Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter
Becca Cosmetics

Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter

A dewy, liquid luminizer for a natural-looking, effortless glow.
Uploaded by: moodcheerful on 21/05/2018

Ingredients overview

Aqua (Water)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Octyl Methoxycinnamate
what‑it‑does sunscreen
Octinoxate - an old-school chemical sunscreen that absorbs UVB radiation (wavelengths: 280-320 nm). Not photostable and does not protect against UVA. [more]
,
Homosalate
what‑it‑does sunscreen
An oil-soluble chemical sunscreen agent that protects the skin from UVB (295-315 nm) with a peak protection at 306 nm. Homosalate is not a strong UV filter in and of itself (gives only SPF 4.3 protection at max. [more]
,
Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane
what‑it‑does sunscreen
Avobenzone - the only globally available chemical sunscreen that gives proper UVA protection. It is not photostable so has to be combined with ingredients that help to stabilize it. [more]
,
Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine
what‑it‑does chelating
,
Octyldodecanol
what‑it‑does emollient
A clear, slightly yellow, odorless oil  that's a very common, medium-spreading emollient. It makes the skin feel nice and smooth and works in a wide range of formulas.
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Carbomer
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 1 0
A handy white powder that magically converts a liquid into a nice gel formula. [more]
, [more]
Hydrogenated Polyisobutene
what‑it‑does emollient
A synthetic liquid oil that can replace mineral oil or silicone oils in the cosmetic formulas. There are different grades depending on the molecular weight ranging from very light, volatile, non-residue leaving ones to more substantial, slight residue leaving ones.Apart from leaving the skin soft and smooth (emollient), it' [more]
,
Trilaureth-4-Phosphate
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Hamamelis Virginiana
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
With Hazel - loaded with active components (hamamelitannin, catechins, gallic acid) that have astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or anti-bacterial properties. Also well-known vasoconstrictor and promotes skin healing. [more]
,
Ceteareth-12
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Ceteareth-20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 3 2
A common functional ingredient that helps to keep the other ingredients together, stabilizes and thickens the products. [more]
,
Mica
A mineral powder used to improve skin feel, increase product slip, give the product some light-reflecting properties, enhance skin adhesion or serve as an anti-caking agent. A real multi-tasker. [more]
,
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing | emollient
In general, the unsaponifiable part of an oil is always the one that resists soap making. If you want to know more about this, we have written a short explanation about what can and cannot be saponified in an oil at sunflower oil unsaponifiables (2nd paragraph).Avocado oil contains much more (about 5-12%) unsaponifiables  [more]
,
Hexylene Glycol
what‑it‑does emulsifying | solvent | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
Similar to other glycols, it's a helper ingredient used as a solvent, or to thin out thick formulas and make them more nicely spreadable. Hexylene Glycol is also part a preservative blend named Lexgard® [more]
,
Glucose
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Sugar - as a skincare ingredient it has water-binding properties, which means that it helps to keep your skin nice and hydrated.  [more]
,
Fructose
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Fancy name for fruit sugar. It has nice water-binding properties and helps to keep skin hydrated. 
,
Sucrose
what‑it‑does soothing | moisturizer/humectant
A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it is water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
,
Urea
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
The thing in the pee that is also a natural moisturizing factor (NMF) with mild keratolytic and strong skin moisturizing superpowers. [more]
,
Dextrin
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | moisturizer/humectant
A little helper ingredient that can be a thickener, a humectant, a foam booster, an adhesion promoter and a filler. [more]
,
Alanine
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
A non-essential amino acid (a building block of skin proteins like collagen or elastin) that hydrates the skin.
,
Glutamic Acid
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Aspartic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
A non-essential amino acid  (important building block of collagen and elastin) that hydrates the skin. [more]
,
Hexyl Nicotinate
what‑it‑does emollient
It's an emollient and moisturizer. It also increases blood flow. [more]
,
Methylparaben
what‑it‑does preservative
The most common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon. Apart from the general controversy around parabens (we wrote about it more here), there is a 2006 in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) research about methylparaben (MP) showing [more]
,
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
,
Aloe Barbadensis
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
This one is not an official, but a sloppy name on an ingredient list as you cannot know what form of Aloe Vera was actually used in the formula. No matter the form though, it's probably used as a moisturizer and soothing ingredient. [more]
,
Parfum (Fragrance)
what‑it‑does perfuming
The generic term for nice smelling stuff put into cosmetic products so that the end product also smells nice. It is made up of 30 to 50 chemicals on average. [more]
,
Titanium Dioxide Ci 77891
what‑it‑does colorant
Titanium dioxide as a colorant. It's a white pigment with great color consistency and dispersibility.
,
Iron Oxides (Ci 77491/​Ci 77492/​Ci 77499)
what‑it‑does colorant
A mix of red, yellow and black iron oxide. [more]
,
Carmine Ci 75470
what‑it‑does colorant
[less]

