Burt's Bees Renewal Refining Cleanser
Burt's Bees

Renewal Refining Cleanser

Infused with wrinkle smoothing White Hibiscus and intensively hydrating Apple, this rejuvenating complex locks moisture inside the skin to plump up cells and help visibly tighten the skin's surface.
Uploaded by: on 23/10/2017

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]
,
Eau)
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]
,
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).
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Polylactic Acid
what‑it‑does abrasive/scrub
,
Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A water-loving emollient that is used as a solubilizer in water-based, toner-like formulas. Solubilizers are handy helper ingredients to dissolve small amounts of oil-loving materials (such as essential oils or fragrances) into watery liquids. [more]
,
Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A mild amino acid based surfactant with great foaming properties. Can be used also for sensitive or baby skin.
,
Stearic Acid
what‑it‑does emulsifying | emollient | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 2
A common multi-tasker fatty acid that works as an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. [more]
, [more]
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 0
Sunflower Oil - it's a great emollient that protects & enhances the skin barrier. [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]
,
Cetearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
A 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. [more]
,
Glyceryl Stearate Citrate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
,
Isoamyl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient
A naturally derived (Ecocert approved) oily liquid that's touted as a natural silicone alternative. It's claimed to have great sensorial properties: light but caring, velvety, silky and non-sticky. [more]
,
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 1 4
There is definitely some craze going on for coconut oil both in the healthy eating space (often claimed to be the healthiest oil to cook with but this is a topic for another site) and in the skin and hair care space. We will talk here about the latter two and see why we might want to smear it all over ourselves. [more]
,
Glyceryl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster).  [more]
,
Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Apple fruit extract that's loaded with proteins, starch, sugars, acids, vitamins and salts. The sugars give apple nice moisturizing properties, while the acids give mild exfoliant, skin brightening and antibacterial properties.  [more]
,
Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Watermelon extract that's full of good-for-the-skin stuff, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. A useful antioxidant-rich ingredient to protect skin from UV-induced damage. [more]
,
Lens Esculenta Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Lentil extract that contains vitamin B5 and trisaccharides and has nice moisturizing properties. [more]
,
Scutellaria Alpina Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Poria Cocos Extract, Phragmites Communis Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter
what‑it‑does emollient
Shea butter that's considered to be a magic moisturizer and emollient. It is also soothing and rich in antioxidants. [more]
,
Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Crambe Abyssinica, a not very well-known plant native to the Ethiopian Highlands. It has a unique fatty acid profile and contains high amounts of erucic acid (50-65%), a 22 carbon long unsaturated fatty acid. The oil is described as having an elegant, silky and cushioning skin feel, kind of silicone-like. [more]
,
Tocopherol
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 2 2
Pure Vitamin E. Great antioxidant that gives significant photoprotection against UVB rays. Works in synergy with Vitamin C. [more]
,
Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate
what‑it‑does soothing
The salt form of one of the main anti-inflammatory ingredients in the licorice plant, monoammonium glycyrrhizinate. It’s a yellowish powder with a nice sweet smell. It’s used mainly for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, but according to manufacturer info, it’s also sebum regulating so it' [more]
,
Ribose
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A helper ingredient that's used as a co-emulsifier and as a stabilization agent for foams. [more]
,
Zea Mays (Corn) Starch
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Corn Starch that comes as a floury powder and helps to improve the skin feel of emulsions. [more]
,
Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A type of clay mineral that works as a nice helper ingredient to thicken and stabilize formulas. It's common in eye creams and masks that have rich, creamy textures. Being a type of clay means that it has excellent absorbing properties hence why it often pops up in face masks and cleansers as well. [more]
,
Xanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]
,
Coco-Glucoside
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A vegetable origin (coconut/palm kernel oil, glucose) cleansing agent that gives moderate to high stable foam. It's also biodegradable and mild to the skin.
,
Glyceryl Caprylate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A natural multi-functional ingredient that has emollient and moisturizing properties, can work as a co-emulsifier and has a strong antimicrobial activity. [more]
,
Arginine
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
An amino acid that is one of the primary building blocks of hair keratin and skin collagen. It's a natural moisturizing factor and might also help to speed up wound healing.  [more]
,
Linoleic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
The famous omega-6 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-6 fatty acids in our body. It is a so-called polyunsaturated fatty acid meaning it has more than one (in this case two) double bonds and a somewhat kinky structure that makes LA and LA-rich oils a thin liquid.It is also an essential fatty acid meaning our body cannot synthesize  [more]
,
Lactic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant
A superstar AHA that not only exfoliates skin but is also a very good moisturizer. In higher concentration (10% and up) it can even improve skin firmness, thickness, and wrinkles. [more]
,
Linolenic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
The famous omega-3 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-3 fatty acids in our body. Next to linoleic acid, it is the other essential fatty acid that our body cannot synthesize and we have to ingest it from our food. [more]
,
Citric Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
,
Oleic Acid
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple [more]
,
Palmitic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 2
A fatty acid that can be found naturally in the skin. It can make the skin feel nice and smooth in moisturizers (emollient) or it can act as a foam building cleansing agent in cleansers. [more]
,
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the soybean. It is rich in barrier repairing linoleic acid (48-59%) and is generally a good moisturizing oil. [more]
,
Sclerotium Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A big sugar molecule (polysaccharide) that is used as a natural thickening and gelling agent. It is similar to more commonly used Xanthan Gum, and the two are also often combined to create gel formulas or to stabilize emulsions.  [more]
,
Sodium Lactate
what‑it‑does buffering | moisturizer/humectant
The sodium salt of lactic acid. It's a great skin moisturizer and also used to regulate the pH value of the cosmetic formula. [more]
,
Sodium Citrate
what‑it‑does chelating | buffering
A helper ingredient that is used to adjust the pH of the product. Also helps to keep products stay nice longer by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula. 
,
Sodium Pca
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. [more]
,
Sodium Benzoate
what‑it‑does preservative
A preservative that works mainly against fungi. Has to be combined with other preservatives. [more]
,
Potassium Sorbate
what‑it‑does preservative
A not so strong preservative that doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. [more]
,
Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
,
Eugenol
what‑it‑does perfuming
A colorless or yellowish oil that's used as a fragrance with a spicy scent. [more]
[less]
**natural fragrance

