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  • Ingredients Glossary

    From acids and alcohol to certified vegan and oils, here you can find our glossary of ingredients inside your beauty products. Break down the jargon and find the key to your beauty needs.

    A


    ACETONE
    A strong solvent, used for removing nail polish.

    ACETYL GLUCOSAMINE
    A sugar from amino acid, used to bind water to the skin.

    ACETYL HEXAPEPTIDE 3
    A synthetic amino acid, used for its muscle relaxing effects.

    ACTIVE INGREDIENT
    Any ingredient in a product that can alter your skin.

    AGAR-AGAR
    A seaweed extract that is used as a thickening agent, similar to gelatin.

    AHA or ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS
    Acids used to exfoliate the skin can be natural or synthetic.

    ALCOHOL DENAT
    An alcohol which is used as a preservative, made by drying to hair and skin.

    ALKYLOAMIDES
    Synthetic fatty acids used to emulsify ingredients, often used in soap and shampoo foaming of shampoo and soap. (
    May be listed as DEA, TEA, or MEA)

    ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
    A water and oil-soluble antioxidant.

    ASCORBIC ACID
    Water-soluble Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant.


    B


    Balsam Peru
    An essential oil, see also Benzyl Alcohol.

    Batyl Alcohol
    A fatty alcohol derived from glycerin which is used to emulsify skincare products and reduce moisture loss.

    Beeswax
    A natural wax which is moisturising and has antibacterial properties.

    Behenyl Alcohol
    An alcohol used to emulsify skincare ingredients and prevent moisture loss.

    Bentonite
    Natural clay that is used in masks to gently dry oily skin.

    Benzalkonium Chloride
    A preservative used in skin products, is also antimicrobial.

    Benzyl Alcohol
    An alcohol which is used as a preservative, derived from Balsam Peru, it may cause skin irritation.

    Benzocaine
    An anaesthetic, used to numb skin when applied topically.

    Betaine Salicylate
    A beta-hydroxy acid used to exfoliate.

    BHA or butylated hydroxyanisole
    A synthetic antioxidant and preservative.

    BHA or beta hydroxy acid
    Oil-soluble acids used to exfoliate the skin, can be natural or synthetic.

    Bronopol
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives.

     

    C


    Calamine
    A compound used to soothe itchy skin

    Calcium Ascorbate
    A form of vitamin C

    Carnitine
    A natural amino acid

    Carvone
    An essential oil, used for its fragrance

    Cetearyl Alcohol
    An alcohol used to emulsify skincare ingredients and prevent moisture loss

    Cetyl Alcohol
    An alcohol used to emulsify skincare ingredients and prevent moisture loss

     

    D


    Decyl Glucoside
    A plant-derived, gentle cleanser

    Dextrin
    A polysaccharide which binds water to the skin

    Diazolidinyl Urea
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

    Dibutyl Phthalate
    A solvent and fragrance, used in nail polish and perfume

    Diethanolamine
    See Alkyloamides

    DMDM hydantoin
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

     

    E


    Ectoine
    A protective stabiliser used in cosmetics

    Elastin
    Plays a role in skin flexibility, plant and animal derived versions are often used in cosmetics

    Emollient
    A waxy substance which moisturises the skin by softening and protecting the outermost layer

    Ensulizole
    A sunscreen ingredient that protects against UVB rays

    Ester C
    A formulation of vitamin C that contains predominantly
    ascorbic acid

    Ethanol
    An alcohol which is used as a preservative, may by drying to hair and skin

     

    F


    Ferulic Acid
    A plant-derived antioxidant that enhances the effects of other antioxidants

    Formaldehyde Releasing Preservative
    An older type of preservative which is out of favour due to potential for harm

    Includes: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol and glyoxal

     

    G


    Gelatin
    A thickening agent, usually derived from animal sources 

    GLA or Gamma Linolenic Acid
    A fatty acid which is both an antioxidant and an emollient

    Glycerin
    An ingredient which is present naturally in fats, but can also be produced synthetically.
    See also humectant.

