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What an “Active Skincare Ingredient” Does for You

When we choose a product to do something specific for our skin, the formula will contain certain ingredients that actively produce the desired result. These active ingredients are the ones that achieve the intention advertised on the label. They’re meant to do something like moisturize the skin, reduce fine lines, treat acne, and even skin tone, among other purposes.

What to Know About Active Ingredients in Skincare


Sunscreens and moisturizers that contain an SPF (sun protection factor) may have chemical ingredients, which can irritate some people’s skin, or metal ingredients, which are usually less irritating. Ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide don’t get absorbed by the skin, but they actively block ultraviolet rays from damaging the skin. Overexposure, under-protection, and sunburns may lead to sun damage or skin cancer, so using a sunscreen appropriate for your skin is important on a daily basis.

Vitamin Delivery

Many products contain vitamins like A, C, and E, which contribute each in their own ways to cellular health and turnover. They help reduce damage from inflammation, which can result in too frequent cell turnover. Vitamin C is especially effective at fighting off free radicals. These are particles like dirt, light, or smoke that might attach themselves to cells at the molecular level, potentially causing harm to the cell’s DNA, which can lead to cancerous growth. Antioxidants neutralize pollutants by making them unable to bond to cells; they are then removed by the immune system, keeping cells healthy and unharmed.


Retinols are derived from vitamin A, a pharmaceutical that supports cell growth and immunity. It’s also an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals and helping produce collagen and elastin, the support system of our skin. This makes retinol a popular choice to volumize aging skin that is less firm and starting to show lines and wrinkles.


Hyaluronic acid is an active moisturizer that binds water to collagen, keeping moisture in the skin tissue. This is an important way to keep hydration in the body, and drinking plenty of water will help this product work.


Gentle acids are chosen as the active ingredients for many exfoliant products like face masks and anti-wrinkle creams. Salicylic, alpha hydroxy, and beta hydroxy acids are active ingredients that help break the bonds of dead skin tissue, allowing outer layers of skin to shed more easily. This can even the skin’s texture and tone, reduce lines, and keep pores clean and clear.

Fighting Against Acne

Salicylic acid also helps keep skin clear as an effective acne treatment, since this gentle exfoliant removes dead skin and buildup, helping the skin empty its pores. Benzoyl peroxide is another ingredient that helps with acne, reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria on the skin as well helping clear pores.

Knowing What Your Skin Needs

Much of our cellular support comes from the food we eat and water we drink, but our topical products play an important top-down, surface-level role in maintaining the health of our skin. Schedule a consultation with a skin expert at SE Dermatology to learn which kinds of products and ingredients would best support your skin’s needs!

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