Everything You Need To Know About Active Ingredients

Everything You Need To Know About Active Ingredients


First things first, if you’re not familiar with active ingredients, your first question is probably ‘What are active ingredients,anyway?’ Well, here’s the low down on everything you need to know about active ingredients, how they work and what they work for!

What are active ingredients?

The short answer : An active is the ingredient in a product addressing whatever skin concern it’s meant to target. An active ingredient has been proven in a lab by research to change the skin in some way and has data behind it. So, in other words, an active ingredient targets a specific concern, for example, congestion, dull skin, dry skin, acne, pigmentation, aging, you name it.

Here’s a breakdown of the most commonly found active ingredients in today’s skincare :

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)

Alpha-hydroxy acids are very commonly used and could be one of the following : glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric acids. Creams and lotions with alpha-hydroxy acids may help with fine lines, irregular pigmentation and age spots, and may help shrink enlarged pores. It is also recommended for acne scarring.

Environ Concentrated Alpha Hydroxy


Side effects of alpha-hydroxy acids include mild irritation and sun sensitivity. Sunscreen is SUPER important daily, but if you use products containing AHA’s, it is even MORE important. To help avoid skin irritation, start with a product with a maximum concentration of 10% to 15% AHA. If you are new to active ingredients, products containing AHA’s should be applied every other day and gradually work your way up to every day use.

Beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid)

Salicylic acid you will especially find in products that are targeted for acne. This ingredients removes dead skin and can improve the texture and color of sun-damaged skin. It penetrates oil-laden hair follicle openings and, as a result, also helps with acne. Some products containing Salicylic acid are available over-the-counter and others need a doctor’s prescription. Studies have shown that salicylic acid is less irritating than skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids, while providing similar improvement in skin texture and color.

Contains Glycolic and Lactic acid along with Salicylic acid

From personal experience and use of products containing Salicylic acid, I do experience dry, flakey skin on the areas I have applied the product to.


Skin care products containing hydroquinone are often called bleaching creams or lightening agents. This will ring a bell if you are familiar with Asian/Korean skincare – they are very much into whitening skincare products. Products containing Hydroquinone are used to lighten hyperpigmentation, such as age spots and dark spots related to pregnancy or hormone therapy (melasma or chloasma).

Products with Hydroquinone are banned over the counter in South Africa and can only be prescribed by a doctor. It is also recommended to be used for a specific period of time only. Again sunscreen should also be used religiously when using Hydroquinone.

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is also is a remedy for the treatment of pigment problems and age spots. Discovered in 1989, kojic acid works similarly to hydroquinone. Kojic acid is derived from a fungus, and studies have shown that it is effective as a lightening agent, slowing production of melanin (brown pigment). Prior to using Kojic acid chech the specific percentage recommended for your skin.

Kojic Acid Serum by Skinceuticals


One that gets most, if not all skincare junkies very excited, myself included. Retinol is derived from vitamin A and is found in many over-the-counter “anti-aging” skin care products. Tretinoin, which is the active ingredient in prescription Retin-A and Renova creams, is a stronger version of retinol. If your skin is too sensitive to use Retin-A, over-the-counter retinol is an excellent alternative.

Overnight Retinol Repair by Dermalogica


Environ Retinol in a selection of 3 different strengths.

Here’s why skin responds to skin care products with retinol : Vitamin A has a molecular structure that’s tiny enough to get into the lower layers of skin, where it finds collagen and elastin. Retinol is proven to improve mottled pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, skin tone and color, and your skin’s hydration levels. Retinyl palmitate is another ingredient related to retinol, but is less potent. A must in your skincare regime! It is an all-in-one powerhouse ingredient.

L-Ascorbic Acid

This is the only form of vitamin C that you should look for in your skin care products. There are many skin care products on the market today that boast vitamin C derivatives as an ingredient (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or ascorbyl palmitate, for example), but L-ascorbic acid is the only useful form of vitamin C in skin care products. With age and sun exposure, collagen synthesis in the skin decreases, leading to wrinkles. Vitamin C is the only antioxidant proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen, minimizing fine lines, scars, and wrinkles.

