Choosing Active Skincare Products

Written by Abbi Ryan

Abbi Ryan is a contributing author and a creative director at Dr. J's Natural with a passion for all things health and wellness. As a former college athlete and fellow health enthusiast, Abbi aims to share her thoughts and research about the important things that will help create a happier and healthier lifestyle. In her spare time, Abbi enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and painting new pieces of wall decor for her new home!

May 12, 2022

The skincare aisle can be overwhelming, even for the most seasoned skincare fanatic and when talking about active skincare ingredients, it’s almost too much to handle. Experts say that if you can get past the marketing appearance and look into the ingredients, you will be able to determine if the products you choose are really going to address your skin concerns. Take a look at the best active skincare ingredients that can help drastically improve your skin’s specific issues.


Let’s start with most young adults’ main concern: acne. Beta hydroxy acid (commonly associated with salicylic acid) is known as a chemical exfoliant, which helps fight acne, blemishes, and breakouts. BHA can be found in skincare products such as spot treatments and serums, but it can be quite drying to sensitive or dehydrated skin.


Vitamin C is a very well-known active ingredient in the skincare industry and is most commonly incorporated in serums to fade hyperpigmentation and fade dark spots. As an antioxidant, vitamin C is popularly applied during the day to help protect against free radicals in your environment. These toxins can damage your skin and even speed up aging.

One downside of using a Vitamin C serum is that they are difficult to stabilize, meaning that when exposed to sunlight or left open, they can go bad and become ineffective. That is why it is highly recommended to choose ascorbic acid ( derivative of Vitamin C) and choose a serum with a dark bottle and air-tight packaging for maximum potency.


Niacinamide has quickly become one of the most popularly used active ingredients addressing inflammation and irritation in the skin. This ingredient is very universal, making it easy to layer alongside other actives and agreeable with all skin types. Niacinamide is commonly formulated in serums, lotions, cleansers, and other products making it a very good starter ingredient for those getting into the actives.


Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is another ingredient in the family of chemical exfoliants which works to remove dead skin cells for an even skin tone. AHA has also been shown to have anti-aging effects such as reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Sunscreen should always be layered after using AHA in your routine as sun sensitivity is common with using this ingredient.

Sun damage can make your skin concerns worse and increase signs of aging dramatically. Sunscreen should ALWAYS be applied as the last step of your daily skincare routine.


Retinol is an active ingredient in most nightly skincare products and can be used for overnight repair of the skin barrier. As a vitamin A derivative, retinol can improve uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation and even hydrate the skin. Retinol also contains anti-aging properties and can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Experts have warned that there is an adjustment period to retinol as some may experience skin flakiness. It is best to dose up with each week’s use. If you’re concerned about this, it is best to consult your dermatologist before using it.


To fight the drought going on in your skin, try hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in our bodies, but (collagen) decreases production as you age, leading to more dehydration in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is commonly used in conjunction with vitamin C to help boost hydration during the day.

Because hyaluronic acid is a very popular active ingredient, it’s important to sort through products to find the right concentration that will actually penetrate the skin barrier. Some brands use micronized hyaluronic acid which is nowhere near as effective and will not do anything for your skin. Plain old HA on the label from a trusted company will tell you it’s been formulated correctly and will have the mega-hydration you need on your skin.

Active Skincare Ingredients to look for

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