Filipino woman applying toner on her face.

If you take skin care seriously enough, you’ll inevitably encounter the term “active ingredients” more than a few times. Everyday beauty enthusiasts no longer feel intimidated by scientific terms or technical names. Nowadays, most people who purchase skincare products know about active ingredients – and which ones benefit their skin the most.

Many of these are already available as part of over-the-counter formulations. For example, retinol – touted as a wonder ingredient that addresses , , and – is now in skincare products sold in stores and online. There was a time when it was only accessible with a dermatologist’s prescription.

It’s only one of the many active ingredients that have become beauty world buzzwords. Scroll down to learn more about these sought-after elements in skin care.

What Is an Active Ingredient?

Active ingredients are ingredients meant to address specific skin concerns. “Brightening,” “anti-aging,” and “acne fighting” products get to make these claims because of these potent elements.

A product that claims to brighten can contain niacinamide, known for its brightening properties – or, perhaps alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), like glycolic acid, which targets hyperpigmentation. These would be its active ingredients. Similarly, a product that targets acne may contain a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), such as salicylic acid, which unclogs blocked pores, or benzoyl peroxide, which helps shed dead skin and excess oil.

What Kind of Products Contain Active Ingredients?

Various skincare products contain active ingredients to address different skin concerns. The most popular and effective way to deliver these actives is through . These formulas are lightweight and easy to absorb – your skin loves to drink them up. Their very purpose is to carry potent actives and deposit them into your skin.

If you’re looking for a product that helps renew your skin, check for one with and resveratrol. Try POND'S Bright Miracle Night Serum, which can help you achieve luminous skin by protecting it against dark spots and stimulating skin renewal at night.

For those prone to breakouts, try Eskinol Pimple Relief Serum – its active ingredients are cica, the wonder ingredient from Korea, and soothes and calms even sensitive skin.

You can also nourish the rest of your body with a serum. Vaseline Gluta-Hya Serum Burst Lotion Flawless Glow has hyaluron and Gluta Glow technology that is 10x more powerful than Vitamin C for that dewy and glowing complexion.

How to Choose the Right Ingredients

Because they are so potent, you should be careful with the active ingredients in your skin care. Although it’s easy to get excited by these ingredients’ different properties, remember that each may have different uses and side effects. Here’s how you can select the right active ingredients and skincare products.

Know your skin type and identify your skin concerns.

The American Academy of Dermatology states knowing your skin type can help you decide on the most appropriate and effective ingredients for your skin and skincare goals. For example, someone with skin would benefit from ingredients that control oil and clarify the pores. If you have , avoid anything that can irritate the skin. Steer clear of acids that can aggravate the situation. Meanwhile, dry skin will need moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, while will need a humectant like .

Introduce one product at a time.

When using new active ingredients, work them in slowly and gradually. Introducing several new products to your face can overwhelm your skin and cause problems. Avoid layering new products so you can track your skin’s reaction to each active ingredient better.

Layer with caution.

Layering ingredients can either cause them to cancel each other out or worse, irritate your skin with their combined strength. Do your research before using skincare products together or talk to your dermatologist. When in doubt, keep things simple. A is usually best.

Active ingredients are more than just skincare buzzwords – they are essential elements in products that make your skin healthy. You’ll learn more about them as you get more into beauty. In the meantime, focus on what your skin needs to get better.