Finally got the basics of your skincare routine down? If you answered yes, it’s time to graduate to the next level: actives. Don’t be intimidated by the science-y name: these high-powered ingredients spell the difference between a good regimen and a game-changing one. Here’s a crash course.

WHAT THEY ARE

Actives are ingredients with the scientifically-proven capability to change your skin’s structure on a cellular level. Okay, that was a mouthful—we’ll explain. Unlike cleansers, moisturizers, and other basics, actives don’t just deliver nourishment on a surface level (which is temporary). Actives are actually able to alter the way your skin behaves long-term, especially when formulated in the proper concentrations. Sidebar: the term “actives” may also refer to products that contain active ingredients.

WHAT THEY DO


Each active ingredient serves its own benefits. For the most part, actives provide chemical exfoliation, treat hyper-pigmentation, prevent acne, and boost collagen and cell renewal to fight skin-aging. While basic skincare products have general hydrating and softening effects, only actives can effectively target and treat your unique skin issues.

HOW TO USE THEM

These hard-working formulas are designed to be used immediately after toner. Why? Actives perform best at the maximum level of absorption—and nothing absorbs goodness better than bare, clean skin. Once your face is toned, quickly spread the active product and pat it into your skin.

WHY YOU NEED THEM


Your skincare basics can only do so much. Actives, on the other hand, are the critical workhorses of any routine. These concentrated blends treat the skin with laser-sharp focus and—most importantly—strengthen, regulate, and nourish it. In a nutshell, you can count on actives to bring your skin back to its healthiest state.

Ready for your upgrade? Below, find 5 popular actives you need to try stat!

1. C20 Original Pure Vitamin C Serum
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Vitamin C
BENEFIT: A staple in most K-beauty routines, Vitamin C gently exfoliates and lightens acne scars for more luminous, even-toned skin.

Shop it here.

2. COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: BHA
BENEFIT: This natural exfoliant melts away impurities and dislodges deep-seated dirt. The result is less blackheads and tighter, clearer pores.

Shop it here.

3. Leiania House of Beauty Aloe Essence 10% Mandelic Acid Serum
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Mandelic Acid
BENEFIT: A superstar in the anti-aging world, mandelic acid accelerates the production of new skin cells. This process counteracts dullness and minimizes fine lines.

Shop it here.

4. Benton Snail Bee High Content Lotion (120ml)
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Hyaluronic Acid
BENEFIT: Ideal for dry or mature skin types, hyaluronic acid strengthens your natural moisture barrier to keep the skin plump and wrinkle-free.

Shop it here.

5. COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: AHA
BENEFIT: This gentle chemical exfoliant works two ways. First, it boosts collagen structure to keep the skin elastic. Then, it clears away dead cells, revealing a smoother, brighter complexion underneath.

Shop it here.

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