Top Active Ingredients in Skincare (2024)

Karen Ho     

This is our comprehensive list of the most popular active ingredients in skincare in 2024.

The data for the lists below were largely derived from Gravel AI, a leading ingredient and industry intelligence platform.

Before continuing, please note that we included active ingredients that also have other functions, such as tocopherol (active, antioxidant, stabiliser) and ethylhexylglycerin (active, deodorising).

Top 100 Active Ingredients In Skincare In The US (2024)

 

1. Tocopherol (found in 37.7% of skincare products)

2. Ethylhexylglycerin (31.1%)

3. Sodium hyaluronate (31.0%)

4. Caprylyl glycol (27.9%)

5. Caprylic/capric triglyceride (25.3%)

6. Tocopheryl acetate (24.4%)

7. Dimethicone (22.1%)

8. Cetearyl alcohol (18.5%)

9. Panthenol (17.4%)

10. Glyceryl stearate (17.3%)

11. Niacinamide (15.8%)

12. Pentylene glycol (15.7%)

13. Butyrospermum parkii butter (14.8%)

14. Helianthus annuus seed oil (14.5%)

15. Squalane (14.3%)

16. Cetyl alcohol (12.3%)

17. Allantoin (12.3%)

18. Titanium dioxide (nano) (11.6%)

19. Camellia sinensis leaf extract (10.6%)

20. Geraniol (10.5%)

21. Propylene glycol (10.5%)

22. Lecithin (10.4%)

23. Aloe barbadensis leaf juice (10.3%)

24. Simmondsia chinensis seed oil (9.7%)

25. Lactic acid (8.6%)

26. Ascorbic acid (8.3%)

27. Betaine (7.8%)

28. Arginine (7.4%)

29. Hyaluronic acid (7.4%)

30. Salicylic acid (7.3%)

31. Adenosine (6.8%)

32. Maltodextrin (6.8%)

33. Ceramide np (6.7%)

34. Hydrogenated lecithin (6.7%)

35. Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract (6.6%)

36. Cyclopentasiloxane (6.4%)

37. Bisabolol (6.4%)

38. Sodium pca (6.0%)

39. Hexylene glycol (5.9%)

40. Behenyl alcohol (5.6%)

41. Glyceryl caprylate (5.3%)

42. C12-15 alkyl benzoate (5.3%)

43. Caffeine (5.2%)

44. Stearyl alcohol (5.2%)

45. Centella asiatica extract (5.1%)

46. Palmitic acid (4.9%)

47. Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid (4.9%)

48. Retinol (4.9%)

49. Cera alba (4.9%)

50. Chamomilla recutita flower extract (4.8%)

51. Lavandula angustifolia oil (4.7%)

52. Glycine soja oil (4.7%)

53. Octyldodecanol (4.6%)

54. Cocos nucifera oil (4.6%)

55. Sorbitol (4.6%)

56. Leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate (4.5%)

57. Zinc oxide (4.3%)

58. Persea gratissima oil (4.3%)

59. Dipotassium glycyrrhizate (4.3%)

60. Ethylhexyl palmitate (4.2%)

61. Jojoba esters (4.2%)

62. Retinyl palmitate (4.1%)

63. Gluconolactone (4.1%)

64. Coco-caprylate/caprate (4.1%)

65. Olea europaea fruit oil (4.1%)

66. Sodium polyacrylate (4.1%)

67. Prunus amygdalus dulcis oil (4.0%)

68. Cucumis sativus fruit extract (4.0%)

69. Aloe vera leaf extract (3.9%)

70. Glycyrrhiza glabra root extract (3.9%)

71. Cetearyl olivate (3.9%)

72. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (3.9%)

73. Dimethiconol (3.6%)

74. Ricinus communis seed oil (3.5%)

75. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 (3.5%)