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Antioxidant: Hamamelis Virginiana
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
With Hazel - loaded with active components (hamamelitannin, catechins, gallic acid) that have astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or anti-bacterial properties. Also well-known vasoconstrictor and promotes skin healing. [more]
,
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing | emollient
In general, the unsaponifiable part of an oil is always the one that resists soap making. If you want to know more about this, we have written a short explanation about what can and cannot be saponified in an oil at sunflower oil unsaponifiables (2nd paragraph).Avocado oil contains much more (about 5-12%) unsaponifiables  [more]
Skin-identical ingredient: Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Urea
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
The thing in the pee that is also a natural moisturizing factor (NMF) with mild keratolytic and strong skin moisturizing superpowers. [more]
,
Alanine
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
A non-essential amino acid (a building block of skin proteins like collagen or elastin) that hydrates the skin.
,
Aspartic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
A non-essential amino acid  (important building block of collagen and elastin) that hydrates the skin. [more]
Soothing: Hamamelis Virginiana
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
With Hazel - loaded with active components (hamamelitannin, catechins, gallic acid) that have astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or anti-bacterial properties. Also well-known vasoconstrictor and promotes skin healing. [more]
,
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing | emollient
In general, the unsaponifiable part of an oil is always the one that resists soap making. If you want to know more about this, we have written a short explanation about what can and cannot be saponified in an oil at sunflower oil unsaponifiables (2nd paragraph).Avocado oil contains much more (about 5-12%) unsaponifiables  [more]
,
Sucrose
what‑it‑does soothing | moisturizer/humectant
A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it is water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
,
Aloe Barbadensis
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
This one is not an official, but a sloppy name on an ingredient list as you cannot know what form of Aloe Vera was actually used in the formula. No matter the form though, it's probably used as a moisturizer and soothing ingredient. [more]
Sunscreen: Octyl Methoxycinnamate
what‑it‑does sunscreen
Octinoxate - an old-school chemical sunscreen that absorbs UVB radiation (wavelengths: 280-320 nm). Not photostable and does not protect against UVA. [more]
,
Homosalate
what‑it‑does sunscreen
An oil-soluble chemical sunscreen agent that protects the skin from UVB (295-315 nm) with a peak protection at 306 nm. Homosalate is not a strong UV filter in and of itself (gives only SPF 4.3 protection at max. [more]
,
Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane
what‑it‑does sunscreen
Avobenzone - the only globally available chemical sunscreen that gives proper UVA protection. It is not photostable so has to be combined with ingredients that help to stabilize it. [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Antimicrobial/antibacterial: Hamamelis Virginiana
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
With Hazel - loaded with active components (hamamelitannin, catechins, gallic acid) that have astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or anti-bacterial properties. Also well-known vasoconstrictor and promotes skin healing. [more]
Buffering: Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
Colorant: Titanium Dioxide Ci 77891
what‑it‑does colorant
Titanium dioxide as a colorant. It's a white pigment with great color consistency and dispersibility.
,
Iron Oxides (Ci 77491/​Ci 77492/​Ci 77499)
what‑it‑does colorant
A mix of red, yellow and black iron oxide. [more]
,
Carmine Ci 75470
what‑it‑does colorant
Emollient: Octyldodecanol
what‑it‑does emollient
A clear, slightly yellow, odorless oil  that's a very common, medium-spreading emollient. It makes the skin feel nice and smooth and works in a wide range of formulas.
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Hydrogenated Polyisobutene
what‑it‑does emollient
A synthetic liquid oil that can replace mineral oil or silicone oils in the cosmetic formulas. There are different grades depending on the molecular weight ranging from very light, volatile, non-residue leaving ones to more substantial, slight residue leaving ones.Apart from leaving the skin soft and smooth (emollient), it' [more]
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing | emollient
In general, the unsaponifiable part of an oil is always the one that resists soap making. If you want to know more about this, we have written a short explanation about what can and cannot be saponified in an oil at sunflower oil unsaponifiables (2nd paragraph).Avocado oil contains much more (about 5-12%) unsaponifiables  [more]
,
Hexyl Nicotinate
what‑it‑does emollient
It's an emollient and moisturizer. It also increases blood flow. [more]
,
Aloe Barbadensis
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
This one is not an official, but a sloppy name on an ingredient list as you cannot know what form of Aloe Vera was actually used in the formula. No matter the form though, it's probably used as a moisturizer and soothing ingredient. [more]
Emulsifying: Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Trilaureth-4-Phosphate
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Ceteareth-12
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Ceteareth-20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 3 2
A common functional ingredient that helps to keep the other ingredients together, stabilizes and thickens the products. [more]
,
Hexylene Glycol
what‑it‑does emulsifying | solvent | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
Similar to other glycols, it's a helper ingredient used as a solvent, or to thin out thick formulas and make them more nicely spreadable. Hexylene Glycol is also part a preservative blend named Lexgard® [more]
,
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
Moisturizer/humectant: Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Glucose
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Sugar - as a skincare ingredient it has water-binding properties, which means that it helps to keep your skin nice and hydrated.  [more]
,
Fructose
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Fancy name for fruit sugar. It has nice water-binding properties and helps to keep skin hydrated. 
,
Sucrose
what‑it‑does soothing | moisturizer/humectant
A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it is water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
,
Urea
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
The thing in the pee that is also a natural moisturizing factor (NMF) with mild keratolytic and strong skin moisturizing superpowers. [more]
,
Dextrin
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | moisturizer/humectant
A little helper ingredient that can be a thickener, a humectant, a foam booster, an adhesion promoter and a filler. [more]
,
Glutamic Acid
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Aloe Barbadensis
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
This one is not an official, but a sloppy name on an ingredient list as you cannot know what form of Aloe Vera was actually used in the formula. No matter the form though, it's probably used as a moisturizer and soothing ingredient. [more]
Perfuming: Parfum (Fragrance)
what‑it‑does perfuming
The generic term for nice smelling stuff put into cosmetic products so that the end product also smells nice. It is made up of 30 to 50 chemicals on average. [more]
Preservative: Methylparaben
what‑it‑does preservative
The most common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon. Apart from the general controversy around parabens (we wrote about it more here), there is a 2006 in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) research about methylparaben (MP) showing [more]
Solvent: Aqua (Water)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Hexylene Glycol
what‑it‑does emulsifying | solvent | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
Similar to other glycols, it's a helper ingredient used as a solvent, or to thin out thick formulas and make them more nicely spreadable. Hexylene Glycol is also part a preservative blend named Lexgard® [more]
Surfactant/cleansing: Trilaureth-4-Phosphate
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Ceteareth-12
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Ceteareth-20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 3 2
A common functional ingredient that helps to keep the other ingredients together, stabilizes and thickens the products. [more]
,
Hexylene Glycol
what‑it‑does emulsifying | solvent | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
Similar to other glycols, it's a helper ingredient used as a solvent, or to thin out thick formulas and make them more nicely spreadable. Hexylene Glycol is also part a preservative blend named Lexgard® [more]
,
Triethanolamine
what‑it‑does buffering | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 2
Helps to set the pH of a cosmetic formulation to be right. It’s very alkaline. [more]
Viscosity controlling: Carbomer
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 1 0
A handy white powder that magically converts a liquid into a nice gel formula. [more]
,
Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Dextrin
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | moisturizer/humectant
A little helper ingredient that can be a thickener, a humectant, a foam booster, an adhesion promoter and a filler. [more]

