Why You Need Actives In A Skincare Routine

Up your skincare game with these ingredients that will add glow, even out texture, and prevent pimples. For real.

Maybe you’ve got the cleanser-toner-moisturiser trifecta down pat. These basics form the foundation for healthy skin. Ready for the next step? Try ‘actives’, products that work by utilising the action of ingredients scientifically-proven to have a noticeable impact on your skin. While some actives like retinoids and tretinoin require a prescription from a dermatologist, more and more skincare brands are making dedicated active products that anyone can use.

Here are our favourites.


Vitamin C Serum

Oranges are a source of Vitamin C.

Use this if: You’re worried about dull skin, scars, and wrinkles.

Vitamin C has an impressive body of scientific research backing its skin benefits. As an antioxidant, it buffs your skin’s ability to protect against UV damage, while also inhibiting melanin production and increasing collagen synthesis. What does this mean for your skin? Wrinkles are diminished, scars and dark spots fade, and your overall skin tone is refined and glowy. Sounds great, right? But, as you may have learnt from the many superhero movies, with power comes instability.

To be effective, Vitamin C requires a very specific set of conditions – namely, a low pH and the right formulation. Try a dedicated Vitamin C serum like the C20 Original Pure Vitamin C Serum to ensure you’re making the most of its benefits. 

How to use Vitamin C: Apply onto a clean face at night, after cleansing. It needs 15-20 minutes to work, after which you can wipe it off with toner and continue with your routine.

Before & After:


Chemical Exfoliants

We’ve all tried a physical exfoliant at some point in our lives. These exfoliants sometimes use rough abrasives (such as sugar, walnut shells, and microbeads) to physically scrub away dry skin and other imperfections. They’re often too harsh on your skin, causing irritation, redness, and scarring with little to no effect on oil or acne. Try a finer scale approach: chemical exfoliants. There are two types and like Vitamin C, both require a low pH and proper formulation to work.

1. Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA):

Willow bark, a natural source of salicylic acid. Source: Wikipedia

Use this if: You’re worried about oily skin, redness, clogged pores, blackheads, and acne

BHA is most commonly found as salicylic acid, a common ingredient in anti-acne products. And for good reason – unlike physical exfoliants, BHAs can dissolve oil, which allows them to clear out the sebum in your pores for a truly deep cleanse. This prevents oil blockages that lead to pimples and blackheads, and reduces oil production in the long run. BHAs are also anti-inflammatory, so they bring down redness and swelling from acne. Shrinking your pores may not be possible, but if you keep them clean, they’ll be far less visible. We like the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid for its gentle but effective exfoliation.

Before & After:


2. Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)

Apples and milk are a source of malic and lactic acid.

Use this if: You’re worried about rough skin texture, dull skin, whiteheads, scars and dark spots

These acids are most commonly found in fruits and milk as glycolic, lactic, mandelic, and malic acid. These naturally-derived acids work by dissolving the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. A good AHA can effectively resurfaces your skin by taking off a layer of dead skin without rough scrubbing. Because of this, AHA’s are extremely good for helping fade hyperpigmentation such as blemish scars and dark spots. By removing dead skin, they also help bring whiteheads and closed comedones to a head, speeding up the healing process. AHA’s are also good humectants, which means they’ll draw moisture into your skin as well. Try the COSRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid.

Before & After:


How to use chemical exfoliants: After cleansing and toning, apply onto bare skin with hands or a cotton pad. Chemical exfoliants need at least 20 minutes to work on your skin, and do not need to be wiped off. Continue with the rest of your routine.


So to recap, actives are a great addition to any skincare routine. Their targeted action has a measurable impact on skin, and they go a long way towards improving the overall condition of your skin. Just remember to always use sunscreen as Vitamin C and AHA can increase photosensitivity.

, , , ,