    Glyceryl Ester
    A large group of fats and oils which are used as emollients and lubricants

    Glycolic Acid
    An alpha hydroxy acid used to exfoliate the skin

    Glyoxal
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

     

    H


    Hemp Seed Oil
    Natural oil derived from the seed of the hemp plant, often used as an emollient

    Hexyl Laurate
    A combination of hexyl alcohol and lauric acid which is used to condition skin

    Humectants
    Light moisturisers which draw and bind water to the skin

    Hyaluronic Acid
    A substance which holds water and prevents moisture loss

    Hypoallergenic
    A term used to explain that a product contains no common allergens 

     

    I


    Idebenone
    A synthetic antioxidant

    Imidazolidinyl Urea
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

    Isopropyl Alcohol
    An alcohol which is used as a preservative, may by drying to hair and skin

     

    J


    Jojoba Oil
    An oil derived from the seed of the jojoba plant, it is moisturising and antibacterial

     

    L


    Lactic Acid
    An alpha hydroxy acid used to exfoliate the skin

    Lanolin
    A thick emollient sourced from sheep’s wool

    Limonene
    A compound naturally found in citrus fruit that contributes to their smell

    Liposomes
    An ingredient that helps ingredients cross the skin/tissue layer

     

    M


    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
    A form of vitamin C that is often used as an antioxidant in skincare

    Mallow
    A thickening agent that is often used for its soothing effect

    Menthyl Lactate
    A derivative of menthol, often used for its fragrance or for its natural cooling effect 

    Methanol
    An alcohol which is used as a preservative, may by drying to hair and skin

    Mineral Oil
    An odorless oil which is derived from petroleum

     

    N


    Neroli Oil
    An oil derived from Neroli which is fragrant but can often be a skin-irritant

    Niacinamide
    Another name for niacin or vitamin B3

     

    O


    Occlusives
    Moisturisers which
    seal moisture into the skin, usually balms or thick creams

    Octocrylene
    An organic compound used in sunscreen, protects against UVB rays

    Oleic Acid
    A fatty acid which has
    surfactant properties

     

    P


    Pantothenic Acid
    Also known as B5, used to treat acne

    Parabens
    A group preservatives which may be harmful

    Paraffin
    A substance derived from petroleum, used as a thickener

    Phenoxyethanol
    A common preservative which is favoured over others due to being less of an irritant 

    Phosphoric Acid
    Used to adjust the pH level in skincare products

    Polyoxymethylene Urea
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

    Polyquaterniums
    A group of ingredients used in hair product, have an antistatic effect 

    Preservatives
    A group of substances used in products to prevent bacterial contamination

    Prickly Pear
    An oil derived from prickly pear cactus, rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants

    Primrose Oil
    A soothing, moisturising oil from the evening primrose plant

    Propylene Glycol
    A hydrating humectant which helps ingredients penetrate the skin

     

    Q


    Quaternium-15
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

    Quercetin
    A flavonoid found in many plants, has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties

     

    R


    Reducing Agent
    A substance that can break down the disulfide bonds in hair, used to aid hair straightening 

    Resveratrol
    An antioxidant which is found in red grapes

    Retinol
    The name given to the Vitamin A molecule

     

    S


    Salicylic Acid
    A beta hydroxy acid that has deep exfoliating properties, used to target acne

    Silicone
    Used as a slip agent and to create a layer on the skin, filling in fine lines and giving a smoother appearance

    Slip Agent
    A term used to describe compounds which, when added to a cosmetic formulation, enable other ingredients to spread more easily on the skin and penetrate deeper

    Sodium Benzoate
    A derivative of benzoic acid that is used as a preservative

    Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
    See Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
    A cleansing agent commonly used in detergent and shampoo, known to be drying to hair and skin

    Stearyl Alcohol
    An alcohol used to emulsify skincare ingredients and prevent moisture loss

    Sulfates
    A cleansing agent used in many shampoos and bath products

    Surfactant
    A compound that lowers the surface tension between two states, detergents, emulsifiers, foaming agents

     

    T


    Tallow
    An animal by-product used in the soap and candle making process

    Tannic Acid
    An antioxidant which is believed to carry anti-carcinogenic properties

    Thickening Agent
    Any substance that, when added to a cosmetic formulation, acts as a lubricant 

     

    W


    Water Binding Agent
    A range of ingredients which, when added to skincare, improve the skin’s moisture retention

     

    X


    Xantham Gum
    Used as a thickening agent

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