Here is an alphabetical guide and explanation of many of the terms used within our industry.
Acne a chronic skin condition characterized by an inflammatory eruption of the skin, typically when a hair follicle gets plugged with sebum and dead cells, that can show up any time but especially during the teenage years and pregnancy due to rising hormone levels causing excessive stimulation.
Aldenine a complex of a tripeptide and hydrolyzed wheat and soy protein that boosts collagen 111 synthesis while protecting cells from photo damage. Aldenine detoxifies the skin from harmful RCS (Reactive Carbonyl Species).
Allantoin an extract from the comfrey plant said to be healing and soothing, often included in preparations for sensitive, irritated and acne affected skins.
Allergin a substance that can cause an allergic reaction.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) the family name for a group of naturally occurring acids often referred to as 'fruit acids'. AHA's are used in cosmetic products as moisturizers, emollients and exfolients. They are also employed to treat conditions such as photo damage and hyper pigmentation.
Anti-oxidant the ability of a chemical or ingredient to counteract or block the damaging effects of free radical activity.
Benzalkonium Chloride used as a preservative in solutions such as eye drops and also in some throat lozenges, it is antiseptic and disinfectant.
Beta Glucan a polysaccharide found in the cell wall of cereal grains such as barley and oats, said to stimulate the formation of collagen. Incorporated into anti-ageing cosmetics in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Beta Hydroxy Acid refines skin texture by reducing the thickness of the outer layer through surface exfoliation.
Bioflavonoid a plant derivative with therapeutic attributes. It has antioxidant properties that allow it to absorb oxygen radicals that may cause skin oxidation.
Bisabolol a botanical claimed to be anti-inflammatory and soothing. It is derived from chamomile.
Capillary the smallest type of blood vessel in the body of which spider veins are a typical example.
Cellulite deposits of fat, toxins and fluid trapped in pockets beneath the skin showing as a dimpled uneven surface, colloquially referred to as orange peel or cottage cheese skin.
Chamomile an aromatic plant used both topically as an antiallergenic, antiseptic agent and internally as an infusion which when drunk has a mildly sedative quality.
Chloasma brownish, yellow patches of hyper pigmentation occurring on the skin usually on the face.
Co Enzyme Q10 a natural antioxidant that protects against free radical damage.
Collagen a gelatinous substance forming one of the chief constituents in connective tissue, a main component of the dermis that diminishes with age.
Cosmeceutical a combination of the words cosmetic and pharmaceutical, to indicate a product that falls between the two classifications, having greater efficacy than a cosmetic alone.
Cytokinins plant hormones active in promoting cell division critical to the functioning of both innate and adaptive immune responses, playing a major role in a variety of immunological inflammatory and infectious diseases.
Dermis the layer of skin beneath the outermost layer, the epidermis, comprising collagen, elastin, sebaceous glands etc but above the subcutaneous fat layer.
Dexpanthenol a source of pantothenic acid applied topically to the skin to stimulate healing after events such as burns, infected wounds, eczema, nappy rash etc.
Dimethicone an organic silicone used as an emollient and moisturizer tolerated by most skin types including those with greater sensitivity.
Ecchymosis an inflammatory chronic skin condition affecting face and body, at best presenting as dry, itchy, flaky skin, at worst, the skin can form open sores which are at risk of infection.
Edema also oedema. These are areas of swelling due to an accumulation of fluid that can be present in any part of the body.
Elastin naturally occurring within the structures of the skin that diminish with age, it can also be added to topical preparations to improve hydration of the skin.
Epidermis the top, outermost layer of the skin.
Erythema redness of the skin which may have accompanying swelling indicative of many causes such as an allergic reaction to a topically applied substance, or the after effects of skin resurfacing etc.
Exfoliant a material that promotes the removal of dead surface skin cells.
Facial Erythema a chronic condition where the facial capillaries are dilated presenting as redness of the skin that can vary in degree from mild to severe.
Free Radicals a destructive form of oxygen generated by each cell in the body that destroys cellular membranes, also occurring from environmental causes such as pollution, cigarette smoke and herbicides.
Ginkgo Biloba a native of Asia more commonly takes orally as a supplement promoting qualities such improved blood flow to the skin, detoxifying and anti ageing.
Glycerine an emollient used in moisturizers but can also be taken orally as part of sore throat preparations.
Glycolic Acid used as an exfoliate, alpha hydroxyl acid deep cleans and removes dead surface skin cells.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) a group of chemically related polysaccharides which are the major components of the extra cellular matrix (ECM) and of connective tissue, used in cosmetics to increase the hydration and elasticity of the skin.
Grape Seed Extract used as an antibacterial and counter irritant with soothing properties.
Green Tea Extract used as an infusion or in capsules as a powerful antioxidant, which also is believed to have antibacterial and ant inflammatory properties and also used in skin preparations.
Homeopathic a means of treating with naturally occurring rather than synthetically produced compounds and treating the symptoms rather than the causes of diseases.
Hyaluronic Acid a naturally occurring component of the body that helps to retain the skin’s hydration.
Hydroquinone a bleaching agent that slows down or blocks the production of melanin to lighten areas of hyper pigmentation.
Hyper pigmentation excessive and uneven darkening of the skin through overproduction of melanin.
Hypoallergenic a substance with minimal chance of causing an allergic reaction or irritation.
IR (Infrared Radiation) an invisible band of radiation at the lower end of the visible light spectrum.
Jojoba derived from crushed seeds and used as a moisturizer, promoted as having potential to minimise fine lines and stretch marks and containing myristic acid which has anti inflammatory properties.
