Good Genes Treatment
Sunday Riley

Good Genes Treatment

A brightening multitasking radiance treatment and mask. This exfoliating lactic acid based treatment is an instant complexion booster. Helping to plump fine lines and exfoliating to reveal brighter, newer skin. Licorice helps to reduce hyper-pigmentation while lemongrass works to improve circulation. Long term use will help restore damaged skin, reduce hyper-pigmentation and even out skin tone. Great for all skin types. Can be used daily or as a mask.
Also-called: Prickly Pear, Nopal, Indian Fig | What-it-does: soothing, moisturizer/humectant

Prickly pear is a cactus that’s native to Mexico. It has large, sweet fruit that’s called tunas and has been used as a source of food since pre-Hispanic Mexico. Currently jams and jellies are produced from it and also a traditional Mexican alcoholic drink called colonche.

But what is it doing in our skincare products? Well, according to swiss manufacturer, Mibelle its two main properties are that it soothes and hydrates the skin.  And what’s more, they have also created some nice test results both in vitro and in vivo (in the lab tubes and on humans) showing that Opuntia Ficus-Indica can protect skin cells against UV light

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And that’s still not all. An American manufacturer has combined the ingredient with yeast extract and the two together helps to reduce neurosensory irritation caused by the application of topical products such as retinoids (slow reaction), alpha hydroxy acids (fast reaction) or preservatives which induce some type of irritation or inflammation.

The bottom line: though we could not really find independent published research, we definitely think that Prickly Pear’s name sounds cool + it’s a very promising ingredient that seems to have great soothing and protecting abilities. 

Also-called: Blue Agave Extract | What-it-does: astringent

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Lady’s Slipper Orchid Extract

The extract coming from the roots of the Lady’s Slipper Orchid. There is not a ton of info out there about what it's doing in a cosmetic product, but according to a Fitoterapia review paper about orchids, it's an Indian folk medicine with muscle relaxant, hypnotic, nerve calming, sedative, and tonic properties

We also found a patent that confirms Lady's Slipper Orchid as a muscle relaxant, it's official CosIng function is tonic ("produces a feeling of well-being on skin"), and MakingCosmetics says it's soothing.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Cactus Extract

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Aloe Leaf Extract | What-it-does: soothing, emollient, moisturizer/humectant

The extract coming from the juice containing leaves of the Aloe vera plant. It's usually a hydroglycolic extract (though  oil extract for the lipid parts also exists) that has similar moisturizing, emollient and anti-inflammatory properties as the juice itself. We have written some more about aloe here.

Also-called: Baker's Yeast | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (SC)  is the fancy name for common baker’s yeast. 

Usually different kind of yeast extracts are used in skincare for their great hydrating, and general skin conditioning properties. We could find one research paper to back this up: It has found that SC indeed increases skin moisture and had improved skin microrelief (the small wrinkles and surface irregularities of skin). 

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According to manufacturer info coupled with the Mexican cactus, prickly pear it also helps to reduce neurosensory irritation that might occur from potent retinol or AHA products. 

Lactic Acid - superstar
  • 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)
Read all the geeky details about Lactic Acid here >>

What-it-does: emollient

A very common emollient that makes your skin feel nice and smooth. It comes from coconut oil and glycerin, it’s light-textured, clear, odorless and non-greasy. It’s a nice ingredient that just feels good on the skin, and it’s also easy to formulate with. No wonder it’s popular. 

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, solvent | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1

Butylene glycol, or let’s just call it BG, is a multi-tasking colorless, syrupy liquid. It’s a great pick for creating a nice feeling product.  

BG’s main job is usually to be a solvent for the other ingredients. Other tasks include helping the product to absorb faster and deeper into the skin (penetration enhancer), making the product spread nicely over the skin (slip agent), and attracting water (humectant) into the skin.

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It’s an ingredient whose safety hasn’t been questioned so far by anyone (at least not that we know about). BG is approved by Ecocert and is also used enthusiastically in natural products. BTW, it’s also a food additive. 

