When it comes to skincare, ingredients are everything! Understanding what active ingredients are and how they go to work on your skin is key to making smart product choices.
Let’s dive in and take a look at the basics of active ingredients and some of the best picks for various skin concerns.
What Exactly ARE Active Ingredients?
Put simply, an ‘active’ is the ingredient included in a skincare formulation to target a specific skincare concern.
It changes the skin in a particular way - it’s the ingredient responsible for doing the work that the skincare product says it will do for you.
For example, a cleanser promising to brighten skin may use the active components of vitamin C - which has potent brightening properties - to banish dull skin.
Sometimes a product won’t contain any active ingredients but that doesn’t mean they don’t work.
A cleanser without active ingredients doesn’t make a claim to target a skin concern in particular - ie, acne or dullness. It’s simply a functional product that cleanses the skin.
5 The Best Active Ingredients For Your Skin
Let’s take a look at 5 of the best active ingredients to treat common skin concerns.
1. Retinols (Vitamin A) for anti-aging (skin firming & smoothing)
One of the best skincare ingredients in an anti-ageing routine, retinols (also known as retinoids) are antioxidants derived from Vitamin A.
They do an incredible job of stimulating skin cell turnover to leave skin looking smoother and minimising fine lines.
Use retinol as part of your regular routine to minimise the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. With time, you’ll see firmer skin with a smoother, more even skin tone.
Some people may experience temporary redness, flakiness, peeling when first using retinol - everyone’s skin reacts a little differently.
It’s usually paired with hydrating ingredients - like hyaluronic acid - in skincare formulations to combat any dryness or irritation.
2. Peptides to boost collagen
These are other active ingredients you’ll want to include in your anti-ageing routine.
Peptides - found in the epidermis and dermis layers - are the building blocks of new collagen and elastin fibres in the skin.
Essentially, they play a crucial role in the firmness, texture and overall appearance of your complexion. Without them, skin loses its elasticity and wrinkles and fine lines begin to creep in.
Your skin’s natural collagen production slows with age - adding skincare products with peptides will help keep skin looking firmer for longer.
When choosing a skincare product with peptides, opt for one with a blend of supportive, skin-replenishing ingredients like antioxidants for the best results.
We recommend - Anti-Ageing Repair Gel Booster Mask. An all-in-one anti ageing gel mask with 24k gold, peptides, and antioxidants to soften fine lines, restore and protect the skin’s natural barrier.
3. Vitamin C to brighten
One of the most popular, all-star active ingredients in is Vitamin C thanks to the host of benefits it delivers to skin.
It’s known for its potent brightening abilities - smoothing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and lightening the skin overall.
An antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and collagen stimulator, Vitamin C also wards off free-radical damage and can help stimulate collagen production for firmer looking skin.
There are a lot of vitamin C derivatives but the pure form of Vitamin C is known as L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA).
The percentage of LAA in a product can range anywhere from 10% - 20%. Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is another common form of Vitamin C you’ll find in topical formulations.
Vitamin C is best when teamed with other skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, and ferulic acid to boost results.
We recommend - Pomegranate Brightening Serum. A hardworking serum which contains Kakadu Plum extract - nature’s most potent source of Vitamin C which is superb for skin brightening.
4. Hyaluronic acid for hydration
Hyaluronic acid has an amazing ability to attract water - it helps plump skin by restoring the skin’s moisture barrier.
It can actually hold 1000x times its weight in water making it incredibly effective at boosting the skin’s moisture levels.
The best active ingredient for hydration, hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in your body. Found in your joints and skin, it helps maintain strength and elasticity.
All skin types are susceptible to dehydration - oily, dry, sensitive and combination - so every routine will benefit from the hydrating powers of this active ingredient.
We recommend - Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum. Perfect for all skin types and ages, this serum hydrates from the inside out, restores, repairs and reveals healthy skin.
5. Alpha hydroxy acids to clear congested skin
Regular exfoliation should be part of every skincare regimen. Sloughing away dead skin cells, exfoliation instantly improves skin tone and texture for brighter, fresher looking skin.
This is where alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) step in.
Unlike physical exfoliators - think face scrubs with granules - AHAs are active ingredients that are classed as a chemical exfoliant.
They dissolve the glue that holds the dead skin cells together and this allows easy removal of dry dead cells without needing to physically scrub the skin.
AHAs leave skin soft and smooth and stimulate cell turnover.
Glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids are common AHAs. Lactic acid is the most gentle AHA and ideal for sensitive skin types.
We recommend - Detoxifying Exfoliating Charcoal Serum. Containing a blend of lactic and glycolic acid, this powerful duo works together to slough away dead skin on the surface, reducing the appearance of blackheads and drawing out impurities.
Makeup that contains active ingredients
Skincare isn’t the only thing we put on our skin, right? Choosing ‘actives’ in your makeup ingredients is a great way to double down on the beauty ingredients your skin can benefit from.
Our Loose Mineral Foundation is formulated with allantoin which is an active ingredient with moisturising and anti-irritant properties. Allantoin also promotes the renewal of cells and speeds up wound healing.
You’ll find the actives hyaluronic acid, allantoin, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) in our Liquid Mineral Foundation and Mineral BB Cream too - alongside other natural makeup ingredients to benefit the skin.
Not sure what active ingredients are best for you? Book a free consultation with an esmi Skin Minerals Consultant - the team at esmi are always here to support you on your skin journey.