Lamelle Vit C Corrective

Hyaluronic Acid

Skin care products containing this substance are often used with vitamin C products to assist in effective penetration. Hyaluronic acid (also known as a glycosaminoglycan) is often touted for its ability to “reverse” or stop aging. In the big, big world of beauty, you might have heard of hyaluronic acid as the “key to the fountain of youth.” This is because the substance occurs naturally (and quite abundantly) in humans and animals, and is found in young skin, other tissues, and joint fluid. Hyaluronic acid is a component of the body’s connective tissues, and is known to cushion and lubricate. As you age, however, the forces of nature destroy hyaluronic acid. Diet and smoking can also affect your body’s level of hyaluronic acid over time. Skin care products with hyaluronic acid are most frequently used to treat wrinkled and also dehydrated skin.

Hyaluron Complex by Doctor Eckstein


Lamelle HA Plus Corrective – This is an absolute stunner of a product.

Copper Peptide

Copper peptide is often referred to as the most effective skin regeneration product, even though it’s only been on the market since 1997. Studies have shown that copper peptide promotes collagen and elastin production, acts as an antioxidant, and promotes production of glycosaminoglycans (think hyaluronic acid, as an example). Studies have also shown that copper-dependent enzymes increase the benefits of the body’s natural tissue-building processes. The substance helps to firm, smooth, and soften skin, doing it in less time than most other anti-aging skin care products. Clinical studies have found that copper peptides also remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and scar tissue because they activate the skin’s system responsible for those functions.

Copper Peptide by Dermafix

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

You may have heard of alpha-lipoic acid as “the miracle in a jar” for its anti-aging effects. It’s a newer, ultra-potent antioxidant that helps fight future skin damage and helps repair past damage. Alpha-lipoic acid has been referred to as a “universal antioxidant” because it’s soluble in both water and oil, which permits its entrance to all parts of the cell. Due to this quality, it is believed that alpha-lipoic acid can provide the greatest protection against damaging free radicals when compared with other antioxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid diminishes fine lines, gives skin a healthy glow, and boosts levels of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C.

Alpha Lipoic Activator by Nimue

DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol)

If you’ve heard of fish referred to as brain food, you can thank DMAE. This substance is naturally produced in the brain, but DMAE is also present in anchovies, salmon, and sardines. DMAE boosts the production of acetylcholine, which is important for proper mental functions. DMAE in skin care products shows remarkable effects when applied topically to skin, resulting in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.

We hope after this post and the breakdown of each active ingredient, you have a clearer understanding about what each of them are and what purpose they serve.



Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about lash extensions

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about lash extensions

If you’ve ever dreamed of waking up to long, luscious lashes – without the remnants of last night’s mascara – lash extensions may be the answer. Gone are the days of fiddling around with eyelash curlers or attempting to apply false lashes; eye lash extensions are a semi-permanent option that will literally change your beauty routine.

We reached out to Falon Johnson, the founder of the well-known Wink & Whisper in Fourways, Johannesburg, to answer some of your most-asked questions. Get off that Google search, grab a cuppa, and read on – here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about eye lash extensions.

Is there anything I should do before getting lash extensions?

“Make sure your lashes are clean and free of any make up before your appointment,” advises Falon. “It’s better to arrive without eye make up. The lash artist may still require you to cleanse your lashes with Lash shampoo to be sure they are free from any make up or oils that may affect the lash extensions.”

Will getting lash extensions damage my natural lashes?

This is a tricky one. Yes AND NO. “”Yes, if the lash artist is poorly trained in applying the lash extensions,” warns Falon. “If proper care is not taken to make sure the natural lashes are isolated (not touching each other) and clumps of lashes are applied, it could cause substantial damage to the natural lashes.”

“But if you’ve done your research and made sure you are going to an experienced lash artist, lash extensions won’t cause any damage,” she says. “An experienced lash artist will take great care in ensuring that the lashes are applied correctly, without an excessive amount of glue, and that the natural lashes are isolated correctly.”

“The Isolation process is probably the most crucial part of applying lashes. Making sure to find a single natural lash to apply your extension to will ensure your natural lashes remain healthy and grow as normal without tugging or pulling on other lashes.”