Squalane - goodie
What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1

Squalane is a real goodie with great skin hydrating and emollient properties. 

It occurs naturally in certain fish and plant oils, and in the sebum (the oily stuff our skin produces) of the human skin. The latter makes it an important skin-identical ingredient and a NMF (natural moisturizing factor)

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It helps to protect the skin barrier and even demonstrates some antioxidant properties. It does not clog pores and leaves a non-greasy, non-heavy feeling on the skin.

Squalane is the hydrogenated form of squalene, a lighter, more stable and less oxidative version of it. That’s why, it shows up more often in the ingredient lists. 

You can read all about squalene here.

Cyclomethicone is not one type of silicone, but a whole mixture of them: it's a mix of specific chain length (4 to 7) cyclic siloxanes. (There seems to be a confusion on the internet whether Cyclomethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane is the same. Well, it is not, but Cyclopentasiloxane is part of the mixture that makes up Cyclomethicone). 

All the silicones in the Cyclomethicone mixture are volatile, meaning they evaporate from the skin or hair rather than absorb into it. Like  silicones in general, Cyclomethicone also gives skin or hair a smooth feel and has emollient properties.

What-it-does: emollient, silicone

Probably the cheapest and most common silicone of all. As for skincare, it makes the skin silky smooth, creates a subtle gloss and forms a protective barrier on the skin. Also, works well to fill in fine lines and wrinkles and give skin a plump look (of course that is only temporary, but still, it's nice).  

There are also scar treatment gels out there using dimethicone as their base ingredient. It helps to soften scars and increase their elasticity. 

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As for hair care, it's the heaviest of all silicones used for hair care and smoothes the hair like no other thing. It can be a bit difficult to wash out.

What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emulsifying, emollient, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

A common multi-tasker fatty acid. It helps water and oil to mix (emulsifier), it makes your skin feel smooth (emollient) and can help to thicken up products.

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 1 | Comedogenicity: 2

A super common multitasker ingredient that gives your skin a nice soft feel (emollient). It also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier) and to thicken up products

It’s a so-called fatty alcohol (a mix of cetyl and stearyl alcohol - other two emollient fatty alcohols).  Though alcohol is in its name, its properties are totally different from the properties of “normal” alcohol, or denat. alcohol. It’s not drying and not irritating and totally ok for the skin.

A common functional ingredient that helps to keep the other ingredients together, stabilizes and thickens the products. It also helps water to mix with oils and dirt - a useful thing for cleaning the skin and hair.

If you are a chemist geek you might want to know that it’s made from the mixture of Cetearyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol - the nice type of alcohols) and ethylene oxide. The numerical value at the end of the ingredient name marks the average number of ethylene oxide molecules added. 20 seems to be a common choice.

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It’s normally used at 1-3% concentration.

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A super common, waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth.

It can be produced from most vegetable oils in a pretty simple, "green" process that is similar to soap making. It's readily biodegradable.

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It also occurs naturally in our body and is used as a food additive. As cosmetic chemist Colins writes it, "its safety really is beyond any doubt".

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing, emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

A very common water-loving surfactant and emulsifier that helps to keep water and oil mixed nicely together. 

It's often paired with glyceryl stearate - the two together form a super effective emulsifier duo that's salt and acid tolerant and works over a wide pH range. It also gives a "pleasing product aesthetics", so no wonder it's popular.

Also-called: Arnica Extract

A nice yellow flower living in the mountains that's famously used to treat bruisings. Its role in skincare is questionable though. Read more here >>

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

Also-called: Licorice Root | What-it-does: soothing, skin brightening

You might know licorice as a sweet treat from your childhood, but it's actually a legume that grows around the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, central and southern Russia. It's sweet and yellow and not only used for licorice all sorts but it's also a skincare superstar thanks to two magic properties:

Nr. 1 magic property is that it has skin-lightening or to say it another way depigmenting properties. The most active part is called glabridin. The topical application (meaning when you put it on your face) of 0.5% glabridin was shown to inhibit UVB caused pigmentation of guinea pigs. Another study even suggested that licorice is more effective than the gold standard skin-lightening agent hydroquinone. All in all, licorice is considered to be one of the safest skin lightening agents with the fewest side effects.

