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What are ‘Actives’ and why should you look for them in your skincare

Need to Know:

  • Actives are powerful ingredients that are included in a formula specifically to deliver on the product’s promise, like boosting hydration or fighting blemishes. 

  • Veracity qualifies an ingredient as an active if there are clinical studies and data that prove its effectiveness, and if it is including in our formulas at a level that makes it one of the powerhouses of the product.

  • Some examples of actives are sulfur (in our Blemish Calming Cleanser), willow bark (in our Inflammation Response Vital Concentrate), sea fennel extract (in our Advanced Hydration Cleanser), and 4D hyaluronic acid (in our Hydration Balance Vital Concentrate).

As a skincare brand rooted in science, we love our actives. But we’ve also discovered that most people don’t actually know what this term means. There are many beauty terms that get tossed around when it comes to skincare products – “skin type”, “natural”, “youthful” – terms that don’t always mean much. But actives isn’t one of these. 

So, we’re here to demystify what actives are and why everyone should know and celebrate how these powerful ingredients are working hard for your skin.

What They Are

Very simply, actives are skincare ingredients…but better. They are the powerful ingredients at powerful levels that make the products work – addressing the skin issues that the product promises to treat, like acne or dryness.

Other ingredients are included in products for a variety of reasons, all of which are important. These reasons include giving the product a nice texture and feel, improving the stability of the formula to keep it fresh (think preservatives), and affecting the appearance of your skin. Actives in skincare are the best ingredients in the latter category, working on the health and appearance of your skin.

As Delise Martiré, Veracity’s director of product development, puts it, “Actives are the star ingredients in skincare product formulas that are included at levels that we have data to back up that they're going to impact or improve the appearance of your skin and address the hormonal symptoms of your skin issues at the source.”

As Delise explains, there are two key components involved in whether or not Veracity considers an ingredient an active: 1. What it actually does and if there are clinical studies and data to prove its effectiveness. 2. If it’s included in the formula at levels that make it a powerful player. While all actives are ingredients, not all ingredients are considered actives.

A good example of this is antioxidants. These ingredients are like the A-listers of skincare products: everybody wants them. But antioxidants can be included in a formula for a variety of reasons, not all which have to do with skin repair and brightening. At lower levels, they can be incorporated as a preservative or to help the overall stability of the skincare formula. But it’s when they are included at levels specifically designed to provide antioxidant benefits straight to your skin that they rise to the level of an “active.”

Like “clean beauty,” there is no industry-wide standard regulating when a company can qualify an ingredient in their skincare as a powerful “active.” So, to truly determine when a product is packed with things that will work for you, it takes a little bit of sleuthing: how much do you trust the company? How clear are they about what they include in their products? And what are their standards for those ingredients?

Actives Work Like Regular Ingredients…But Better

To help illustrate how actives work, here’s a highlight of some of our favorite actives that are not only powerhouses in our skincare, but are 100% non toxic and safe alternatives to ingredients like retinol that can have negative skin and health impacts over the long term.

  • Sulfur: Found in Veracity’s Blemish Calming Cleanser, sulfur is a powerhouse because of its ability to fight breakouts. But it doesn’t just bust the blemishes you already have. At the right levels, sulfur targets breakouts at their source, balancing sebum levels and acting as an exfoliant to clean your pores of all the stuff that caused the problems in the first place.

  • Willow Bark: As a key active in Veracity’s Inflammation Response Vital Concentrate as well as the Blemish Calming Cleanser, willow bark helps to soothe and purify your skin and balance oil production. It does all of the same things as salicylic acid, but it differs in that it is completely safe for your hormones, including safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

  • Sea Fennel Extract: Found in Veracity’s Advanced Hydration Cleanser, sea fennel extract boosts your skin’s own production of ceramides, the lipids that support your skin barrier and naturally help it retain moisture and stay hydrated. Thanks to this powerful active, Veracity’s moisturizing cleanser not only cleans and hydrates your skin, but it also helps support your skin’s natural process of maintaining hydration.

  • 4D Hyaluronic Acid: A key ingredient in Veracity’s Hydration Balance Vital Concentrate as well as the Advanced Hydration Cleanser, this one does everything hyaluronic acid does – including boosting skin hydration and supporting your skin barrier – but it’s even better because it is a biomimetic ingredient, which means it is similar to the natural hyaluronic acid that your body produces on its own. 

“'Actives’ is such a cool word and such a good concept,” Delise says. “Every product that Veracity develops is always going to have an active because the actives are selected based on the skin issues that are being treated, and our understanding of the underlying hormonal root causes."

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