What are the different types of lash extensions available?

You may have heard about individual eyelash extensions, and you may even have come across the term ‘Russian Volume’. Falon explains what each option is to help you decided which one is best for you!

Classic or Individual Lashes – this is when one, individual lash extension is applied to one of your natural lashes. Classic lashes only add thickness and length to the natural lash. 

Russian Volume Lashes – this is when four to six lash extensions are applied to one natural lash. These lashes are much finer, softer and lighter, which allow us to use more per each individual lash. This results in a much fuller, more dramatic effect. 

Can I still wear mascara after getting lash extensions?

“That’s a hard no,” says Falon. “Mascara will cause the extensions to clump and because you cannot use your usual make up remover, your extensions will be severely damaged and probably fall out. Mascara also contains oil, which will cause the extensions to shed much quicker. Lash glue and oily products are not friends.”

How often will I need to have them filled?

“It’s best to get a lash fill every two to three weeks. The lashes shed naturally and the time between fills will depend on how fast or slow your natural lash cycle is – not to mention how well you take care of them.”

How much do lash extensions cost, and how much does it cost to have them filled?

“Lash extensions vary in price. The type of extensions you are having done, as well as the experience of the artist, will determine this price,” explains Falon.

Individual lashes start at around R650 for a full set, while Russian Volume Lashes start at R800 for a full set – and can go all the way up to R1450 in Johannesburg. Volume Lashes is an extremely specialised and time consuming technique, thus the hefty price tag. 

Lash fills on lash extensions also vary in price, but the average is  roughly R450 to R650, depending on the type of lashes you have chosen. 

“This is a great indicator when looking for a lash artist,” says Falon. “You ultimately get what you pay for – ‘nice lashes ain’t cheap, and cheap lashes ain’t nice’!”

How long will my lash extensions last?

“Lash extensions usually last for two to three weeks on average. It all depends on how well you take care of them, as well as your natural lash cycle. Taking care to not sleep on your face, wash your face with oily products, wear eye make up and washing your lashes with Lash shampoo regularly will all affect how long they last.”

Are there any tips of products that will help me maintain my lash extensions?

“Most salons that offer lash extensions sell specialised lash shampoos or cleanser that will help ensure the longevity of your lashes. These are oil free, lash friendly products that clean your lashes without affecting the glue bond. Cleaner lashes also happen to last longer, so it’s well worth buying your own tube.”

Is there anything I should avoid after getting lash extensions?

Falon cautions that it’s best to avoid water or steam on the lashes for at least 48 hours after getting them done. This way the glue is allowed ample time to set and dry. 

Can I swim with lash extensions?

“It’s recommended you don’t swim with lashes – especially in the sea.”

Can I still use my usual eye makeup remover?

“Definitely not,” says Falon. “Eye make up removers contain oils that will detach the lash extension from the natural lash.”

Is it safe to trim my eyelash extensions?

Absolutely not! “You should never do this,” cautions Falon. “You’ll cut your own, natural lases whilst attempting to trim your extensions.”

Are there any specific ingredients in beauty products that I should avoid after getting lash extensions?

ALL beauty products contain some form of oil – especially micellar waters. No product, unless mentioned or sold by your artist, will be suitable for use on lash extensions.”


Falon Johnson is the founder and owner of Wink & Whisper, a beauty salon that specialises in lash extensions. Falon studied nutrition for five years, and began lashing part-time as a creative outlet during her studies. She immediately fell in love with the craft, and after moving to Johannesburg in 2016, decided to pursue lashing full-time. After six months, Falon had a steady stream of loyal clientele, which enabled her to move her home salon to a beautiful space in Fourways. Falon has over five years experience and is certified in Classic Lash Extentions, Russian Volume Lash Extensions, Mega Volume Lash Extensions, and Microblading. “I get to do what I love every day and I couldn’t be happier,” says Falon.

Visit their website (click here) for more info, or call 072 034 6056 or email info@winkwhisper.co.za to book your appointment. And don’t forget to show Wink & Whisper some love by following their Instagram account (here) and liking their Facebook page (here).

