A small berry, native to Central and South America, that boasts more antioxidants than cranberries, strawberries, blackberries or blueberries.
Medically termed acne vulgaris, acne is an external skin infection that occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and sebum. Unlike occasional breakouts and blemishes, acne is a skin disorder and normally requires advice and treatment from a doctor or dermatologist.
Also called liver spots and dark spots, age spots are small areas of hyperpigmentation caused by the excess production of melanin, a result of overexposing the skin to damaging UV rays. They are commonly found on areas of the body that have been repeatedly exposed to the sun over time, such as the face, forearms and the backs of the hands. Age spots are possible indicators of pre-cancerous conditions and should be monitored carefully.
AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids)
A group of naturally occurring water-soluble enzymes that exfoliate the skin by breaking down the substance that binds dead skin cells together. Most AHAs used in cosmetics are synthetically generated, the most effective of which are glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHAs are often used to treat the effects of sun damage and skin ageing and research suggests they are able to tackle over-thickened skin or hyperkeratinisation. There is an increased risk of sun sensitivity when using an AHA, which can be eliminated by wearing adequate sun protection.
Single cell plant organisms used in cosmetics for their antioxidant and water-binding properties and as thickening agents.
An adverse reaction that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular food or substance. An allergy develops when the body’s immune system reacts to this substance, or allergen, as a threat and releases chemicals that lead to an allergic reaction.
A patented term for a particular mix of microscopic algae extracts that have been shown to benefit skin health in laboratory testing. Alguronic acid is used as an active ingredient in topical anti-ageing treatments due to its ability to regenerate cells and protect the skin.
A byproduct of uric acid, which is naturally produced by the body, allantoin is a soothing anti-irritant and skin protector.
Alpha lipoic acid
An antioxidant found inside every cell in the body. It can be added to skincare or taken orally to help prevent cellular damage and aid in regeneration.
A succulent plant known for its anti-inflammatory, soothing and moisturising properties, aloe vera works as a water-binding ingredient due to its complex carbohydrate and sterol content. Topical application can help with a wide variety of skin conditions, from acne and sunburn to premature ageing. When consumed as a supplement, aloe vera can aid digestion, boost joint and muscle mobility, and strengthen the immune system.
These are the vital building blocks that make up all of the proteins found in the body. Some amino acids can be synthesised by the body, others need to be obtained from food proteins. Amino acids are primarily used as water-binding ingredients in cosmetic products, although some boast antioxidant benefits and can help with skin healing.
Naturally occurring and synthetically derived ingredients that help reduce and reverse free radical and environmental damage to the skin. They do this by minimising the effects of oxidation on the skin and have also been shown to target the effects of sun damage. Some are also thought to have the ability to repair damage. Examples of antioxidants commonly found in cosmetics are alpha lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, green tea, vitamin C and vitamin E.
A botanical extract taken from plants such as bearberry and mulberry, it works by decreasing tyrosinase activity, which stimulates the melanocytes to produce melanin.
Obtained from the kernels of the Moroccan Argan tree, this naturally nourishing oil can be consumed orally or used topically to replenish skin and condition hair. It contains high concentrations of beneficial omegas as well as vitamin E and antioxidant compounds.
A plant from the daisy family that boasts powerful healing and anti-inflammatory properties, arnica is most commonly used to treat bruising and inflammation, either as an oral treatment or a topical skin cream.
A complementary therapy that uses essential oils to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing. Commonly used to treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
A form of vitamin C that can be difficult to stabilise, it’s used in cosmetics for its antioxidant aspect.
Found in wheat, rye and barley, azelaic acid has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to treat skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. It can also aid the treatment of skin discolorations.
BB stands for blemish balm or beauty balm. This multi-tasking skin product, which was originally developed in Korea, primes the face, brightens the complexion and acts as a foundation and concealer to even out skin tone. It also contains a light moisturiser and normally provides sun protection, too.