76. Calendula officinalis flower extract (3.5%)

77. Vitis vinifera seed oil (3.5%)

78. Palmitoyl tripeptide-1 (3.4%)

79. Sucrose (3.3%)

80. Dicaprylyl carbonate (3.3%)

81. Glycine (3.2%)

82. Sclerotium gum (3.2%)

83. Sodium stearoyl glutamate (3.2%)

84. Butter (3.1%)

85. Phospholipids (3.1%)

86. Pyrus malus fruit extract (3.1%)

87. Butyloctyl salicylate (3.0%)

88. Xylitol (3.0%)

89. Phytosphingosine (3.0%)

90. Carthamus tinctorius seed oil (3.0%)

91. Acetyl hexapeptide-8 (2.9%)

92. Rosmarinus officinalis leaf oil (2.9%)

93. Argania spinosa kernel oil (2.9%)

94. Serine (2.8%)

95. Urea (2.8%)

96. Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer (2.6%)

97. Salix alba bark extract (2.6%)

98. Lactobacillus ferment (2.6%)

99. Proline (2.6%)

100. Theobroma cacao seed butter (2.6%)


What Are The Top Active Ingredients In Skincare?

As of May 2024, the most adopted active ingredients are "Tocopherol", "Ethylhexylglycerin", and "Sodium hyaluronate". The next most popular active ingredients are "Caprylyl Glycol", "Caprylic/capric triglyceride", and "Tocopheryl acetate".

Before moving on to our list of top global active ingredients for skincare, it’s worth quickly explaining what "most adopted" means. Gravel AI tracks the ingredient composition of skincare product, and calculates the adoption rate of an ingredient in the market. For example, Tocopheryl Acetate (24.4%) means that Tocopheryl Acetate is found in 24.4% of skincare products in the US market.

Note that this is the number of products adopting Tocopheryl Acetate, without taking into account the commercial success of products that use Tocopheryl Acetate. A well known brand such as L'Oreal can launch a product that sells for millions of units, while a small brand may launch a product that sells for 20 units. Commercial success is a separate topic that Gravel AI tracks - that'd be a separate article.



With that, let's dive into the most popular active ingredients in skincare worldwide.

 

Top 100 Active Ingredients In Skincare Globally (2024)

1. Tocopherol (found in 41.1% of skincare products worldwide)

2. Sodium hyaluronate (29.3%)

3. Ethylhexylglycerin (27.4%)

4. Caprylyl glycol (24.6%)

5. Tocopheryl acetate (24.2%)

6. Caprylic/capric triglyceride (23.8%)

7. Dimethicone (19.9%)

8. Cetearyl alcohol (19.4%)

9. Pentylene glycol (17.6%)

10. Glyceryl stearate (17.0%)

11. Butyrospermum parkii butter (16.8%)

12. Panthenol (16.1%)

13. Helianthus annuus seed oil (15.4%)

14. Geraniol (14.6%)

15. Propylene glycol (13.8%)

16. Squalane (12.4%)

17. Niacinamide (12.3%)

18. Cetyl alcohol (10.8%)

19. Lecithin (10.4%)

20. Allantoin (10.4%)

21. Lactic acid (9.5%)

22. Simmondsia chinensis seed oil (8.5%)

23. Betaine (7.8%)

24. Titanium dioxide (nano) (7.2%)

25. Aloe barbadensis leaf juice (7.0%)

26. Arginine (6.7%)

27. Camellia sinensis leaf extract (6.4%)

28. Salicylic acid (6.3%)

29. Prunus amygdalus dulcis oil (6.2%)

30. Adenosine (6.1%)

31. Maltodextrin (6.1%)

32. Behenyl alcohol (5.8%)

33. Glycine soja oil (5.7%)

34. Ascorbic acid (5.7%)

35. Hydrogenated lecithin (5.5%)

36. Alpha-isomethyl ionone (5.5%)

37. Cyclopentasiloxane (5.5%)

38. Octyldodecanol (5.4%)

39. Glyceryl caprylate (5.3%)

40. C12-15 alkyl benzoate (5.3%)

41. Caffeine (5.3%)

42. Dicaprylyl carbonate (5.0%)

43. Palmitic acid (4.9%)

44. Sorbitol (4.9%)

45. Sodium stearoyl glutamate (4.9%)

46. Coco-caprylate/caprate (4.8%)

47. Bisabolol (4.8%)

48. Ceramide np (4.7%)

49. Sodium pca (4.5%)

50. Sodium polyacrylate (4.5%)

51. Cera alba (4.4%)

52. Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract (4.4%)

