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Basic Skin Care Glossary

Pollution, exposure to UV sunlight, unhealthy lifestyle represent some of the main causes that speed up the natural aging process of your skin and lead to numerous skin issues. In order to avoid this, we tend to invest in some of the best products on the market. Still, with such an amazing offer available, we sometimes get lost among complicated terms and ingredients. Take a look at this basic skin care glossary that might make your choice easier.


Alpha hydroxy acids, hyaluronic acid, noncomedogenic, allergens or hypoallergenic are just a small part of all the terms we find written on the box of different skin care products. What they actually mean and if they are helpful or not, sometimes remain a mystery for most of us. Yet, it is important to know at least the basic elements so that you are able to purchase a useful product.

  • Active ingredients. What are active ingredients? They are in charge with the result of the creams and lotions we buy, yet they are not found in every cosmetic product. Therefore, salicylic acid or benzoic peroxide are the active ingredients in an anti-acne cream. In certain countries, these ingredients must be mentioned separately from the other ingredients.

  • Allergen. Allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction. Sensitivities vary from one person to another, so it is possible for someone to be allergic to a wide range of substances.

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA's). They are used in chemical peels, working amazing as skin exfoliants, removing dead cells from skin surface, but can also stimulate collagen production. The most common AHA's are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and pyruvic acid.
  • Anti-wrinkles. Anti-wrinkles products contain retinol under the form of retinyl palmitate, or glycolic acid that help collagen formation into the skin. Collagen is the one that makes your skin look younger. Retinol, which is a form of vitamin A, represents one of the most widely used active ingredients in cosmetic products.

  • Astringent. A substance that contracts the tissues or canals of the body. Astringents protect the skin, are beneficial for acne prone skin, and might be helpful in healing different scars.

  • Clinically tested. In the beauty industry, "clinically tested" means that the respective product has passed through many laboratory or clinical experiments. Still, this doesn't necessarily mean that the promised results are also guaranteed.

  • Ceramides. Ceramides are epidermal hydrating agents that act as protectors of the skin against moisture loss.

  • Elastin. A protein similar to collagen that keeps the skin's flexibility, making the skin return to its normal shape after a pull. It can also be added to certain cosmetic products having a moisturizing effect.

  • Emollient. Found in lotions or balms, emollients, also known as moisturizers, reduce water loss from the outer layer of the skin by covering it with a protective film. They soften and sooth the skin. Besides, it is advisable to apply them when the skin is moist.

  • Fragrance-free. Creams and lotions that are fragrance-free usually don't contain artificial fragrances. These are a safer choice for people with sensitive skin or with chemical sensitiveness. However, fragrance-free products might contain other natural fragrances.

  • Glycerin. It is a colorless substance with a sweet taste that hydrates the skin. It can be found in soaps, lotions and other beauty or skin care products. Still, pay attention as when it is used in larger quantities, glycerin may clog pores.
  • Hyaluronic acid. Even though it is called an “acid”, HA is found naturally in the skin and joints. Hyaluronic acid moisturizes the skin from the inside out, smoothing out wrinkles.

  • Hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic products are highly recommended for those with sensitive skin. Although there are small chances for such a product to cause allergic reactions, it hasn't been already proven that they are 100% safe in such cases.

  • Humectants. Humectants, or moisturizers, are essential cosmetic ingredients that prevent loss of water, therefore retaining the skin's natural moisture. Example or humectants include glycerol and sorbitol.

  • Lanolin. A natural moisturizer that acts as powerful emollient, having amazing protective properties. This natural emollient is absorbed by the skin, restoring its moisture and softening it.
  • Noncomedogenic. The term refers to skin creams, lotions and oils that don't contain ingredients that could block pores, causing acne, blackhead, whiteheads, and other skin problems. This type of products are also known as non-occlusive.

  • Oil-free. “Oil-free” products don't contain oleaginous ingredients that are responsible for clogging pores and produce acne. Still, these products are not 100% oil-free and may be containing other types of oils.

  • Retinol. Retinol is a form of vitamin A. It is popular for unclogging pores, boost collagen, reduce fine wrinkles, and smooth the skin. It works to increase cell turnover and exfoliation by stimulating cell production underneath the skin.

  • Salicylic acid. It is the most common beta hydroxy acid found in lotions, creams and cleansers, being the key ingredient in many skin care products for the treatment of acne, being famous for reducing oiliness.


  • Tags: skin care glossary, skin care, skin, active ingredients, allergens, anti-wrinkles, wrinkles, elastin, glycerin, lanolin, fragrance-free, oily-free, noncomedogenic, retinol


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