Active Ingredient Best New ingredients Anti-Ageing Anti-Blemish Dark Spot Fading Active Ingredient at a glance Regulated ingredients approved to perform a specific drug- or drug-like skin care function Listed with their concentration and a short description of how they work Must also be accompanied by instructions detailing how to apply Examples include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid for acne Active Ingredient description The United States Food and Drug Administration defines an active ingredient as “any component that provides pharmacological activity or other direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or animals.” In skin care, actives are indicated on the product’s label and must be approved to perform a specific drug- or drug-like function. Examples include titanium dioxide and other UV filters for sun protection and benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for acne. In essence, these are regulated ingredients that have active functionality to prevent, heal or improve a specific present or future (think sunburn) condition Active ingredients are listed with their concentration and a short description of how they work in a product. Active ingredients must also be accompanied by instructions detailing how and how often the product that contains them should be applied. The “inactive” ingredients that make up the rest of a skin care formulas aren’t really inactive per se, as they provide support for the active ingredient or lend cosmetic functions to the formula. Additionally, you may hear someone refer to powerful ingredients in their skin care products as “active” or “bio-active”—however this is a subjective and interpretational way of describing ingredient efficacy or potency. This verbiage is not the same thing as the regulated term. Note: Outside of the U.S., definitions of active ingredients vary by each country’s regulatory criteria.