Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment Gel
Clean & Clear

Advantage Spot Treatment Gel

Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment Gel is clinically proven to start clearing spots in just 4 hours. Its formula containing spot-fighting ingredients, quickly rebalances the level of oil, helps fight problem causing bacteria and effectively purifies the skin, all without irritating or over-drying.
Uploaded by: squeak on 04/10/2017

Ingredients overview

Aqua
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Alcohol Denat.
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Alcohol with some additives to make it unconsumable. It is great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amounts, it can be very drying to the skin. [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]
,
Polyacrylate-13
A film forming polymer that usually comes to the formula as part of a thickener-emulsifier trio paired with Polyisobutene and Polysorbate 20. [more]
,
Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
,
Cyclopentasiloxane
what‑it‑does emollient | solvent
It's a super commonly used water-thin volatile silicone that gives skin and hair a silky, smooth feel.  [more]
,
Polyisobutene
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) that's used as a gloss improver for lipsticks and lipglosses. Combined with polyacrylate-13 and polysorbate 20, it forms a very effective tickener-emulsifier trio.
,
C12-15 Alkyl Lactate
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
, [more]
Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract
what‑it‑does perfuming
,
Portulaca Oleracea Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant
Purslane Extract - a traditional Korean medicinal plant with skin-soothing, antioxidant and wound healing abilities. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
Sarcosine, 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]
,
Ppg-2 Isoceteth-20 Acetate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
,
Dipropylene Glycol
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
A clear, colorless liquid that works as a solvent and viscosity decreasing ingredient. 
,
Alcohol
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Simple alcohol that's a great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amount can be very drying. [more]
,
Butylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
irritancy, com. 0 1
An often used glycol that works as a solvent, humectant, penetration enhancer and also gives a good slip to the products. [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]
,
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]
,
Isoceteth20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A handy helper ingredient that works as an emulsifier or solubilizer to include oil-loving ingredients (such as fragrance) into water-based products. 
,
Cetyl Lactate
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Phenethyl Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Capryloyl Glycine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
Isopropyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 4 0
,
Sodium Chloride
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Sodium chloride is the fancy name of salt. Normal, everyday table salt. It’s a common little helper ingredient in cosmetics that helps to increase the volume of a product (bulking), to disguise any unpleasant smell (masking) or to thicken up a formula (viscosity controlling). [more]
,
Cocamidopropyl Pg-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Hydroxyethylcellulose
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. 
,
Dehydroxanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
,
Disodium Edta
what‑it‑does chelating
Super common little helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes. [more]
,
Acetic Acid
what‑it‑does buffering
The acid found in vinegar. Can be a skin irritant and drying in larger amounts but in tiny amounts, it's used to set the pH of the cosmetic formula. Has also some disinfecting properties.
,
Sodium Hydroxide
what‑it‑does buffering
Lye - A solid white stuff that’s very alkaline and used in small amount to adjust the pH of the product.  [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]
,
Benzalkonium Chloride
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | preservative | surfactant/cleansing
,
Parfum
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]
[less]

