alcohol Antiseptic and solvent used in perfumes, lotions, and astringents. SD alcohol is a special denatured ethyl alcohol.
algae Derived from minerals and phytohormones; remineralizes and revitalizes the skin.
allantoin An anti-inflammatory compound isolated from the herb comfrey; it is used in creams, hand lotion, hair lotion, aftershave, and other skin-soothing cosmetics for its ability to heal wounds and skin ulcers and to stimulate the growth of healthy tissue.
aloe vera Most popular botanical used in cosmetic formulations; emollient and film-forming gum resin with hydrating, softening, healing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
alpha hydroxy acids Abbreviated AHAs; acids derived from plants (mostly fruit) that are often used to exfoliate the skin; mild acids: glycolic, lactic, malic, and tartaric acid. AHAs exfoliate by loosening the bonds between dead corneum cells and dissolve the intercellular matrix. Alpha hydroxy acids also stimulate cell renewal.
alpha lipoic acid A natural molecule found in every cell in the body; it is a powerful antioxidant and is soluble in water and oil.
alum Compound made of aluminum, potassium, or ammonium sulfate with strong astringent action.
ampoules Small, sealed vials containing a single application of highly concentrated extracts in a water or oil base.
anhydrous Describes products that do not contain any water.
aromatherapy Therapeutic use of plant aromas and essential oils for beauty and health treatment purposes; involves the use of highly concentrated, nonoily, and volatile essential oils to induce such reactions as relaxation and invigoration, or to simply create a pleasant fragrance during a service.
astringents Liquids that help remove excess oil on the skin.
azulene Derived from the chamomile plant and characterized by its deep blue color; has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
benzyl peroxide Drying ingredient with antibacterial properties commonly used for blemishes and acne.
beta hydroxy acids Abbreviated BHAs; exfoliating organic acid; salicylic acid; milder than alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs). BHAs dissolve oil and are beneficial for oily skin.
beta-glucans Ingredients used in antiaging cosmetics to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating the formation of collagen.
binders Substances such as glycerin that bind, or hold, products together.
botanicals Ingredients derived from plants.
calendula Anti-inflammatory plant extract.
carbomers Ingredients used to thicken creams; frequently used in gel products.
carrot Rich in vitamin A, commonly derived from seeds and as an oil; also used as product colorant.
certified colors Inorganic color agents known as metal salts; listed on ingredient labels as D&C (drug and cosmetic).
chamomile Plant extract with calming and soothing properties.
chelating agent A chemical added to cosmetics to improve the efficiency of the preservative.
chemical exfoliation Chemical agent that dissolves dead skin cells and the intercellular matrix, or “glue,” that holds them together (desmosomes).
clay masks Oil-absorbing cleansing masks that draw impurities to the surface of the skin as they dry and tighten.
cleansers Soaps and detergents that clean the skin.
coenzyme Q10 Powerful antioxidant that protects and revitalizes skin cells.
colorants Substances such as vegetable, pigment, or mineral dyes that give products color.
comedogenicity Tendency of any topical substance to cause or to worsen a buildup in the follicle, leading to the development of a comedo (blackhead).
cosmeceuticals Products intended to improve the skin’s health and appearance.
cosmetics As defined by the FDA: articles that are intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.
delivery systems Chemical systems that deliver ingredients to specific tissues of the epidermis.
detergents Type of surfactant used as cleansers in skin care products.