Meghan Markle’s signature beauty look you may not have noticed up until now…

Meghan Markle’s signature beauty look you may not have noticed up until now…

We don’t know about you, but when we think of Meghan Markle’s beauty look, we immediately think freckles, a healthy doze of bronzer and a chic, messy bun. But upon closer inspection, we’ve noticed another sneaky little makeup trick that Meghan pulls of on the regular – and we really like it!

Turns out, the Duchess of Sussex has a signature lip liner look that you probably haven’t noticed… until now, that is! Look a little closer, and you’ll see that Meghan often overlines her lips to create a fuller pout, but in a beautifully natural way. Sure, overlining the lips is nothing new (and it often gets a bad rap), but Meghan does it in such a subtle way that it’s barely noticeable, but still packs a punch.

meghan markle makeup

The trick to overlining your lips, without looking like a clown? Stick to a lip pencil that’s a shade or two darker than your natural lip colour, and focus on the centre of your lips. Make sure that your lip pencil is sharp, then draw slightly over your natural lip line along your cupid’s bow, tapering off and sticking to you natural lip line at the corner of your mouth.

For extra staying power, use liner on bare lips, and avoid using a glossy lip colour over the top of your liner. Matte or satin lip finishes will last longer on the lips.

When it comes to find the right nude shade for your complexion, we find that rosy-beige shades work best on fair complexions, while warmer shades of nude suit olive complexions. If you have a darker skin tone, look out for a bronze liner or a slightly shimmery nude shade.

What do you think of this look? Are you likely to try creating a fuller pout using lip liner?

In My Beauty Kit: Tamryn Sher of It’s a Sher Thing

In My Beauty Kit: Tamryn Sher of It’s a Sher Thing

Have you ever wondered what beauty products the experts simply can’t live without, or how they got started in the beauty industry? In this new series, we’ll be chatting to some of South Africa’s top beauty influencers, skincare therapists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and more, as they reveal their insider secrets.

Today, we’re taking a peek into the life and beauty kit of Tamryn Sher, a freelance PR and social media manager, writer, and influencer engagement specialist. Tamryn is also the beauty behind It’s a Sher Thing, which has fast become one of our favourite local lifestyle blogs.

Q: Can you give us a quick overview of what you do for a living?

I’ve worked in public relations and reputation management for the last eight years and finally decided to try being my own boss for a little bit. I do contract work for PR agencies and blue-chip companies where I come in, assist them with writing strategy, helping them showcase results, giving them an extra hand to achieve result,s and assisting with internal and external communications. I also write for a few womens’ magazines on lifestyle topics and career advice, and I help companies with their social media strategy, posting and community management. I also run my own blog, called It’s a Sher Thing. In a nut shell, no two days are ever the same!

Q: How did you first get into blogging?

I got into blogging because I wanted to become a better PR manager. So, I thought immersing myself in the world of blogging would help me identify key learnings before my competitors and I thought this would give me the competitive advantage when compiling scopes of work for bloggers as I had first hand experience on how the industry works. I also wanted a little corner of the internet to talk about my personal life, to review beauty products I enjoy and to share knowledge I thought may assist other women like me.

Q: What is one of the biggest beauty or skincare myths, in your opinion?

That you need a lot of products to have a great glow, and that you need to use expensive products. When I was a broke student, I used a beauty bar for my face and body and never experienced breakouts, I used rose water as an affordable toner and bought a great moisturiser.

You also don’t necessarily need a cleanser, toner, moisturiser, exfoliator, serum, mask etc. If you can only afford three products, I would recommend a cleanser (double cleanse morning and evening), an exfoliator to use twice a week, and a moisturiser. I find when I use a lot of different things on my skin, that’s when I tend to break out.

Q: Please talk us through your daily beauty routine?

I try to keep my routine as simple as possible. In the mornings, I double cleanse, moisturise, apply a lightweight foundation, some eye shadow on my eyebrows to darken them a bit, a little mascara, bronzer on the cheeks and some lip balm and I’m out the door. If I’m going out in the evening, I’ll add eye shadow and eyeliner to this look. In terms of my night-time skincare routine, I double cleanse, exfoliate twice a week, and moisturise.

