Active Ingredient

[ˈak-tiv, in-ˈgrē-dē-ənt]

Pharmacological agents

Active Ingredients Skincare Benefits:
Listed under OTC Monographs

“Active ingredients” are the ingredients listed under the various OTC monographs, which affect the structure or function of the body, such as sunscreens, anti-acne products, skin protectants, etc. In order to be listed as an “active ingredient”, an ingredient must undergo a drug approval process, and receive approval by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration).

After doing so, it will be considered a drug. Commonly listed active ingredients include salicylic acid, sunscreen UV filters, benzoyl peroxide, hydroquinone, and sulfur. Cosmetic products that include an OTC drug must first list “Active Ingredients,” followed by “Inactive Ingredients.” Lastly, “active ingredients” that fall under an OTC monograph are infused into skincare products at specified levels so as to control the potency of its effect, as well as protect the consumer. 1

  1. Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? U.S. Food & Drug Association. (2012)
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