Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator
Clinique

Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator

A cream-gel that instantly rehydrates for 24 hours while helping fortify and repair skin's moisture barrier.
Uploaded by: silverkeith on 23/03/2018

Ingredients overview

Water\Aqua\Eau
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [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]
,
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]
,
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]
,
Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
A very common silicone that gives both skin and hair a silky smooth feel. It also forms a protective barrier on the skin and fills in fine lines. Also used for scar treatment. [more]
,
Cetyl Ethylhexanoate
what‑it‑does emollient
An odorless and colorless emollient ester that gives a velvety and silky feel to the skin. [more]
,
Squalane
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
An emollient and natural moisturizer that can be found also in the sebum (oily stuff our skin produces). It leaves a nice non-greasy, non-heavy feeling on the skin. [more]
,
Disteardimonium Hectorite
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
An organic derivative of hectorite clay, Disteardimonium Hectorite is used as a viscosity controller - it thickens up formulations to make them less runny.It’s most popular use in cosmetics is in sunscreens, under the trademarked name Bentone 38 from Elementis. [more]
,
Peg/Ppg-18/18 Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A silicone emulsifier that helps to create water in silicone emulsions. 
, [more]
Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emulsifying
The snappily named Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone is a silicone emulsifier fluid whose main thing is being a good dispersant for powders such as mineral UV filters or color pigments. According to the manufacturer Kobo, this partly water- and partly oily soluble form of dimethicone helps filters like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide disperse more evenly and thus provi [more]
,
Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Red Marine Algae extract that works as a skin protectant and also helps to thicken up products. Also stimulates circulation that might help hyaluronic acid to penetrate deeper. [more]
,
Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Caffeine
what‑it‑does antioxidant
The well-known stimulant from coffee. It has nice antioxidant properties and can improve the microcirculation. Might be helpful for dark circles, puffy eyes, as well as cellulite and hair loss. [more]
,
Whey Protein
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Protein fragments, aka peptides and growth factors derived from milk (whey). It is claimed to boosts the production of important extracellular matrix components (the gooey stuff between the skin cells) such as hyaluronic acid, collagen I and fibronectin. [more]
,
Cholesterol
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
It's one of the important lipids that can be found naturally in the outer layer of the skin. About 25% of the goopy stuff between our skin cells consists of cholesterol. [more]
,
Sodium Hyaluronate
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's the salt form of famous humectant and natural moisturizing factor, hyaluronic acid. It can bind huge amounts of water and it's pretty much the current IT-moisturizer. [more]
,
Petrolatum
what‑it‑does emollient
The famous Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. Just like mineral oil, it is also a by-product of refining crude oil, aka petroleum, and it is also a mixture of hydrocarbons but with bigger (C18-90+) carbon chain length.The unique thing about petrolatum is that it is the most effective occlusive agent known today. [more]
,
Peg-150
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
,
Sucrose
what‑it‑does soothing | moisturizer/humectant
A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it is water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
,
Pyridoxine Dipalmitate, 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]
,
Tocopheryl Acetate
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A form of vitamin E that works as an antioxidant. Compared to the pure form it's more stable, has longer shelf life, but it's also more poorly absorbed by the skin. [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]
,
Polysilicone-11
A type of silicone elastomer (rubber-like material with both viscosity and elasticity) whose major function is forming a nice film on the skin. [more]
,
Propylene Carbonate
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
,
Glyceryl Polymethacrylate
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
,
Peg-8
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
A smallish polymer molecule that is used as a solubilizer and viscosity control agent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The extract coming from the juice containing leaves of the Aloe vera plant with moisturizing, emollient and anti-inflammatory properties. [more]
,
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Bran Extract, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Biopeptide El - A six amino acid peptide that is claimed to improve firmness (by 33% in one month) and skin tone (by 20%). [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 Hexametaphosphate
what‑it‑does chelating
,
Chlorphenesin
what‑it‑does preservative | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A little helper ingredient that works as a preservative. It works against bacteria and some species of fungi 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]
[less]

