Active ingredients: what are they and why does your skin need them?

The difference between a ‘beauty cream’ and active skin care is the use of active ingredients. What are they? Why does your skin need them? And which ones are right for your needs?

In our solution-driven world, you can find skincare products for nearly every skin concern. The challenge is finding the right one(s) for your particular concern, so that you see the positive outcome. Not to mention the fact that some products or ingredients may actually worsen your condition if used incorrectly.

Understanding the label list on skin care products and what these actually do for your skin will help you make the right choices.

Better yet, get the most effective care by having a consultation with a skin-care professional for advice.

What are active ingredients?

The active ingredients used in products are the molecules that do the work to address the issue the product is meant to target.

The actions of these ingredients are known to the people who formulate the products because they have undergone testing and research to establish what action and activity they will have in the skin. Essentially, the active ingredients in products are responsible for making that product work.

The ingredients that make up the rest of the product – the ‘inactive’ ingredients – are not merely filler, however. They can play an important role as they are often the key that help the active ingredients perform the role they are meant to play in the skin, as well as helping the skin feel comfortable.

What do active ingredients do in the skin?

Their action depends on what they are or how they work. Some active ingredients are responsible for changing the structure of the skin, others have a repair or protective action, and yet others treat the symptoms of a skin condition.

The most important ingredients to seek out are:

  • Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E (used together), which protect the skin from environmental damage, as well as having a repair action.
  • Retinoid vitamin A is another skin essential as it has an anti-ageing, repair action,
  • Hyaluronic acid is a must-have for keeping skin hydration levels topped up, which is important for it to perform its functions.
  • Then we have peptides – the building blocks of proteins. Depending on which are used, they have a key role to play in slowing down and even reversing skin ageing.

This doesn’t mean that active ingredients act as miracle cures that will make skin conditions and concerns disappear overnight.

Some ingredients, such as retinol and fruit acids, are highly active and can cause skin sensitivity. The right dose and treatment method need to be used, and these ingredients may not be suitable for certain skins.

The best results are achieved by starting to use active skin care from an early age to protect your skin from environmental ageing.

Home skin care with active products is most effective when used in conjunction with relevant skin treatments performed by skin-care therapists (such as skin peels and targeted facials), as well as choosing healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, regular exercise and enough good quality sleep.

Are all active ingredients the same?

As with most things in life, not all active ingredients nor skin-care products are created equal.

The strength of the active ingredients in medical skincare ranges versus the average store-bought products will vary. Medical skincare ranges generally contain higher percentages of active ingredients.

More importantly, they contain the correct dose to be effective, as well as other ingredients that enhance or support this effect.

The packaging used is also designed to protect the active ingredients so that it retains its potency.

This is why these products are prescribed by medical skincare professionals who have the knowledge to choose the correct products and active ingredients to treat your skin concerns to achieve best results.

They also monitor the activity, how your skin is tolerating the treatment, and can also tweak it to make it most effective.

To find out more about the active ingredients and products most suited to your skin type, visit It’s one of the many ways we can help you enjoy living in your beautiful skin for longer.

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