What are ‘actives’ in skincare?

Actives are a minefield to get used to. Here’s a quick guide to some of the more common ones you’ll hear about.
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1. Retinols⁣

A potent Vit A that encourages rapid cellular turnover to reveal fresher, healthier skin. Medical grade retinoids are more powerful than anything over the counter. It should be introduced under guidance of a clinician as skin needs conditioned to it gradually over time. SPF should be worn at all times anyway but is absolutely essential when using retinol.⁣

2. Vitamin C⁣

A brightening antioxidant. This scavenges free radicals which age the skin. It’s acidic so may sting a little and can cause mild redness. Not to be used at the same time as retinol as it will irritate. I learned this from experience when I was new to it all ????

3. AHA/Glycolic Acid⁣

A chemical exfoliant with brightening properties. It helps skin hold moisture. Derived from sugar cane, it is a common active in exfoliating facial washes. It is water soluble so is a superficial acting acid. Other common AHAs are mandelic acid and lactic acid.⁣

4. BHA/Salicylic Acid⁣

A deep pore cleansing exfoliant which is great for oily or problem skin. Loosens the dead skin cell debris from the surface and helps with textured skin. It is oil soluble which allows it into the pores.⁣

5. Hydroquinone ⁣

A prescription only skin lightener. The most powerful ‘bleacher’ on the market. This is appropriate for all sorts of epidermal hyperpigmentation. It irritates and SPF is essential. To be used only under supervision of a medical skin clinic. ⁣

6. Niacinamide⁣

Vitamin B3. A great brightener and anti inflammatory product. Helps clear breakouts and reduces melanin production. Helps repair skin barrier at the same time.

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