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BEGINNER'S GUIDE / Glossary of Cosmetic Terminology

Education about cosmetic components is extremely important to us. That is why we bring you a dictionary of lesser-known terms and expressions that you will find on our site, but also in the descriptions of other products and their effects on the skin. In order to ask the right questions and educate yourself about the important things that go into the creation of any product on the market, it is essential to have a cosmetic vocabulary.


ANTIOXIDANTS: raw materials that prevent oxidative degradation and one of the most important anti-aging components in cosmetics. The most famous antioxidants are vitamins C and E and plant extracts such as resveratrol, green tea, licorice, etc.

EMOLIENTS / LIPIDS: substances that nourish the skin, i.e. supply it with a fatty protective film, eg fatty alcohols and waxes.

EMULSIFIERS: substances that stabilize emulsions and improve the solubility of active substances; for example polysorbates and monostearates.

HUMECTANS: ingredients that maintain moisture and prevent moisture loss, eg glycerol, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, xylitol, etc.

PRESERVATIVES: substances that prevent microbiological contamination. Here we include phenoxyethanol, benzoic acid, propylparaben, etc.

CHELATORS: ingredients that bind metal ions and improve the effect of preservatives, eg ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA).

PH MODIFIERS: optimize the pH of the product medium, eg citric acid and sodium hydroxide.

SOLVENTS: facilitate the dissolution or dispersion of active substances, eg purified water, propylene glycol, mineral oils, methylpropanediol and the like.

SURFACTANTS / SURFACTANTS : raw materials that reduce the surface tension of water and enable the removal of dirt and grease, eg sodium laureth sulfate , sodium lauryl sulfate , etc.


ACIDS : raw materials such as salicylic acid (BHA), gluconolactone (PHA) and glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids (AHA). They repair damaged dermal function and appearance by accelerating cell turnover. Salicylic acid is recommended for skin prone to clogged pores and comedones, and AHA ingredients are fantastic for improving texture and surface pigmentation. The combination of AHA + BHA is ideal for treating acne and comedones (with gradual pigmentation changes).

RETINOIDS : this includes a whole group of ingredients that simultaneously act on acne and slow down visible skin aging, including 13-cis-retinoic acid (isotretinoin), retinol, retinalaldehyde, tazarotene and adapalene. Retinyl palmitate is the best-tolerated retinoid, but also the weakest because it converts the worst into retinoic acid, which has an optimal effect on acne and wrinkles. Retinol and retinaldehyde represent the gold standard in cosmetic products, while the most potent forms of isotretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene are only available with a prescription. Use during pregnancy is not recommended due to the teratogenic effect on the fetus.

ANTI AGE PRODUCT : a term that should denote a product in which there is a good synergy of active substances aimed at preventing premature aging and all the morphological changes that come with it (wrinkles, dyspigmentation, changes in texture). Products based on peptides, acids, retinoic acid and its derivatives, vitamins C and E, herbal antioxidants, niacinamide, zinc PCA and hyaluronic acid have this effect, if the ingredients in question are used in clinically correct doses. Unfortunately, there is no legal regulation of this term, so it can be found on products that do not have any of the listed ingredients, or only have a label appeal of the amount of the ingredients in question.

ACTIVE INGREDIENT : active or active substance that the manufacturer most often refers to when describing the action of a product. These ingredients are important because they are responsible for the effect on the skin. These are mainly ingredients from the group of antioxidants, humectants and emollients.

EXFOLIANTS : another name for products that chemically exfoliate the skin, i.e. remove residual dead cells that give the skin a rough, scaly and unsightly appearance, i.e. help it establish a normal function of draining sebum from the pores. In layman's terms, the skin "breathes" from residual impurities and appears refreshed and rejuvenated. The pH of the product must be between 3 and 4 for the exfoliant to be effective, and if it is not stated explicitly in the product description, it is mainly because it is significantly higher (and therefore the product is less effective).

SPF PRODUCT : SPF stands for "sun protection factor" or protection factor from the sun (UV radiation). We distinguish between UVA and UVB damage, with UVA damage being the one found deeper in the dermis (as opposed to UVB, which we see as burnt skin). SPF is expressed numerically, and in summer it is recommended to use SPF 30 or higher and reapply it several times a day, if we are exposed to direct sunlight for a long time.

PRODUCT PH : acidity or basicity of the product. The skin prefers an acidic pH, that is, a pH lower than neutral, which is 7. The natural acidity of the skin varies between 4.5 and 5.5. Alkaline products such as soap dry out the skin, disrupt the skin's hydrolipidic barrier and make it sensitive to exogenous effects from the environment.

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 legally binding.


EPIDERMIS : surface layer of the skin; what we see and call skin.

DERMIS : the second of the three layers of the skin. This is where most dermatological problems arise, including acne, which we then see on the surface of the epidermis.

COLLAGEN : structural protein found in connective tissue. Collagen and elastin are the two most important components for maintaining the youthful appearance of the skin, and their production declines with age, causing visible aging of the skin.

PHOTOAGEING : premature aging of the skin potentiated by unprotected exposure to UV radiation. Aging of the skin that does not correspond to the chronological age.

FOLLICLE : the point in the dermis where the hair meets the sebaceous gland that secretes tallow or sebum (fat). The function of the hair is to drain the sebum to the surface of the skin, but the hair channel sometimes becomes blocked and then a microcomedone is formed. A microcomedone in which a mixture of sebum and residual dead cells accumulates is the initial stage of acne development.

RETENTION HYPERKERATOSIS: a disorder (mainly of genetic etiology) that prevents the normal function of the skin. The skin produces too much keratin and it remains unexfoliated for too long, leading to clogged pores and, consequently, the proliferation of C. acnes bacteria.

COMEDONES : each comedone arises from a clogged pore as a microcomedone and is not visible to the naked eye. Over time, the microcomedone grows into a macrocomedone, which we see as a blackhead (an open comedone with an oxidized black tip) and a closed comedone (skin-colored papules that tend to develop into acne). The recommended therapy is comedolytics (retinoids) and keratolytics (acids).

SEBUM: A fatty substance secreted by our sebaceous glands and a manifestation of oily skin. Sebum contains several ingredients: polar lipids, neutral lipids, wax esters, squalene and triglyceride. Sebum oxidation causes an inflammatory response of the skin, and it is the combination of irritation and clogged pores that is most responsible for the inflammatory form of acne.

ANDROGENS: a group of sex hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that stimulate uncontrolled sebum secretion and worsen acne.

HYPERPIGMENTATION : mostly brown spots caused by hormonal disturbances. Melasma and gradual hyperpigmentation from acne are most common in people with darker (olive) skin.

PROCESSIVE ERYTHEMA: red macules that remain after acne and other forms of "wounds" as part of the natural healing process. It can last from a few days to a few years, depending on the severity of the inflammation, and should be treated differently compared to classic hyperpigmentation.

DESQUAMATION: another name for skin peeling. Improper desquamation leads to clogged pores and inflammatory processes on the skin.

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