Active ingredients in skincare product formulas make your products work for targeted skin concerns and how they change the skin. If your current skincare routine is not solving your problems, your routine needs more active ingredients. Actives are not one specific ingredient but many different ingredients that target skin concerns like acne or dark spots. Some of these active ingredients may address anti-aging, and some may bring moisture to the skin. Active ingredients don’t have to mean synthetic or lab-created. Many active ingredients are natural; some come from plants, botanicals, essential oils, and others from our bodies. Active ingredients are in many products like cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and creams. 

Here are some common active ingredients found in skincare products

Alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, mandelic, and lactic acids) are water-soluble gentle exfoliators that renew skin and increase collagen production. AHAs and retinol do not mix and will irritate the skin, as does vitamin C combined with AHAs. If both are part of your routine, you must use them on alternate days. 

Beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) are oil-soluble chemical exfoliants that penetrate to help unclog pores and regulate oil production. This active skincare ingredient helps with acne, oily skin, and other concerns.

Hyaluronic Acid is one of the more popular active ingredients in skincare, naturally found in the body. Hyaluronic acids bind and moisturize the skin, making them beneficial to dry skin and all skin types. 

Benzoyl Peroxide fights acne, removes excess oil and dead skin cells and is anti-bacterial. Benzoyl peroxide and vitamin C are not to be mixed. Benzoyl peroxide and retinol do not mix well because the benzoyl degrades the retinol, making it less effective. 

Niacinamide helps repair damaged cells and has anti-inflammatory properties that help calm the skin, provide hydration, and prevent premature aging. Niacinamide mixes well with vitamin C and hyaluronic acids.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the skin against free radical damage, evens skin tone, and promotes collagen production. Vitamin C and Benzoyl peroxide do not mix well together as benzoyl breaks down the vitamin C active skincare ingredient formula. Vitamin C does not mix well with Ahas, either.

Retinol is A Vitamin A derivative that promotes cell renewal and exfoliation to reveal a smoother, firmer complexion. Retinol does not mix well with AHA’s & BHA’s. If they are part of your routine, I recommend alternating days.

Vitamin E  is a powerful antioxidant that smooths skin, hydrates and mixes well with many active skin ingredients. 

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that help to firm, smooth, and calm the skin. Peptides work well with many active ingredients but not glycolic or salicylic acids.

Ceramides improve your skin’s barrier by adding more moisture, which is why they’re perfect for dry and aging skin. Our body makes ceramides naturally, but we need more hydration to repair the skin as we age. Ceramides work well with most active ingredients. 

How do you know what active ingredients will work on your skin?

Certain active ingredients will work better depending on your skin type. It’s important to refrain from overloading your skin with too many active ingredients at one time. A little goes a long way, and too many active ingredients can disturb the skin barrier, which creates redness or skin sensitivity. 

Tips on how to apply active skincare ingredients

It’s best to try one active skincare ingredient at a time initially so you know how your skin reacts to that particular ingredient.

If layering active skincare ingredients, you usually apply them from thinnest to thickest. 

Apply your water-based products first before oil-based products.

Certain active ingredients interact negatively with one another.  

Apply sunscreen daily to protect your skin because some active ingredients will make your skin more sun sensitive. 

Final thoughts

If you want to know more about which active ingredients may be most beneficial for your skin, schedule a consultation to develop a personalized skincare plan to suit your unique needs. 



Have questions? I’m here to help! 


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