Keloid enlarged, tough and fibrous tissue extending beyond the confines of the scar more commonly occurring in darker skinned people but which can happen in any skin type.
Keratin a naturally occurring protein being the main component of finger and toe nails, hair and the thin tough outer layer of the skin acting as a protective agent.
Kojic Acid a natural skin-lightening agent.
Labial mucosa the lining of the surface of the lips.
Lactic Acid a by-product produced by the body.
Lipids biological agents not easily soluble in water thereby providing a barrier on the skin when applied topically.
Lipolysis the breakdown of fat within the fat cells.
Melanin the pigment that gives colour.
Melasma a condition where there is increased pigmentation in the skin often as a response to changing hormone levels and a reaction to the sun during pregnancy, also known as the mask of pregnancy.
Morus Alba (mulberry extract) increasingly used as a lightening agent in cosmetics.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): is one of the water-soluble B complex vitamins.
Oligotherapy is a natural therapy based on trace minerals and are remedies considered as catalysts that speed up metabolism at the cellular level. It also provides essential nutrition to stop free radical activity that destroys body tissue. It is believed to enhance the movement of ions, essential for life, into and out of the cell.
Peptides are the family of short molecules formed from the linking, in a defined order, of various amino acids. Some may stimulate skin metabolism and repair, others may inhibit the breakdown of collagen.
Petechiae minute, pinpoint haemorrhages of small capillaries i.e. bleeding into the skin.
pH the degree of alkaline or acidity.
Photoageing damage to the skin due to cumulative sun exposure resulting in age/sun spots, wrinkles, fine lines and uneven pigmentation.
Phytic Acid used in skin lightening products.
Pigmentation the colour within the skin which can become blotchy and uneven where there is too much, hyper pigmentation, or too little, hypo pigmentation. It is present anywhere colour exists i.e. hair, eyes etc. Melanin within the skin absorbs ultraviolet light.
Polypeptide (hydrolysed animal protein) processed collagen and other animal proteins. These molecules are composed, at least in part, of chains of amino acids.
Polyphenols are a group of chemical substances found in plants, characterized by the presence of more than one phenol group per molecule. The polyphenols are responsible for the colouring of some plants - for example, the colour of leaves in the autumn. High levels of polyphenols can generally be found in the fruit skins with some of the highest percentages in grape skin, apple skin and orange skin, however its application topically is rather irritant.
Pycnogenol is made from the bark of the Maritime Pine containing a powerful blend of antioxidants and a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Research found that Pycnogenol maintains the skin's healthy structure for longer by binding with collagen and elastin to prevent them from being broken down, while destroying the free radicals that try to attack the skin's structure. It also helps maintain skin volume by helping the body to build better collagen and is said to dramatically increase the skin's blood circulation by strengthening the skin's capillaries and so help prevent the formation of thread and varicose veins. It may also help prevent the most prominent signs of ageing skin.
Retinoic Acid (Trentinoin) is short for all trans retinoic acid and also known as Retin-A and vitamin A acid. It is used in creams for the treatment of acne and other skin disorders. It is also a component of many commercial products that are advertised as being able to slow skin aging or remove wrinkles.
Retinol is a yellow fat-soluble, antioxidant vitamin important in vision and bone growth and also used to enhance skin radiance, treat oily skin and acne.
Rosa Moschata Oil musk rose oil.
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that affects both the skin and the eyes. The disorder is characterized by redness, bumps, pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin on the nose. Rosacea usually occurs on the face, although the neck and upper chest are also sometimes involved.
Rose Hip Seed Oil used due to its perceived antiseptic properties.
Ruscus Aculeatus (Butcher's Broom) a natural botanical vaso-constrictor, butcher's broom strengthens weak blood vessels and discourages the formation of blood clots. It also possesses significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Shea Butter is a natural fat that protects the skin from dehydration and restores suppleness improving the appearance of dry, irritated skin.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a scale used to rate the level of protection sunscreens afford from UVB rays.
Stratum Corneum the uppermost outer layer of the epidermis.
Titanium Dioxide a chemical used primarily in sunscreen products as a physical barrier to the suns rays, used alone or with other substances.
UVA long wavelengths emitted by the sun penetrating deeply into the skin to cause sun damage.
UVB short wavelengths emitted by the sun known to cause premature ageing and skin cancers.
Varicose Veins enlarged, swollen and dilated veins below the surface of the skin most commonly the legs caused by the weakened valves within the veins, or weakened vein walls becoming engorged with blood.
Vitamin A derivatives can help prevent and reverse sun damage and have an exfoliating and strengthening effect on the skin.
Vitamin B a group of vitamins that are water soluble, and are linked together in several chemical ways. They are formed either from bacteria, yeasts, fungi, or moulds. They are responsible for providing energy to the body during the conversion of glucose, from carbohydrates. They are also critically required for the metabolism of both fats and proteins, as well as the health and maintenance of the body's nervous system. If B2 is used topically, it is to afford a chemical reaction accelerator, enhancing the performance of tyrosine derivatives in suntan accelerating preparations.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble nutrient and essential for life and for maintaining optimal health. It is also known as ascorbic acid. It is used by the body for many purposes and can be used in skin preparations to slow down hyper pigmentation whilst providing some UV protection.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy tooth and bone production.
Vitamin E is an oil soluble antioxidant and free radical scavenger which is easily and quickly absorbed by the skin making it a good moisturizer which also has anti ageing and UV protective properties.
Vitamin K is used in blood coagulation and therefore may aid in alleviating the appearance of dark under eye circles or spider veins.
Zinc Oxide a chemical ingredient added to preparations used as sun block filtering out ultraviolet rays.