Acacia Farnesiana: An extract from a type
of acacia tree. It is used in cosmetics to give a fragrance, but it does not
have any other benefits to skin.
Acacia Gum: Acacia gum, also called gum Arabic,
is a natural gum made from hardened sap of acacia trees. It is mainly used as a
bonding agent for products, but it is also used to sooth irritated skin and can
help alleviate inflammations. Acacia gum may cause allergic reactions.
Acai Berry: A small berry with a deep purple
color that is a great source of antioxidants. Including acai in skincare
formulas resists the gradual loss of effectiveness for in products. It also
keeps skin smooth and soft, protects skin from environmental stressors, and
gives skin a healthy glow. Acai is a good source of Vitamin C. Along with other
minerals, this makes acai good to use for sensitive skin.
Acetate: An acetic acid salt. The word that
follows or precedes acetate on an ingredient list determines the function of
Acetic Acid: The acid found in vinegar, fruits,
and human sweat. It can be sensitizing to skin, but it has disinfecting
Acetone: A solvent commonly found
in nailpolish removers and toners. It can be drying and irritating,
depending on the concentration.
Acetylsalicylic Acid: Also known as aspirin. See
Achillea Millefolium Extract: See
Activated Charcoal: Activated or active
charcoal has been processed to increase the charcoal’s surface area,
which in turn increases its absorbency. See Charcoal.
molecule that occurs naturally in the human body. In products adenosine can
soothe the skin in addition to delivering anti-aging benefits by smoothing the
skin’s surface and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Adenosine is a
beneficial ingredient suitable for all skin types.
gelatinous substance added to products as a thickener. Agar comes from seaweed
and is a very mild antioxidant.
category encompassing a wide range of substances with varying effects on the
skin. Alcohols with a low molecular weight are considered bad for the skin,
particularly if they’re primary ingredients in a product. These alcohols are
added to products to help other ingredients penetrate the skin and to reduce
the skin’s oiliness. They dehydrate the skin and can damage the skin, causing
desensitization. Bad alcohols include benzyl alcohol, methanol, ethyl alcohol,
denatured alcohol, SD alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. Note that if a product
simply lists “alcohol” as an ingredient, it generally refers to ethyl alcohol. Alcohols
with a high molecular weight, also known as fatty alcohols, do not cause
dehydration and sensitization. They are non-irritating emollients that can
benefit most skin types, especially dry skin. Fatty alcohols include cetyl
alcohol, stearyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol.
chemical that helps to sooth and heal the skin. Allantoin is generally
non-irritating and is often included in products meant to reduce the appearance
of acne scars. Allantoin occurs naturally in the body and current research
suggests that it encourages the cell turnover process. In skincare products it
may be derived naturally from plants such as comfrey and chamomile, or it may
be produced synthetically.
Algae: Algae act
as thickening agents, water-binding agents, and antioxidants in cosmetics. Some
forms of algae are beneficial for the skin as emollients or soothing agents.
Other forms may be potential skin sensitizers.
Algae Extract: See Algae.
algae that shows promise for improving the appearance of aging skin. See algae.
Almond Oil: A
non-volatile, non-fragrant oil extracted from almond seeds. It is used as an
emollient, and is a rich source of skin-replenishing ingredients. It is not
known to cause any sensitivities. Users can be allergic to cosmetics with
Aloe Barbadensis: See
Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera,
also called aloe barbadensis, has mild moisturizing properties. It can help to
soothe the skin after injury, particularly after a sunburn. It also has mild
antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Aloe Vera is suitable for both dry
and oily skin types. Note that other varieties of aloe aren’t effective
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) include glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHAs have
exfoliating properties: they slough off dead skin cells, revealing the smoother
skin underneath. Glycolic acid in particular is often used to help reduce the
appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. In high concentrations, AHAs are the
primary ingredient in the chemical peels applied by estheticians and
dermatologists. Cleansers can contain lower concentrations of AHAs for use at
home. AHAs are effective chemical exfoliants, but they can irritate sensitive
skin and may also increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. AHAs are also
common in acne treatments, where they’re often paired with beta-hydroxy acids
(BHAs) such as salicylic acid.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: A
fatty acid found in all cells in the body that contributes to skin’s
smoothness. It is an antioxidant that is water and fat soluble,
enabling it to penetrate well into all parts of skin cells. It
has anti-inflammatory properties, but higher concentrations of alpha lipoic
acid can cause a burning or stinging sensation on skin.
Alumina: A mineral
used as an abrasive, a thickening agent and an absorbent in cosmetics.
is used in compounds for skincare and makeup products. Aluminum chloride,
alumina and magnesium aluminum silicate are safely used in cosmetics, as the
skin cannot absorb aluminum in these products.
Amino Acids: Amino acids are fundamental parts
of all proteins found in all parts of the body. In skincare products,
amino acids act as water-binding agents, and some have antioxidant properties. Different
amino acids affect cells in different way, and environmental factors and aging
reduce amino acid levels in the body. Skincare products contain amino acids to
help restore reduced levels in the body. Some amino acids include arginine, glutamine,
glycine, histidine, lysine, proline, phenylalanine, methionine and
Aminobenzoic Acid: A part of the Vitamin B complex that is used in sunscreens. It can cause
sensitivity to light in susceptible people. It protects skin against UVB
radiation and is an active ingredient in chemical sunscreens.
Aniseed: A fragrant plant extract that can have
potent antioxidant properties, but its fragrance makes this a skin