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Aqua (Water) solvent
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Octyl Methoxycinnamate sunscreen
Homosalate sunscreen
Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane sunscreen goodie
Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine chelating
Octyldodecanol emollient
Glyceryl Stearate emollient, emulsifying
Carbomer viscosity controlling 1, 0
Hydrogenated Polyisobutene emollient
Trilaureth-4-Phosphate emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Glyceryl Stearate emollient, emulsifying
Cetyl Alcohol emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling 2, 2
Hamamelis Virginiana soothing, antioxidant, antimicrobial/​antibacterial goodie
Ceteareth-12 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Ceteareth-20 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing 3, 2
Mica
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables antioxidant, soothing, emollient goodie
Hexylene Glycol emulsifying, solvent, surfactant/​cleansing 1, 2
Glucose moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Fructose moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Sucrose soothing, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Urea skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Dextrin viscosity controlling, moisturizer/​humectant
Alanine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Glutamic Acid moisturizer/​humectant
Aspartic Acid skin-identical ingredient goodie
Hexyl Nicotinate emollient
Methylparaben preservative
Triethanolamine buffering, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing 0, 2
Aloe Barbadensis soothing, emollient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Parfum (Fragrance) perfuming icky
Titanium Dioxide Ci 77891 colorant
Iron Oxides (Ci 77491/Ci 77492/Ci 77499) colorant
Carmine Ci 75470 colorant

