One of the biggest changes to the beauty industry during the pandemic has been the approach to skincare. We’ve moved from a more casual practice of incorporating any ingredient or product into our routines, to a more calculated regimen with products that target specific issues and promise overall good looks. One of the most important words we all encountered during the process was active.
Focused on skin repair, rejuvenation, healing, hydration and protection, the actives are must-haves for issues such as acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, exfoliation and cell renewal. While it sounds great on paper, assets should be used with a hint of caution. One of the first things to know is what each active does and how it will help your existing skincare routine. We asked Dr. Reema Arora, Medical Manager – Facial Aesthetics, Allergan India, to break down the active ingredient phenomenon. Continue reading.
What are the active ingredients in skin care?
“An active is a pulsed dose of powerful ingredients to give your skin a boost. Commonly used actives are vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), beta hydroxy acids (BHA), retinol, niacinamide, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. Most of these actives have a fluidic texture for better absorption by the skin,” explains Dr. Arora.
Which assets are good for you?
Like any other skincare ingredient, it is important to know the functionality of these actives and how to use them. Dr. Arora breaks it down.
“Activities you can use during the day are Vitamin C, E, and Hyaluronic Acid. Retinoids and BHA are great for nighttime use. Remember, the actives you choose should be based only on For dehydrated skin, use hyaluronic acid, for blemishes, choose vitamin C, for acne, you need BHA, to fight the signs of aging, choose retinoids.
It’s important to limit the number of actives you use to avoid “ingredient buildup,” warns Dr. Arora. “For best results, it’s also good to get a skin-friendly regimen arranged by your doctor.”
Know your beauty assets
Before you go ahead and add them to your skincare routine, it’s important to understand how each active can help your skin.
Vitamin C: If you are looking for a solution to brighten your skin, stimulate collagen production and eliminate hyperpigmentation, vitamin C is your active ingredient of choice. You can start by applying it to your face every other day for at least two weeks. If you don’t notice any redness or dry patches, add it to your daily morning routine (after cleansing and toning and before moisturizer and sunscreen).
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): It is an excellent skincare ingredient for brightening your skin, reducing sebum production and improving your skin’s barrier functions. It is also an excellent moisturizer for the skin – it prevents the evaporation of moisture from the skin into the environment. If using a serum, apply after cleansing and toning and before moisturizing. If you use a moisturizer, apply it before using your sunscreen.
BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acid): BHAs, and salicylic acid, in particular, are excellent active ingredients for cleansing your skin and preventing acne. Apply it after the cleansing and toning steps of your routine. If you are using a liquid product, apply it with a cotton ball and if it is a lotion or a gel, you can apply it with your fingers.
AHA (alpha hydroxy acids): AHAs (including glycolic and lactic acids) induce collagen production in your skin, while reducing hyperpigmentation and reducing acne. It works to improve cell renewal. Although most AHA products are marketed as safe for all skin types, you may want to take extra precautions if you have extremely dry and sensitive skin. Start with a small amount and work your way up to daily use.
Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives): One of the most talked about active retinoids is your protection against the signs of aging. Remember that retinol (a type of retinoid) should only be applied at night. Start by using it twice a week. If you don’t experience any redness or flaking the next day, you can increase usage to every other day, then daily. Also, a little goes a long way. So, use a pea-sized amount to cover your entire face.
Hyaluronic acid: This helps firm your skin, even out rough patches, soften fine lines, and prevent signs of aging. Cleanse your face and apply hyaluronic acid to slightly damp skin, followed by moisturizer and sunscreen.
What active ingredients does your skin need?
Although it largely depends on your skin type and how your skin reacts to each ingredient, Dr. Arora gives a general breakdown, to start with.
For dry skin: Use vitamin E during the day and hyaluronic acid serum at night
For oily skin: Use vitamin C during the day and retinol serum at night.
For sensitive skin: Use vitamin B3 during the day and Niacinamide serum at night.
Remember that actives are not a magic bullet that will deliver results in a day or a week. Give it time and be consistent with usage. According to experts, the skin takes at least a month to show results; you need to follow the routine for at least three months to understand if an asset is effective. You also need to start small. Do not include assets in your daily routine. Use twice a week, monitor your skin’s reaction, then gradually increase usage.