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Anti-acne: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
Antioxidant: Portulaca Oleracea Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant
Purslane Extract - a traditional Korean medicinal plant with skin-soothing, antioxidant and wound healing abilities. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
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]
Exfoliant: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [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]
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]
Soothing: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [more]
,
Portulaca Oleracea Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | antioxidant
Purslane Extract - a traditional Korean medicinal plant with skin-soothing, antioxidant and wound healing abilities. [more]
,
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]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Antimicrobial/antibacterial: Alcohol Denat.
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Alcohol with some additives to make it unconsumable. It is great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amounts, it can be very drying to the skin. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
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]
,
Alcohol
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Simple alcohol that's a great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amount can be very drying. [more]
,
Benzalkonium Chloride
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | preservative | surfactant/cleansing
Buffering: Acetic Acid
what‑it‑does buffering
The acid found in vinegar. Can be a skin irritant and drying in larger amounts but in tiny amounts, it's used to set the pH of the cosmetic formula. Has also some disinfecting properties.
,
Sodium Hydroxide
what‑it‑does buffering
Lye - A solid white stuff that’s very alkaline and used in small amount to adjust the pH of the product.  [more]
Chelating: Disodium Edta
what‑it‑does chelating
Super common little helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes. [more]
Emollient: Cyclopentasiloxane
what‑it‑does emollient | solvent
It's a super commonly used water-thin volatile silicone that gives skin and hair a silky, smooth feel.  [more]
,
C12-15 Alkyl Lactate
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
Cetyl Lactate
what‑it‑does emollient
,
Phenethyl Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emollient
Emulsifying: Ppg-2 Isoceteth-20 Acetate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
,
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]
,
Isoceteth20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A handy helper ingredient that works as an emulsifier or solubilizer to include oil-loving ingredients (such as fragrance) into water-based products. 
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
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]
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
Butylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
irritancy, com. 0 1
An often used glycol that works as a solvent, humectant, penetration enhancer and also gives a good slip to the products. [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]
Perfuming: Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract
what‑it‑does perfuming
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
Parfum
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: Salicylic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | anti-acne | soothing | preservative
One of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin. It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed) and it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent. [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]
,
Benzalkonium Chloride
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | preservative | surfactant/cleansing
Solvent: Aqua
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Alcohol Denat.
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Alcohol with some additives to make it unconsumable. It is great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amounts, it can be very drying to the skin. [more]
,
Cyclopentasiloxane
what‑it‑does emollient | solvent
It's a super commonly used water-thin volatile silicone that gives skin and hair a silky, smooth feel.  [more]
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
,
Dipropylene Glycol
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
A clear, colorless liquid that works as a solvent and viscosity decreasing ingredient. 
,
Alcohol
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Simple alcohol that's a great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amount can be very drying. [more]
,
Butylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
irritancy, com. 0 1
An often used glycol that works as a solvent, humectant, penetration enhancer and also gives a good slip to 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]
,
Isopropyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 4 0
Surfactant/cleansing: 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]
,
Isoceteth20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A handy helper ingredient that works as an emulsifier or solubilizer to include oil-loving ingredients (such as fragrance) into water-based products. 
,
Capryloyl Glycine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
Benzalkonium Chloride
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | preservative | surfactant/cleansing
Viscosity controlling: Alcohol Denat.
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Alcohol with some additives to make it unconsumable. It is great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amounts, it can be very drying to the skin. [more]
,
Polyisobutene
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) that's used as a gloss improver for lipsticks and lipglosses. Combined with polyacrylate-13 and polysorbate 20, it forms a very effective tickener-emulsifier trio.
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
,
Dipropylene Glycol
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
A clear, colorless liquid that works as a solvent and viscosity decreasing ingredient. 
,
Alcohol
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | solvent | viscosity controlling
Simple alcohol that's a great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent, and antimicrobial. In large amount can be very drying. [more]
,
Isopropyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 4 0
,
Sodium Chloride
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Sodium chloride is the fancy name of salt. Normal, everyday table salt. It’s a common little helper ingredient in cosmetics that helps to increase the volume of a product (bulking), to disguise any unpleasant smell (masking) or to thicken up a formula (viscosity controlling). [more]
,
Hydroxyethylcellulose
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. 
,
Dehydroxanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Aqua solvent
Alcohol Denat. antimicrobial/​antibacterial, solvent, viscosity controlling icky
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Polyacrylate-13
Salicylic Acid exfoliant, anti-acne, soothing, preservative superstar
Cyclopentasiloxane emollient, solvent
Polyisobutene viscosity controlling
C12-15 Alkyl Lactate emollient
Propylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling 0, 0
Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract perfuming
Portulaca Oleracea Extract soothing, antioxidant goodie
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract antioxidant, antimicrobial/​antibacterial, emollient, moisturizer/​humectant, perfuming
Sarcosine
Hamamelis Virginiana soothing, antioxidant, antimicrobial/​antibacterial goodie
Ppg-2 Isoceteth-20 Acetate emulsifying
Dipropylene Glycol solvent, viscosity controlling
Alcohol antimicrobial/​antibacterial, solvent, viscosity controlling icky
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent 0, 1
Lactic Acid exfoliant, moisturizer/​humectant superstar
Hexylene Glycol emulsifying, solvent, surfactant/​cleansing 1, 2
Isoceteth20 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Cetyl Lactate emollient
Phenethyl Dimethicone emollient
Capryloyl Glycine surfactant/​cleansing
Polysorbate 20 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing 0, 0
Isopropyl Alcohol solvent, viscosity controlling 4, 0
Sodium Chloride viscosity controlling
Cocamidopropyl Pg-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate
Hydroxyethylcellulose viscosity controlling
Dehydroxanthan Gum viscosity controlling
Disodium Edta chelating
Acetic Acid buffering
Sodium Hydroxide buffering
Phenoxyethanol preservative
Benzalkonium Chloride antimicrobial/​antibacterial, preservative, surfactant/​cleansing
Parfum 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. 

  • It's a super common and super debated skincare ingredient
  • It has several benefits: great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent and antimicrobial
  • It can be very drying if it's in the first few ingredients on an ingredient list
  • Some experts even think that regular exposure to alcohol damages skin barrier and causes inflammation though it's a debated opinion (read more in geeky details tab)
Read all the geeky details about Alcohol Denat. here >>

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 >>

A helper ingredient that functions as a film-forming polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits).

It usually comes to the formula as part of a thickener-emulsifier trio paired with Polyisobutene and Polysorbate 20. The three togeather have excellent thickening properties with remarkable emulsifying-stabilising abilities. They also have a nice silicone feel with glide-on spreading. 

