Beginner’s Guide to Active Ingredients

1/4/20232 min read

When you first enter the world of skin care, it can be an overload of information. There are all these big words and people telling you that “you need this product in your routine!” It can be a lot to navigate. To make it a little bit easier, we’ve made a beginner’s guide to some of the active ingredients you will see in all the videos and in all products you look at. Hopefully, this will help you make a decision on what is right for your skin.

What is an active ingredient?

An active ingredient is an ingredient in your skincare which is meant to target a specific concern. These can take the form of serums, peels, or oils.

AHAs and BHAs

These are (alpha/beta) hydroxy acids. These are often used as exfoliants in your skin care to help renew the skin by removing the dead skin cells from the surface to reveal a newer layer of skin cells. The level of concentration determines the level of exfoliation and how it is used. Neither is better than the other; the main difference is the most effective way of each being used. AHA’s are water soluble, meaning they can be used (depending on the concentration) daily. They will often be found in things like your daily cleanser. BHA’s are oil soluble and go deeper into the pores. These will often be used as a facial peel. BHA peels need to be diluted properly to minimise the risk of your skin being burned. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you see a professional if you would like a facial peel which uses BHAs.

Vitamin C

What is it: Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, a natural water-soluble vitamin. It has several essential functions in the body to help keep us healthy. It can be taken as a supplement, as part of a balanced diet, or as a serum for skin care.

Benefits: brightens complexion, helps to reduce wrinkles, aids wound healing, protects collagen and increases production, helps to protect against sun damage, reduces hyperpigmentation, evens skin tone, fights free radicals.


What is it: Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B-3. It helps to build the proteins in the skin and lock in moisture to prevent environmental damage.

Benefits: helps to build keratin, helps to grow a lipid barrier, and retain moisture, reduces inflammation (help with eczema and acne), regulate oil control, protect against sun damage, minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Salicylic Acid

What is it: Salicylic acid is an exfoliant that helps to penetrate deeper into the skin and help unclog pores.

Benefits: help decongest pores by breaking down oils and build up, help prevent breakouts, helps to brighten skin.

Hyaluronic Acid

What is it: Hyaluronic acid is a humectant which binds moisture to the skin surface to keep it hydrated and plump.

Benefits: keep skin hydrated, promotes healthy, plump, supple skin.

Glycolic Acid

What is it: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s derived from sugarcane can help those with frequent breakouts and several other skincare concerns.

Benefits: can be used as a peel for smoother, more even looking skin, can stimulate collagen production, can be used as an antioxidant.

Lactic Acid

What is it: Lactic acid is an AHA used to treat specific skin concerns and keep the skin plump and hydrated.

Benefits: helps to brighten skin, helps with hyperpigmentation, skin resurfacing