Ingredients explained

Also-called: Aqua | What-it-does: solvent

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. 

Expand to read more

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. 

Glycerin - goodie
Also-called: Glycerol | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • 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
Read all the geeky details about Glycerin here >>

Also-called: Octinoxate, Octyl Methoxycinnamate | What-it-does: sunscreen

A clear, oil-soluble, "cosmetically-elegant" liquid that is the most commonly used chemical sunscreen. It absorbs UVB radiation (at wavelengths: 280-320 nm) with a peak protection at 310nm. 

It only protects against UVB and not UVA rays (the 320-400 nm range) – so always choose products that contain other sunscreens too. It is not very stable either, when exposed to sunlight, it kind of breaks down and loses its effectiveness (not instantly, but over time - it loses 10% of its SPF protection ability within 35 mins). To make it more stable it can be - and should be - combined with other sunscreen agents to give stable and broad-spectrum protection (the new generation sunscreen agent, Tinosorb S is a particularly good one for that).

Expand to read more

Regarding safety, there are also some concerns around Octinoxate. In vitro (made in the lab not on real people) and animal studies have shown that it may produce hormonal (estrogen-like) effects. Do not panic, the studies were not conducted under real life conditions on real human people, so it is probably over-cautious to avoid Octinoxate altogether. However, if you are pregnant or a small child (under 2 yrs. old), choose a physical (zinc oxide/titanium dioxide) or new-generation Tinosorb based sunscreen, just to be on the super-safe side. :) 

Overall, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is an old-school chemical sunscreen agent. There are plenty of better options for sun protection today, but it is considered "safe as used" (and sunscreens are pretty well regulated) and it is available worldwide (can be used up to 10% in the EU and up to 7.5% in the US).