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Antioxidant: Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Watermelon extract that's full of good-for-the-skin stuff, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. A useful antioxidant-rich ingredient to protect skin from UV-induced damage. [more]
,
Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Tocopherol
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 2 2
Pure Vitamin E. Great antioxidant that gives significant photoprotection against UVB rays. Works in synergy with Vitamin C. [more]
Exfoliant: Lactic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant
A superstar AHA that not only exfoliates skin but is also a very good moisturizer. In higher concentration (10% and up) it can even improve skin firmness, thickness, and wrinkles. [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]
,
Arginine
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
An amino acid that is one of the primary building blocks of hair keratin and skin collagen. It's a natural moisturizing factor and might also help to speed up wound healing.  [more]
,
Linoleic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
The famous omega-6 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-6 fatty acids in our body. It is a so-called polyunsaturated fatty acid meaning it has more than one (in this case two) double bonds and a somewhat kinky structure that makes LA and LA-rich oils a thin liquid.It is also an essential fatty acid meaning our body cannot synthesize  [more]
,
Linolenic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
The famous omega-3 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-3 fatty acids in our body. Next to linoleic acid, it is the other essential fatty acid that our body cannot synthesize and we have to ingest it from our food. [more]
,
Sodium Pca
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. [more]
Soothing: Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate
what‑it‑does soothing
The salt form of one of the main anti-inflammatory ingredients in the licorice plant, monoammonium glycyrrhizinate. It’s a yellowish powder with a nice sweet smell. It’s used mainly for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, but according to manufacturer info, it’s also sebum regulating so it' [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Buffering: Citric Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
,
Sodium Lactate
what‑it‑does buffering | moisturizer/humectant
The sodium salt of lactic acid. It's a great skin moisturizer and also used to regulate the pH value of the cosmetic formula. [more]
,
Sodium Citrate
what‑it‑does chelating | buffering
A helper ingredient that is used to adjust the pH of the product. Also helps to keep products stay nice longer by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula. 
Chelating: Sodium Citrate
what‑it‑does chelating | buffering
A helper ingredient that is used to adjust the pH of the product. Also helps to keep products stay nice longer by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula. 
Emollient: 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).
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Stearic Acid
what‑it‑does emulsifying | emollient | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 2
A common multi-tasker fatty acid that works as an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. [more]
,
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 0
Sunflower Oil - it's a great emollient that protects & enhances the skin barrier. [more]
,
Cetearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
A 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. [more]
,
Glyceryl Stearate Citrate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
,
Isoamyl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient
A naturally derived (Ecocert approved) oily liquid that's touted as a natural silicone alternative. It's claimed to have great sensorial properties: light but caring, velvety, silky and non-sticky. [more]
,
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 1 4
There is definitely some craze going on for coconut oil both in the healthy eating space (often claimed to be the healthiest oil to cook with but this is a topic for another site) and in the skin and hair care space. We will talk here about the latter two and see why we might want to smear it all over ourselves. [more]
,
Glyceryl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster).  [more]
,
Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter
what‑it‑does emollient
Shea butter that's considered to be a magic moisturizer and emollient. It is also soothing and rich in antioxidants. [more]
,
Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Crambe Abyssinica, a not very well-known plant native to the Ethiopian Highlands. It has a unique fatty acid profile and contains high amounts of erucic acid (50-65%), a 22 carbon long unsaturated fatty acid. The oil is described as having an elegant, silky and cushioning skin feel, kind of silicone-like. [more]
,
Glyceryl Caprylate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A natural multi-functional ingredient that has emollient and moisturizing properties, can work as a co-emulsifier and has a strong antimicrobial activity. [more]
,
Linoleic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
The famous omega-6 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-6 fatty acids in our body. It is a so-called polyunsaturated fatty acid meaning it has more than one (in this case two) double bonds and a somewhat kinky structure that makes LA and LA-rich oils a thin liquid.It is also an essential fatty acid meaning our body cannot synthesize  [more]
,
Linolenic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
The famous omega-3 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-3 fatty acids in our body. Next to linoleic acid, it is the other essential fatty acid that our body cannot synthesize and we have to ingest it from our food. [more]
,
Oleic Acid
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple [more]
,