A naturally occurring orange pigment that is found in certain fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, butternut squash and leafy, dark green vegetables. Beta-carotene is used in skincare for its antioxidant benefits and ability to even out skin tone. It’s also used as a subtle colouring agent in cosmetics, giving the complexion a sun-kissed glow that washes off, rather than acting as a tanning agent.
Either extracted from chamomile or synthetically made, this active ingredient has anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
BHAs (beta hydroxy acids)
Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, salicylicacid (or its derivatives) is the only BHA used in skincare products. Like AHAs, BHAs are natural skin exfoliators but due to their oil-soluble properties, they can penetrate pores making them an ideal choice for purifying oily, congested and acne-prone skin types.
Naturally occurring ingredients and extracts that have been harvested from plants. Plant-derived ingredients do not have to be organic, and, just as with synthetic cosmetic ingredients, may not always be beneficial to the skin.
Borage seed oil
A rich source of a fatty acid called gamma-linoleic acid, or GLA, borage seed oil is reputed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties. It’s also thought to aid cell repair and improve overall skin tone and texture.
A suncare product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB rays, but both can cause sunburn, skin cancer and skin ageing.
A natural stimulant found in tea and coffee plants and kola nuts, caffeine can be used topically for cosmetic benefit. It is used in eye treatments to target puffiness and can reduce facial flushing and redness by constricting blood vessels. Research also suggests that it has potential antioxidant benefits.
A plant from the marigold family that has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. When applied topically, calendula can soothe and calm irritated and sunburnt skin.
(also known as gotu kola) A herb that has antibacterial and wound-healing properties.
A plant from the daisy family, it boasts natural antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Well known for its calming and stress-relieving benefits, chamomile is often used as a homeopathic treatment for anxiety and insomnia. It can be taken as a tea, used as an essential oil or applied topically as a cream.
These are smallest of the body’s blood vessels and enable exchange of nutrients and waste products between the blood and the tissues. Due to their size, capillaries are very fragile and easily damaged. Broken capillaries in the face can give the complexion a flushed or bruised appearance.
CC stands for colour correction or complexion correction. CC creams are similar to BB creams (multi-tasking tinted moisturisers with sun protection) but are specifically formulated to target skin tone issues, such as facial redness or sallow skin.
These naturally occurring lipids, found throughout all layers of the epidermis, are a major part of the skin’s structure. They form a protective barrier over the skin and improve its ability to stay hydrated, thus looking firmer and more youthful. Adding ceramides to cosmetic products can help to replenish this barrier system and aid cell regulation.
Also known as cellular renewal, cellular turnover refers to the rate at which new cells produced in the lower layer of the epidermis travel to the top layer before dying and being shed from the skin. Healthy cell turnover is vital for a glowing complexion.
A layer of subcutaneous fat that causes the skin to have an uneven, dimpled appearance. It is most commonly found on the buttocks, thighs and abdomen and can be caused by genetic or hormonal factors as well as diet, metabolism and circulation.
An AHA derived from citrus fruits. It exfoliates the top layers of the epidermis by breaking down the substance that binds dead skin cells together, leading to a brighter healthier complexion.
Describes the skin-clearing qualities often possessed by deep cleansing solutions and masks. Clarifying products are designed to target the build up of impurities and dirt on the skin or hair.
The oil extracted form cocoa beans. It’s packed with polyphenols and is a strong emollient.
Used as a cleansing agent in shampoos and shower gels.
Also known as CoQ10, this is a potent antioxidant responsible for cell regeneration and repair. It occurs naturally in the body but depletes with age and exposure to the sun. Co-enzyme Q10 is a key defence against free radical damage, one of the primary causes of skin ageing, and can be integrated into skincare solutions or taken as a dietary supplement.
A traditional cleanser made from a water in oil emulsion that gained popularity for its skin softening properties. Cold cream is also used in other beauty products, such as face masks and lip balms.
