Education about cosmetic components is extremely important to us. That is why we have put together a glossary of lesser-known terms and phrases that you will find on our website, but also in the descriptions of other products and their effects on the skin. In order to ask the right questions and educate yourself on the important aspects of creating any product on the market, it is necessary to be able to understand the vocabulary used when talking about skincare.
GLOSSARY OF SKINCARE PRODUCT COMPONENTS
ANTIOXIDANTS: raw materials that prevent oxidative degradation and one of the most important anti-aging components in skincare. The most well-known antioxidants are vitamins C and E and plant extracts such as resveratrol, green tea, liquorice etc.
EMOLLIENTS / LIPIDS: substances that nourish the skin and provide it with an oily protective layer; such as fatty alcohols and waxes.
EMULSIFIERS: substances that stabilise emulsions and improve solubility of active substances; such as polysorbates and monostearates.
HUMECTANTS: ingredients that maintain moisture levels and prevent water loss; such as glycerol, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, xylitol etc.
PRESERVATIVES: substances that prevent microbiological contamination; such as phenoxyethanol, benzoic acid, propylparaben etc.
CHELATORS: ingredients that bind metal ions and boost the effect of preservatives; such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).
PH MODIFIERS: they optimise the pH medium of the product; such as citric acid and sodium hydroxide.
SOLVENTS: they facilitate the dissolving and dispersing of active substances; such as purified water, propylene glycol, mineral oils, methylpropanediol etc.
SURFACTANTS / TENSIDES: raw materials that reduce surface water tension and enable the removal of grease and impurities; such as sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate etc.
GLOSSARY OF SKINCARE PRODUCT TEXTURES AND FUNCTIONS
ACIDS: raw materials such as salicylic acid (BHA), gluconolactone (PHA) and glycolic, lactic and mandelic acid (AHA). They repair damaged dermal function and appearance by accelerating cell turnover. Salicylic acid is recommended for skin prone to clogged pores and comedones, while AHA ingredients are fantastic for improving texture and surface pigmentation. For treating acne and comedones (with post inflammatory pigmentation marks) a combination of AHA + BHA is the ideal choice.
RETINOIDS: include a whole group of ingredients which have a simultaneous effect on both acne and reducing visible aging of the skin, including among others, 13-cis-retinoicacid (isotretinoin), retinol, retinalaldehyde, tazarotene and adapalene. Retinyl palmitate is the best tolerated retinoid, but it also has the weakest effect since it is weak at conversion into retinoic acid whose effect on acne and wrinkles is optimum. Retinol and retinaldehyde represent the gold standard in skincare products while the most potent forms isotretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene are available prescription-only. Usage during pregnancy is not recommended due to teratogenic effects on foetal development.
ANTI AGING PRODUCT: term that should be used for products characterised by a good synergy of active ingredients targeted towards preventing premature aging and all the accompanying morphological changes (wrinkles, depigmentation and changes in texture). Products based on peptides, acids, retinoic acid and its derivatives, vitamins C and E, plant antioxidants, niacinamide, zinc PCA and hyaluronic acid have this kind of effect if the stated ingredients are used in clinically appropriate doses. Unfortunately, no legislative regulation exists for this term so it may be found on products that contain none of the stated ingredients or they do include them, but in insufficient quantities present only for label appeal purposes.
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: the active ingredient or agent that the producer usually refers to when describing the effects of an individual product. These ingredients are important since they are the ones responsible for the effect the product has on the skin. They mostly include ingredients from the group of antioxidants, humectants or emollients.
EXFOLIATORS: another name for products that perform chemical peeling of the skin, i.e. remove remaining dead cells that give the skin a rough, flaky and unkempt appearance and help the skin normalise sebum discharge from the pores. Simply put, the skin begins to “breathe” free from remaining impurities and looks refreshed and more youthful. The pH of the product must be between 3 and 4 in order for the exfoliator to be effective and if it is not stated in the product description it is usually because it is significantly higher (making the product less effective).
SPF PRODUCT: SPF stands for “sun protection factor” (UV radiation). We differentiate between damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, with UVA damage being found deeper in the dermis and UVB damage being evident as surface burnt skin. SPF is expressed in numbers. During the summer it is recommended to use SPF 30 or higher and reapply it several times throughout the day in case of long term exposure to direct sunlight.
PRODUCT PH: acidity or alkalinity of a product. Skin prefers an acidic pH or a pH lower than neutral which equals 7. Skin’s natural acidity varies between 4.5 and 5.5. Alkaline products such as soap dry the skin out, destroy the skin’s hydrolipidic barrier and make it sensitive to the impact of environmental exogenous factors.
CRUELTY FREE: a product that has not been tested on animals, whose raw materials have not been tested on animals and which is not sold in China where animal testing is still mandatory as prescribed by law.
GLOSSARY OF DERMATOLOGICAL TERMS
EPIDERMIS: surface layer of the skin, what we see and call skin.
DERMIS: second of the three existing skin layers. This is where most dermatological problems occur, including acne, which we then see on the surface of epidermis.
COLLAGEN: structural protein that we find in connective tissue. Collagen and elastin are the two most important components for preserving a youthful appearance of the skin. Their production decreases over time causing visible aging of the skin.
PHOTOAGING: premature skin aging prompted by unprotected exposure to UV radiation. Aging of skin that is not in balance with one’s chronological age.
FOLLICLE: contact points in dermis where hair strands meet sebaceous glands that secrete sebum (oil). Function of the hair is to guide the sebum to the surface of the skin but the hair canal sometimes gets clogged resulting in a microcomedone. A microcomedone in which sebum and residual dead cells get mixed together is the initial phase in the development of acne.
RETENTION HYPERKERATOSIS: disorder (mostly of genetic origin) which prevents normal functioning of the skin. Skin produces too much keratin which is retained on the skin which in turn leads to clogged pores, and as a result, growth of the C. acnes bacteria.
COMEDONES: each comedone is created from a clogged pore and starts as a microcomedone which is not visible to the naked eye. With time, microcomedone turns into a macrocomedone which we see as a blackhead (open comedone with oxidised black tip) or a closed comedone (skin-coloured papule prone to acne development). Recommended therapy consists of comedolytics (retinoids) and keratolytics (acids).
SEBUM: oily matter secreted by our sebaceous glands and manifestation of oily skin. Sebum is made up of several components: polar lipids, neutral lipids, wax esters, squalene and triglyceride. Oxidation of sebum causes an inflammatory response from the skin and it is precisely the combination of this irritation and a clogged pore that is primarily responsible for inflamed acne.
ANDROGENS: group of sex hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which stimulate uncontrolled sebum production and make acne worse.
HYPERPIGMENTATION: mostly brown spots created due to hormonal disorders. Most common forms are melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne in persons with darker (olive) complexions.
POST-INFLAMMATORY ERYTHEMA: red macula remaining after acne and other types of small wounds as part of the regular healing process. May remain for several days up to as long as several years depending on the severity of the inflammation and should be treated differently from classic hyperpigmentation.
DESQUAMATION: another name for natural peeling of the skin. Irregular desquamation leads to clogged pores and inflammations.