What-it-does: sunscreen

An oil-soluble chemical sunscreen agent that protects the skin from UVB (295-315 nm) with a peak protection at 306 nm. Homosalate is not a strong UV filter in and of itself (gives only SPF 4.3 protection at max. allowed 10% concentration) and it is not photostable (looses 10% of its SPF protection in 45 mins) so it always has to be combined with other sunscreens for proper protection. Its big advantage, though, is that it is a liquid and is excellent for dissolving other hard to solubilize powder sunscreen agents, like the famous Avobenzone.

Regarding Homosalate's safety profile, we do not have the best news. In-vitro (made in the labs) studies have shown that it might have some estrogenic activity. Do not panic, these studies were not conducted on real humans under real world conditions. Still, if you are a 'better safe than sorry' type, be careful when using Homosalate containing sunscreens long-term and full-body.

Also-called: Avobenzone | What-it-does: sunscreen

The famous Avobenzone. It is a special snowflake as it is the only globally available chemical sunscreen agent that provides proper UVA protection (in the US, new generation sunscreen agents are not approved because of impossible FDA regulations). It is the global gold standard of UVA protection and is the most used UVA sunscreen in the world. 

It gives very good protection across the whole UVA range (310-400 nm that is both UVA1 and UVA2) with a peak protection at 360 nm. The problem with it, though, is that it is not photostable and degrades in the sunlight. Wikipedia says that avobenzone loses 36% of its UV-absorption capacity after just one hour of sunlight (yep, this is one of the reasons why sunscreens have to be reapplied after a few hours).

Expand to read more

The cosmetic's industry is trying to solve the problem by combining avobenzone with other UV filters that enhance its stability (like octocrylene, Tinosorb S or Ensulizole) or by encapsulating it and while both solutions help, neither is perfect. Interestingly, the combination of avobenzone with mineral sunscreens (that is titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) is not a good idea. In the US, it is flat out prohibited as avobenzone becomes unstable when combined with mineral sunscreens.

As for safety, avobenzone has a pretty good safety profile. It counts as non-irritating, and unlike some other chemical sunscreens, it shows no estrogenic effect. The maximum concentration of avobenzone permitted is 5% in the EU and 3% in the US.

What-it-does: chelating

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emollient

A clear, slightly yellow, odorless oil  that's a very common, medium-spreading emollient. It makes the skin feel nice and smooth and works in a wide range of formulas.

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.

Expand to read more

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: viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 1 | Comedogenicity: 0

A big molecule created from repeated subunits (a polymer of acrylic acid) that magically converts a liquid into a nice gel formula.  It usually has to be neutralized with a base (such as sodium hydroxide) for the thickening to occur and it creates viscous, clear gels that also feel nice and non-tacky on the skin. No wonder, it is a very popular and common ingredient.

What-it-does: emollient

A synthetic liquid oil that can replace mineral oil or silicone oils in the cosmetic formulas. There are different grades depending on the molecular weight ranging from very light, volatile, non-residue leaving ones to more substantial, slight residue leaving ones.

Apart from leaving the skin soft and smooth (emollient), it's also used as a waterproofing agent in sunscreens or makeup products and as a shine enhancer in lip gloss formulas. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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: emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 2

A so-called fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that does all kinds of things in a skincare product: it makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier). Can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil.

Also-called: Witch Hazel Extract | What-it-does: soothing, antioxidant, antimicrobial/antibacterial

Witch hazel is a smallish tree (up to 5m) that's native to North-America, has nice yellow flowers and is similar to the hazelnut bush (hence the name).  

As for skincare, it's loaded with active components that have a bunch of magic properties, like astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial. It's also a well-known vasoconstrictor (it makes the blood vessels narrower) and promotes the healing of broken skin by tightening up the skin proteins and thus creating a protective covering.