53. Cocos nucifera oil (4.3%)

54. Stearyl alcohol (4.3%)

55. Olea europaea fruit oil (4.3%)

56. Hyaluronic acid (4.2%)

57. Dipotassium glycyrrhizate (4.2%)

58. Persea gratissima oil (4.0%)

59. Argania spinosa kernel oil (4.0%)

60. Hexylene glycol (3.9%)

61. Centella asiatica extract (3.9%)

62. Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid (3.8%)

63. Ethylhexyl palmitate (3.7%)

64. Glyceryl stearate citrate (3.5%)

65. Eugenol (3.5%)

66. Ricinus communis seed oil (3.4%)

67. Xylitol (3.3%)

68. Urea (3.3%)

69. Glycine (3.3%)

70. Butter (3.2%)

71. Retinyl palmitate (3.2%)

72. Dimethiconol (3.1%)

73. Sodium levulinate (3.1%)

74. Dicaprylyl ether (3.0%)

75. Lavandula angustifolia oil (3.0%)

76. Serine (3.0%)

77. Sucrose (3.0%)

78. Chamomilla recutita flower extract (2.9%)

79. Vitis vinifera seed oil (2.9%)

80. Gluconolactone (2.9%)

81. Aloe barbadensis leaf extract (2.7%)

82. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 (2.7%)

83. Leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate (2.7%)

84. Jojoba esters (2.7%)

85. Glycyrrhiza glabra root extract (2.7%)

86. Palmitoyl tripeptide-1 (2.6%)

87. Cetearyl olivate (2.6%)

88. Prunus armeniaca kernel oil (2.6%)

89. Sclerotium gum (2.6%)

90. Isopropyl palmitate (2.6%)

91. Biosaccharide gum-1 (2.5%)

92. Cucumis sativus fruit extract (2.5%)

93. Zinc oxide (2.5%)

94. Aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder (2.5%)

95. Retinol (2.4%)

96. Cetyl palmitate (2.4%)

97. Calendula officinalis flower extract (2.4%)

98. Isononyl isononanoate (2.4%)

99. Isopropyl myristate (2.4%)

100. Beeswax (2.4%)

As you may have noticed from the lists above, many of the top searches on Google are well known ingredients like Tocopherol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Sodium hyaluronate.

Most of these heavily searched ingredients have often been around for years or decades. So while they are extremely well adopted, they’re not really trending upward anymore. This is why we thought we’d highlight a few trending ingredients from the top 100 list.

1.  Ceramide np

Fast Growing Top Ingredients in Skincare ceramide np

Fast Growing Top Ingredient in Skincare - Ceramide np

Used in % Products: 6.7%

Used in % New Products (Launched Within Past 6 Months): 8.7%

6 Month Growth: 30.1%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 197,233

Description: Ceramide np helps strengthen skin's barrier while enhancing suppleness & hydration. Brands that have launched new products with ceramide np include: Papatui, Youth To The People, and Supergoop!


2.  Adenosine

Fast Growing Top Ingredient Adenosine

Fast Growing Top Ingredient - Adenosine

Used in % Products: 6.6%

Used in % New Products (Launched Within Past 6 Months): 10.1%

6 Month Growth: 52.7%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 34,344

Description: Adenosine is a bio-organic compound that has anti-aging and skin-soothing functions. It is effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Brands that have launched new products with adenosine include Philosophy, Cosrx and Kate Somerville.


3.  Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

Fast Growing Top Ingredient ricinus communis seed oil

Used in % Products: 3.5%

Used in % New Products (Launched Within Past 6 Months): 4.8%

6 Month Growth: 36.7%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 52,479

Description: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil is the scientific name of Caster Oil. It is rich in ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid known for its soothing and moisturising properties. Brands that have launched new products with ricinus communis seed oil include Mielle, Aquaphor, and Origins.


