Five Myths on ‘Active Ingredients’

Niacinamide, peptide, enzyme — such obscure terms have permeated the world of skincare. The industry keeps churning out fresh buzzwords with increasing speed, facilitating the flow of evergreen products. If a decade ago the products would differ by function: i.e. cleanser, toner, moisturizer, nowadays we classify our skincare according to active ingredients. 

I sat with Keto over a cup of coffee to discuss the so-called “hero” ingredients, as we attempted to bust some myths about this latest skincare craze. 

Myth N1: An ‘active ingredient’ presupposes a special, unique substance

The phenomenon of the “active ingredients” is part of the skincare industry’s marketing efforts. 

Most so-called “actives” (retinoids, ABC vitamins, AHA BHA acids, etc.)  enjoyed behind-the-scenes existence in skincare formulas, yet nowadays the spotlight shines brightly on them. For example, if a product was called simply as moisturizer — period, now it gets positioned as a hyaluronic acid lotion — the same substance, yet the different word choice. The popularization of serums spearheaded this shift, as exemplified by the brands that manage to sell over 45 serums by leveraging the starpower of the active ingredients. 


Myth N2: An active ingredient is the main determinant of the product’s efficacy

If several years ago the brand, the packaging and the celebrity appeal drove consumer choices, now it’s the “actives” the people are charmed with. Though this shift may seem more level-headed and rational, it has its drawbacks — the overuse of chemistry terms feeds into the pseudo-scientific propaganda distributed by an army of uninformed bloggers (fortunately, not all bloggers out there belong to them), creating the illusion of informed choice in the consumer. Meanwhile, a single ingredient says very little about the product — the product quality is first and foremost determined by the right cosmetic formulation. 


Myth N3: Strong active ingredients are necessary for glowing skin

When a product gives unrealistic promises, its potential of harming the skin also tends to be high. Consumers  have high expectations towards  products with active ingredients; they expect quick results, which, in the case of certain substances, might be harmful in the long term. This holds particularly true for acids — although high-percent glycolic acid toner might give you visible improvements overnight, its overuse through years will destroy your skin barrier. The active ingredients should be tailored to one’s skin type and concerns; intensity does not always equal efficacy. 


Myth N4: The more active ingredients go into our skincare routine, the better

It doesn’t matter if we layer countless serums on top of each other or use a single product  containing a zillion active ingredients — in both cases skin gets confused, unable to decide which exact command to obey. Not only is the combination of some active ingredients outright forbidden by the derms (i.e. that of acids and retinoids),  application of more than 2, maximum 3 “actives” simultaneously is too much. It’s better to ask the skin to do less, but to do it well. 


Myth N5: Natural ingredients are always good, whereas synthetic — in all cases bad

We believe that botanical extracts, oils and compounds aid skin in much more complex ways than synthetic substances. However, many factors come into play here — natural ingredients can also come from polluted sources. Therefore, for us it’s important for our ingredients to satisfy our three key pillars of safety, security and integrity. It should also be noted that neither are synthetic substances always bad. There exist priceless ingredients that are mostly synthetically obtained, such as allantoin, pantenol (provitamin B5) and others, the moderate use of which doesn’t contradict the “Green Beauty” standards. 


In an ever-changing world of skincare, the trend of “active ingredients” is associated with excessive product consumption, as exemplified by the popularization of 12-step skincare routines and multi-product-layering practices.  

Believers in moderation, we trust nature to be the ultimate laboratory that supplies us with the best active ingredients. We do not intend to change your skin — we want it to feel and look its best; and in this quest is nature our biggest ally.  

Products with our fav actives:

  • Flower Power Collection (allantoin, lavender & calendula extracts)
  • Aromatherapy Hand Sanitizer – (panthenol)
  • Mulled Wine Collection (vitamin E, clove bud, cinnamon & star anise, arctic cranberry extracts)
  • Naked Truth Tinted Serum (vitamin E, rosemary leaf, chamomile & calendula extracts)

Author: Eka Lolashvili


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