Let’s Get Active.

Published: April 29 2022 & Updated: June 14 2022
Guide to active ingredients in skincare products

What exactly are ‘actives’ in skincare products? We hear the term all the time and, yet, it’s still all so confusing. Active ingredients are the ingredients contained within a skincare product that do the work to address the skin concern said product is meant to target, meaning the product will do what it says it will. 

Let's set our foundation with some quick actives Q&A!

  • What other actives can be mixed with the acids in Dark Spots Serum?

In the AM, try pairing your Dark Spots Serum with a Vitamin C serum to really boost those brightening benefits. Avoid any other potent actives as too many could cause irritation.

In the PM, use another active serum (like our Acne Serum) along with your moisturizer to ensure your skin’s hydrated and balanced.

  • Can you use AHAs and retinol together?

To avoid irritation, we recommend alternating the days you use AHAs and retinol. For example, Monday night use Dark Spots Serum and Tuesday night apply Retinol Face Stick!

If you have sensitive skin, limit the use of both actives to 2-3x per week.

  • Can you use actives in the morning?

Sure, just make sure you apply your SPF and moisturizer. We recommend using our new Dark Spots Serum 2x per day (morning + night) for maximum brightening benefits.

Still rather lost? Don’t worry, it took us a minute to wrap our heads around it, too. So we gathered the most common active ingredients and explained them below:

  •  AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids)

These acids are expert exfoliants that help loosen and remove dead skin cells, which then encourages and improves cell turnover. They do everything from boost skin’s radiance and fade dark spots to tighten the skin and smoothing fine lines. 

  • Antioxidants

Antioxidants are crucial in helping skin’s defenses against environmental stressors like pollution and can be found in all types of vitamins and minerals. This is important because the less exposure to these stressors, the less irritability and early signs of aging your skin has to deal with.

  • BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acids)

These acids also exfoliate skin like AHAs but are oil-soluble, allowing them to get inside pores and push out the excess sebum, dirt, and oil that’s trapped inside. The plus side is that BHAs can help soothe red, inflamed blemishes and won’t irritate skin. 

  • Hyaluronic Acid 

Hyaluronic Acid is best known for its ability to hold up to 1,000x its weight in water, helping hydrate and plump all skin types. It’s a true hydration hero. 

  • Niacinamide 

AKA vitamin B3, niacinamide is best known for boosting your skin’s natural glow. And it plays pretty well with others, so don’t be afraid to layer it into your routine. 

  • Peptides

Peptides are made up of lots of amino acids that act like building blocks for proteins - and guess what one of the proteins found in skin is? Collagen! Peptides are great for keeping skin looking and feeling firm and plump while also helping soothe and support skin’s natural moisture barrier.

  • Retinol

A potent derivative of Vitamin A, Retinol is considered the holy grail of multitasking ingredients since it addresses multiple skin concerns like fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, sagging, and acne. So what’s the magic of retinol? It can help stimulate skin cell turnover. 

  • Vitamin C

An ingredient well-known and loved for its brightening abilities, Vitamin C is vital to protecting your skin from skin-damaging and dark-spot inducing free radicals. Rule of thumb (according to the pros): shop for vitamin C with higher doses that are more active if you don’t have sensitive skin.

*Based on what the research says and why we love these ingredients!


Got a skin concern? We’ve got a solution. Just text us & we’ll walk you through your personalized step-by-step solution. Your skincare coach will ask for a quick selfie to ensure we find the perfect regimen for your skin concerns! Let’s Chat >

Tags:  Skin Saviors
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