Palmitic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 2
A fatty acid that can be found naturally in the skin. It can make the skin feel nice and smooth in moisturizers (emollient) or it can act as a foam building cleansing agent in cleansers. [more]
,
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the soybean. It is rich in barrier repairing linoleic acid (48-59%) and is generally a good moisturizing oil. [more]
Emulsifying: 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).
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A water-loving emollient that is used as a solubilizer in water-based, toner-like formulas. Solubilizers are handy helper ingredients to dissolve small amounts of oil-loving materials (such as essential oils or fragrances) into watery liquids. [more]
,
Stearic Acid
what‑it‑does emulsifying | emollient | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 2
A common multi-tasker fatty acid that works as an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. [more]
,
Cetearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
A 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. [more]
,
Glyceryl Stearate Citrate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
,
Glyceryl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster).  [more]
,
Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A helper ingredient that's used as a co-emulsifier and as a stabilization agent for foams. [more]
,
Xanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]
,
Glyceryl Caprylate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A natural multi-functional ingredient that has emollient and moisturizing properties, can work as a co-emulsifier and has a strong antimicrobial activity. [more]
,
Oleic Acid
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple [more]
,
Palmitic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 2
A fatty acid that can be found naturally in the skin. It can make the skin feel nice and smooth in moisturizers (emollient) or it can act as a foam building cleansing agent in cleansers. [more]
Exfoliant: Citric Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [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]
,
Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Apple fruit extract that's loaded with proteins, starch, sugars, acids, vitamins and salts. The sugars give apple nice moisturizing properties, while the acids give mild exfoliant, skin brightening and antibacterial properties.  [more]
,
Lens Esculenta Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
Lentil extract that contains vitamin B5 and trisaccharides and has nice moisturizing properties. [more]
,
Ribose
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Lactic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant
A superstar AHA that not only exfoliates skin but is also a very good moisturizer. In higher concentration (10% and up) it can even improve skin firmness, thickness, and wrinkles. [more]
,
Sodium Lactate
what‑it‑does buffering | moisturizer/humectant
The sodium salt of lactic acid. It's a great skin moisturizer and also used to regulate the pH value of the cosmetic formula. [more]
,
Sodium Pca
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. [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]
,
Eugenol
what‑it‑does perfuming
A colorless or yellowish oil that's used as a fragrance with a spicy scent. [more]
Preservative: Sodium Benzoate
what‑it‑does preservative
A preservative that works mainly against fungi. Has to be combined with other preservatives. [more]
,
Potassium Sorbate
what‑it‑does preservative
A not so strong preservative that doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. [more]
,
Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
Skin-identical ingredient: Palmitic Acid
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 2
A fatty acid that can be found naturally in the skin. It can make the skin feel nice and smooth in moisturizers (emollient) or it can act as a foam building cleansing agent in cleansers. [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]
,
Eau)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
Surfactant/cleansing: Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A mild amino acid based surfactant with great foaming properties. Can be used also for sensitive or baby skin.
,
Cetearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
A 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. [more]
,
Xanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]
,
Coco-Glucoside
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A vegetable origin (coconut/palm kernel oil, glucose) cleansing agent that gives moderate to high stable foam. It's also biodegradable and mild to the skin.
Viscosity controlling: 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).
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Stearic Acid
what‑it‑does emulsifying | emollient | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 2
A common multi-tasker fatty acid that works as an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. [more]
,
Cetearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 1 2
A 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. [more]
,
Zea Mays (Corn) Starch
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Corn Starch that comes as a floury powder and helps to improve the skin feel of emulsions. [more]
,
Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A type of clay mineral that works as a nice helper ingredient to thicken and stabilize formulas. It's common in eye creams and masks that have rich, creamy textures. Being a type of clay means that it has excellent absorbing properties hence why it often pops up in face masks and cleansers as well. [more]
,
Xanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]
,
Sclerotium Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A big sugar molecule (polysaccharide) that is used as a natural thickening and gelling agent. It is similar to more commonly used Xanthan Gum, and the two are also often combined to create gel formulas or to stabilize emulsions.  [more]

