Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary

Research your favorite cosmetic ingredient below.

Ensure you check out the “Related Articles” within each term to find out even more!

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  • a

  • Ac Dermapeptide Lifting PBF
    A peptide derived from almonds. May reduce the appearance of wrinkles, but more study is needed.
  • Acacia Collagen
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  • Acacia Protein
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  • Acai Berry
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  • Acetamide
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  • Acetone
    A powerful solvent, often used as the active ingredient in nail-polish remover. On contact, can irritate skin; inhalation of its fumes can cause a slew of other health problems.
  • Acetyl Hexapeptide
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  • Acetyl Hexapeptide 1
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  • Acetyl Hexapeptide 3
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  • Acetyl Hexapeptide 6
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  • Acetylcholine
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  • Acetylsalicylic Acid
    GOOD
    Fulvic acid is a strong acidic polymer (pH1) extracted from organic substances such as peat. It helps other ingredients better absorb into the skin. As well as serving as a potent antioxidant that can significantly help fight the signs of aging such as fine(...)
  • Acnecidic 6
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  • Actinovol
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  • African Botanics Pure Marula Oil
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  • Albino
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  • Alcium
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  • Aldehydes
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  • Alguronic Acid
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  • Almond Oil
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  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid
    Ideal for reducing fine wrinkles, regulating and smoothing the skin texture, exfoliating pores, and maintaining a balanced pH levenl. They work by thinning the straum corneum
  • Alumina
    A drying agent. One of the most absorbent substances on earth.
  • Aluminum
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  • Aluminum Hydroxide
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  • Aluminum Oxide
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  • Aluminum Salts
    Used in antiperspirants to inhibit sweating by blocking sweat glands.
  • Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly
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  • Amino Acid
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  • Amlactin
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  • Amodimethicone
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  • Amorphophallus
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  • Androgenic
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  • Antioxidant
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  • Apple Cider Vinegar
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  • Apple Lysate Extract
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  • Apple Seed Extract
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  • Apricot Kernel Oil
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  • Aqualant
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  • Argan Oil
    A natural ingredient produced from the kernels of the argan tree. Contains fatty acids to maintain skin elasticity, smoothness, and radiance.
  • Arginine Hydrochloride
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  • Argireline
    An ingredient similar to Botox. It can be injected or applied topically (for a lesser effect).
  • Artichoke Leaf Extract
    A good antioxidant and free-radical scavenger. Artichoke leaf extract contains chlorogenic acid, which was found to prevent the erythema that occurs with UV irradiation.
  • Ascophyllum Nodosum
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Ascorbic Acid
    A form of vitamin C, this naturally-derived ingredient is an antioxidant. One of the main ingredients of our FutureDerm CE Caffeic Silk Serum! 
  • Ascorbyl Glucosamine
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  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
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  • Ascorbyl Pentapeptide
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  • Ascorbyl Tetrapalmitate
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  • Astaxanthin
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  • Astringent
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  • Atelocollagen
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  • Atilinac
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  • Avobenzone
    A chemical sunscreen that works by converting the energy from UV rays into a non-harmful form, such as heat. Not recommended for kids or pregnant women, as it gets absorbed into the body.
  • Avocado Oil
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  • Azelaic Acid
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  • b

  • B Vitamins
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  • Babassu Oil
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  • Babassu Palm
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  • Babassu Seed Oil
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  • Bacitracin
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  • Baking Soda
    Sodium bicarbonate. A very alkaline (pH9) ingredient often used as an abrasive agent in toothpaste and in rinses for acidic mouths.
  • Bakuchiol
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  • Bamboo Exfoliant
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  • Bamboo Extract
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  • Bay Leaf Oil
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  • Beech Tree Bud Extract
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  • Beeswax
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  • Bella Sugar
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  • Bentonite
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  • Benzocaine
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  • Benzoic Acid
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  • Benzoyl Peroxide
    Has been shown to kill acne bacteria by generating reactive oxygen species in the sebaceous follicle. However, this process creates free radicals, so use only when needed and only on specific spots.
  • Benzyl Nicotinate
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  • Bergamot
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  • Beta Carotene
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  • Beta Glucan
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  • Beta-Hydroxy Acid
    An oil-soluble ingredient that can easily enter clogged pores. Also removes dead skin cells, allowing new cells to grow in and theoretically fill in wrinkles.
  • Bha
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  • Bht
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  • Bifida Ferment Extract
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  • Bifida Ferment Lysate
    A probiotic claimed to work as a DNA repair agent when applied topically. This is not proven by a study.
  • Bilberry
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  • Bisabolol
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  • Bismuth Oxychloride
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  • Bitter Cherry Seed Oil
    Contains fatty acids that moisturize and soften hair, as well as vitamin E.
  • Borage
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  • Boscia
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  • Brazil Nut Oil
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  • Brimonidine
    An alpha-2 andrenergic antagonist that
  • Butyl Acetate
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  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene
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  • Butylene Glycol
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  • Butyrospermum Parkii
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  • Buxom
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  • c

