Active Ingredients Used in Cosmetics and Skincare Products

Topic Beauty Tips and Secrets // Author Mary Quinn // Dated 20th of Jan, 2015.

Much touted as a science wonder in recent years in advertisement, Active Ingredients have been around for as long as the Earth it's self. Oft difficult to understand what they are exactly (they are "new" after all), from the marketing found in many magazines and product catalogue's, you'd possibly be surprised to know that they are all around us.

You see, there is no "wonder" at all, but first before I show you what to look for, let me explain what an Active Ingredient (AI) is, and why they are so important for you to maintain your body beautiful.

An Active Ingredient is a substance found in a plant, that can have an effect on your body (in a good way, which is to be expected from nature), and they are important as they perform many different functions allowing your skin (and body, overall) to breath, function, and renew it's self.

It's all about the Fatty Acids

What benefits your skin and body the most, are the Fatty Acids found in seeds and nuts, fruit and many plant's [1][2] once they have been extracted (ideally, cold pressed is best), we are talking about the chemical makeup of the oil once processed.

Many oils have pretty much the same Fatty Acids, however their quantities vary wildly, this is why each oil, when put to a use, has it's own peculiar benefit in terms of caring for your skin ― therefore some oils are more important for dry, damaged skin types more over than other choices, for example.

"That's all good but, what are they?" I hear you ask.

Going Nuts about Omega 3 and 6

Leaving the chemistry aside (I was a poor student in my chemistry classes anyway), for now let's focus on the two most important Fatty Acids, namely alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, these two are known as "essential" Fatty Acids, they are essential because your body cannot produce them by it's self; at least not in sufficient amounts anyway.

Your body would be stumped without them. [3]

You will find these "essential" Fatty Acids in many nuts (say... Walnut), once the oil has been extracted, the Fatty Acids are still present, thus you benefit by putting it on your skin ― a moisturiser.

There are so many benefits to these two "essential" Fatty Acids, it's bewildering to go into detail just now. I'll leave that for another day. In terms of skincare however, these two Fatty Acids have been known to have skin cell regenerative properties, so they are "a biggy" for your skin on that one benefit alone.

Quote meEat more nuts as part of a healthy diet, fresh beans too

Many foods are highly enriched with Omega acids, you know this, however there is a common believe that Omega acids are "the essential" (must have) Fatty Acids, it's not true. You see, Omega 3 comes with alpha-linolenic acid, and Omega 6 with linoleic acid, an easy mis-understanding. I think that's because Omega acids may have the highest level's of "essential" Fatty Acids.

Now you know that Omega 3 and 6 (there is an Omega 9 too, were you aware of that? It's to do with "how cells bond") are not our "essential" Fatty Acids. They are important, but they are not an Active Ingredient, per se.

Tell Tale signs are There

You have been introduced to what Fatty Acids are, every one is important because your body uses them to a) as a source of energy [4], b) renew cell membranes (used topically [as in a skincare product] to renew your skin ― the epidermis layer) and c) act as "messengers" for many more bodily functions.

You may now suspect that the term "Active Ingredient" is merely marketing terminology. It is, and you are not alone in thinking that there was to be something special about "Active Ingredients"; the real magic are those Fatty Acids.

"Fatty Acids" Hmm... Not so... "consumer friendly" is it! Us ladies are adversely effected by our appearance, all day long we think about how we look. You could not imagine a sales rep punting their "latest wonder" skincare product with "this particular product has concentrated fatty acids", heaven forbid.

What you take away today is the knowledge that, marketing aside, there is no "new science", no "new discovery". In conclusion, for many years, in many cosmetic products, Active Ingredients have been there all along, in the form of plant based oils.

[1] Fatty Acids are the Active Ingredient, don't be baffled by "buzzwords" and marketing Jargon.

[2] Fatty Acids are not only found in plants, they are found in many animal fats too.

[3] As part of a healthy diet, look for "poly-unsaturates" such as oil for cooking and salads.

[4] Fatty Acids are inherently fat, and are therefore a source of energy.

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