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There is just one catch regarding glabridin and licorice: the amount of glabridin in commercial licorice extracts can vary a lot. We have seen extracts with only 4% glabridin as well as 40% glabridin. The latter one is a very-very expensive ingredient, so if you are after the depigmenting properties try to choose a product that boasts its high-quality licorice extract. 

Nr. 2 magic property is that licorice is a potent anti-inflammatory. Glabridin has also some soothing properties but the main active anti-inflammatory component is glycyrrhizin. It’s used to treat several skin diseases that are connected to inflammation including atopic dermatitis, rosacea or eczema. 

Oh, and one more thing: glabridin seems to be also an antioxidant, which is just one more reason to be happy about licorice root extract on an ingredient list. 

Bottom line: Licorice is a great skincare ingredient with significant depigmenting, anti-inflammatory and even some antioxidant properties. Be happy if it's on the ingredient list. :)

Also-called: Lemongrass Extract | What-it-does: soothing

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: buffering, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

It’s a little helper ingredient that helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be just right. It’s very alkaline (you know the opposite of being very acidic): a 1% solution has a pH of around 10.

It does not have the very best safety reputation but in general, you do not have to worry about it. 

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What is true is that if a product contains so-called N-nitrogenating agents (e.g.: preservatives like 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, 5-Bromo-5-Nitro- 1,3-Dioxane or sodium nitrate - so look out for things with nitro, nitra in the name) that together with TEA can form some not nice carcinogenic stuff (that is called nitrosamines). But with proper formulation that does not happen, TEA in itself is not a bad guy. 

But let’s assume a bad combination of ingredients were used and the nitrosamines formed. :( Even in that case you are probably fine because as far as we know it cannot penetrate the skin. 

But to be on the safe side, if you see Triethanolamine in an INCI and also something with nitra, nitro in the name of it just skip the product, that cannot hurt.

It's one of the most commonly used thickeners. If the product is too runny, a little of xanthan gum will help make it more gel-like. The slight problem with it though is that too much xanthan gum tends to make the product sticky. 

BTW, it’s natural stuff produced from some sugars called glucose and sucrose. It’s approved by Ecocert and also used in foods (E415). 

What-it-does: preservative

It’s pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, but even more importantly, it’s not a feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason paraben.

It’s not something new: it was introduced around 1950 and today it can be used up to 1% worldwide. It can be found in nature - in green tea - but the version used in cosmetics is synthetic. 

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Other than having a good safety profile and being quite gentle to the skin it has some other advantages too. It can be used in many types of formulations as it has great thermal stability (can be heated up to 85°C) and works on a wide range of pH levels (ph 3-10). 

It’s often used together with ethylhexylglycerin as it nicely improves the preservative activity of phenoxyethanol.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: preservative

A controversial preservative that has formaldehyde-releasing properties. It works great against bacteria and also has mild fungicide abilities. 

Cosmetic chemist, Colin wrote a great article about formaldehyde and DMDM Hydantoin.  He writes that formaldehyde is the perfect example of "the dose makes the poison" principle. It's a natural stuff that can also be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and eating it in tiny amounts is totally ok. However, in larger amounts (according to Wikipedia 30 mL of a solution containing 37% formaldehyde) it's deadly. 

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The amount of formaldehyde used in cosmetics either neat or through formaldehyde-releasing preservatives is tiny. Probably that is why the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Broad concluded both in 1988 and in 2008 that DMDM Hydantoin is "safe as used in cosmetics".

However, Colins argues that in the case of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, formaldehyde is released slowly and the skin has probably not evolved to deal with that. The lingering formaldehyde might be toxic to the Langerhans Cells that are important for the skin's defense system. But do not forget, this is not a proven theory, it's a maybe.

All in all, it's up to you to decide if you wanna avoid formaldehyde-releasing preservatives or not. Luckily there are other, less risky and more skin-friendly options out there.

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