Active Skincare Ingredients 101

It can seem as though the beauty industry is shouting about a new, often unpronounceable and supposedly miracle ingredient every other week. From Vitamin C to Ceramides, Retinol and Acids, I have done my research on what these active ingredients actually do for your skin. 

What are they? Active ingredients are the ingredients contained within skincare products that actually work to address the skin concern the product is meant to target. They are the ingredients that have supposedly been scientifically proven to actually have the desired effect, meaning the product will do what it says it will. That’s not to say that the other ingredients (the inactives) are useless; they’re often key to helping the active ingredient perform its role. If not then it may be that they are generally moisturizing or cleansing. 

Below is a list of some of the active ingredients you may have heard of and what they can do for your skin.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)AHAs are relatively gentle chemical exfoliants that exfoliate the skin by gently dissolving the bonds between surface skin cells- not as scary as it sounds as it allows dead skin cells to be removed and new skin cells to be generated. AHAs are often found in anti-aging products as our natural skin cell cycle tends to slow as we age, but they are also useful in addressing acne, reducing pigmentation, brightening skin tone, and giving your skin a smoother and plumper texture. Common AHAs include lactic acid (which is derived from lactose) and glycolic acid (which comes from sugar cane). These two are the most common as they’re the least likely to irritate your skin. Since AHAs don’t penetrate deep below the skin surface (due to the fact that they’re water soluble), they’re ideal for all skin types, even sensitive skin.

Beta hydroxy acidsBHAs (often known as salicylic acid) – are another form of chemical exfoliants that are perfect for treating blemish-prone skin and blackheads. Just like AHAs, BHAs also help in the removal of dead skin cells but, while AHAs are water soluble, BHAs are oil soluble. This means that BHAs can penetrate below the skin’s surface to clear your pores of excess sebum and dirt to reduce oiliness, while reducing inflammation and fighting bacteria on the skin’s surface. Salicylic acid is best for those with congested pores or oily skin.

CeramidesCeramides are lipids (fat molecules) that provide that smooth plumpness we’re always aiming for. They are found in the very uppermost layers of our skin and act as a barrier, protecting our skin from exposure to environmental stressors such as pollution, dry air, and debris. Since ceramide production becomes depleted over time, the skin barrier is weakened, so its important to use skincare products containing ceramides to restore your skin’s hydration and moisture, leaving your skin looking supple. Since ceramides are a natural component of the skin barrier, they’re actually suitable for use on all skin types. No more fine lines- hooray!

Hyaluronic acid (HA)- The main reason why everyone is talking about hyaluronic acid is because of its incredible ability to hydrate the skin. It absorbs and maintains moisture within our skin, keeping it soft and (hopefully) radiant. Whilst our bodies naturally produce this moisture-binding ingredient, our skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production diminishes as we age, which is why HA is also often found in anti-aging skincare products, for those looking to retain that youthful glow. 

Niacinamide- Niacinamide is adored largely because of its ability to fight inflammation. It can be used to treat acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation as it is particularly good at reducing redness and irritation. Aside from its anti-inflammatory properties, this vitamin B3 derivative also improves our skin’s elasticity, strengthens the outer layers of our skin, and helps to boost levels of fatty acids in our skin, leading to plumper looking skin. The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% High Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula is a serum I use to purify my skin whenever I see signs of blemishes coming or discoloration. It is a miracle worker and no surprise that it is a cult beauty favorite.

PeptidesPeptides link together to form proteins which are the building blocks of our skin. Since they’re small enough to penetrate the skin, peptides signal to the body that it needs to produce more collagen (and we’ve all heard of that). I recommend getting a serum or moisturizer with peptides in and applying it twice daily, under makeup or SPF.

Retinol- Retinol is a potent derivative of vitamin A and is converted to retinoic acid (the active form of vitamin A that your skin actually needs) after its absorbed into your skin. Topical retinol boosts cell turnover which promotes skin renewal, leaving you with brighter and healthier skin, whilst helping correct skin pigmentation. Retinol is loved for its acne-fighting ability, its anti-ageing properties, and its skin-brightening power. Make sure you start with a product that contains the correct formulation for your skin. If your topical retinol product is too strong for your skin or you use it too often, it can be irritating, especially for sensitive skin and particularly in the sun, so be sure to either use retinol only at night, or layer it with SPF during the day.

Vitamin C- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that, when applied topically, stimulates collagen and elastin production, leading to younger-looking and firmer-feeling skin. It both protects the skin from environmental aggressors and prevents damage. It is used for skin-brightening, hyperpigmentation-correcting, and skin tone-evening as it helps to reduce scars or spots without changing your normal skin pigmentation. What a hardworking vitamin!