Salicylic Acid - superstar
Also-called: BHA | What-it-does: exfoliant, anti-acne, soothing, preservative
  • It's one of the gold standard ingredients for treating problem skin
  • It can exfoliate skin both on the surface and in the pores (pH 3-4 needed)
  • It's a potent anti-inflammatory agent
  • It's more effective for treating blackheads than acne
  • For acne combine it with antibacterial agents like benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid
Read all the geeky details about Salicylic Acid here >>

What-it-does: emollient, solvent

A super commonly used 5 unit long, cyclic structured silicone that is water-thin and does not stay on the skin but evaporates from it (called volatile silicone). Similar to other silicones, it gives skin and hair a silky, smooth feel

It's often combined with the non-volatile (aka stays on the skin) dimethicone as the two together form a water-resistant, breathable protective barrier on the skin without a negative tacky feel.

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

A polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) that's used as a gloss improver for lipsticks and lipglosses. Its stickiness also helps lip products to stay on longer. 

Combined with polyacrylate-13 and polysorbate 20, it forms a very effective tickener-emulsifier trio.

What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • It's a helper ingredient that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products
  • It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer
  • It has a bad reputation among natural cosmetics advocates but cosmetic scientists and toxicology experts do not agree (read more in the geeky details section)
Read all the geeky details about Propylene Glycol here >>

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Purslane Extract | What-it-does: soothing, antioxidant

A nice succulent with bright yellow flowers and edible nutritious vegetables. It's a famous plant in Korean traditional medicine to treat infection and irritated skin.

Modern research confirms that it's loaded with skin-goodies: it's the richest green plant source of omega-3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid), contains NMFs (polysaccharides and amino acids),  vitamins (β-carotene), minerals, and antioxidants (yellow betaxanthins and reddish betacyanins). Thanks to all its beneficial components, Purslane Extract has several magic properties: it's a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent and also has wound healing abilities

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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.

Expand to read more

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.

What-it-does: emulsifying

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

A clear, colorless liquid that works as a solvent and viscosity decreasing ingredient. 

Alcohol - icky
Also-called: Ethanol | What-it-does: antimicrobial/antibacterial, solvent, viscosity controlling, astringent

Simply alcohol refers to ethanol and it's a pretty controversial ingredient. It has many instant benefits: it's a great solvent, penetration enhancer, creates cosmetically elegant, light formulas, great astringent and antimicrobial. No wonder it's popular in toners and oily skin formulas. 

The downside is that it can be very drying if it's in the first few ingredients on an ingredient list. 

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Some experts even think that regular exposure to alcohol damages skin barrier and causes inflammation though it's a debated opinion. If you wanna know more, we wrote a more detailed explanation about what's the deal with alcohol in skincare products at alcohol denat. (it's also alcohol, but with some additives to make sure no one drinks it).

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

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

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

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

Lactic Acid - superstar
  • It’s the second most researched AHA after glycolic acid
  • It gently lifts off dead skin cells to reveal newer, fresher, smoother skin
  • It also has amazing skin hydrating properties
  • In higher concentration (10% and up) it improves skin firmness, thickness and wrinkles
  • Choose a product where you know the concentration and pH value because these two greatly influence effectiveness
  • Don’t forget to use your sunscreen (in any case but especially so next to an AHA product)
Read all the geeky details about Lactic Acid here >>

What-it-does: 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

A handy helper ingredient that works as an emulsifier or solubilizer to include oil-loving ingredients (such as fragrance) into water-based products. 

What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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

It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 

What-it-does: solvent, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 4 | Comedogenicity: 0

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Salt | What-it-does: viscosity controlling

Sodium chloride is the fancy name of salt. Normal, everyday table salt

It’s a common little helper ingredient in cosmetics that helps to increase the volume of a product (bulking), to disguise any unpleasant smell (masking) or to thicken up a formula (viscosity controlling). Sometimes it’s also used as a scrub.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

A nice little helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: chelating

Super common little helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes.

What-it-does: buffering

The acid found in vinegar. Can be a skin irritant and drying in larger amounts but in tiny amounts, it's used to set the pH of the cosmetic formula. Has also some disinfecting properties.

Also-called: lye | What-it-does: buffering

The unfancy name for it is lye. It’s a solid white stuff that’s very alkaline and used in small amounts to adjust the pH of the product and make it just right. 

For example, in case of AHA or BHA exfoliants, the right pH is super-duper important, and pH adjusters like sodium hydroxide are needed.  

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BTW, lye is not something new. It was already used by ancient Egyptians to help oil and fat magically turn into something else. Can you guess what? Yes, it’s soap. It still often shows up in the ingredient list of soaps and other cleansers.

Sodium hydroxide in itself is a potent skin irritant, but once it's reacted (as it is usually in skin care products, like exfoliants) it is totally harmless.

What-it-does: preservative

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

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

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

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

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Parfum - icky
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!). 

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