A fibrous protein that occurs naturally within the body and is responsible for the structure and density of the skin, tissues and bones. Production of collagen decreases with age, which is why skin loses firmness and elasticity, becoming thinner and weaker. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear, increasing in severity as collagen decreases. Collagen’s primary cosmetic benefit is due to its water-binding properties, which cause the skin to look firmer and more plump.
This mineral is an antioxidant and aids in healing wounds and in the synthesis of collagen and elastin.
The layer of dead tissue that connects your nail plate to the skin. Its primary role is to protect the matrix (nail bed) from damage and infection while the nail grows.
There are two common causes of dark circles around the eyes: a loss of volume, which exposes the orbital bone, creating a hollow area that appears darker – one of the initial signs of ageing; or thin skin which can show the blood vessels underneath leading to a blue tint. Dark circles also occur as a type of hyperpigmentation in certain ethnicities.
A skin condition that can result in red, itchy and scaly skin on any part of the body and has numerous different causes. See your doctor or dermatologist.
This is the layer of skin between the epidermis and the deeper subcutaneous tissues. It is made up of tough connective tissue, including collagen and elastin, and contains the body’s touch receptors as well as the hair follicles and sweat glands.
The active ingredient in most sunless tanning lotions, DHA is usually derived from plant sources. It works by reacting with amino acids to produce changes in colouration of the top layer of skin.
(also known as polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS) A water-soluble silicone that traps moisture into the skin or hair and is used in products such as face primers and hair treatments to create a smooth, flawless finish. It can also be used in the treatment of scars, acting as a breathable protective layer under which the skin can heal.
A bright red resin obtained from the sap of the South American Croton lechleri tree, it has been traditionally used to heal skin conditions and wounds. It’s thought to encourage collagen production and is commonly used in eye treatments.
A powder-based spray that revitalises unwashed hair by soaking up scalp oil and dirt and adding volume. It’s ideal for extending the life of a blow-dry, or as a quick fix on a bad hair day.
An acute, non-contagious inflammation of the skin that is normally caused by genetic and/or environmental factors - such as a particular allergen - and is characterised by itching, scaling and blistering. See your doctor or dermatologist.
A protein fibre that gives the skin elasticity and allows it to resume shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin production depletes with age, which is why skin becomes less firm and more prone to wrinkles and sagging - a process that’s accelerated by sun damage. Elastin is primarily used in skincare products for its water-binding properties.
A potent antioxidant often taken from pomegranate but it’s also found in berries.
An agent used in skincare products to soften and soothe the skin and seal in moisture.
Also known as omega 7 and omega 9, they are considered ‘good fats’ and help keep skin cells full, flexible and strong. They’re different to essential fatty acids as our bodies are capable of producing them - we do not need to consume them in our diets.
A plant-derived antioxidant that protects against the damaging effects of free radicals and UV rays, and has also been shown to increase the longevity of vitamin E in topical products.
A cell found in the body’s connective tissue that synthesises collagen and elastin.
An essential oil obtained from the resin gum extracted from the Boswellia tree found in the Middle East. It’s inherently astringent, balancing the complexion by reducing excess dryness or oilyness, and has the ability to rejuvenate skin. It has a woody, spicy aroma and is often used to scent products.
A plant root with antioxidant properties that acts as a stimulant. When used in skincare it helps to boost blood circulation resulting in a glowing, healthy-looking complexion.
When taken orally, research has shown that ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
A herb, this potent antioxidant also improves blood flow.
Produced by bees, it contains amino acids, peptides and vitamins. It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and has wound-healing properties.
Describes any substance that absorbs water from the atmosphere. Humectants are added to cosmetics to increase the skin’s ability to retain moisture, helping it to look smooth, hydrated and plump.
A molecule that exists naturally in the skin, hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it attracts and locks in moisture. It has the ability to hold 1,000 times its own weight in water and is used in skincare for its hydrating and plumping properties.