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It’s a simple question, but it's hard to answer: do you know what active ingredients are in your skincare? Skincare has come a long way from cold cremes, soap and water. These days, skincare has undergone quite the revolution in terms of products available, clean beauty and of course, popularity. It’s likely you’ve gone from spending less than 5 minutes on your skincare regimen to a full 10-step routine that includes everything but the kitchen sink. Hey, we’re not shaming — we love a good routine that allows you to decompress and take the time to focus on yourself. The only problem with the rising popularity of skincare treatments and products is half information overload and half product saturation. Simply put, there’s so much to take in and so many products to choose from that confusion is almost guaranteed — regardless of if you’re just now dipping your toes in the skincare revolution water or are a full-blown beauty enthusiast. That's why we’re excited to introduce our Beauty School Dropout series, where we cover all the in’s and out’s of the beauty industry, including tips, need-to-know’s and of course, deals.
What Are Active Ingredients In Skincare?
Active ingredients in skincare are just what their name alludes to: an ingredient in a formula that is biologically active, meaning it works with the skin for a specific purpose. Skincare that includes active ingredients, like retinol or vitamin C, will often define what the specific purpose they play in the products performance as well as the strength or percentage of active ingredient that the product is formulated with. When it comes to active ingredients that are designed to target specific concerns like anti-aging or dark spots, it’s crucial to take the time to read the label. Not only will you gather important information like the strength of the active ingredient, but you’ll also find instructions for use. Because these products contain active ingredients that can cause reactions with skin, you should always read the intended use and/or instruction for product before applying. For example, if you want to improve your skin’s brightness and texture, you’ll likely want to incorporate a vitamin c serum into your routine. However, if you were to apply a vitamin c serum without thoroughly reading about the product, you might miss crucial details like SPF recommendation due to increased photosensitivity caused by vitamin c as well as other info like not to mix with retinol. Now, let’s get into the good stuff and discuss common active ingredients found in skincare.
How Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Skin?
Hyaluronic acid is a common active ingredient in a wide variety of skincare and beauty products due to its hydrating powers. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in the fluids of the eyes and joints, acting as a cushion and lubricant to the body. The properties in hyaluronic acid allow skin to quickly absorb the hydrating properties while also allowing other serums to absorb well into the skin. Using a combination of products that contain hyaluronic acid is a great way to improve skin’s moisture resulting in glowing, plump skin.
Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum by CeraVe retails for $18.28 at amazon.com.
How Does Squalane Work?
Squalane is a natural emollient and works wonders for reducing redness, improving skin’s moisture and overall acting as an anti-inflammatory. Squalane is actually found in the skin’s sebum, making a squalane cleanser a good choice for those with combination or oily skin looking to control oil levels. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, oil cleans oil, which is why a squalane-based cleansing balm or cleanser works so well for acne-prone skin.
The Squalane Cleanser by The Ordinary retails for $7.90 at ulta.com.
What Does Retinol Do For Your Skin?
Retinol or Vitamin A benefits skin by reducing lines and wrinkles in addition to aiding in anti-aging through collagen production. Because retinol helps stimulate collagen and the production of new blood vessels in the skin, retinol is a must-have for those dealing with discoloration, under-eye dark circles and even acne. Although the benefits of retinol use are certainly present, many have avoided using it in routines due to common misconceptions. Retinol is powerful and should be used in a gradual fashion to allow skin to build tolerance against irritation. Additionally, retinol’s powerful make-up makes the skin more prone to sun damage, which is why the majority of retinol-based products recommend night use only while using a SPF in the daytime. Retinol isn't an overnight fix, but if you incorporate it into your routine consistently for at least 3 months, you can see a dramatic difference in skin’s texture and complexion, with best results on average occurring after 6 months.
Resurfacing Retinol Serum for Post-Acne Skin by CeraVe retails for $16.34 at amazon.com.
What Is Niacinamide In Skincare?
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B-3 and aids in producing important barriers for the skin like ceramides and keratin. Ceramide barriers are important to the skin because they help retain moisture, while keratin helps improve skin’s firmness. Niacinamide is sort of like a skin’s miracle worker for its ability to tackle several problems at once like oil regulation, dullness, large pores, redness and elasticity.
Niacinamide Serum 12% + Zinc 2% by Naturium retails for $15.99 at amazon.com.
What Does Vitamin C Do For Skin?
Vitamin C is a powerful agent that aids in brightening the skin’s complexion and protecting against signs of aging. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant, so it helps fight toxins that can be harmful to the skin and lead to concerns like hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. By neutralizing these free radicals that negatively affect skin, consistent use of vitamin C can leave the skin looking bright and youthful. Vitamin C does cause sensitivity to the sun and should not be mixed with retinol. To make it easier to incorporate into your routine, try adding a vitamin C serum to your morning routine followed by your favorite sunscreen, then follow with your nightly routine and retinol. The two can be used together when used at different times of the day and with sun protection.
Vitamin C Serum for Face by TruSkin Naturals retails for $17.99 at amazon.com.