DMAE Dimethylaminoethanol; antioxidant that stabilizes cell membranes and boosts the effect of other antioxidants.
echinacea Derivative of the purple coneflower; prevents infection and has healing properties; used internally to support the immune system.
emollients Oil or fatty Ingredients that lubricate, moisturize, and prevent water loss.
emulsifiers Surfactants that cause oil and water to mix and form an emulsion; an ingredient that brings two normally incompatible materials together and binds them into a uniform and fairly stable blend.
enzyme peels Enzyme products that dissolve keratin proteins (dead skin cells) and exfoliate the skin.
essential oils Oils derived from herbs; have many different properties and effects on the skin and psyche.
exfoliants Mechanical and chemical products or processes used to exfoliate the skin.
exfoliation Peeling or sloughing of the outer layer of skin.
fatty acids Emollients; lubricant ingredients derived from plant oils or animal fats.
fatty alcohols Emollients; fatty acids that have been exposed to hydrogen.
fatty esters Emollients produced from fatty acids and alcohols.
fragrances Give products their scent.
fresheners Skin-freshening lotions with a low alcohol content.
functional ingredients Ingredients in cosmetic products that allow the products to spread, give them body and texture, and give them a specific form such as a lotion, cream, or gel. Preservatives are also functional ingredients.
glycerin Formed by a decomposition of oils or fats; excellent skin softener and humectant; very strong water binder; sweet, colorless, oily substance used as a solvent and as a moisturizer in skin and body creams.
glycoproteins Skin-conditioning agents derived from carbohydrates and proteins that enhance cellular metabolism and wound healing.
gommage Also known as roll-off masks; exfoliating creams that are rubbed off the skin.
grapeseed extract Powerful antioxidant with soothing properties.
green tea Powerful antioxidant and soothing agent; antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a stimulant.
healing agents Substances such as chamomile or aloe that help to heal the skin.
herbs Hundreds of different herbs that contain phytohormones are used in skin care products and cosmetics; they heal, stimulate, soothe, and moisturize.
horsechestnut Extract containing bioflavonoids; also known as vitamin P. Helps strengthen capillary walls; used for couperose areas or telangiectasia.
humectants Ingredients that attract water. Humectants draw moisture to the skin and soften its surface, diminishing lines caused by dryness.
hydrators Ingredients that attract water to the skin’s surface.
hydrophilic agents Ingredients that attract water to the skin’s surface.
jojoba Oil widely used in cosmetics; extracted from the bean-like seeds of the desert shrub. Used as a lubricant and noncomedogenic emollient and moisturizer.
keratolytic Agent that causes exfoliation, or sloughing, of skin cells.
kojic acid Skin-brightening agent.
lakes Insoluble pigments made by combining a dye with an inorganic material.
lanolin Emollient with moisturizing properties; also an emulsifier with high water absorption capabilities.
lavender Antiallergenic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, balancing, energizing, soothing, and healing.
licorice Anti-irritant used for sensitive skin; helps lighten pigmentation.
lipids Fats or fat-like substances; lipids help repair and protect the barrier function of the skin.
liposomes Closed-lipid bilayer spheres that encapsulate ingredients, target their delivery to specific tissues of the skin, and control their release.
lubricants Coat the skin and reduce friction. Mineral oil is a lubricant.
mask Also known as pack or masques; concentrated treatment products often composed of herbs, vitamins, mineral clays, moisturizing agents, skin softeners, aromatherapy oils, beneficial extracts, and other beneficial ingredients to cleanse, exfoliate, tighten, tone, hydrate, and nourish and treat the skin.
mechanical exfoliation Physical method of rubbing dead cells off of the skin.
methylparaben One of the most frequently used preservatives because of its very low sensitizing potential; combats bacteria and molds; noncomedogenic.
mineral oil Lubricant derived from petroleum.
modelage masks Also known as thermal masks; thermal heat masks; facial masks containing special crystals of gypsum, a plaster-like ingredient.
moisturizers Products formulated to add moisture to the skin.
noncertified colors Colors that are organic, meaning they come from animal or plant extracts; they can also be natural mineral pigments.
oil soluble Compatible with oil.
olfactory system Gives us our sense of smell, which is the strongest of the five senses.
papaya Natural enzyme used for exfoliation and in enzyme peels.
parabens One of the most commonly used groups of preservatives in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries; provide bacteriostatic and fungistatic activity against a diverse number of organisms.
paraffin wax masks Mask used to warm the skin and promote penetration of ingredients through the heat trapped under the surface of the paraffin.
