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What’s The Difference Between Active and Inactive Ingredients In Skincare Products?

If you want a better understanding of what you're buying and using on your skin, you need to learn the difference between active and inactive ingredients.
Updated: November 9, 2022
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When shopping for the perfect skincare product, sometimes you feel like you need a degree in chemistry to fully understand what certain ingredients are and what they do. We rely on blind trust that the manufacturers have done a good job creating the formula and we put anything we find complicated to the back of our minds.

But it is important to understand the role of ingredient types and how they can impact the product and your skin. This is made easier by becoming familiar with active and inactive ingredients and the differences between them. Let’s dive in.

Overview of active ingredients

Usually, when you’re on a website searching for products, the buying page will serve you lots of intricate information about the active ingredients contained within the substance. But what are they?

To put it simply, active ingredients are the elements inside a product that actually do things. For example, if you are using a face moisturizing cream, the active ingredients inside will be responsible for the moisturizing process. If you’re using a face scrub, the active ingredients are the hard particles that scrape your skin. Get it? It might sound overly simplistic, but there you go! The active ingredients are the guys that have the most impact on your skin and do the stuff they are supposed to do to achieve specific results.

Overview of inactive ingredients

We’re sure you’re way ahead of us now, but just for the sake of clarity let’s quickly cover inactive ingredients. They are the opposite of active ingredients and have no effect on your skin. Instead, their role is to provide unseen benefits to the mixture of the product itself.

The most common inactive ingredients are colorants, binding agents, flavoring agents, stabilizers, and preservatives. Basically, they control the look, taste, consistency, and longevity of the product and have no therapeutic effects on your skin.

What’s the difference?

This is pretty obvious. The difference between active and inactive ingredients is their role in the product. Active ingredients do the jobs you want them to do, whereas inactive ingredients hold the product together. It’s not rocket science, but good to know anyway.

Final word

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what active and inactive ingredients do. Even though the explanation is very basic, many people still don’t take the time to learn.

Going forward, you can now choose products based on the active ingredients you prefer and think will do a great job for your skin.

Knowledge is power.

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