4.  Lactobacillus Ferment

Fast Growing Top Ingredient Lactobacillus Ferment

Used in % Products: 2.9%

Used in % New Products (Launched Within Past 6 Months): 3.7%

6 Month Growth: 28.7%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 29,276

Description: Lactobacillus Ferment is a probiotic ingredient created through fermentation of the micro-organism lactobacillus. It has a proven soothing and moisturising effect that also strengthens the skin's barrier. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include La Mer, Cocokind, and Kora Organics.


5.  Beta-Glucan

Fast Growing Top Ingredient Beta Glucan

Used in % Products: 2.6%

Used in % New Products (Launched Within Past 6 Months): 3.4%

6 Month Growth: 33.3%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 12,341

Description: Beta-Glucan is an ingredient used for skin moisturising and anti-aging. It waters the top layers of skin and boosts skin barrier functions. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include Peach & Lily, Dermalogica, and Glow Recipe.


6.  Allantoin

Fast Growing Top Ingredient Allantoin

Fast Growing Top Ingredient in Skincare - Allantoin

Used in % Products (Face Serums): 11.4%

Used in % New Products (Face Serums Launched Within Past 6 Months): 15.7%

6 Month Growth: 37.5%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 18,700

Description: Allentoin is a healing ingredient for the skin. It hydrates the skin, heals minor cuts and improves the overall appearance of the skin. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include Murad, Vibriance, and Neutrogena.



7.  Panthenol

Fast Growing Top Ingredient Panthenol

Used in % Products (Face Serums): 20.5%

Used in % New Products (Face Serums Launched Within Past 6 Months): 24.7%

6 Month Growth: 20.5%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 27,798

Description: Panthenol soothes and hydrates the skin. It has wound healing properties and can help treat minor skin injuries and sunburn. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include CeraVe, Juice Beauty, La Roche-posay.



8.  Centella Asiatica Extract

Fast Growing Top Ingredient Centella Asiatica Extract

Fast Growing Top Ingredient - Centella Asiatica Extract

Used in % Products (Face Serums): 6.1%

Used in % New Products (Face Serums Launched Within Past 6 Months): 9.1%

6 Month Growth: 49.3%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 1,901

Description: Centella Asiatica Extract is a natural bioactive substance. It has wound healing properties and can help treat certain skin conditions. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include Dr Jart+, Dear Klairs, and Summer Fridays.



9.  Bakuchiol

Fast Growing Top Ingredient in Skincare Bakuchiol

Fast Growing Top Ingredient in Skincare - Bakuchiol

Used in % Products (Face Serums): 3.7%

Used in % New Products (Face Serums Launched Within Past 6 Months): 5.0%

6 Month Growth: 33.6%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 4,758

Description: Bakuchiol is an antioxidant with anti-aging properties. It reduces appearance of fine lines, smooths out skin tone and brighten your complexion. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include Clearstem Skincare, Beekman 1802, Wet N Wild.



10.  Arginine

Fast Growing Top Ingredients for Skincare Arginine

Fast Growing Top Ingredient for Skincare - Arginine

Used in % Products (Face Serums): 9.1%

Used in % New Products (Face Serums Launched Within Past 6 Months): 13.9%

6 Month Growth: 52.7%

6 Month Positive Consumer Review Increase for New Products: 22,207

Description: Arginine is a powerful amino acid that increases antioxidant activity. Its hydration properties helps repair skin damage and stimulate collagen production in your skin. Brands that have launched new products with lactobacillus ferment include Bliss, Topicals, and Grande Cosmetics.



Conclusion

This concludes our list of the top 100 active ingredients in skincare in the US.

There is a common theme among many of the most popular active ingredients: most tend to be related to skin-hydration and anti-aging. Specific skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation and acne are less likely to make the top list.

This list will continue to be updated on a monthly basis to include updated data and potentially new active ingredients for skincare.

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