Skincare Ingredient Basics: Actives Vs. Inactives

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Skincare routines have evolved over the years to include more than just cleanser, moisturizer, and exfoliator. Nowadays, they usually include serums, face masks, and even unique techniques such as gua sha — a method that involves scraping the skin with a tool to improve circulation. Moreover, new skincare products are being innovated with active and inactive ingredients. These ingredients are often found in cleaners, serums, moisturizers, face masks, and sunscreens, with varying potency. Read on to learn more about these crucial components.

Many skincare products claim to address different skin concerns, such as wrinkles, acne, and hydration. This is achieved through the use of active and inactive ingredients. Active ingredients alter the way the body works. They address specific skin issues. For example, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E are used for dryness. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids are often used for acne, while niacinamide is used to reduce inflammation.

Actives are usually the main ingredient in a product. They’re also classified as a drug by the FDA. On the other hand, inactive ingredients have three purposes: to deliver the actives to the skin, to make the product smell or feel good, and to preserve it. They’re not regulated by the FDA and usually come in the form of stabilizers, emollients, and preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and potassium sorbate.

Wondering which skincare products are best for your skin type? Before purchasing a product, be sure to check the label for the active ingredients it contains. They are typically listed in descending order of concentration. Steer clear of any that you may be allergic to, or ones that irritate your skin. Additionally, follow the directions on the label so that you don’t overuse the product.

To learn more about active and inactive ingredients, see the accompanying resource, by SeSpring.


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