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10 Skin Care Active Ingredients to Include in Your Routine

10 Skin Care Active Ingredients to Include in Your Routine

Having a skin care routine has skyrocketed in popularity over the last couple of years. It’s a productive habit to refresh yourself at the start and end of each day. If you have ever tried to shop for skin care products you know how intimidating it can be and how expensive some items are. The truth is it’s not about how much you spend but what active ingredients you use for the best results. Active ingredients refer to the main ingredients for an outcome a product promises like nourished skin. Everyone has their own skin care needs, but not everyone understands the healthiest ingredients to put together for a perfect routine. We’re here to share 10 skin care active ingredients to include in your routine and who they most benefit:

  • Vitamin C
  • SPF
  • Collagen
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA)
  • Vitamin E
  • Aloe vera
  • Lactic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Ceramides
  • Retinol

Vitamin C

Antioxidant vitamin C is one of the skin care active ingredients that’s more important to use as you age. There are a few different forms of vitamin C used in skin care including L-ascorbic acid that vary based on how they are stabilized. One of vitamin C’s most beloved benefits is its ability to even and brighten dull skin. That includes lifting dark spots and discoloration and smoothing wrinkles. But vitamin C also can protect and heal from pollutants and sun damage. After using vitamin C in a cream or serum in the mornings, expect your skin to look younger and feel healthier!


Cosmetics and skin care products with SPF are a must for summertime! Used along with sunscreen, your skin will be protected from harmful UV rays from the sun. SPF, or sun protection factor, is given levels of protection based on its ability to UVB rays. For everyday wear, start with at least SPF 30 in moisturizers, lotions, and lip balms. You won’t find SPF listed in an ingredient list, but you might see titanium oxide and zinc oxide as active ingredients. Both are found in broadband sunscreens and are suitable for all skin types including sensitive. 


Guess what the most plentiful protein in the human body is? It’s collagen, and it’s found in a lot of places like our connective tissue, bones, and of course our skin. Besides being an important protein that keeps the structure of muscles and bones, it also keeps the structure and elasticity of our faces. When collagen is used in skin care products it promotes the body’s natural production to hold moisture in the skin. Adding back elasticity will take away the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Unlike other skin care active ingredients, collagen can also be taken orally as a supplement to see greater results. 

Hyaluronic acid (HA)

Hyaluronic acid is a very popular ingredient for keeping skin healthy and hydrated. Like collagen, hyaluronic acid is naturally found in our joints and skin. The reason it’s considered one of the best hydrating ingredients is that the hydrophilic (or water-loving) compound binds together water up to 1000 times its own weight! Besides retaining moisture, hyaluronic acid can improve overall skin texture and make skin look younger. It’s beneficial for all skin types but especially for dry skin or for dryer seasons like winter. It’s agreeable with almost all other skin care active ingredients and rarely causes allergic reactions for sensitive skin. When used daily in forms like moisturizers and serums, hyaluronic acid keeps skin replenished and looking youthful. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that’s naturally found in our skin but can be lost as we age or face environmental pollutants. There are eight synthetic forms of vitamin E including tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol that are usually found in oils or creams. Its top benefit is protecting the skin barrier from pollutants and keeping it moisturized. Because it increases the skin’s moisture, vitamin E is known to heal inflammation and irritation at a faster rate. Lastly, vitamin E is great for neutralizing vitamin C and using them together to brighten and even skin tone. 

Aloe vera

There are lots of uses for aloe vera for good health, but it’s also an effective ingredient for healthier skin. This plant extract is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. That’s why aloe vera is great for treating sunburns. Because of all the different minerals and vitamins it contains, aloe vera is used in a variety of ways. It works well for all skin types to moisturize and reduce texture like wrinkles or acne. Aloe vera can be found in all types of skin care products like masks, lotions, and gels. 

Lactic acid

Lactic acid is part of a larger group of skin care ingredients known as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). Like other AHAs, lactic acid exfoliates the top skin layers to increase cell turnover. But just because lactic acid toners and serums are becoming more popular doesn’t mean this is a new tactic. Lactic acid found in spoiled milk has been used for thousands of years, most famously by Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. Nowadays synthetic lactic acid is used for the same results of smaller pores and clearer skin. This AHA is recommended for acne-prone skin because of its ability to kill breakout-causing bacteria. Over time, larger concentrations of lactic acid can cause the dermis and epidermis to grow thicker for fuller, healthier skin. 

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is part of the beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) ingredient family and is one of the most popular BHAs. BHAs go deeper in the skin than AHAs to exfoliate and clean out the inside of pores. Salicylic acid is usually found in over-the-counter treatments for acne and skin texture like cleansers and cream treatments. Other people use it for even skin tone, oil control, and healing inflamed skin. Using salicylic acid while pregnant or with certain medications can have harmful side effects, so consult a doctor or dermatologist for your acne care needs. 


This group of ingredients known as ceramides is naturally found in the barriers of our skin. Ceramides are fatty molecules that retain moisture and keep out unwanted environmental elements. However, ceramides naturally go away with age or sun damage that causes dryness and irritation. Using products with ceramides restores hydration and builds back that barrier for those with dry skin. Moisturizers and serums meant for skin hydration and anti-aging properties are best applied daily at the end of your routine. Look out for ingredients like ceramide NP, ceramide AP, and for phospholipids that are either plant-based or synthetic.


Retinol, a man-made product of vitamin A, is a member of the retinoid family of skin care ingredients. After it’s applied to the skin in a cream or serum, your skin converts retinol into retinoic acid which it can absorb. Like lactic acid, retinol actually turns over skin cells to promote collagen production. That’s why retinol is known for its anti-aging properties to smooth fine lines and wrinkles. But since it promotes even skin tone and texture, it’s also used to get rid of dark spots, scars, and acne. It’s best to only use retinol at night along with or before moisturizer. 

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