Skin Care Tips | Active Ingredients


2020 was the year of skin care for most of us & I dedicated a lot of my time to learning more about products, their ingredients & what is needed to meet my personal skin care needs. After sticking to one basic skin care routine, I've noticed improvements in texture & dryness, two skin issues I focused on improving over the last year.


My experience & research inspired my new blog series, Skincare Tips, where you can become more acquainted with skincare ingredients, techniques & products that I like.


My first & most important rule of skincare is to keep it simple. Do this by choosing only the active ingredients that are beneficial to you & knowing which of your products contain these active ingredients. Studies show that actives provide functions that target specific skin concerns. Some are fine for daily use & others are only recommended 2-3 times per week. Take this into consideration when deciding which of your products contain active ingredients because it's important not to over-use actives that can be damaging to your skin barrier, the outermost layer of the epidermis. Actives can be present in any type of skincare product these days from cleansers & toners to serums, masks & moisturizers.

To better understand active ingredients & what they do, I've divided them into three categories: chemical exfoliates, antioxidants, & hydration


Chemical Exfoliants: AHAs, BHAs & PHAs


AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), derived from sugar cane, penetrate both the epidermis (outer layer of skin) & the dermis (the deeper layer of the skin). They are recommended for those with normal to dry skin & can commonly be found in skincare as glycolic acid. The skin benefits of AHAs include

  • minimizing fine lines

  • fading dark spots

  • reducing visible signs of sun damage

  • increasing cell turnover

  • helping to stimulate collagen

  • smoothness & firmness


BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) are most commonly found in skincare as salicylic acid. BHAs are oil-soluble & able to penetrate pores & blemishes. BHAs are recommended for normal to oily skin or acne prone skin. The benefits of BHAs are

  • unclogging pores

  • fighting bacteria

  • targeting bumps & blemishes

  • evening the skin tone

  • improving lines & wrinkles


PHAs (poly-hydroxy acids) are larger in molecule size than both AHAs & BHAs, meaning they do not penetrate the skin as deeply. They are said to be less irritating and therefore, a better option for those with very sensitive skin. The benefits of PHAs are similar to those of AHAs & BHAs and include

  • gently exfoliating

  • fading dark spots

  • improving fine lines

  • evening skin tone


Antioxidants: Niacinamide, Vitamin C, etc.


Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3, is suitable for any skin type & best of all, it is compatible with other actives. The benefits of applying niacinimide topically have been heavily researched & are extensive

  • controlling sebum production

  • fading hyperpigmentation

  • protecting against environmental damage

  • reducing inflammation

  • helping skin make collagen & hyaluronic acid

  • decreasing discoloration

  • diminishing fine lines & enlarged pores


Vitamin C can also be found in skincare labeled as ascorbic acid, among other things. When formulated properly, Vitamin C is said to have many benefits which include

  • brightening the appearance of skin

  • shielding against environmental damage

  • protecting against free radicals

  • evening skin tone


Hydration: Hyaluronic acid, Peptides, Ceramides


Hyaluronic acid is a substance that occurs naturally in the skin that attracts & holds onto moisture. The hyaluronic acid we produce naturally diminishes with age, resulting in loss of firmness & plumpness. Incorporating hyaluronic acid into a skincare routine will help to hydrate & replenish skin.


Peptides are amino acids that make up proteins such as collagen, elastin and keratin. Research has proven that peptides applied topically to skin can aid in firming, soothing and hydrating.


Ceramides are fats found naturally in the skin. Used in skincare, ceramides help reinforce the skin barrier, preventing loss of moisture & visible damage from environmental stressors.

Being aware of active ingredients in products is helpful in understanding your skin & what it needs. If you're interested in knowing more about building a routine & how to incorporate active ingredients, follow along with the rest of my Skin Care Tips series!