Q: What is your favourite professional beauty treatment, and why?

I love the results I’ve seen from microneedling. It’s really helped give my skin a youthful glow, it has also helped with scarring and pigmentation.

Q: What are your top 3 skincare must-haves or must-dos?

One must-do is to exfoliate – this helps to give your skin that glow that it’s been lacking. And two must-haves? I really enjoy Elizabeth Arden Eight-Hour cream as it’s so versatile – it’s a moisturiser, lip balm, hand cream and so much more. And then, without a doubt, an SPF care for your face, whether it’s in a foundation, or primer, or you apply it under your foundation. This is great for anti-aging and protecting your skin.

For more beauty and lifestyle content, head on over to Tamryn’s blog, It’s a Sher Thing. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We’re always on the look out for fellow beauty addicts to feature on Beauty Warriors. If you’d like to share what’s in your beauty kit, please be in touch with our team by sending an email to Creativedirector@beautywarriors.biz

8 Beauty Essentials Your Gym Bag Absolutely Needs

8 Beauty Essentials Your Gym Bag Absolutely Needs

We’re all well aware of the fact that exercising is beneficial for our bodies and minds, but a good workout often wreaks havoc on our skin and hair.

From dry, brittle hair to breakouts brought on by residual sweat, there’s no doubt that going to the gym can bring with it an onslaught of beauty woes… but there are products to help combat these. We’ve rounded up 8 of the most underrated beauty products that we believe are essential for your gym bag… don’t leave home without them! 

Huxley Deep Cleansing Foam

First thing’s first: there’s no more important post-workout task than washing your face. A thorough cleanse not only removes all traces of sweat, makeup, and other debris, but it’ll also prevent congestion caused by blocked pores. We’re huge fans of Huxley Deep Cleansing Foam, which is a gentle, foaming cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin. It contains nourishing Vitamin E, Tangerine extract (to exfoliate and smooth your skin’s texture), and Blue Lotus extract to help relieve redness – along with a slew of other great ingredients.

Foreo LUNA Mini (R2500)

This award-winning cleansing device is both compact and waterproof, making it the perfect fit for your gym bag. It’ll help ensure that your skin is properly cleansed and exfoliated, without causing any irritation. If you’re prone to post-workout breakouts, you need one of these in your kit!

Thoclor Labs GF2 Skin Rejuvenation (R799,25)

Refresh and rebalance your skin with 8 – 10 pumps of this incredible facial mist on freshly cleansed skin. This genius product offers a multitude of benefits for your skin, from calming and soothing sensitive, inflamed skin to reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles. It’s also ideal for use on post-laser or post-peel skin, and we love that it’s vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and locally made!

PCA Skin Dual Action Redness Relief (R2330)

This restorative moisturiser contains Niacinimide, which helps to relieve redness and inflammation. It also helps to improve an impaired barrier function, and is suitable for sensitive and rosacea-prone skins.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF30 (R880)

After you’ve cleansed and moisturised your skin, this compact loose mineral foundation and brush is a must for when you have to head straight to the office or drinks after hitting the gym. It not only hides blemishes and other imperfections, but also mattifies your skin and offers broad-spectrum sunscreen. It comes in four shades (fair, medium, tan, and dark) and is suitable for all skin types.

Biosilk Organic Coconut Oil 3-in-1 Shampoo, Conditioner & Body Wash (R269)

Save time – and space in your gym bag – with this sweet-smelling 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that’s designed to cleanse and moisturise both your skin and hair. So handy, right? It contains nourishing coconut oil and silk to not only add moisture, but to remove impurities at the same time, and is gentle enough for daily use.

Tangleteezer Rose Gold Compact Styler (R295)

Sure, it may be tempting to leave your wet (or sweaty) hair tied back with an elastic band, but wet hair is more prone to breakage – that’s why it’s vital to (gently!) untie your ponytail and comb through your locks using a Tangleteezer before going about the rest of your day. This nifty, rose gold Tangleteezer has us swooning!