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The complication, however, is that different extracts and distillates can be made from different parts of the plant (bark, twigs, and leaves are typically used) and different extraction methods from different parts produce different results. So if you see only Witch Hazel Extract or Witch Hazel Water on the ingredient list, it's a bit hard to know what you're actually getting but we will try to summarize the possibilities to give an idea.

The main biologically active components in Witch Hazel are hamamelitannin (a potent astringent and antioxidant), catechins (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant) and gallic acid (antibacterial). The bark extract contains by far the most hamamelitannin and it has the most gallic acid and catechins. The twigs contain fewer catechins, less gallic acid, and much less hamamelitannin (4.77% vs 0.18%). The leaves contain hardly any tannins (0.04%) or catechins and contain a medium amount of gallic acid (compared to the bark and twigs).

Witch Hazel also contains tiny amounts of the essential oil and fragrance component eugenol, but the amount is so small that it's probably not significant for the skin.

Apart from the differences in active components in different parts of the Witch Hazel bush, the extraction methods also vary. Witch Hazel Distillate contains 14% added alcohol according to the USP specifications  and alcohol is, at best drying, and at worst skin-damaging. Luckily, there are also alcohol-free distillates, so if you prefer no alcohol check the ingredient list carefully. Witch Hazel Extracts can also be made in different ways: browsing Ulprospector, we could find hydroglycolic, hydroalcoholic and glicerine/water based extracts.

Well-known skin care expert, Paula Begoun rates witch hazel as poor and says,  "depending on the form of witch hazel, you’re exposing your skin either to a sensitizing amount of alcohol or to tannins, or both." This might be the case if you are dealing with an alcoholic witch hazel bark water or extract, but looking at CosIng (the official INCI name listing of the EU), witch hazel bark water or witch hazel bark extract are not listed ingredients. Bark and leaf or bark and twig or all three are used together to create extracts, so the chance that there is too much hamamelitannin in the final cosmetic ingredient seems small. Also alcohol-free extracts and distillates exist; actually, the majority seem to be alcohol-free nowadays. So all in all, we think "Hamamelis Virginiana Extract" on the ingredient list is nothing to worry about.

We even found a German study that compared the efficacy of Hamamelis ointment to panthenol ointment for soothing the skin in children (from 27 days to 11 years old). They observed 309 children and concluded that both ointments were similarly effective but the one with Hamamelis was even better tolerated (98.2% vs. 92.3% tolerated well the ointments in the two groups).

All in all, Witch Hazel Extract is a sloppy INCI name (btw, not in the CosIng listing), and you do not really know what you're getting. Most probably though, you are getting a goody with nice astringent, soothing, antibacterial, and even antioxidant properties.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emulsifying, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 3 | Comedogenicity: 2

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.

Also-called: CI 77019

A super versatile and common mineral powder that comes in different particle sizes. It is a multi-tasker used to improve skin feel, increase product slip, give the product some light-reflecting properties, enhance skin adhesion or serve as an anti-caking agent. Popular both in makeup and in skin care products. 

Also-called: Avocado Oil Unsaponifiables | What-it-does: antioxidant, soothing, emollient

In general, the unsaponifiable part of an oil is always the one that resists soap making. If you want to know more about this, we have written a short explanation about what can and cannot be saponified in an oil at sunflower oil unsaponifiables (2nd paragraph).

Avocado oil contains much more (about 5-12%) unsaponifiables than most other oils, which is only 1-2% of oils usually. The major components in the unsaponifiable part are skin nourishing and soothing sterols (β-Sitosterol mainly and some campesterol) and the most potent antioxidant type of vitamin E, α-Tocopherol. 

What-it-does: emulsifying, solvent, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 1 | Comedogenicity: 2

Similar to other glycols, it's a helper ingredient used as a solvent, or to thin out thick formulas and make them more nicely spreadable. 

