The number of skincare products in the market today may nearly answer every single problem a person might have with their skin. Acne, hyperpigmentation, dryness, aging, and so on. How do you know if these products will actually do what it claims to do and whether it is the right fit for your specific skin concern? The easiest way would be to look at their active ingredients. Today we are going to break down what active ingredients really mean and how active ingredients can help guide you to pick the right skin care product for your concern. Lastly, we are also going to talk about the underdog of “inactive ingredients” in skincare which of course still serve a purpose in the formulation of skincare.
What are active ingredients
They are part of the ingredients in a product to address certain skin concerns the product claims to target. Active ingredients have been scientifically-proven to change the skin and give a certain desired effect with data backing them up. Imagine your activities as the “warrior” in your skincare product.
You can find active ingredients in almost all types of products but are commonly more concentrated when they are in the form of treatment products such as serum, ampoule, or essences. Due to their higher concentration of active ingredients, they are often marketed as the potent “skin-changer” that can elevate your skincare routine and change it for the better.
The most common types of actives to address specific skin issues
Let’s look into some of the most commonly found active ingredients in skincare that address most skin issues. If you see these ingredients listed as the active ingredients, you can expect it to perform as it claims although the efficacy may vary depending on the formulation (including the inactive ingredients) and how your skin tolerates it.
So does it mean that the inactive ingredient part of them is useless?
So we have been talking about active ingredients and how they are the warrior in your skincare. But, we can’t forget about the inactive ingredients which are like the vehicle of these actives and a bigger component of the whole product. If your skincare ingredients are your warrior, the rest of the inactive ingredients are like the vehicle that carried them to the “battleground”. That’s not to say that the other ingredients (the inactive) 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. The inactive ingredients are the ones that serve as a vehicle of the product and determine the texture and consistency, scent, or even shelf life of the product. It is meant to support and gives that skincare product the consistency you desire.
If a product breaks me out, does it mean it is caused by the active ingredients?
The answer to this is, not all the time. I found that a lot of people put all the blame on their active ingredients when something went wrong. We have learned that a product is composed of more than just their active ingredients. Aside from their active ingredients that may break you out, a major part of a product is the inactive ingredients, although not the highlight of the product still makes up most of it. It can be particular fragrances, preservatives systems, or just the overall formulation texture that doesn’t fit your skin right.
Take an analogy of a tomato soup. Unless you are allergic or really hate tomatoes, you’ll like a well-cooked tomato soup. But, depending on the cook, you may or may not like a certain taste of tomato soup. It is not particularly because of the tomato, but because of how the other ingredients are mixed with the tomato to make the whole tomato soup.
It can be really tricky to pin-point the one culprit of a reaction to a product unless you have a specific sensitivity to an ingredient. Unless you have tried several products with different formulations and you spot the same active ingredients in all of them, you may suspect that the active ingredients are the ones that are causing the reaction.