Vitamin E- Vitamin E naturally occurs in eight chemical forms. The most commonly listed in skincare products are tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol. It is a potent antioxidant, so can help protect the skin from environmental pollution, and has anti-inflammatory properties which means it is extremely soothing and calming, and can prevent the signs of premature aging. Vitamin E also makes for a great moisturizer since it’s super hydrating, and it has great wound healing properties as it helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier function. By Sarah London’s award-winning Organic Facial Oil, containing Vitamin E, is incredibly nourishing and hydrating. I apply it to my face every morning and night. Best of all, it is vegan, natural, plant-based, and therefore totally suitable for all skin types. I know from experience that it can be difficult to find skincare products that are suitable for use on pregnant women, but this product is one of them.

What are the most effective active ingredients for your skin? Let me know your favorite ingredients and the products containing them in the comments! And don’t forget to take a look at some of my essential skincare products containing active ingredients below!

What I’m Wearing: (Image 1) Dress by Sézane, Vintage locket (similar here), Lipstick by Anthropologie

xx,

Louise Loves

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow My Adventures
on Instagram

  • Mackenzie and I used to spend so long dilly-dallying over what to watch, it would be time for bed before we even started a movie. More than ever right now, we need escapism, and looking forward to your evening in, is part of that! Here’s what we've been watching (& eating and drinking and wearing too…) every evening on @skytv (which has Netflix & box sets on it too). 🍿🍷🍫 #ad
  • I did my hair & makeup for the duration of a Peppa Pig episode... ie. about 6 minutes!
Watch to the end to see Honor all snuggled up behind me 💕
I’ll upload the products I used to my stories later today- right now I have to go digging with a toddler on the doorstep 👷🏻‍♀️
  • Rolling with the homies 
#StayHome @mackenziehunkin
  • Today I’m reading one of my favourite Beatrix Potter tales. Shall I keep these coming? I’m thinking of reading from one of my favourite adult novels next...
Suggestions very welcome 📚
  • #ad We must focus on finding the positives where we can at the moment and for me, part of that’s wearing bright colours around the house. Wearing colour has been proven to help lift your mood so I’m stocking up on comfy home clothes in bold colours and pretty printed wrap dresses. This sunny yellow and leopard combo is from @walmart shot a couple of weeks ago in Notting Hill. How are you staying positive this week? #WalmartFashion http://liketk.it/2MdDt @liketoknow.it #liketkit
  • Today we made banana bread...
Also I have misophonia (except when it’s my daughter eating, then it doesn’t bother me at all!) so apologies if the sound on this vid makes your toes curl 😂😂🙈 🧁
  • So I gave them a night out...
#LetsHaveAKiki #ItsFridayThen 💃 (Watch to the end to see my real Friday night 🤓🍷)
  • This is why I ♥️ my husband 🤣 
An homage to leotard dancer dude (watch til the end to see the talented original! And if you know who he is please tag him, he’s my hero)
  • of what I should and shouldn’t post, are out the window. I want to make you guys smile, if I can. Winnie the Pooh (this story in particular) is Honor’s favourite - and whether you’re a kid or a grown up, everybody loves Pooh. 
So I thought I’d read it out. 
Should I do more? Which short stories do you love - both for children and adults? 📚
  • I know getting ready in the morning won’t save the world, but it did give me a big boost! 
Everything I used:
Dior Backstage foundation, 2N
All brushes Zoeva
Clé de Peau concealer, Ochre
MAC Mineralize, Cheeky Bronze
Bare Minerals Gen Nude, On the Mauve
Maybelline Metallic Highlighter, 050
Zoeva Cocoa Blend eyeshadow palette
Marc Jacobs pencil, Earthquake
Maybelline Brow Ultra Slim, 262
Beautycounter Brow Gel, Invisible
Laura Mercier Caviar Volume Mascara, Glossy Black
Maybelline Waterproof Mascara, Very Black
Charlotte Tilbury lipliner, Pillow Talk
Charlotte Tilbury lipstick, Pillow Talk
Dyson Airwrap
Dove Dry Shampoo 
Redken Triple Pure 32 hairspray
  • Back when the sun was shining and we were out and about in beautiful Notting Hill wearing @mywardrobe_hq 
Being at home so much has got me thinking about ways in which I can be more sustainable with my fashion choices. Choosing ethical brands and renting pieces is a good way to start. In such a strange time, I’m focusing on the positives where I can. Let’s hope it won’t be long before we can all be out in the sun again ☀️
  • Tag your Mum or Mother- figure below ♥️
powered by chloédigital
Read previous post:
Louise Roe of Front Roe talks through her best baby products from Walmart
Honor’s Traveling Essentials

This blog post is sponsored by Walmart. Traveling is a big part of my job and Mackenzie and I travel...

Close