  • Cadmium
    A toxic heavy metal sometimes found in lipstick. It is not easily absorbed into skin, but topical exposure to large quantities is not recommended.
  • Caffeic Acid
    A form of hydroxycinnamic acid, this is a very potent antioxident. Studies have shown it is more effective than ferulic acid.
  • Caffeine
    Applied topically, this ingredient works as a vasoconstrictor, antioxidant, and diuretic. However, due to its diuretic effect, may be drying as well.
  • Calendula
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  • Camelina Sativa
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  • Camellia Japonica Seed Oil
    Natural oil derived from camillias. Increases collagen production within the skin and promotes hydration.
  • Canarium Luzonicum
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  • Candlenut Oil
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  • Canola Oil
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  • Capislow
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  • Capric Triglyceride
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  • Caprooyl Tetrapeptide 3
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  • Caprylic Acid
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  • Capsaicin
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  • Caracol
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  • Carboxylic Acid
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  • Carnosic Acid
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  • Carnosol
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  • Carotenoid
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  • Carrot Seed Oil
    An oil that has strong antioxidant properties and contains carotenoids, which help prevent signs of aging, even out skin tone, and protect skin from UV damage.
  • Castor Seed Oil
    Primarily used as an emollient and moisturizer.
  • Caviar Extract
    Extracted from caviar, the salt-preserved, non-fertilized eggs
  • Celazome Serum Vitae
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  • Cellulaze
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  • Ceramide
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  • Cerium Dioxide
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  • Cerium Oxide
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  • Cetearyl Alcohol
    Like Cetyl alcohol, this is a fatty alcohol derived from coconuts. A great moisturizer that is used as an emollient and to improve viscosity in cosmetics.
  • Cetyl Alcohol
    Like Cetearyl alcohol, this is a fatty alcohol derived from coconuts. A great moisturizer that is used as an emollient and to improve viscosity in cosmetics.
  • Chamomile
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  • Chlorella Extract
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  • Chlorogenic Acid
    A phenolic compound naturally found in green coffee beans, potatoes, prunes, and other foods. Has strong antioxident and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Citric Acid
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  • Clove Oil
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  • Coal Tar
    A petroleum by-product sometimes used to treat psoriasis. Exactly how it works, however, is unclear.
  • Cocoa Butter Oil
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  • Coconut Acid
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  • Coconut Oil
    A very heavy oil that is frequently used in hair products, as it contains triglycerides that are easily absorbed into the hair shaft.
  • Coffeeberry Extract
    Extracted from the coffee cherry of the
  • Copper Peptides
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  • Corn Oil
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  • Cottonseed Oil
    An emollient and moisturizer that is rich in tocopherol, as well as fatty acids.
  • Cranberry Seed Oil
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  • Cyclopentasiloxane
    A lightweight, liquid silicone. Used in moisturizers, conditioners, solvents, and as a delivery agent for other skin-care ingredients.
  • d

  • Dehydrocholesterol
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  • Deionized Water
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  • Dibutyl Phthalate
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  • Diethylene Glycol
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  • Dihydroxyacetone
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  • Dimethicone
    A type of silicone that works well to help fill in wrinkles, while still allowing other ingredients to get through to the skin thanks to its unique structure. Often used in foundation to prevent the product from creasing in lines and wrinkles.
  • Dimethyl Mea
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)
    Has been proven to firm skin by causing the formation of vacuoles (large pools of water) inside cells. However, too many vacuoles can cause cell death-- use with caution.
  • Dimethylethanolamine
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  • Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline
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  • DMAE
    Refer to Related Articles
  • e

