Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product.
It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water.
Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying.
One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time.
- A natural moisturizer that’s also in our skin
- Super common, used for more than 50 years
- Not only a simple moisturizer but plays an important role in keeping the stuff between our skin cells healthy
- High-glycerin moisturizers are awesome for treating severely dry skin
The neutralized form of gluconic acid. It's a great ingredient to neutralize metal (especially iron and copper) ions in a cosmetic product. This helps to prevent discoloration of the formula over time or rancidity of cosmetic oils. It can also be a pH regulator and a humectant (helps skin to cling onto water).
It's also used in oral care products where it reduces the bitterness of other ingredients. And it's natural, both Ecocert and Cosmos approved. (source: manufacturer info)
- A multi-functional skincare superstar with several proven benefits for the skin
- Great anti-aging, wrinkle smoothing ingredient used at 4-5% concentration
- Fades brown spots alone or in combination with amino sugar, acetyl glucosamine
- Increases ceramide synthesis that results in a stronger, healthier skin barrier and better skin hydration
- Can help to improve several skin conditions including acne, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis
- It's a helper ingredient that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products
- It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer
- It has a bad reputation among natural cosmetics advocates but cosmetic scientists and toxicology experts do not agree (read more in the geeky details section)
- It’s the second most researched AHA after glycolic acid
- It gently lifts off dead skin cells to reveal newer, fresher, smoother skin
- It also has amazing skin hydrating properties
- In higher concentration (10% and up) it improves skin firmness, thickness and wrinkles
- Choose a product where you know the concentration and pH value because these two greatly influence effectiveness
- Don’t forget to use your sunscreen (in any case but especially so next to an AHA product)
A kind of salt that's used as a thickener in cosmetic products.
The thing that you put on your salad with some olive oil. But in a more scientific sense vinegar is usually a 5% solution of acetic acid. It's used in cosmetic products to adjust pH. Larg amounts of vinegar on the skin could be irritating and drying.
Citric acid comes from citrus fruits and is an AHA. If these magic three letters don’t tell you anything, click here and read our detailed description on glycolic acid, the most famous AHA.
So citric acid is an exfoliant, that can - just like other AHAs - gently lift off the dead skin cells of your skin and make it more smooth and fresh.
There is also some research showing that citric acid with regular use (think three months and 20% concentration) can help sun-damaged skin, increase skin thickness and some nice hydrating things called glycosaminoglycans in the skin.
But according to a comparative study done in 1995, citric acid has less skin improving magic properties than glycolic or lactic acid. Probably that’s why citric acid is usually not used as an exfoliant but more as a helper ingredient in small amounts to adjust the pH of a formulation.
Horseradish seems to be a rarely used plant extract with little info about what it's doing in a cosmetic product. Some sources say that it's purifying and stimulating, while others say that it's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Paula Begoun thinks that horseradish is an irritant, but she does not cite any sources.
Burdock root is a goodie plant extract that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Also, it has some anti-fungal and seborrhea regulation magic powers that make the ingredient especially useful for greasy and flaky skin and scalp.
A nice yellow flower living in the mountains. It has been used as a herbal medicine for centuries, though its effect on skin is rather questionable. It's most famously used to treat bruisings, but there are some studies that show that it's not better than placebo (source: wikipedia). Also, some consider it to be anti-inflammatory, while other research shows that it can cause skin irritation.
The extract of cayenne pepper that contains capsaicin. According to manufacturer info it can stimulate the skin blood circulation that can be useful for anti-cellulite or massage products. Be careful with it if your skin is sensitive because it's also a skin irritant.
Serine is an amino acid that most often comes to the formula as part of a moisturizing complex. It's a non-essential amino acid (meaning that our body can synthesize it) and serves as a water-binding ingredient.
In general, amino acids are great skincare ingredients that play an important role in proper skin hydration but there is not much info out there about what specifically serine can do for the skin.
Yes, it's the thing that can be found naturally in pee. But the version used in cosmetics is synthetic and it's a goodie for your skin: an effective moisturizer that's also nice to use as it's non-tacky and non-greasy (unlike a bunch of other water-binding ingredients).
Super common soothing ingredient. It can be found naturally in the roots & leaves of the comfrey plant, but more often than not what's in the cosmetic products is produced synthetically.
It's not only soothing but it' also skin-softening and protecting and can promote wound healing.
The sodium salt of lactic acid. It's a great skin moisturizer and also used to regulate the pH value of the cosmetic formula. It's a natural ingredient approved by both ECOCERT and COSMOS.
The sodium salt of salicylic acid. CosIng (the official EU cosmetic ingredient database) says that it's a preservative and helps to make the product taste bad (called denaturant), while some manufacturer claims that it has exfoliating properties and is antimicrobial. It's good to know, that the salt of an exfoliant is kind of a neutralised form, so if you want to go for exfoliation stick to the pure acid.
A helper ingredient that helps to make the products stay nice longer, aka preservative. It works mainly against fungi.
It’s pH dependent and works best at acidic pH levels (3-5). It’s not strong enough to be used in itself so it’s always combined with something else, often with potassium sorbate.
The salt form of lactic acid. It works as a moisturizer in skin care products.
It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip.
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