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Glossary

A

Acne

A skin condition that manifests itself in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and/or cysts. These lesions are thought to result from the accumulation of keratin proteins, bacteria and oil in hair follicles.

Alkali

A substance that has an opposite reaction to acid and is capable of neutralizing it.

Allergens

Foreign substances that cause allergic reactions. Examples of allergens are plant pollens, dust mites, animal dander, foods, insect venom, antibiotics, and substances such as latex and rubber.

Allergy

An acquired sensitivity to a substance. When allergic reactions occur following external contact, they usually produce eczema-like dermatitis, usually characterized by redness, itching and swelling.

Antihistamine

Medicine used to counteract histamine, a chemical released by the body during an allergic reaction, which contributes to inflammation.

Antioxidant

Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells, resulting in premature ageing, pigmentation and/or intense environmental damage. (See free radicals for full explanation.)

Astringent

An agent that is capable of shrinking and contracting skin tissue, temporarily and locally.

Atopic dermatitis

Also called eczema, this is a chronic, recurring inflammatory skin disorder that usually first appears in babies or very young children and may last through adulthood. Eczema causes the skin to itch and develop a red, scaly, patchy rash. It often develops in people who have hay fever or asthma, or who have family members with these conditions.

Atopic triad

Atopic dermatitis (commonly called eczema) forms part of what is known as the atopic triad, which also includes hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. It is a medical term doctors use to refer to these 3 allergic disorders.

Atrophy (skin)

Thinning of the skin.

B

Brightening and glow

Uneven skin tone could result from acne blemishes, freckles, melasma, or photoaging. This is the case where acids are your friend. Glycolic, salicylic and Vitamin C are the best ingredients for skin brightening.

Botanical

A substance derived or extracted from a plant.

C

Calming

Calming is another way of saying a product has anti-inflammatory properties. Basically, calming relieves redness caused by irritation. Some natural ingredients that help achieve this are carnosine, chamomile, aloe vera, allantoin, and hyuloronic acid.

Chronic

Long lasting and recurring; referring to a disease or disorder that lasts for a long time.

Collagen

A fibrous protein that gives skin its firmness. When the collagen fibers are stretched or strained, the skin loses its elasticity and the area wrinkles and sags. Collagen is used in skin care products because of its moisture binding properties.

Comedones

Blackheads. More evident in acne-prone skin.

Cream

A semisolid mixture of oil and water that is mostly oil and is intended for topical use.

D

Dermatitis

Inflammation of the skin.

Dermis

Connective tissue layer under the epidermis. Contains blood vessels, nerves, glands and hair follicles. Most often referred to as "the true skin".

E

Eczema

A type of skin condition with redness, itchiness, bumpiness, and scaling (see atopic dermatitis).

Elasticity

Flexibility; the ability of your skin to stretch and spring back.

Elastin

Elastin is the protein that gives skin its elasticity.

Emollient

An ingredient that softens and moisturizes the skin.

Emulsifier

An agent used to combine two liquids that ordinarily do not mix, such as oil and water.

Enhancing/boosting

Enhancing is the same as boosting. For the skin they both increase the proteins within the skin, which leads to firmer, fuller-looking skin. The ingredients within a product that promises to enhance should be similar to those that promise to perfect and tighten.

Epidermis

The outermost (visual) layer of the skin where skin cells are formed, mature and die. It contains 6 different layers of which the basal layer refers to the layer where new skin cells are being formed.

Exfoliant

An ingredient or product that is used to remove, or exfoliate, dead cells from the surface of the skin.

Exfoliate

Remove dry, scaly skin.

F

Follicle

A deep, narrow, tube-like channel in which a hair grows. The opening of the channel on the skin surface is the pore.

Fragrance

A compound (a combination of two or more elements) made of volatile (evaporates at room temperature) chemicals that create an odour. Fragrances and perfumes are typically comprised of dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds.

Free radicals

Unstable reactive molecules that can initiate a chain reaction of gradual damage to skin cells. They are generated through UV exposure, smoke, and other pollutants – and can be prevented primarily through the use of antioxidants and sunscreens.

H

Humectant

A substance that promotes the retention of moisture.

Hydrate

To add moisture/water to the skin.

Hypoallergenic

Formulated to reduce the risk of allergic reactions by avoiding ingredients that are most likely to cause these problems. This does not mean that allergic reactions are not possible, but rather that they are less likely to occur.

I

Inflammation

The body’s natural response to injury or abnormal stimulation by a physical, biological, or chemical agent. Typical signs of inflammation include pain, itchiness, warmth, redness, and loss of function.

K

Keratin

A tough, fibrous protein found in the surface cells of the skin, hair and nails.

L

Lipid Barrier Repair

Elements reintroduced into skin to reinforce the intercellular lipid barrier, which is responsible for moisture retention.

Lotion

A semisolid mixture of oil and water that is mostly water and is intended for topical use.

M

Melanin

The pigment produced by the skin cells known as melanocytes. The amount and size of the melanin granules is what determines the skin’s color or skin tone. Melanin is also a natural defense against ultraviolet radiation.

Moisturizer

Something that will make skin softer and more pliant by increasing its hydration. Also called emollient.

N

Natural

Understood to mean that the product is formulated with ingredients that originate or are extracted from substances that were once living. Examples of natural substances include fruit, vegetable and herbal extracts.

Nourishing

Refers to ingredients that provide nutrients to the skin. The ingredients include essential fatty acids, ceramides, Vitamin E and other oils derived from natural substances like olives and soybean.

Non-comedogenic

Minimizes potential to cause acne.

O

Ointment

A clear, greasy semi-solid (contains no water) preparation that is intended for topical use.

P

Perfecting

“Perfecting" creams are all about texture. Perfecting products are geared towards those looking to smooth or retexturize the skin, giving a more perfect, even feel. Perfecting mostly refers to minimizing or resolving superficial imperfections such as fine lines and wrinkles, coarse skin texture, large pores, mild to moderate acne, rosacea, acne scarring, or discoloration caused by acne scarring. The perfect perfecting ingredients are glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and Vitamin A (Retinol).

pH

The level of acidity or alkalinity of a solution or substance. If the pH of a product is too different from the pH of the skin it could damage the skin. It is estimated that the ‘natural’ skin surface pH is on average 4.5.

Photoaging

Refers to accelerated signs of aging, which are caused by overexposure to sunlight.

S

Sebum

The skin’s own oil. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands and secreted through the hair follicles.

Stratum Corneum

Outermost layer of the epidermis, composed of non-living protein. More commonly referred to as the dead skin layer.

Surfactant / Surface active agent

Any compound that reduces surface tension when dissolved in water solutions, or between a liquid and a solid. In personal care products these typically act to remove oil from the skin.

Systemic

Involving the whole body.

T

Tightening/toning

Tightening generally tends to mean firming or reducing pore size. The suggestion is to use products packed with peptides for firming, and glycolic and salicylic acids to give the feeling of tightening.

Topical

Pertaining to the surface of the skin; a medication applied to the skin.

V

Viscosity

A term to describe the flow characteristics of a product. Also commonly used to describe how thick or thin a liquid is.

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