  • Elemi
    Possibly an exciting new anti-aging ingredient that helps to promote microcirculation in skin. However, more studies are needed to prove this.
  • Ellagic Acid
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  • Emollient
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  • Emu Oil
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  • Ethoxydiglycol
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  • Ethyl Acetate
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  • Ethyl Alcohol
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  • Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate
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  • Eucalyptus
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  • f

  • Ferulic Acid
    A form of hydroxycinnamic acid, this is a strong antioxident.
  • Fish Oil
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  • Flaxseed Oil
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  • Folic Acid
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  • Fructan
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  • Fruit Acid
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  • Fucoidan
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  • Fulvic Acid
    A strong acidic polymer (pH1) extracted from organic substances such as peat. Helps other ingredients better absorb into the skin.
  • g

  • Galactoarabinan
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Galanga
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  • Galanga Leaf Extract
    An extract from the galanga plant, a member of the rhizome family. A good antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits; may also promote the production of hyaluronic acid in skin.
  • Gallic Acid
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Gambir Extract
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  • Gamma Polyglutamic Acid
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  • Gamma-Linoleic Acid
    Found in apricot-seed oil, this ingredient soothes conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff.
  • Gardenia Jasminoides
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  • Gardenia Oil
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  • Garlic
    Topically applied garlic gel has been shown in studies on those with alopecia areata to help promote hair growth. Also handy for repelling vampires.
  • Gentiana Lutea Root Extract
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  • Geranium Oil
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  • Glycerin
    An emollient, humectant, and occlusive agent. It has been shown to consistently be one of the best moisturizers in products.
  • Glycolic Acid
    A great exfoliant that also increases collagen production by stimulating fibroblasts. Found to be effective in treating UV-damaged skin because it mediates the matrix degradation that keratinocytes release.
  • Gold Nanoparticles
    Tiny particles of gold. Could cause damage to skin that inhibits wound healing and speeds up aging.
  • Greek Yoghurt
    An ingredient claimed to soothe skin by delivering moisture when applied topically. Also, a delicious snack.
  • Green Banana
    Bananas are rich in antioxidants and contain vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene, selenium, and lutein. Unripened (green) ones have been shown to help heal ulcers.
  • Green Tea
    Contains powerful polyphenols that fight against skin cancer formation and free radicals. Also protects against inflammation and encourages cell regeneration.
  • h

  • Hemp Oil
    Derived from seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids. These have anti-inflammatory effects, can stimulate collagen production, and can inhibit linoleic acid oxidation when applied topically, but research shows consuming hemp oil orally is even more(...)
  • Homosalate
    A chemical sunscreen that works by converting the energy from UV rays into a non-harmful form, such as heat. Not recommended for kids or pregnant women, as it gets absorbed into the body.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
    The main ingredient in hair bleach, it bleaches hair by breaking down melanin when it oxidizes. Always do a patch test when using hair color containing it, as it can cause chemical burns and/or allergic reactions.
  • Hydroquinone
    A skin-lightening ingredient that works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, by acting as a melanocyte cytotoxic inhibitor, and by increasing the cytotoxicity of melanocytes.
  • Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid (Hepes)
    A buffer, used to maintain the pH of a formulation.
  • i

  • Idebenone
    A stable form of the antioxidant coenzyme Q10, the most prevalent antioxidant naturally found in the body. It neutralizes free radicals and protects the skin from UV-induced reactive oxidative species, but causes allergic reactions in some users.
  • Irish Moss (Chondrus Crispus)
    A type of red seaweed that is the main source of carrageenans,which are sulphated linear polysaccharides. Plumps skin and may possess antiviral and immunomodulatory properties.
  • Isododecane
    An emollient used for its smoothness and for being silky without being greasy.
  • Isopropyl Myristate
    Used in cosmetics as an emollient and lubricant. Comedogenic (pore-clogging; bad for acne-prone skin).
  • k

  • Katafray Extract
    Comes from a tree found in Madagascar and is used in traditional medicine to heal wounds and skin infections. Claims that it improves skin's barrier function and ability to retain moisture are not, to date, substantiated.
  • Kinetin
    A cytokin and plant hormone that has been shown to build repair enzymes as well as increase the rate of the cell cycles. Improves fine wrinkling and lines, mottled skin, and roughness.
  • Kiwifruit
    Often used in cosmetics for its scent, but also serves as an emollient with high essential fatty acids (Omega-3 from alpha-linoleic acid) and antioxidants. We'd like to see more testing, though.
  • Kojic Acid
    Used to lighten dark spots or treat melasma, kojic acid works by suppressing tyrosinase activity. Some users experience a contact allergy, so patch test first.
  • Kukui Oil
    Kukui oil is derived from the candlenuts of the kukui tree in Hawaii. Creates a barrier to prevent the skin from losing moisture and may also aid wound healing (though more studies are needed).
  • l

