The Ultimate Skincare Glossary

Posted by Dr Nokubonga Khoza on

From the enticement of premium brands to local skincare influencers and star-studded skincare ranges, the apparent skincare boom has brought on an onslaught of new ingredients that insists that its presence in your skincare regime will leave you with “flawless” skin. But do we actually know what these ingredients do? Or, how each ingredient can have a different effect on your unique skin type and tone?


Say goodbye to panicked Google searches, unpronounceable words, and hours spent deciphering ingredient labels in the skincare aisle. Introducing Skin Connect’s ultimate skincare glossary of frequently used ingredients and products.


A
ALPHA-HYDROXY ACIDS (AHAs): Alpha-hydroxy acids are a group of plant and animal-derived acids used in a variety of skincare products to exfoliate, brighten, smooth and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.


ARBUTIN: Arbutin is a molecule that is extracted from the bearberry plant that prevents the formation of melanin. Arbutin is said to fade hyperpigmentation and has certain skin lightening and brightening effects.


B
BENTONITE: Bentonite clay is a natural clay that is often used in skincare products to treat acne-prone and oily skin, as well as to remove impurities from the skin.


BETA HYDROXY ACID: Refers to the ingredient salicylic acid. It is known to improve the radiance of the skin by exfoliating and soothing it. Additionally, it is also said to reduce acne and blackhead formation.

C
CITRIC ACID: Citric Acid is found naturally in citrus fruits and is known for its protective, antioxidant and anti-ageing effects. It promotes exfoliation, even skin tone and softens the skin.


COLLAGEN: Collagen is a popular skincare ingredient that claims to enhance the health of your skin, through the renewal of skin cells. It is also said to improve skin elasticity, increase blood flow and reduce wrinkles.


CERAMIDE: Ceramide helps form a protective layer to prevent moisture loss and visible damage from environmental stressors. It is known to leave the skin feeling supple.


CETOMACROGOL: This is a non-greasy moisturiser that is often used to treat dry skin conditions, such as eczema.


CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN: Chemical sunscreens contain active ingredients that absorb into the skin and transform UV rays into heat, releasing them from the skin.


D
DECYL GLUCOSIDE: Is a mild cleansing agent that is known for its foaming abilities. It is gentle on the skin and is found in facial cleansers and liquid body washes.


E
ELASTIN: This is a silicone-based polymer found in skincare products. It is proven to hydrate and protect the skin, found in most primers, foundations, moisturises and shampoos.


F
FERULIC ACID: Ferulic Acid is a plant-based antioxidant that is known to decrease the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots and other signs of premature ageing.


FRUIT ENZYMES: Fruit Enzymes are a natural form of alpha-hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin by breaking down keratin.


G
GLYCERIN: Glycerin is a natural compound derived from vegetable oils and animal fats. It has hydrating properties, used to treat dry, rough and scaly skin.

GLYCOLIC ACID: Glycolic acid is a skincare ingredient that is often used as an exfoliant. It is widely used to treat anti-aging, hyperpigmentation, dryness, and acne.


H
HYALURONIC ACID: Hyaluronic acid is a substance that helps the skin hold onto water, keeping it moist. It hydrates the outer layer of the skin which is said to improve its appearance.


I
IDEBENONE: This is a fine orange antioxidant powder that makes your skin appear healthy and smooth. It is used in skincare formulations to help reduce the visible signs of ageing, such as wrinkles or fine lines.


J
JOJOBA OIL: Is derived from the seeds of the jojoba plant, which is used in skincare to hydrate and soften the skin. It is one of the most versatile ingredients, suitable for all skin types.


K
KAOLIN: Kaolin is a clay-like mineral and active ingredient found in some skincare products, such as masks. It is used to absorb oils and remove impurities found on the skin.


L
LACTIC ACID: Lactic Acid is naturally produced during the bacterial fermentation of milk. It is commonly found in exfoliating cleansers, peels and creams.


M
MANDELIC ACID: Mandelic Acid is a gentle exfoliant that is known to increase cell
regeneration, prevent acne and signs of ageing.


MARINE EXTRACTS: Refers to algae, seaweed and dead sea minerals that are said to be high in vitamins and minerals. These ingredients aid in the production of collagen and elastin, resulting in firmer and younger-looking skin.

N
NIACINAMIDE: Most commonly known as vitamin B3, Niacinamide helps to repair damaged skin and rebuild its protective barrier. It also curbs redness and strengthens the skin's outer layers.


O
OAT MILK: Oat Milk is often used in skincare products, ideal for sensitive skin. It is rich in protein and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


P
PETROLATUM: Commonly known as Petroleum Jelly, Petrolatum is a mixture of mineral oils and waxes. It is often used in moisturisers to keep the skin hydrated and prevent water loss.


PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN: Physical sunscreen contains ingredients that are not absorbed into the skin, but instead act as a shield to reflect and scatter UV rays off the surface of the skin.


PHLORETIN: Phloretin is an antioxidant that is known for its soothing properties. It is often used to treat premature signs of ageing, discolouration, as well as to protect the skin against environmental stressors.


Q
Q-10: Also known as Coenzyme Q10. It is an antioxidant that is said to help achieve an even skin tone, reduce sun damage and improve skin hydration.


R
RETINOL: Is a derivative of vitamin A. It is known for its ability to speed up cellular renewal, and improve the texture and tone of your skin. It is most commonly found in anti-ageing skincare products.


S
SALICYLIC ACID: Salicylic Acid is derived from willow bark and is known to neutralise acne-causing bacteria by cleaning the pores and increasing the cell regeneration process.

T
TRANEXAMIC ACID: Is a commonly used skincare ingredient that is used to treat
discolouration, brighten the skin and reduce acne scars.

TRICHLOROACETIC ACID (TCA): TCA is a key ingredient in chemical peels and oils, often used to treat hyperpigmentation and sun damage. It promotes the shedding of dead skin cells.


U
UREA: Urea is a humectant, which means that it can hold water and bring moisture to the skin, keeping it hydrated for longer. Urea is said to soften and smooth the skin.

V
VITAMIN C: Vitamin C is a common skincare ingredient that is known to boost collagen production and enable antioxidant protection, anti-ageing and skin recovery.


VITAMIN E: Is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is commonly known for its anti-aging properties, used to strengthen and enhance the elasticity of the skin. It is used in oils, lotions, creams and gels.


W
WITCH HAZEL: This is a natural extract from the bark and leaves of the witch-hazel shrub. It is most commonly known for its soothing and antioxidant benefits, used to calm and relieve skin irritations.

Y
YEAST EXTRACT: Yeast contains beta-glucan that has soothing and antioxidant properties. Yeast-based skincare products are known to provide moisture to the skin.


Z
ZINC OXIDE: Is a natural pigmented mineral that is commonly used in SPF-based skincare products. This is because Zinc creates a natural barrier that prevents UVA and UVB rays from damaging skin cells.

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