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What Active Ingredients to Use in Your Skin Care Routine

skin care routine

If you've spent any time digging through the mountains of beauty blogs out there, you've probably come across the term active. (Like, how can you add actives to your regimen, or how to pick actives that can address acne, hydration, or brightening concerns.) But what actually are actives?

The short answer: An active is the ingredient in a product addressing whatever skin concern it's meant to target. Whether they work for you is not always clear—until you try them. But there's a lot more to actives than just that. So, here's what you want to know about working with actives and how to find one that's most likely to help you.

An Active = An Active Ingredient

When you look on the back of a bottle and it says the active ingredient, that means the chemical or molecule in that product is doing what the product says it’s supposed to do. If you're getting a cleanser that is claimed to treat acne, for example, the active ingredient is what actually treats the acne, possibly something like salicylic acid. So, an "active" skin-care product is simply anything that has an active ingredient (and not every product does).

But these aren't just ingredients we think do something—we have a pretty darn good idea that they'll be effective. An active ingredient has been proven in a lab by research to change the skin in some way; it's an ingredient that has data behind it. Just because a product doesn't have an active ingredient doesn't mean it's useless, though.

The inactive ingredients, meaning any of the ingredients that are not considered actives by the FDA and regulated as such, are also important. In many cases, the product is simply not designed to treat a specific condition even if it does a great job of cleansing or moisturizing your skin. The inactive ingredients are also often key in helping deliver the active ingredient to your skin (the most common inactive ingredient is water, after all). Certain inactive ingredients may also be irritating to those with sensitive skin or allergies (e.g. a botanical extract), so you shouldn't ignore them on a label.

The Main Categories for Active Ingredients

These are the most common types of topical actives you'll come across that address specific skin issues:

Signs of aging: SPF-boosting ingredients (e.g. zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, oxybenzone), vitamin A/retinoids, vitamin C, vitamin E.

Dryness: hyaluronic acid, vitamin E.

Pigmentation issues: kojic acid, AHAs, BHA, hydroquinone, vitamin C.

Acne: vitamin A/retinoids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid.

Rosacea: various antibiotics, azelaic acid, sulfur.

Psoriasis: steroids, vitamin A/retinoids, vitamin D, salicylic acid, urea, lactic acid, anthralin, tacrolimus, pimecrolimus.

Eczema: steroids, tacrolimus, pimecrolimus.

Some skin products containing actives are considered drugs or medication and require a prescription, like a high percentage of retinoid or certain acne treatments. For instance, a face wash containing salicylic acid may be listed as an active ingredient if it claims to actually treat or manage acne. If it's a cosmetic, it may just list salicylic acid among its many ingredients.

The big takeaway here is that even if a product contains an active ingredient, that doesn't necessarily mean it has a concentration or formula that puts it at the same efficacy level as that of a prescription option—so it may or may not work as effectively (and we may simply not know if it will work).

The back of a skin-care product is usually a labyrinth of long words, and all you want is for it to work. But it's worth having a grasp on what the main ingredients do and what the product may be able to achieve for your skin before you buy so you don't waste your effort and money. It's especially important to pay attention to:

  • The active ingredient
  • The concentration of the active ingredient
  • Any inactive ingredients you might be allergic or sensitive to
  • The way claims are worded on the packaging

Ultimately, you should absolutely feel empowered to parse the ingredients you're putting on your skin. This is where Manuka honey comes into play and it's power as the number one active ingredient you should be paying attention to! It has nearly endless uses and benefits, no matter if you are ingesting it or applying it to your skin, this can be the one active ingredient you shouldn’t be without! Not only are the results of manuka honey terrific, but the fact it’s a natural ingredient is alone reason enough to be adding it to your shopping cart.

After decades of adding harsh chemicals and preservatives into skincare lines in higher doses than the real active ingredients you want to be working, brands are slowly and steadily changing their methods. At Wild Naturals, the key ingredient in every product is manuka honey, so that you can use it in an easier, less sticky way every day to continue its wonderful properties for your skin!

With beneficial, Earth made ingredients like, shea butter, blue-green algae, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, and cehami flower extract, on top of manuka honey, these all have profound qualities as an active ingredient that will have your skin healthy, moisturized, and glowing! Visit our shop today and try for yourself what we proudly offer with amazing results!