  • Lactic Acid
    A popular alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), lactic acid can be naturally extracted from milk, but is usually synthesized in a lab for use in cosmetics in order to ensure its purity. Lactic acid's smoothing abilities are similar to that of glycolic acid.
  • Lavender Oil
    A strongly-scented essential oil derived from lavender flowers. Often used in aromatherapy products.
  • Leuphasyl
    A synthetic peptide that works like enkephalins to inhibit neuronal activity and catecholamine
  • Licorice Root Extract
    Contains glycyrrhizinate and has been proven to be anti-inflammatory as well as a moisturizer. Also prevents hyperpigmentation.
  • Limonene
    A colourless liquid hydrocarbon. Limonene has been found to be an irritant and a skin sensitizer, which means that it makes you skin more vulnerable to the sun.
  • Luminum Potassium Sulfate
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Lysate Extract Bioactive
    Claimed to smoothe skin, improve its appearance, and produce a cooling effect, but further studies are needed.
  • m

  • Melanozyme
    The trademarked name for a certain variety of the enzyme lignin peroxidase, which comes from fungi. Used in skin-lightening products.
  • Methylacrylate
    An ingredient in nail polish that has been shown to cause contact dermatitis (i.e., a rash) in some users.
  • Microdermabrasion
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Mineral Oil
    A liquid distillate of petroleum comprised of alkanes (saturated hydrocarbons) that have a chain length of between 14
  • Mitostime
    Another name for the extract of Laminaria digitata, which is a type of brown algae. Said to help increase cell energy, slowing the aging process, but further study is needed.
  • Musk Rose Oil
    An emollient which has a high proportion of fatty unsaturated acids, such as linoleic, oleic, and linolenic acids, along with carotenes, tocopherols, and tretinoin. A study showed it can help heal skin and reduce signs of aging, but we'd like to see more research on this very promising ingredient.
  • n

  • Niacinamide
    The high-pH version of vitamin B3. Improves mild to moderate acne and signs of aging, such as hyperpigmentation.
  • o

  • Octisalate
    A chemical sunscreen that works by converting the energy from UV rays into a non-harmful form, such as heat. Not recommended for kids or pregnant women, as it gets absorbed into the body.
  • Octocrylene
    A chemical sunscreen that works by converting the energy from UV rays into a non-harmful form, such as heat. Not recommended for kids or pregnant women, as it gets absorbed into the body.
  • Olia Oil
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Olive Oil
    Contains resveratrol, which may promote the activity of sirtuins, agents that prolong the life of collagen-producing skin cells. May also protect against UV skin damage, but further study is needed.
  • Oxybenzone
    A chemical sunscreen that works by converting the energy from UV rays into a non-harmful form, such as heat. Not recommended for kids or pregnant women, as it gets absorbed into the body.
  • p

  • P-Phenylenediamine
    The main ingredient in hair dye. This organic compound turns brown when oxidizing agents
  • Parabens
    Often used as a preservative, parabens are a hot topic amongst beauty insiders. There is evidence that might link them to breast cancer, but it's important to remember the FDA has declared them safe in cosmetics.
  • Peptides
    Have been shown to increase collagen production and enhance ingredient penetration in research studies. However, peptides are too large to penetrate the skin, so while it's clear they work, researchers don't know quite how this is possible.
  • Petrolatum
    Technically a wax, petrolatum acts as an occlusive moisturizer, keeping water in the skin and other substances out. It is derived from petroleum.
  • Petroleum Jelly
    See
  • Pistachio
    The skins of pistachio nuts are packed with antioxidants, and, when this ingredient is applied topically, it can have a photoprotective effect, reducing UVB-induced erythema. More study is needed, though, and anyone with a nut allergy should be careful.
  • Placenta
    Extracted from the organ that connects a baby to its mother in her uterus, this ingredient has not been shown to have any positive effect on the skin. It is usually taken from sheep, pigs, or goats, but at least one product we know of uses human placenta.
  • Polyethylene
    The most widely-used plastic in the world today. In cosmetics, used for many things, including as a stabilizer and viscosity-increasing ingredient.
  • Polymers
    Often found in hair products, polymers coat the hair and offer a watertight seal. They
  • Primrose Oil
    Refer to Related Articles
  • q

