gentler active ingredients
Sensitive skin? Swap out harsh actives for these gentler active ingredients. (Instagram @sundayriley)

Active ingredients are the ones that produce the desired result to a given skincare concern. Think of dull skin. To increase its radiance, we’d suggest using an alpha hydroxy acid. Alpha hydroxy acids are chemical exfoliants that remove dead skin cells, revealing brighter skin underneath. Not all active ingredients are created equally, however. If you have sensitive skin, actives like retinols and alpha hydroxy acids may be too harsh for your complexion. Gentler active ingredients do exist, and they happen to be pretty effective in giving you the results you want (and deserve). Consider using the following alternatives to lighten up your skincare routine.

Instead of alpha hydroxy acids, try…

Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs). These chemical exfoliants are gentler than their more popular counterpart due to their larger moleculer size. They’re unable to penetrate the skin as deeply as AHAs but they still have excellent skin benefits. PHAs reduce hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone. The speed up cell turnover for fresher looking skin and strengthen the skin’s barrier. They also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you like the way that sounds (we sure do), try Ole Henriksen’s Phat Glow Facial (Dhs225, Sephora). Btw, his line offers a lot of products with gentler active ingredients.

gentler active ingredients
Ole Henriksen’s Phat Glow Facial contains PHAs and soothing nordic birch sap. (Instagram @OleHenriksen)

Instead of Vitamin C, try…

Arbutin. For some, vitamin C can be extremely irritating leaving you with a complexion redder than the tomato sauce in your latest “posing while eating spaghetti” Instagram post. Just like vitamin C, arbutin is a skin-brightener that evens out hyperpigmentation. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase that is activated by UV exposure. Tyrosinase produces melanin which manifests as dark spots on your skin. Arbutin also evens out skin texture by fading acne scars. When purchasing a skincare product containing arbutin, look specifically for the ingredient alpha-arbutin. Beta-arbutin exists, but it’s less stable and not worthy enough for your skin. We love Sunday Riley’s Tidal Bright Enzyme Water Cream (Dhs100, Cult Beauty) feating alpha-arbutin and hydrating hyaluronic acid.

gentler active ingredients
In addition to alpha-arbutin, the Tidal Cream by Sunday Riley also contains calming ingredients for sensitive skin. (Instagram @sundayriley)
thoughts?