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Aqua (Water solvent
Eau) solvent
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Cetyl Alcohol emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling 2, 2
Stearyl Alcohol emollient, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing, viscosity controlling 2, 2
Polylactic Acid abrasive/​scrub
Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate emulsifying
Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate surfactant/​cleansing
Stearic Acid emulsifying, emollient, viscosity controlling 0, 2
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil emollient 0, 0 goodie
Parfum (Fragrance)** perfuming icky
Cetearyl Alcohol emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling, surfactant/​cleansing 1, 2
Glyceryl Stearate Citrate emollient, emulsifying
Isoamyl Laurate emollient
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil emollient 1, 4 goodie
Glyceryl Laurate emollient, emulsifying
Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract
Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract antioxidant goodie
Lens Esculenta Fruit Extract moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Scutellaria Alpina Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract
Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract emollient
Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Leaf Extract antioxidant
Poria Cocos Extract
Phragmites Communis Extract
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter emollient goodie
Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil emollient goodie
Tocopherol antioxidant 2, 2 superstar
Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate soothing goodie
Ribose moisturizer/​humectant
Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate emulsifying
Zea Mays (Corn) Starch viscosity controlling
Magnesium Aluminum Silicate viscosity controlling
Xanthan Gum viscosity controlling, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Coco-Glucoside surfactant/​cleansing
Glyceryl Caprylate emollient, emulsifying
Arginine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Linoleic Acid skin-identical ingredient, emollient goodie
Lactic Acid exfoliant, moisturizer/​humectant superstar
Linolenic Acid skin-identical ingredient, emollient goodie
Citric Acid exfoliant, buffering goodie
Oleic Acid emollient, emulsifying
Palmitic Acid skin-identical ingredient, emollient, emulsifying 0, 2
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil emollient goodie
Sclerotium Gum viscosity controlling
Sodium Lactate buffering, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Sodium Citrate chelating, buffering
Sodium Pca skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Sodium Benzoate preservative
Potassium Sorbate preservative
Phenoxyethanol preservative
Eugenol perfuming icky

