What Are Active Ingredients In Cosmetics?
Active Skincare Ingredients 101 It can seem as though the beauty industry is shouting about a new, often unpronounceable and supposedly miracle ingredient every other week. From Vitamin C to Ceramides, Retinol and Acids, I have done my research on what these active ingredients actually do for your skin.
What are they? Active ingredients are the ingredients contained within skincare products that actually work to address the skin concern the product is meant to target. They are the ingredients that have supposedly been scientifically proven to actually have the desired effect, meaning the product will do what it says it will.
That’s not to say that the other ingredients (the inactives) are useless; they’re often key to helping the active ingredient perform its role. If not then it may be that they are generally moisturizing or cleansing. Below is a list of some of the active ingredients you may have heard of and what they can do for your skin.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) – AHAs are relatively gentle chemical exfoliants that exfoliate the skin by gently dissolving the bonds between surface skin cells- not as scary as it sounds as it allows dead skin cells to be removed and new skin cells to be generated.
- AHAs are often found in anti-aging products as our natural skin cell cycle tends to slow as we age, but they are also useful in addressing acne, reducing pigmentation, brightening skin tone, and giving your skin a smoother and plumper texture.
Common AHAs include lactic acid (which is derived from lactose) and glycolic acid (which comes from sugar cane). These two are the most common as they’re the least likely to irritate your skin. Since AHAs don’t penetrate deep below the skin surface (due to the fact that they’re water soluble), they’re ideal for all skin types, even sensitive skin.
- Beta hydroxy acids – BHAs (often known as salicylic acid) – are another form of chemical exfoliants that are perfect for treating blemish-prone skin and blackheads.
- Just like AHAs, BHAs also help in the removal of dead skin cells but, while AHAs are water soluble, BHAs are oil soluble.
- This means that BHAs can penetrate below the skin’s surface to clear your pores of excess sebum and dirt to reduce oiliness, while reducing inflammation and fighting bacteria on the skin’s surface.
Salicylic acid is best for those with congested pores or oily skin. Ceramides – Ceramides are lipids (fat molecules) that provide that smooth plumpness we’re always aiming for. They are found in the very uppermost layers of our skin and act as a barrier, protecting our skin from exposure to environmental stressors such as pollution, dry air, and debris.
Since ceramide production becomes depleted over time, the skin barrier is weakened, so its important to use skincare products containing ceramides to restore your skin’s hydration and moisture, leaving your skin looking supple. Since ceramides are a natural component of the skin barrier, they’re actually suitable for use on all skin types.
No more fine lines- hooray! Hyaluronic acid (HA)- The main reason why everyone is talking about hyaluronic acid is because of its incredible ability to hydrate the skin. It absorbs and maintains moisture within our skin, keeping it soft and (hopefully) radiant.
- Whilst our bodies naturally produce this moisture-binding ingredient, our skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production diminishes as we age, which is why HA is also often found in anti-aging skincare products, for those looking to retain that youthful glow.
- Niacinamide- Niacinamide is adored largely because of its ability to fight inflammation.
It can be used to treat acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation as it is particularly good at reducing redness and irritation. Aside from its anti-inflammatory properties, this vitamin B3 derivative also improves our skin’s elasticity, strengthens the outer layers of our skin, and helps to boost levels of fatty acids in our skin, leading to plumper looking skin.
- The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% High Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula is a serum I use to purify my skin whenever I see signs of blemishes coming or discoloration.
- It is a miracle worker and no surprise that it is a cult beauty favorite.
- Peptides – Peptides link together to form proteins which are the building blocks of our skin.
Since they’re small enough to penetrate the skin, peptides signal to the body that it needs to produce more collagen (and we’ve all heard of that). I recommend getting a serum or moisturizer with peptides in and applying it twice daily, under makeup or SPF.
Retinol- Retinol is a potent derivative of vitamin A and is converted to retinoic acid (the active form of vitamin A that your skin actually needs) after its absorbed into your skin. Topical retinol boosts cell turnover which promotes skin renewal, leaving you with brighter and healthier skin, whilst helping correct skin pigmentation.
Retinol is loved for its acne-fighting ability, its anti-ageing properties, and its skin-brightening power. Make sure you start with a product that contains the correct formulation for your skin. If your topical retinol product is too strong for your skin or you use it too often, it can be irritating, especially for sensitive skin and particularly in the sun, so be sure to either use retinol only at night, or layer it with SPF during the day.
