When and how to take actives?

Actives, oh actives. A potent product that would definitely change your skin for the better, but so intimidating and tricky to use. Yet a lot of newbies would blindly buy actives and wear it without any proper knowledge of skin care. I, too, also start to gain interest towards skin care routine because of the Sunday Riley Good Genes hype. Yes, that product is miraculous. Yes, that product would make your skin glowing instantly. But no, it won’t work well if you haven’t done your basic skin care first.

My skin was massively dehydrated because of this product back in 2015 when I didn’t even freaking know what is hydrating toner, how many pH that a facial cleanser should have, the difference between hydrating and moisturizing, etc etc that lead me to the worse skin condition that I’ve ever had in my entire life so far.

So… where to start?


1. Do your skin care basic first!

I know it’s repetitive, and I know you might be bored by now because I’ve talked about this stuff multiple times already in my blog; but seriously. Do the basic first. Because, without the basic knowledge of skin care, and you use actives or any other serum on that matter, there’s a chance of backfiring, and your skin would turn bad instead of glowing like your dream. If you already know your basics, you would know if something is happening towards your skin and you already know which step that you should take if the serum / actives didn’t work for your skin.

To quote Yulia Baltschun (though she talked about the different matter but I think her quotes also applicable here), “Taking advanced things before you understand and actually apply it in your life is pretty much the same with when you bought sports cars, but didn’t even freaking know how to drive.” It’s not only useless, but it could be dangerous for you.


2. Start slowly

The second thing that you should do is to start slowly. Actives are really, really, potent, and you should take it slow. For example, even if the suggestion tells you to put it on your skin 2-3 times a week, you could start with once a week. And then listen to your skin and see the progress. Usually, most actives (especially AHA and BHA) would sting on your skin. If at some point, your skin starts to feel like it does not sting as much, you could extend it for 2 times a week, and finally 3 times a week as its suggested.

3. Start with the lowest percentage first!

Actives mostly come with a specific percentage. And I personally think that a good skin care company should inform their customer about the specific percentage of the actives in their product. Usually, the higher the percentage, the strongest it would be. I think it would be better for you to take actives from the smaller percentage first because it would lessen the chance of your skin to become irritated. For example, instead of using Pixi Glow Tonic as your first exfoliating toner, you should start with Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, escalated it with COSRX Acne Pimple Pad, and finally, if you think your skin is strong enough, use Pixi Glow Tonic by all that means.


4. A certain active would clash with each other. So better use it individually at first. 

There’s a lot of information regarding this in Youtube, Instagram, Blogs, Reddit, and Google. You can google it by yourself because I don’t actually remember all of the scientific journal out there. There are a few rules, such as never mix your Vit C with Niacinamide, or not to mix Retinol and BHA/BHA, etc. There’s a lot of information other there regarding this topic. However, my simple rule, copying Liah Yoo, is to take one active per routine to avoid any confusion if you haven’t remembered all the rules.

5. Listen to your skin!

This is perhaps, the most important thing. In the end, you should listen to your skin because everyone’s skin is different. Just because a certain product don’t sting as much to other people, doesn’t mean that it would sting the same for you. And just because the ground rules is to avoid Retinol and Vit C, but if combining both product work better for your skin, by all means, do it. I have seen Deszell, the Indonesian skin care blogger that I religiously follow found this to be very effective on her skin.

In the end, you are the only one that knows which would work or which won’t work for your skin. You are the only one that knows your skin conditions, and you should be the one that knows your skin condition better than everyone.


So, go have fun and experimenting once you already have the basics and understand your skin more than anyone else. The waiting time and the sequence of each product could lead to a different result, so really, you should experimenting on your own.

So, what are your favourite actives that you would suggest for me?

As for me… I think for now my favourite actives would be Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum and Sunday Riley LUNA!

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