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. 

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 >>

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.

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

As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions.  It not only stabilizes the formula but also helps to thicken it up.

Oh, and one more thing: it's a so-called fatty alcohol - the good, emollient type of alcohol that is non-drying. 

What-it-does: abrasive/scrub

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emulsifying

A water-loving emollient that is used as a solubilizer in water-based, toner-like formulas. Solubilizers are handy helper ingredients to dissolve small amounts of oil-loving materials (such as essential oils or fragrances) into watery liquids. Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate also has some emollient properties, making the skin feel nice and smooth. 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A mild amino acid based surfactant with great foaming properties. Can be used also for sensitive or baby skin.

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.

Also-called: Sunflower Oil | What-it-does: emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

Sunflower does not need a big intro as you probably use it in the kitchen as cooking oil, or you munch on the seeds as a healthy snack or you adore its big, beautiful yellow flower during the summer - or you do all of these and probably even more. And by even more  we mean putting it all over your face as sunflower oil is one of the most commonly used plant oils in skincare.

It’s a real oldie: expressed directly from the seeds, the oil is used not for hundreds but thousands of years. According to The National Sunflower Association, there is evidence that both the plant and its oil were used by American Indians in the area of Arizona and New Mexico about 3000 BC. Do the math: it's more than 5000 years – definitely an oldie.

Expand to read more

Our intro did get pretty big after all (sorry for that), so let's get to the point finally: sunflower oil - similar to other plant oils - is a great emollient that makes the skin smooth and nice and helps to keep it hydrated. It also protects the surface of the skin and enhances the damaged or irritated skin barrier. Leslie Bauman notes in Cosmetic Dermatology that one application of sunflower oil significantly speeds up the recovery of the skin barrier within an hour and sustains the results 5 hours after using it.

It's also loaded with fatty acids (mostly linoleic (50-74%)  and oleic (14-35%)). The unrefined version (be sure to use that on your skin!) is especially high in linoleic acid that is great even for acne-prone skin. Its comedogen index is 0, meaning that it's pretty much an all skin-type oil

Truth be told, there are many great plant oils and sunflower oil is definitely one of them.

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.  

Expand to read more

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!). 

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.

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emollient

A naturally derived (Ecocert approved) colorless to yellowish oily liquid that's touted as a natural silicone alternative. It's claimed to have great sensorial properties: light but caring, velvety, silky and non-sticky.

It's also great at dissolving UV-filters in sunscreens or dispersing pigments in makeup products. You can also bump into Isoamyl Laurate in hair care products as a hair conditioner that makes combing easier without build up.

Also-called: Coconut Oil | What-it-does: emollient | Irritancy: 1 | Comedogenicity: 4

There is definitely some craze going on for coconut oil both in the healthy eating space (often claimed to be the healthiest oil to cook with but this is a topic for another site) and in the skin and hair care space. 

We will talk here about the latter two and see why we might want to smear it all over ourselves. Chemically speaking, coconut oil has a unique fatty acid profile. Unlike many plant oils that mostly contain unsaturated fatty acids (fatty acids with double bonds and kinky structure such as linoleic or oleic), coconut oil is mostly saturated (fatty acids with single bonds only) and its most important fatty acid is Lauric Acid (about 50%).  Saturated fatty acids have a linear structure that can stack nice and tight and hence they are normally solid at room temperature. Coconut oil melts around 25 °C so it is solid in the tub but melts on contact with the skin. 

Expand to read more

The saturated nature of coconut oil also means that it is a heavy-duty-oil ideal for dry skin types. A double-blind research confirmed that extra virgin coconut oil is as effective in treating xerosis (aka very dry skin) as mineral oil. Another study found that coconut oil is more effective than mineral oil in treating mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) in children.

So when it comes to dry skin, coconut oil is a goodie, no question there. The question is if it is good or bad for acne-prone skin. Its main fatty acid, Lauric Acid has some research showing that it is a promising ingredient against evil acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes but at the same time, both Lauric Acid and coconut oil have a very high comedogenic rating (4 out of 5). Though comedogenic ratings are not very reliable, anecdotal evidence (i.e. people commenting in forums) shows that people have mixed experiences. While some claim that it worked wonders on their acne others say that it gave them serious blackheads and zits. Try it at your own risk. 

As for hair care, coconut oil has pretty solid research showing that it can penetrate into the hair very well (better than mineral oil and sunflower oil) and it can prevent hair protein loss as well as combing damage.  If you have problems with damaged hair, split ends, coconut oil is worth trying as a pre- or/and post-wash treatment.  Labmuffin has an awesome blogpost explaining in more detail why coconut oil is good for your hair.

A couple of other things worth mentioning: coconut oil might help with wound healing (promising animal study), it has some antifungal activity (against dermatophytes that cause the thing known as ringworm) and it also works as an insect repellent against black flies. 

Overall, coconut oil is definitely a goodie for the hair and dry skin. If that warrants for the magic oil status it enjoys, we don't know. 

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster). 

Also-called: Hibiscus Extract

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Apple Fruit Extract | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

Apple needs no introduction as one of the most common fruits on planet Earth. It's not only a healthy fruit snack, it's also a goodie if you put in all over your face. 

