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Why Some Active Ingredients Might be Irritating Your Skin

Why Some Active Ingredients Might be Irritating Your Skin

If you are interested in skincare, then you will know that one of the big trends for the last few years has been the inclusion of active ingredients, which can have anti-ageing effects our skin. The problem is that many of them can actually be irritating to our skin, and cause disruption to our skin barrier. This in our view occurs when the actives are synthetic and not from natural origins. We are not denying that they do not help with things like line smoothing and brightening, however, this can come at the expense of irritation. At Nakin we do not think it is worth the trade off and instead we use natural actives and extracts that are kind to skin and anti-ageing at the same time. This is the same for all of our anti-ageing skincare.

The types of active ingredients that are irritating to skin commonly include the below. These are not to be confused with unwanted ingredients like parabens, which we never recommend for skin, but are not considered to be active ingredients.


Retinoids are a class of cosmetic ingredients derived from Vitamin A, which have gained popularity in recent years due to their anti-aging properties. These highly effective compounds are known for their ability to improve skin texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and even out skin tone.

However, despite their many benefits, retinoids can also cause irritation to the skin. This is due to their potent nature and ability to stimulate cell turnover, which can result in a range of side effects such as redness, peeling, and dryness.

One of the main reasons why retinoids are irritating is because they are considered highly active ingredients. This means that they have a strong effect on the skin and can cause significant changes in a short period of time.

Synthetic Vitamin C

Synthetic Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that offers numerous benefits for the skin. From brightening and evening out skin tone to reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, this powerhouse ingredient has become a staple in many skincare routines.

However, despite its many benefits, vitamin C can also be irritating to the skin. It is a strong ingredient that can trigger a response on the skin, resulting in inflammation and discomfort. The irritation can manifest in various ways such as redness, itching, burning sensation, or even a rash.

Synthetic Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is a popular ingredient in many skincare products, especially cleansers. It is classified as an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and has gained popularity due to its ability to exfoliate the skin and improve overall skin texture. However, despite its numerous benefits, synthetic glycolic acid can also be irritating to the skin. This may come as a surprise since it is in so many products, but for some individuals, this ingredient may cause redness, dryness, and even peeling.

Synthetic Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in many skincare products, particularly those aimed at treating acne and other skin conditions. However, despite its effectiveness in combating these issues, synthetic salicylic acid can also be irritating to the skin.

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that works by exfoliating the top layer of skin and unclogging pores. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble and so it can dissolve excess sebum that can contribute to acne. While this deep penetration may sound like a good thing, it can also be the reason why salicylic acid irritates some people's skin.

How To Avoid Irritation from Actives

At Nakin we believe that the best way to avoid irritation from these active ingredients is to instead use skincare like Nakin’s, with plant actives that are kind to skin.

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