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What are skincare actives?

  • 5 min read

It seems like every week there is a new skincare trend on TikTok that needs unpacking to see if it’s really worthwhile. Far too often there are trends that are actually harmful to your skin’s natural barrier and microbiome. It’s always essential to do your own research about these trends to see whether they are suitable for your skin. 

Skincare actives are one of the latest trends sweeping through the beauty industry, with many people wondering whether the so-called benefits are true. Here, we’ll take a deep dive into active skincare ingredients to see what they are, how they work and answer some of our most frequently asked questions about skincare actives and their benefits.

Active skincare ingredients

Many people are probably wondering what ‘active’ skincare actually means: is it exercise-proof skincare or something else? Active skincare refers to products specifically designed to target certain ‘problem’ areas such as dry skin, hyperpigmentation and acne.

Active skincare ingredients are the specific ingredients added to these products to target specific concerns. Common active skincare ingredients include: hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides, retinol, AHAs, BHAs and amongst others, vitamins A, C and E. 

Active ingredients in organic skincare

For those who are climate-conscious and stick to an organic skincare routine, skincare actives aren’t lost! You can still find many fan-favourite active skincare ingredients in organic skincare, including the likes of hyaluronic acid and ceramides. 

Discover some of the most celebrated skincare actives and how to find them in organic and natural skincare:

How to layer skincare actives

When it comes to layering active ingredients in your skincare routine, there are some best practices that can help you get the most out of your products. As with layering any skincare products, it’s best to use products with thinner consistencies first and use oil-based products last in your routine. 

Take care to check whether or not the active ingredients in your products complement each other or if they work in opposition to one another.

Mixing active ingredients skincare

If you’re hoping to get the most out of your active skincare ingredients, knowing how to pair them together can make all the difference. Saying this, it’s important to remember that skincare is by no means a one-size-fits-all – figure out what works for you and your unique skin type.

Skincare active ingredients not to mix

Some combinations of skincare actives work in opposition to one another and typically shouldn’t be used together. There’s a chance of damaging your skin’s natural barrier rather than restoring it when using certain combinations such as:

  • Vitamin C & retinol
  • Retinol and AHA
  • Retinol and BHA

Can you use too many actives in skincare?

It can be easy to get sucked into the magic of skincare actives and try to use them as much as possible. However, by doing this, you actually risk using too many actives in your skincare routine. At UpCircle, we’re huge advocates of using a handful of skin-loving organic products consistently, rather than having a 10+ step skincare routine that isn't necessary and is hard to keep up with. 

Work out what you want to focus on with your skin – for example, a hit of hydration or reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation – and choose core products that include active ingredients to target these areas. Stick to a simple skincare routine that fits in with your daily life and allows you to take a few mindful moments. 

Skincare routine with actives

When it comes to skincare actives, using the principles of skin cycling can be extremely useful as not every step in this routine is needed every day. In fact, you can sometimes do more damage than good by exfoliating too often – stick to one to two times per week. 

1. Keep your skin clean

Gently take off the day and remove any traces of makeup with our award-winning Cleansing Face Balm with Oat Oil & Vitamin E and benefit from antioxidant-rich vitamin E, helping to calm and soothe the skin. Intensely nourishing, oat oil helps to alleviate dry skin, relieve inflammation and tackle redness. (Keep your eyes peeled for our NEW Oat Face Cleanser which is the perfect gentle everyday cleanser!)

If you’re partial to a double cleanse, use our NEW Cleansing Face Milk after your initial cleanse and benefit from the upcycled oat powder that repairs and restores the skin’s moisture barrier. 

2. Gently exfoliate

Use our Floral Blend Coffee Face Scrub for Sensitive Skin in circular motions on damp skin to gently buff the skin and remove dry and dead skin cells. Leave the scrub to sit on the skin for a few moments and then rinse using warm water, revealing soft and glowy skin. 

Formulated with upcycled arabica coffee grounds from artisan coffee shops, this fan-favourite scrub is organic and cruelty-free. Rich in antioxidants from the upcycled coffee grounds, the scrub helps to protect against free radical damage and environmental stressors. Skin-loving jojoba oil is full of natural ceramides, helping to protect the skin barrier and lock in moisture.

3. Spritz your natural toner

Formulated with plumping hyaluronic acid, our Vegan Face Toner helps to revitalise and refresh the skin. Biologically active mandarin fruit water protects the skin against inflammation and BHA salicylic acid works to clear pores and keep breakouts at bay.

4. Dab on some eye cream

Use your ring finger or our Eye Roller to gently dab some of our nourishing Eye Cream with Hyaluronic Acid under your eyes. Packed with upcycled maple bark extract to help boost collagen production and strengthen the skin barrier, our cruelty-free eye cream helps to refresh and renew the skin. 

5. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! 

Moisturising should be a key part of every skincare routine – whatever skin type you have. In the mornings, use our Face Moisturiser with Vitamin E for a boost of natural ceramides to start your day right.

In the evenings, opt for our replenishing Night Cream with Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide to include two key active skincare ingredients in your routine with one product. The cold-pressed blueberry extract included in our night cream is a natural source of pro-retinol, helping to increase the natural production of collagen. 

Finish off with a few drops of our award-winning Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil. Formulated with rosehip oil – a natural source of ceramides – this serum helps to keep moisture locked in and hydrate the skin.


Shop our full range of vegan and cruelty free skincare at UpCircle.