It's loaded with proteins, starch, sugars, acids, vitamins and salts. The sugars (mainly fructose, glucose, sucrose) give apple fruit extract nice moisturizing and smoothing properties, while the acids (mainly malic  and gallic acid) give it mild exfoliant, skin brightening and antibacterial properties. 

Also-called: Watermelon Fruit Extract | What-it-does: antioxidant

We love a cold slice of watermelon on a hot summer day and we love watermelon as a skincare ingredient. It's really full of good-for-the-skin stuff: it contains a bunch of vitamins (A, B, C and E), mineral salts (K, Mg, Ca and Fe), amino acids citrulline and arginine and antioxidant carotenoids and phenolics

It's especially rich in potent antioxidant, lycopene (a type of carotenoid), the cool pigment that's responsible for the red color of the watermelon. According to manufacturer info, in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) studies show that watermelon extract gives significant DNA protection against UV damage. The in-vivo (made on real people) study also confirmed this and the watermelon formula showed 25% increase in skin protection compared to placebo.

Expand to read more

All in all, a cool fruit extract with potent antioxidant magic abilities.

Also-called: Lentil Fruit Extract | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

Lentil extract that has nice moisturizing properties on the skin. According to manufacturer info, it contains vitamin B5 and trisaccharides.

Most often lentil comes to the formula as part of a moisturizing trio together with watermelon and apple. The three of them is called AquaCell and is claimed to give 24 hours hydration and to reduce fine lines after only 2 hours. After 2 weeks 3% Aquacell increased key elements in the skin significantly: citrulline by 440%, Sodium PCA by 180%, Sodium Lactate by 60%. Moisture in the skin increased by 35%, dryness decreased by 60% and skin cohesion increased by 50%

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Baobab Fruit Extract | What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Shea Butter | What-it-does: emollient

Unless you live under a rock you must have heard about shea butter. It's probably the most hyped up natural butter in skincare today. It comes from the seeds of African Shea or Karite Trees and used as a magic moisturizer and emollient.

But it's not only a simple emollient, it's considered to be an NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factor) that regenerates and soothes the skin and also protects it from external factors (such as UV rays or wind). If that would not be enough it's also rich in antioxidants (among others vitamin A, E, F, quercetin and epigallocatechin gallate). If you are looking for rich emollient benefits + more, shea is hard to beat. 

Also-called: Crambe Oil | What-it-does: emollient

The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Crambe Abyssinica, a not very well-known plant native to the Ethiopian Highlands. It has a unique fatty acid profile and contains high amounts of erucic acid (50-65%), a 22 carbon long unsaturated fatty acid. 

The oil is described as having an elegant, silky and cushioning skin feel, kind of silicone-like. Also ideal for hair-care as it gives slip, softness, and shine to the hair. 

Tocopherol - superstar
Also-called: Vitamin E | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 2
  • Primary fat-soluble antioxidant in our skin
  • Significant photoprotection against UVB rays
  • Vit C + Vit E work in synergy and provide great photoprotection
  • Has emollient properties
  • Easy to formulate, stable and relatively inexpensive
Read all the geeky details about Tocopherol here >>

Also-called: Licorice | What-it-does: soothing

The salt form of one of the main anti-inflammatory ingredients in the licorice plant, monoammonium glycyrrhizinate. It’s a yellowish powder with a nice sweet smell. 

It’s used mainly for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, but according to manufacturer info, it’s also sebum regulating so it's a perfect ingredient for problem skin products. 

Expand to read more

Read more about licorice and why it's a skincare superstar here. 

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emulsifying

A helper ingredient that's used as a co-emulsifier (meaning next to other emulsifiers in the formula it helps water and oil to mix) and as a stabilization agent for foams. Also, has some antimicrobial activity so it can help to boost the effectiveness of the preservative system.

Also-called: Corn Starch | What-it-does: viscosity controlling, absorbent/mattifier

A corn-derived, white to yellowish, floury powder that works as a handy helper ingredient to create nice feeling emulsions.

It gives a generally pleasant skin feel, has some mattifying effect (though rice starch is better at that), it reduces greasiness and tackiness and helps the formula to spread easily without whitening or shininess. 

A type of clay mineral that works as a nice helper ingredient to thicken and stabilize formulas. It's common in eye creams and masks that have rich, creamy textures. 

Being a type of clay means that it has excellent absorbing properties hence why it often pops up in face masks and cleansers as well. It has a great safety profile, so all-in-all a useful helper to find on the list.