Vitamin C- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that, when applied topically, stimulates collagen and elastin production, leading to younger-looking and firmer-feeling skin. It both protects the skin from environmental aggressors and prevents damage. It is used for skin-brightening, hyperpigmentation-correcting, and skin tone-evening as it helps to reduce scars or spots without changing your normal skin pigmentation.
What a hardworking vitamin! Vitamin E- Vitamin E naturally occurs in eight chemical forms. The most commonly listed in skincare products are tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol. It is a potent antioxidant, so can help protect the skin from environmental pollution, and has anti-inflammatory properties which means it is extremely soothing and calming, and can prevent the signs of premature aging.
- Vitamin E also makes for a great moisturizer since it’s super hydrating, and it has great wound healing properties as it helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier function.
- By Sarah London’s award-winning Organic Facial Oil, containing Vitamin E, is incredibly nourishing and hydrating.
- I apply it to my face every morning and night.
Best of all, it is vegan, natural, plant-based, and therefore totally suitable for all skin types. I know from experience that it can be difficult to find skincare products that are suitable for use on pregnant women, but this product is one of them. What are the most effective active ingredients for your skin? Let me know your favorite ingredients and the products containing them in the comments! And don’t forget to take a look at some of my essential skincare products containing active ingredients below! What I’m Wearing: (Image 1) by Sézane, Vintage locket (similar ), by Anthropologie xx, : Active Skincare Ingredients 101
What is the meaning of active ingredient in skincare?
An active ingredient in skin care products is one that manufacturers include specifically to improve a certain skin condition, such as acne, aging, uneven skin tone, clogged pores, and more.
What is the opposite of active ingredient?
Inactive Ingredient Database Help and Information files –
- Inactive Ingredient Field Descriptions
- Inactive Ingredient Database Download
Inactive Ingredient An inactive ingredient is any component of a drug product other than the active ingredient. Only inactive ingredients in the final dosage forms of drug products are included in this database. Route and Dosage Form A route of administration is a way of administering a drug to a site in a patient.
A comprehensive list of specific routes of administration can be found on the FDA Structured Product Labeling (SPL) web page under terminology. A dosage form is a form in which a drug is produced and dispensed. A comprehensive list of specific dosage forms can be found on the Structured Product Labeling (SPL) web page under terminology.
CAS Number The acronym “CAS” stands for “Chemical Abstracts Service,” a division of the American Chemical Society that provides comprehensive electronic chemical information services. CAS assigns unique CAS Registry Numbers to chemical substances. UNII The acronym “UNII” stands for “Unique Ingredient Identifier.” The UNII is a part of the joint USP/FDA Substance Registration System (SRS), which has been designed to support health information technology initiatives by providing unique identifiers for substances in drugs, biologics, foods, and devices based on molecular structure and/or descriptive information.
The SRS is used to generate permanent, unique, unambiguous identifiers for substances in regulated products, such as ingredients in drug products. More information about the UNII and the SRS is available on the Data Council SRS page, All chemically-related questions about the UNII or the SRS that are not answered on the FDA website should be directed [email protected],
Potency per Unit Dose The “potency amount” field specifies the maximum amount of inactive ingredient for each route/dosage form containing that ingredient. When there is no calculable potency measurement for the inactive ingredient, the “potency amount” field will display ‘NA.’ Maximum Daily Exposure Maximum daily exposure (MDE) is the total amount of the excipient that would be taken or used in a day based on the maximum daily dose (MDD) of the drug products in which it is used.
Why are active ingredients important?
If you have ever tried to go through the ingredient list of a skincare product, it’s quite possible that you may have felt confused and overwhelmed. Most of these lists are difficult to comprehend for an average consumer so we understand the exasperation. In simple terms, an active is an ingredient in a product that is designed to address the skin concern it’s meant to target. An active ingredient is what makes a skincare product effective because it is an ingredient backed by scientific data, known to bring about a specific change in the skin.
You will mostly find actives in products that have an intended purpose and there is a wide variety of active ingredients for specific skin concerns like sun damage, acne, fine lines and hyperpigmentation, This does not mean that the other listed ingredients don’t have a role to play. You might have spotted two categories of ingredients on a skincare label: active and inactive.