Hexylene Glycol is also part a preservative blend named Lexgard® HPO, where it helps the effectiveness of current IT-preservative, phenoxyethanol

Glucose - goodie
What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

A fancy name for sugar. Luckily when you put it on your skin it's good for you not like when you eat it. :) It has water-binding properties, which means that it helps to keep your skin nice and hydrated

Fructose - goodie
What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

Fancy name for fruit sugar. It has nice water-binding properties and helps to keep skin hydrated

Sucrose - goodie

A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it has water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated

Urea - goodie
Also-called: Carbamide | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant

Yes, it's the thing that can be found naturally in pee. And in the skin. It is an awesome natural moisturizing factor, aka NMF.  NMFs are important components that help the skin to hold onto water and keep it plump, elastic and hydrated. Urea makes up about 7% of NMFs next to other things such as amino acids (40%), PCA (12%) or Lactate (12%).

What makes urea special, is that it is not only a simple moisturizer, but it is thought to be a "small-molecule regulator of epidermal structure and function" meaning that it has a bunch of extra biological activities. It acts as a mild keratolytic agent (some of its moisturizing action is thought to come from urea's ability to break down bonds in the protein called filaggrin and thus freeing up amino acids in the skin), enhances antimicrobial peptide expression and improves skin barrier function

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Being a mild keratolytic agent and strong moisturizer means that high-percentage (10-40%) urea treatments are found effective in a bunch of skin disorders connected to excessive dryness and malfunctioning skin barrier such as ichthyosis, xerosis, psoriasis, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.  

Overall, just like glycerin, urea is a real oldie but a goodie, a nice ingredient in any moisturizer.

A little helper ingredient that can be a thickener, a humectant, a foam booster, an adhesion promoter and a filler. It's a blend of polysaccharides that helps to moisturize and soften the skin. 

Alanine - goodie

A non-essential amino acid (a building block of skin proteins like collagen or elastin) that hydrates the skin.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Aspartic Acid - goodie

A non-essential amino acid  (important building block of collagen and elastin) that hydrates the skin. It is also used to set the pH of the cosmetic product (buffering).

What-it-does: emollient

There is not too much info out there about Hexyl Nicotinate. It's an emollient, moisturizer ingredient. Also according to this study it increases blood flow.

What-it-does: preservative

The most common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon

Apart from the general controversy around parabens (we wrote about it more here), there is a 2006 in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) research about methylparaben (MP) showing that when exposed to sunlight, MP treated skin cells suffered more harm than non-MP treated skin cells. The study was not done with real people on real skin but still - using a good sunscreen next to MP containing products is a good idea. (Well, in fact using a sunscreen is always a good idea. :))

What-it-does: buffering, emulsifying, 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.

Aloe Barbadensis - goodie

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

The famous Aloe Vera. This one is not an official, but a sloppy name on an ingredient list as you cannot know what form of Aloe Vera was actually used in the formula.

There are lots of Aloe versions but ultimately all try to preserve the moisturizing and soothing properties of the hyped up plant. We have written some more about aloe here.

Also-called: Fragrance, Parfum | What-it-does: perfuming

Exactly what it sounds: nice smelling stuff put into cosmetic products so that the end product also smells nice. Fragrance in the US and parfum in the EU is a generic term on the ingredient list that is made up of 30 to 50 chemicals on average (but it can have as much as 200 components!). 

If you are someone who likes to know what you put on your face than fragrance is not your best friend - no way to know what’s really in it.  

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Also, if your skin is sensitive, fragrance is again not your best friend. It’s the number one cause of contact allergy to cosmetics. It’s definitely a smart thing to avoid with sensitive skin (and fragrance of any type - natural is just as allergic as synthetic, if not worse!). 

Also-called: titanium dioxide/ci 77891 | What-it-does: colorant

Ci 77891 is the color code of titanium dioxide. It's a white pigment with great color consistency and dispersibility.

Also-called: Ci 77491/77492/77499 | What-it-does: colorant

A bit of a sloppy ingredient name as it covers not one but three pigments: red, yellow and black iron oxide.

Also-called: Carmine | What-it-does: colorant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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