It's one of the most commonly used thickeners and emulsion stabilizers. If the product is too runny, a little of xanthan gum will help make it more gel-like.  Used alone, it can make the formula sticky so it is usually combined with other thickeners and so-called rheology modifiers (helper ingredients that adjust the flow and thus the feel of the formula). 

Btw, Xanthan gum is all natural, a chain of sugar molecules (polysaccharide) produced from individual sugar molecules called glucose and sucrose. It’s approved by Ecocert and also used in the food industry (E415). 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A vegetable origin (coconut/palm kernel oil, glucose) cleansing agent that gives moderate to high stable foam. It's also biodegradable and mild to the skin.

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A 100% plant derived, natural (Ecocert approved) multi-functional ingredient that has emollient and moisturizing properties, can work as a co-emulsifier (meaning that next to other emulsifiers it can help water and oil to mix)  and even more importantly has a strong antimicrobial activity

Thanks to this last thing, it allows a lower percentage of traditional preservative or it might even be able to completely replace them. 

Arginine - goodie

A semi-essential (infants cannot synthesize it, but adults can) amino acid that is one of the primary building blocks of hair keratin and skin collagen. It's a natural moisturizing factor, a skin hydrator and might also help to speed up wound healing

Arginine usually has a positive charge (cationic) that makes it substantive to skin and hair (those are more negatively charged surfaces) and an excellent film former.  Thanks to the positive charge, it also creates a complex with AHAs (AHAs like to lose a hydrogen ion and be negatively charged, so the positive and the negative ions attract each other) that causes a "time-release AHA effect" and reduces the irritation associated with AHAs

Linoleic Acid - goodie
Also-called: LA, omega-6 fatty acid, 18:2 cis-9,12, Form of Vitamin F | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, emollient

The famous omega-6 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-6 fatty acids in our body. It is a so-called polyunsaturated fatty acid meaning it has more than one (in this case two) double bonds and a somewhat kinky structure that makes LA and LA-rich oils a thin liquid.

It is also an essential fatty acid meaning our body cannot synthesize it and has to take it from food. This is not hard at all as plenty of nuts (such as flax, poppy or sesame seeds) and vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower) are rich in LA. The hard thing seems to be eating enough omega-3-s, more specifically eating a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, but that is a topic for a what-is-good-to-eat-site and not for us. 

Expand to read more

As for linoleic acid and the skin, LA is a really important little guy found naturally in our skin. It is the most abundant fatty acid in the epidermis and it serves as a structural precursor for important skin lipids called ceramides. Knowing this, it will not come as a surprise that Linoleic acid has a central role in the structure and function of stratum corneum permeability, aka healthy skin barrier.  LA deficiency leads to an impaired more permeable skin barrier and the topical application of LA-rich sunflower oil can fix this issue rapidly (while oleic-rich olive oil did not have the same barrier repairing effect).

LA is not only important for dry, barrier damaged skin types but also for acne-prone skin. Research shows that problem skin has lower levels of linoleic acid (and higher levels of oleic acid) than normal skin. So LA-deficiency in the skin seems to be connected not only to an impaired skin barrier but also to acne and smearing LA all over your face might help with your problem skin. A double-blind study using a 2.5% LA gel for 4 weeks found a 25% reduction in the size of microcomedones, the tiny blocked pores that can later lead to acne.

If that was not enough, we have one more thing to report about LA.  It lightens hyperpigmentation (aka UVB caused sun spots) both by blocking the melanin production of melanocytes (the skin cells that make the pigment melanin) and by enhancing the desquamation of melanin pigment from the upper layers of the skin.

Overall, linoleic acid is a multi-functional skin goodie with barrier repairing, acne-reducing, and skin-lightening magic abilities. It's a nice one to spot on the ingredient list pretty much for any skin type. 

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 >>

Linolenic Acid - goodie
Also-called: alpha-Linolenic acid, ALA, omega-3 fatty acid, Form of Vitamin F | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, emollient

The famous omega-3 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-3 fatty acids in our body. Next to linoleic acid, it is the other essential fatty acid that our body cannot synthesize and we have to ingest it from our food. It is also a PUFA, aka polyunsaturated fatty acid with three double bonds, a kinky chemical structure and thus a liquid consistency.

