your skin for the better.

Generally, natural products and essential oils are great for hydration and moisture, but if you’re frustrated with signs of aging you’re going to need more. You may find a product to soothe acne, but to really fight the problem you’ll need ingredients to kill bacteria. That said, many active ingredients come from plant sources. And I’m not saying a natural alternative won’t work–your skin is unique to you. Personally, I use a mixture of natural and science-based skin care.

Natural skin care may claim its ingredients are a natural source of antioxidants, produces collagen, helps with cell turnover, etc. These ingredients just won’t compare in efficacy levels as any of the active ingredients mentioned here. Like I always say, educate yourself and buy what makes sense for you.

The FDA’s definition of an active ingredient:

An active ingredient is any component that provides pharmacological activity or other direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or animals.

Active ingredients have an effect on the skin, they are meant to carry out an action. They can be found in moisturizers, exfoliants, and treatments for sun-damaged skin, rosacea, acne, and other skin concerns.



What it is: Alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid are classes of acids that exfoliate your skin. Common AHA’s are glycolic acid (sugar cane), lactic acid (milk), malic acid (apples/pears), and mandelic (almonds). BHA exclusively refers to salicylic acid, derived from willow tree bark.

What it does: AHAs exfoliate the surface layer of skin only, while BHAs penetrate deeper aiding in the removing debris from clogged pores. Typically, BHAs are used primarily for oily and/or acne-prone skin and AHAs are used to brighten dull or dry skin. It’s common to find products with a blend of acids.



What it is: An active form of vitamin A

What it does: When retinol absorbs into your skin it communicates with it to make healthier, younger cells and aid in the product of new skin cells by stimulating cell turnover from the deepest layer up. They increase the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen, making skin more supple and smooth. Retinol can improve the firmness of skin, reverse signs of photo-aging, treat acne and reduce hyperpigmentation, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.



What it is: Active anti-aging ingredients to prevent and reverse signs of aging like Resveratrol, Vitamin C, E & A, and Green Tea.

What it does: Sunscreen protects your skin, antioxidants protect your cells from free-radical damage responsible for hidden, and visible, signs of aging. They also provide an extra layer of defense when used with an SPF. Your skin gets the most benefit from a blend of antioxidants, not just a singular formulation. Serums containing Vitamin C are among the most common.


Hyaluronic Acid

What it is: Naturally found in the human body, it’s a structural component of your skin

What it does: Hyaluronic acid is known for retaining water. In regards to aging, this is important because youthful skin appears plump and hydrated. As skin matures it has difficulty retaining moisture. By increasing water in your skin you’re strengthening the skin’s barrier, allowing it your skin to protect and recover from sun damage, acne, rosacea, and sensitivity.



What it is: Shorts chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein

What it does: Peptides send signals to your cells, telling them to act in a healthier way. Collagen is made up of protein. There are a number of peptides with varying functions, but they’re well known  for collagen synthesis. Add peptides into your regimen and you’ll see plump, dewy, healthy skin.


Do you look for active ingredients when shopping for skin care?

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