Original Invisibobble (R80 for a pack of 3)

While we’re on the topic of hair breakage, it may be worth switching from traditional elastic hair ties (known for their damaging effects on your hair) to their gentler, traceless counterparts. The original Invisibobble boasts a spiral design to prevent telltale bumps and dents in your hair, and they also reduce breakage on both wet and dry hair. 


Is there anything we’ve left off this list? We’d love to hear all about your recommendations and gym bag essentials – leave us a comment below!

Editor’s choice: 6 of the best eye creams for dark circles

Editor’s choice: 6 of the best eye creams for dark circles

Ask any skincare expert what beauty bugbear they’re asked about most often, and it’s safe to say that dark circles will come up top of the list. Whether as a result of sleepless nights, stress, diet, or simply genetics, battling under-eye circles seems to be something that most of us are faced with at some point in time.

What causes dark circles?

Dark circles can be attributed to one of two things: pigmentation or dilated veins. Pigmentation can be as a result of genetics (if your mom suffers from dark spots and pigmentation, it’s likely that you will too) or lifestyle factors, such as spending too much time in the sun. Dilated veins are typically as a result of various lifestyle factors: too little sleep, seasonal allergies, and a poor diet. Dark circles can also be down to the ageing process, your bone structure, and the fact that they skin underneath your eyes is incredibly thin.

Not sure whether your dark circles are caused by pigmentation or dilated veins?

The easiest way to determine whether your dark circles are as a result of pigmentation or dilated veins is to gently pinch the skin underneath your eye and lift it off the surface. If the skin stays brown, it’s likey pigmentation that’s causing your dark circles. If your skintone looks better when you do this, it’s likely that your issue is dilated veins. 

While it’s true that dilated veins are far easier to tackle than pigmentation, we’ve put several eye creams to the test over the past few months and we’ve rounded up some of our top picks to help you combat dark circles for good!

1. Mario Badescu Glycolic Eye Cream (R460)

If your dark circles are thanks so pigmentation, then this is the eye cream for you! It contains glycolic acid to exfoliate the surface layers of your skin, helping to reduce the appearance of pigmentation over time.( When using ingredients like glycolic acid around the delicate eye area, make sure that stick to product specifically formulated for use around the eyes).

2. Dermalogica Total Eye Care (R650)

Another great find for those who battle with pigmentation, this gentle, hydrating eye cream from Dermalogica boasts SPF15 to help protect the under-eye area from further damage. It also helps to reduce puffiness and conceals dark circles while treating them, for a wide-awake, bright-eyed appearance.

3. Guinot Anti-fatigue Fresh Eye Cream (R780)

This refreshing eye cream brightens and depuffs the under-eye area in an instant, with thanks to it’s cooling applicator tip. It’s fantastic for use after a long, sleepless night. Pop it into the fridge for an extra soothing sensation!

4. Placecol  Revitalising Eye Therapy (R225)

This nourishing formula simply melts into your skin (ideal for use before applying your concealer) and tightens and brightens the under-eye area in a flash. It’s high in antioxidants, so it’s great for reversing damage caused by free radicals. We also love the budget-friendly price point!

5. Optiphi Delta Eye Gel (R950)

New from Optiphi is their Delta Medical Skincare range, which is formulated for use by physicians, plastic surgeons, and dermatologists. The Optiphi Delta Eye Gel has been designed to reduce swelling and bruising, and works a treat on dark circles. It’s also great for use after dermal fillers and other skin therapies target at ageing. This is one of the fastest acting eye creams we’ve tried!

6. Colorescience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35

And last – but certainly not least – is this fabulous find from Colorescience. This 3-in-1 formulation not only improves the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, and wrinkles, but it also contains an SPF35 to help protect the delicate under-eye area from those harsh UV rays. Oh, wait – that’s not all (at the risk of sounding like a bad TV commercial). This beauty is also a really effective concealer, revealing a much brighter under-eye area in just one swipe and a little blending. (We also love to metal applicator tip – very soothing and refreshing!)


Do you battle with dark circles? Let us know if you’ve tried any of these eye creams and what your thoughts were. If you have any other recommendations we should know about, let us know – we’re always on the lookout for beauty products that truly deliver!