One of the most significant changes that came about in the beauty industry during the pandemic was peoples approach to skincare. We moved from a more casual practice of incorporating any and every ingredient or product into our routines, to a more calculated regime with products that target specific issues and promise an overall healthy glow. One of the biggest words we all came across in the process was actives.Focused on repairing, rejuvenating, healing, hydrating and protecting the skin, actives are straight-up must-haves for issues like acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, exfoliation and cell renewal. While these sound great on paper, actives need to be used with a hint of caution. One of the first things to know is what each active does and how it will aid your existing skincare routine. Weve gotten Dr Reema Arora, Founder Medical Director, The Face Clinic, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, to break down the phenomenon of actives. Read on.What Are Actives In Skincare?An active is a pulse dose of potent ingredients to give a boost to your skin. Commonly used actives are Vitamin C, Alpha-Hydroxy acids (AHA), Beta-Hydroxy acids (BHA), Retinol, Niacinamide, Vitamin E, and Hyaluronic acid. Most of these actives have a fluidic texture for better absorption in your skin, explains Dr Arora.Which Actives Are Good For You?Like any other skincare ingredient, it is important to know the functionality of these actives and how to use them. Dr Arora breaks it down.The activities that you can use during the day are Vitamin C, E and Hyaluronic acid. Retinoids and BHA are great for night-time usage. Remember that the actives you pick need to be need-based only. For dehydrated skin, use Hyaluronic acid; for blemishes, pick Vitamin C; for acne, you need BHA; to fight signs of ageing, pick retinoids.It is important to restrict the number of actives you use to avoid piling of ingredients, warns Dr Arora. For best results, it is also good to get a skin-appropriate regime curated by your doctor.Know Your Beauty ActivesBefore you go ahead and add these to your skincare routine, it is important to understand how each active can help your skin.Vitamin C: If you are looking for a solution to brighten your skin, boost collagen production and remove hyperpigmentation, Vitamin C is your go-to active. You can start by applying it to your face every other day for at least two weeks. If you dont notice any redness or dry patches, add it to your daily morning routine (after cleansing and toning and before moisturiser and sunscreen).Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): This is a great skincare ingredient to brighten your skin, reduce sebum production and improve your skins barrier functions. It is also an excellent skin hydratorit prevents the evaporation of moisture from the skin into the environment. If you are using a serum, apply after cleansing and toning and before moisturising. If you are using a moisturiser, apply it before using your sunscreen.BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acid): BHAs, and salicylic acid, in particular, is a great active to cleanse your skin and prevent acne. Apply it after the cleanser and toner steps in your routine. If you are using a liquid product, apply it with a cotton pad and if it's a lotion or a gel you can apply it with your fingers.AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids): AHAs (including glycolic and lactic acids) induce collagen production in your skin, along with reducing hyperpigmentation and reducing acne. It works towards improving cell turnover. While most AHA products are marketed as safe for all skin types, you may want to take extra care if you have extremely dry and sensitive skin. Start with a small quantity and gradually work up to daily use.Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives): One of the most talked about active retinoids is your protection against signs of ageing. Remember, retinol (a type of retinoid) should be applied only at night. Start by using it twice a week. If you are not experiencing any redness or flakiness the next day, you can build up the usage to every other day and then every day. Also, a little goes a long way. So, use a pea-sized amount to cover your entire face.Hyaluronic acid: This helps firm up your skin, even out the rough patches, softens fine lines and prevents signs of ageing. Cleanse your face and apply hyaluronic acid to slightly damp skin, followed by a moisturiser and sunscreen.Which Actives Does Your Skin NeedWhile this largely depends on your skin type and how your skin reacts to each ingredient, Dr Arora gives a general breakdown, to begin with.For Dry Skin: Use Vitamin E during the day and Hyaluronic Acid serum during the nightFor Oily Skin: Use Vitamin C during the day and Retinol serum during the night.For Sensitive Skin: Use Vitamin B3 during the day and Niacinamide serum during the night.Remember, actives are not some magical solution thatll show results in a day or a week. Give it some time, and be consistent with the usage. As per experts, the skin takes at least a month to show results; you need to follow the routine for at least three months to understand if an active is effective. You also need to start small. Dont include actives in your daily routine. Use it twice a week, monitor how your skin reacts and then gradually work up the usage.