Inactive ingredients play a key part in delivering the active ingredient to the skin hence, most inactives are water or oil based.
How many active ingredients should I use in skincare?
Be very cautious with ingredient-mixing – I did touch on this briefly, but I personally recommend only using one active ingredient serum or toner in your skincare routine. You can use a different one in the morning to the evening, but I personally avoid mixing and layering different actives myself within the same routine.
Is ceramide an active ingredient?
Common Active Ingredients: – AHA’s: Alpha-hydroxy acids include ingredients such as glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric acids. Serums and creams that contain AHA’s are used to treat things like fine lines and wrinkles, smooth over pores, and gently exfoliate the face chemically, rather than physically.
While AHA’s are popular products for treating these symptoms, they can also sensitize the skin and make it easily prone to sunburns, so it’s important to use AHA products in the evening and pair them with a good SPF regimen during the day. L(+)-Lactic Acid by Jungbunzlauer is a natural lactic acid made by the pure fermentation process of carbohydrates.
The product is colorless to yellowish, odorless, and syrupy in consistency with an acidic taste. It is available in various concentrations depending on your needs. BHA’s: Beta-hydroxy acid, also known as salicylic acid, is an acne treatment ingredient that can help remove dead skin cells and treat acne by penetrating oily pores to clean them.
For this reason, it can be drying and dermatologists will often suggest to pair it with a moisturizer to replace natural moisture with something that won’t worsen acne. Presperse Biogenic SA-200 is a salicylic acid offered at a highly concentrated amount of 40%. The ingredient is able to be watered down to 10% salicylic acid to be used in various products of different strengths.
Hydroquinone: Similar to Kojic Acid, this active ingredient is found in products that promise to brighten the skin and treat signs of hyperpigmentation and age spots. Many of these products are only available as a prescription, but it isn’t uncommon to find products that are available over the counter that contain either of these active ingredients.
- Eastman Hydroquinone is a high quality hydroquinone for skin brightening and lightening products.
- The ingredient is certified to meet or exceed expectations set by the United States Pharmacopoeia.
- Ceramides: This active ingredient works to improve barrier function on skin cells by moisturizing and hydrating.
Think of it as the glue that binds the cells together, keeping them healthy and working as a cohesive whole. Nippon Fine Chemical Phytopresome Cera-V is a high quality ceramide from Nippon Fine Chemicals, a chemical and ingredient supplier out of Japan.
This is a plant-derived ingredient containing five types of ceramides. Hyaluronic Acid: Hydrating ingredients work differently than moisturizers because they don’t supply nourishment so much as they pave the way for the skin to absorb water. Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that allows water molecules to bind to the skin and be absorbed within its barriers.
Green Angel makes a great Hyaluronic Acid out of pure and organic materials to assure the highest quality of ingredient is made. Copper Peptides: Our bodies slow production of this naturally occurring amino acid as we age. While AHA’s may help reduce signs of wrinkles, copper peptides help prevent them from appearing while improving elasticity and suppleness.
- Biostren Chemical offers a high quality copper peptide among its list of available peptides.
- One thing we love about this company is that they can create custom ingredients based on the needs of each client.
- Niacinamide: Often referred to as another acne-fighting active ingredient, niacinamide helps reduce inflammation.
A powerful antioxidant and vitamin B3 derivative, niacinamide can help remove environmental stressors—like pollution—that contribute to acne. Aako is one of our favorite suppliers of niacinamide because of its high quality and use as an ingredient in after-sun care.
Do only active ingredients matter?
Do inactive ingredients matter? – Absolutely! If the actives are the hero ingredients, the inactives are the trusty sidekicks. “Both active and inactive ingredients are important in cosmetics,” says Thomas. Inactive ingredients are often essential to deliver the active ingredient to your skin. RELATED READ: What Are Hydrocolloid Acne Patches and How Do They Work? With all the hype about active skincare on beauty sites and blogs, it’s easy to think that you should only look for products with active ingredients. But all actives, all the time can be pretty harsh on your skin.
Is paracetamol an active ingredient?
Defining paracetamol, its most common uses and precautions to consider Written by: Bronwen Watson Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen or APAP (which is the active ingredient), is a commonly used medication for the treatment of mild to moderate pain and fever,