While linoleic acid is abundant in the skin, this is not the case with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is not entirely clear if it is meant to be like that or if this is a consequence of not eating enough Omega-3 with the typical Western diet.

Expand to read more

Leafy green vegetables, walnuts, flax seeds and fish oils are rich sources of ALA and if you are not eating a lot from these, supplementing with fish oil is a pretty good idea backed by research. It is a good idea both in terms of general health benefits as well as potentially improving inflammation-related skin issues such as atopic dermatitis or acne.

As for using ALA topically, we have to say that its role and effects seem to be less direct than with LA. ALA's main role in the skin appears to be modulating the immune response of the epidermis. This is probably helpful for inflammatory skin diseases but most studies examine ALA as an oral supplement and not when applied topically. One exception, we could find, is a study that found that topically applied ALA has nice spot-fading abilities.

To be honest, it seems to us that oral supplementation of ALA is more important than smearing it all over your face. However, that is not to say that topical ALA is a bad thing, it is a good thing. It is a skin-identical ingredient, it is probably moisturizing and anti-inflammatory but its topical effects are less established than that of fellow omega fatty acid, linoleic acid

Citric Acid - goodie
What-it-does: exfoliant, buffering

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. 

Expand to read more

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. 

Also-called: Omega-9 fatty acid | What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.

Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple double bonds. Less kinkiness means that oleic acid and OA-rich oils are a bit thicker and heavier than their LA-rich siblings.

Expand to read more

Maybe this thickness is the reason that Oleic acid is considered comedogenic, and if you have acne-prone skin avoid OA-rich plant oils, and choose linoleic acid-rich versions instead.

The thickness of OA also means that OA-rich oils are considered more nourishing and moisturizing than their LA-rich counterparts, and are generally considered to be more suitable for dry, mature skin types. 

As for oleic acid in its free form (and by free we mean that it is not bound up in a triglyceride structure like it is in oils), it mostly serves as an emulsifier or emulsion stabilizer in small amounts in regular cosmetic products. It is also quite well researched and is used in the pharmaceutical industry as a penetration enhancer

What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, emollient, emulsifying | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

A fatty acid that can be found naturally in the skin. In fact, it's the most common saturated fatty acid found in animals and plants.

As for skincare, it can make the skin feel nice and smooth in moisturizers (emollient) or it can act as a foam building cleansing agent in cleansers. It's also a very popular ingredient in shaving foams. 

Also-called: Soybean Oil | What-it-does: emollient

The emollient plant oil coming from the soybean. It is considered to be a nice, cost-effective base oil with moisturizing properties. As for its fatty acid profile, it contains 48-59% barrier-repairing linoleic acid, 17-30% nourishing oleic acid and also some (4.5-11%) potentially anti-inflammatory linolenic acid

A big sugar molecule (polysaccharide) that is used as a natural thickening and gelling agent. It is similar to more commonly used Xanthan Gum, and the two are also often combined to create gel formulas or to stabilize emulsions. 

Sodium Lactate - goodie

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.

What-it-does: chelating, buffering

A little helper ingredient that is used to adjust the pH of the product. It also helps to keep products stay nice longer by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (they usually come from water). 

Sodium Pca - goodie
What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

PCA stands for Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid and though it might not sound like it, it is a thing that can be found naturally in our skin. The sodium salt form of PCA is an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. 

What-it-does: preservative

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.

What-it-does: preservative

It's one of those things that help your cosmetics not to go wrong too soon, aka a preservative. It’s not a strong one and doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. To do that it has to break down to its active form, sorbic acid. For that to happen, there has to be water in the product and the right pH value (pH 3-4). 

But even if everything is right, it’s not enough on its own. If you see potassium sorbate you should see some other preservative next to it too.

Expand to read more

BTW, it’s also a food preservative and even has an E number, E202.

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. 

Expand to read more

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.

Eugenol - icky
What-it-does: perfuming

A colorless or yellowish oil that's used as a fragrance. It has a spicy scent and can be found for example in basil, clove or cinnamon oil.

A 2006 in-vitro  (made in the lab not on real people) study examined if clove oil is cytotoxic and found that not only clove oil but also its main constituent, eugenol is cytotoxic even at very low concentration (0.03%). It’s also one of the “EU 26 fragrances” that has to be labelled separately (and cannot be simply included in the term “fragrance/perfume” on the label) because of allergen potential. Best to avoid at least in leave-on products.

You may also want to take a look at...