peptides Chains of amino acids that stimulate fibroblasts, cell metabolism, collagen, and improve skin’s firmness. Larger chains are called polypeptides.
performance ingredients Ingredients in cosmetic products that cause the actual changes in the appearance of the skin.
petroleum jelly Occlusive agent that restores the barrier layer by holding in water; used after laser surgery to protect the skin while healing.
pH adjusters Acids or alkalis (bases) used to adjust the pH of products.
phytotherapy Use of plant extracts for therapeutic benefits.
polyglucans Ingredients derived from yeast cells that help strengthen the immune system and stimulate the metabolism; they are also hydrophilic and help preserve and protect collagen and elastin.
polymers Chemical compounds formed by combining a number of small molecules (monomers) into long chain-like structures; advanced vehicles that release substances onto the skin’s surface at a microscopically controlled rate.
potassium hydroxide Strong alkali used in soaps and creams.
preservatives Chemical agents that inhibit the growth of microorganisms in cosmetic formulations. These kill bacteria and prevent products from spoiling.
propylene glycol Humectant often used in dry or sensitive skin moisturizers.
quaternium 15 All-purpose preservative active against bacteria, mold, and yeast. It is probably the greatest formaldehyde releaser among cosmetic preservatives; may cause dermatitis and allergies.
retinol Natural form of vitamin A; stimulates cell repair and helps to normalize skin cells by generating new cells.
rose Credited with moisturizing, astringent, tonic, and deodorant properties; found in the forms of rose extracts, oil, or water.
salicylic acid Beta hydroxy acid with exfoliating and antiseptic properties; natural sources include sweet birch, willow bark, and wintergreen.
seaweed Seaweed derivatives such as algae have many nourishing properties; known for its humectant and moisturizing properties, vitamin content, metabolism stimulation and detoxification, and aiding skin firmness.
serums Concentrated liquid ingredients for the skin designed to penetrate and treat various skin conditions.
silicones Oil that is chemically combined with silicon and oxygen and leaves a noncomedogenic, protective film on the surface of the skin.
sodium bicarbonate Baking soda; an alkaline inorganic salt used as a buffering agent, neutralizer, and a pH adjuster.
sorbitol Humectant that absorbs moisture from the air to prevent skin dryness.
sphingolipids Ceramides, or lipid material, that are a natural part of the intercellular matrix. Glycosphingolipids and phospholipids are also natural lipids found in the barrier layer.
squalane Derived from olives; desensitizes and nourishes; an emollient.
squalene Originally from shark liver oil; also occurs in small amounts in olive oil, wheat germ oil, and rice bran oil; also found in human sebum. A lubricant and perfume fixative.
stem cells Derived from plants to protect or stimulate our own skin stem cells; for health and antiaging benefits.
sulfur Sulfur reduces oil-gland activity and dissolves the skin’s surface layer of dry, dead cells. This ingredient is commonly used in acne products.
sun protection factor Abbreviated SPF; ability of a product to delay sun-induced erythema, the visible sign of sun damage. The SPF rating is based only on UVB protection, not UVA exposure.
tea tree Soothing and antiseptic; antifungal properties.
tissue respiratory factor Abbreviated TRF; ingredient derived from yeast cells that functions as an anti-inflammatory and moisturizing ingredient.
titanium dioxide Inorganic physical sunscreen that reflects UV radiation.
toners Also known as fresheners or astringents; liquids designed to tone and tighten the skin’s surface.
urea Properties include enhancing the penetration abilities of other substances; anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and deodorizing action that protects the skin’s surface and helps maintain healthy skin.
vehicles Spreading agents and ingredients that carry or deliver other ingredients into the skin and make them more effective.
water soluble Mixable with water.
witch hazel Extracted from the bark of the hamanelis shrub; can be a soothing agent or, in higher concentrations, an astringent.
zinc oxide Inorganic physical sunscreen that reflects UVA radiation. Also used to protect, soothe, and heal the skin; is somewhat astringent, antiseptic, and antibacterial.