Drug Store Vs. Professional? Which is better?

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Products with highly active ingredients like the ones I use, last longer, due to the lack of filler and by-products. The first 10 ingredients in any product are the most active. So if you see your hyaluronic acid or retinol at the bottom of the list it means you just wasted your money.

What exactly are active ingredients?

They are the ingredients contained within skincare products that actually work to address skin concern. The product is meant to target. They are the ingredients that have been scientifically proven to actually have the desired effect, meaning the product will do what it says it will. Professional products may mean you pay more at first but long term you're paying less. There is increased longevity of products and less plastic used worldwide. You’re not only helping your pockets, but you're also helping the ecosystem & your skin.

Examples of active ingredients commonly seen in skincare & what they do:

Alpha Hydroxy Acids:

AHA's are chemical exfoliations that sloth off dead skins cells by eating the bonds between surface skin cells and healthy cells. This Acid is commonly found in anti-aging products because as we age, our skin cells tend to slow down. This exfoliation helps boost skin cell turn over. They can also be used to fight acne, dry skin, brighten, and diminish texture. Popular AHAs are; glycolic acid (sugar derived), lactic acid (lactose derived), and mandelic acid (almond derived).

Beta Hydroxy Acid:

BHA is most commonly known as Salicylic Acid. This is another form of a chemical exfoliant that is perfect for treating blemish-prone skin and blackheads. Just like AHAs, BHAs also help in the removal of dead skin cells but, while AHAs are water-soluble, BHAs are oil soluble. This means that BHAs can penetrate below the skin’s surface to clear your pores of excess sebum and dirt to reduce oiliness. This also helps with reducing inflammation and fighting bacteria on the skin’s surface. Salicylic acid is best for those with congested pores or oily skin.

Hyaluronic Acid:

Hyaluronic Acid is not an exfoliating acid, contrary to some beliefs. Hyaluronic holds quadruple the amount of its weight in water. This makes the skin subtle, and the perfect method of hydration for those with oily or dehydrated skin. While our bodies naturally produce this moisture-binding ingredient, our skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production diminishes as we age, which is why HA is also often found in anti-aging skin care products, for those looking to retain that youthful glow. 


Best described as lipids or fat molecules, Ceramides provide essential nutrients needed to plump and restore the skin. They replace the loss of the natural lipids found in the skin. While produced by our bodies, the environmental tolls play a huge factor in the damage of these essential lipids. Free radicals damage the skin's natural lipid barrier, so we need to input these back into our regimen. Ceramides are great for all skin types.


Niacinamide is filled with anti-inflammatory properties, it is a vitamin B3 derivative. It can be used to treat acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation as it is particularly good at reducing redness and irritation. It regulates oil production and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Niacinamide is also known to brighten the skin, improve our skin’s elasticity, strengthens the outer layers of our skin, and helps to boost levels of fatty acids in our skin, leading to plumper looking skin.


Amino Acids are the backbone of Peptides. Two amino acids linked in a chain form a peptide. Peptides are hugely important in the human body and often act as 'messengers', conveying information between cells and tissues. Peptides are known to repair the structure of the skin. It supports and improves visible wrinkles. We all know you love hearing Collagen. Peptides are the key ingredient in boosting new collagen production.


Retinol is a potent derivative of vitamin A and is converted to retinoic acid (the active form of vitamin A that your skin actually needs) after it's absorbed into your skin. Topical retinol boosts cell turnover which promotes skin renewal, leaving you with brighter and healthier skin. It is known for correcting skin pigmentation, diminish wrinkles, and its acne-fighting ability. When adding retinol into your regimen it is prevalent to start with a low concentration and slowly add it into your everyday regimen. I typically recommend a .5%, starting by adding it once a week at night then increasing a day until tolerance is built up. If your topical retinol product is too strong for your skin or you use it too often, it can be irritating, especially for sensitive skin. Retinol should only be used at night time. It should not be used with other exfoliants. Retinols also require the use of SPF during the day, this is due to an increase in the skin's photosensitivity.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E naturally occurs in eight chemical forms. The most commonly listed in skincare products are tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol. It is a potent antioxidant, so it can help protect the skin from environmental pollution and has anti-inflammatory properties. This means it is extremely soothing and can prevent the signs of premature aging. Vitamin E also makes for a great moisturizer since it’s hydrating, it has great wound healing properties as it helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier function.

Vitamin C:

Ahhh the coveted Vitamin C. It is a powerful antioxidant that, when applied topically, stimulates collagen and elastin production, leading to younger-looking and firmer-feeling skin. It both protects the skin from environmental aggressors and prevents damage. It is used for skin-brightening, and skin tone-evening as it helps to reduce scars or spots without changing your normal skin pigmentation. Did you know that most vitamin C on the market loses its stability within 30 days? It's true when added to a water-based solution L-ascorbic acid becomes destabilized, leading to the addition of stabilizers or the making of synthetic Vitamin C. If you want to avoid stabilizers or synthetic vitamin c. Get your hands on products with whole Vitamin C, naturally sourced such as Kakadu plum, rosehips, sea buckthorn berries, amla berries, citrus fruits, marula oil, pomegranate seeds, and similar fruit sources. A serum that contains high quantities of these natural Vitamin C sources doesn’t need fillers, stabilizers, or other ingredients in order to be effective. Some people even argue that whole Vitamin C absorbs better than synthetic versions, has a lower risk of irritation, and offers more nutrients.

Make sure to leave a like and comment below on your thoughts of this blog. Leave your favorite products utilizing one of these ingredients. And if you're looking for the most effective active ingredients for your skin? Take my free skin consultation.

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