Active VS Inactive Ingredients in Skincare

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Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a skincare product you picked off the shelves in a store? Did you feel confused and simply turn back to the front of the product to see what was said in simpler terms? Did you also wonder what those confusing ingredients could mean or feel some might be left out?

The good news is, you are not alone in your confusion and all of these questions mean you want what everyone else wants–safe, healthy, and effective products!

Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to tell what is safe and healthy anymore. Even organic products cannot be completely trusted. The best solution always seems to be knowing what is on the ingredient list. Well, I can tell you there are two categories–active and inactive ingredients.

You may have seen a product that specifies these categories and others that don’t. Knowing what they both imply can enhance your skincare product decision for the better!

What are Active Ingredients?

An active ingredient is an ingredient meant to treat or address a condition. It is the ingredient that takes action and does what the product says it will do. An active ingredient is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to perform a specific function. Some examples of active ingredients you may have come across include hydroquinone which works for skin lightening, titanium dioxide for sun protection and benzoyl peroxide for acne.

An active ingredient for a skin product can fight inflammation, treat conditions, reverse photo-aging, boost cell regeneration, and more.

What are Inactive Ingredients?

Think of what the opposite of active ingredients may be. Inactive ingredients do not provide any direct benefit or perform a specific function like active ingredients, rather, they perform other equally important functions. An inactive ingredient in a skincare product will do any of the following:

Stabilize–Inactive ingredients act as stabilizers maintain the product’s consistency and texture. They help it not to degrade quickly.

Transport–They can also be used as carriers to deliver the active ingredients to their point of action. Most products use water for this.

Preserve–As preservatives, inactive ingredients prevent contamination to the product or skin. A good example of such an ingredient is parabens.

Inactive ingredients can make the product smell nice and look nice.


Where Active and Inactive Ingredients Meet

The fact that an ingredient is inactive does not mean it will have no effects on the skin. They come in contact with the skin and eventually find their way into the body. This is why some inactive ingredients like parabens are prohibited from use. Parabens are known to play a role in breast cancer, synthetic perfumes might sensitize the skin and serums with other inactive ingredients can irritate the skin.

While the adverse effects of some inactive ingredients are in play, there is the issue of a lower percentage of active ingredients. Many brands reduce the number of active ingredients and increase the inactive ingredients that make you feel and smell good. So an active ingredient listed does not guarantee the effectiveness of a product.

Read more from I On The Scene: HERE.

About Irene Michaels

Over the past 25 years I have taken on the roles of a producer, publisher, insider journalist and fundraiser. My artistic interests began early in my teens working as a model and a dancer throughout the U.S. I formed my first modeling agency before I was twenty. While modeling I secured a re-occurring role in the popular daytime TV series General Hospital. Read more...

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