  • Quinoa
    A cereal grain containing amino acids that have been proven in studies to penetrate the hair shaft, strengthening hair.
  • r

  • Resveratrol
    Shown in a number of studies to increase sirtuin production. Often extracted from the roots of Japanese Knotweed.
  • Retinol
    A potent anti-aging ingredient, retinol deactivates the matrix metalloproteinases that break down collagen, increases cell turnover, and improves skin's moisture retention. Also the star ingredent of FutureDerm Time Release Retinol 0.5.
  • Retinyl Propionate
    A form of retinol. Retinyl is not as potent as retinol, but unlike retinol, can be used with hydroxy acids.
  • s

  • Safflower Oil
    An antioxidant that combats free radicals, skin discoloration, acne, and inflammation.
  • Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine
    An ingredient that helped reduce the depth of wrinkles and improve the appearance of photoaged skin... in a study commissioned by its manufacturer. Further study is required.
  • Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Oil
    Oil extracted from the seeds of an African tree. Contains oleic, linoleic, and palmitic acids, as well as both vitamins C and E.
  • Scorbyl Glucoside
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Shea Butter
    A fat extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree, shea butter is an excellent moisturizer. It also may have anti-aging and healing properties.
  • Silicones
    Inert, synthetic compounds generally used to improve make product glide smoothly over the skin. Also help prevent transepidermal water loss and absorb excess oils.
  • Silver
    A precious metal. Future research may uncover that it promotes wound healing, helps acne, and has anti-aging properties, but current research is contradictory at best.
  • Snap-8
    The elongated form of argireline (it has two extra amino acids). Has an effect similar to Botox.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate
    A natural complex sugar that holds about 10,000 times its weight in water. It hydrates skin extremely well, and can temporarily reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Soft Paraffin
    See
  • Soy
    Extracted from soybeans, this ingredient helps to lighten skin and reduce unwanted body hair. However, it can be irritating to the skin and provoke an allergic reaction in some users.
  • Squalene
    A naturally occurring compound found in shark liver as well as many plant-based oils. It has anti-aging and anti-fungal properties and is easily absorbed by skin.
  • Starfish Extract
    Extracted from starfish, this ingredient is becoming popular in Asian products. Claims that the starfish's regenerative properties help aging skin are unsubstantiated.
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
    An emollient and occlusive agent that does not clog the pores. It contains ~60% linoleic acid. Note: This applies only to the cosmetic-grade oil, not the kind you can buy at the supermarket.
  • Synthetic Wax
    Less greasy but also less pliable than fats. Waxes resist oxidation, microbial agents, and moisture well.
  • t

  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
    A form of vitamin C that is oil-soluble. This powerful antioxident can penetrate both the epidermis (the uppermost layer of skin) and dermis (the deepest layer of skin).
  • Thymol
    An oil derived from thyme. Has been shown in several studies to work against Candida albicans, one of the fungi responsible for nail fungus.
  • Trifix Oil
    Refer to Related Articles
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate
    A silicone derivative and emollient that
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointments (Taos)
    The collective name for Polymyxin B Sulfate, Bacitracin Zinc, and Neomycin. Used to prevent infection in wounds.
  • u

  • Urea
    An excellent natural moisturizing factor that improves skin barrier function. It binds water to the skin and promotes the production of keratin.
  • v

  • Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is a necessary nutrient for the human body (in food). Topically, it is a strong antioxident and a key ingredient in our FutureDerm Vitamin CE Eye Cream!
  • Vitamin E
    A fat-soluble antioxident, vitamin E can be taken as a dietary supplement or used topically. When combined with vitamin C, it helps protect skin from the sun.
  • w

  • White Petrolatum
    See
  • White Tea
    An extract from white tea leaves that has a preventative effect against phototoxicity and photocarcinogenesis. As with green tea, a powerful antioxident.
  • y

  • Yerba Mate Extract
    Derived from a leafy holly plant, yerba mate is better known as a drink than a skincare ingredient. However, it has strong antioxident properties.
  • z

  • Zinc Oxide
    A very effective physical sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Zinc Pyrithione
    An antibacterial and anti-fungal compound that also has cytotoxic activity against skin cells. Often the active ingredient in dandruff shampoo.