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Antioxidant: Caffeine
what‑it‑does antioxidant
The well-known stimulant from coffee. It has nice antioxidant properties and can improve the microcirculation. Might be helpful for dark circles, puffy eyes, as well as cellulite and hair loss. [more]
,
Tocopheryl Acetate
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A form of vitamin E that works as an antioxidant. Compared to the pure form it's more stable, has longer shelf life, but it's also more poorly absorbed by the skin. [more]
,
Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Cell-communicating ingredient: Whey Protein
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Protein fragments, aka peptides and growth factors derived from milk (whey). It is claimed to boosts the production of important extracellular matrix components (the gooey stuff between the skin cells) such as hyaluronic acid, collagen I and fibronectin. [more]
,
Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Biopeptide El - A six amino acid peptide that is claimed to improve firmness (by 33% in one month) and skin tone (by 20%). [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]
,
Squalane
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
An emollient and natural moisturizer that can be found also in the sebum (oily stuff our skin produces). It leaves a nice non-greasy, non-heavy feeling on the skin. [more]
,
Cholesterol
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
It's one of the important lipids that can be found naturally in the outer layer of the skin. About 25% of the goopy stuff between our skin cells consists of cholesterol. [more]
,
Sodium Hyaluronate
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's the salt form of famous humectant and natural moisturizing factor, hyaluronic acid. It can bind huge amounts of water and it's pretty much the current IT-moisturizer. [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]
Soothing: Sucrose
what‑it‑does soothing | moisturizer/humectant
A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it is water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
,
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The extract coming from the juice containing leaves of the Aloe vera plant with moisturizing, emollient and anti-inflammatory properties. [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Antimicrobial/antibacterial: Chlorphenesin
what‑it‑does preservative | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A little helper ingredient that works as a preservative. It works against bacteria and some species of fungi and yeast. [more]
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 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. 
,
Sodium Hexametaphosphate
what‑it‑does chelating
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]
,
Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
A very common silicone that gives both skin and hair a silky smooth feel. It also forms a protective barrier on the skin and fills in fine lines. Also used for scar treatment. [more]
,
Cetyl Ethylhexanoate
what‑it‑does emollient
An odorless and colorless emollient ester that gives a velvety and silky feel to the skin. [more]
,
Squalane
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
An emollient and natural moisturizer that can be found also in the sebum (oily stuff our skin produces). It leaves a nice non-greasy, non-heavy feeling on the skin. [more]
,
Cholesterol
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
It's one of the important lipids that can be found naturally in the outer layer of the skin. About 25% of the goopy stuff between our skin cells consists of cholesterol. [more]
,
Petrolatum
what‑it‑does emollient
The famous Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. Just like mineral oil, it is also a by-product of refining crude oil, aka petroleum, and it is also a mixture of hydrocarbons but with bigger (C18-90+) carbon chain length.The unique thing about petrolatum is that it is the most effective occlusive agent known today. [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]
,
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The extract coming from the juice containing leaves of the Aloe vera plant with moisturizing, emollient and anti-inflammatory properties. [more]
Emulsifying: Peg/Ppg-18/18 Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A silicone emulsifier that helps to create water in silicone emulsions. 
,
Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emulsifying
The snappily named Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone is a silicone emulsifier fluid whose main thing is being a good dispersant for powders such as mineral UV filters or color pigments. According to the manufacturer Kobo, this partly water- and partly oily soluble form of dimethicone helps filters like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide disperse more evenly and thus provi [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]
,
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]
,
Sodium Hyaluronate
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's the salt form of famous humectant and natural moisturizing factor, hyaluronic acid. It can bind huge amounts of water and it's pretty much the current IT-moisturizer. [more]
,
Peg-150
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
,
Sucrose
what‑it‑does soothing | moisturizer/humectant
A type fo sugar, usually refined from cane or beet sugar. On the skin, it is water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
,
Peg-8
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
A smallish polymer molecule that is used as a solubilizer and viscosity control agent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does soothing | emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The extract coming from the juice containing leaves of the Aloe vera plant with moisturizing, emollient and anti-inflammatory properties. [more]
Preservative: Chlorphenesin
what‑it‑does preservative | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A little helper ingredient that works as a preservative. It works against bacteria and some species of fungi 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]
Solvent: Water\Aqua\Eau
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [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]
,
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]
,
Peg-150
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
,
Propylene Carbonate
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
,
Peg-8
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent
A smallish polymer molecule that is used as a solubilizer and viscosity control agent in cosmetic products. [more]
Viscosity controlling: Disteardimonium Hectorite
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
An organic derivative of hectorite clay, Disteardimonium Hectorite is used as a viscosity controller - it thickens up formulations to make them less runny.It’s most popular use in cosmetics is in sunscreens, under the trademarked name Bentone 38 from Elementis. [more]
,
Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Red Marine Algae extract that works as a skin protectant and also helps to thicken up products. Also stimulates circulation that might help hyaluronic acid to penetrate deeper. [more]
,
Propylene Carbonate
what‑it‑does solvent | viscosity controlling
,
Glyceryl Polymethacrylate
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Water\Aqua\Eau solvent
Cyclopentasiloxane emollient, solvent
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent 0, 1
Dimethicone emollient 0, 1
Cetyl Ethylhexanoate emollient
Squalane skin-identical ingredient, emollient 0, 1 goodie
Disteardimonium Hectorite viscosity controlling
Peg/Ppg-18/18 Dimethicone emulsifying
Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone emulsifying
Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract viscosity controlling goodie
Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract
Caffeine antioxidant goodie
Whey Protein cell-communicating ingredient goodie
Cholesterol skin-identical ingredient, emollient goodie
Sodium Hyaluronate skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Petrolatum emollient
Peg-150 moisturizer/​humectant, solvent
Sucrose soothing, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Pyridoxine Dipalmitate
Linoleic Acid skin-identical ingredient, emollient goodie
Tocopheryl Acetate antioxidant 0, 0
Citric Acid exfoliant, buffering goodie
Polysilicone-11
Propylene Carbonate solvent, viscosity controlling
Glyceryl Polymethacrylate viscosity controlling
Peg-8 moisturizer/​humectant, solvent
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract soothing, emollient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Bran Extract
Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate antioxidant
Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 cell-communicating ingredient goodie
Sodium Citrate chelating, buffering
Sodium Hexametaphosphate chelating
Chlorphenesin preservative, antimicrobial/​antibacterial
Phenoxyethanol preservative

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. 

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.

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: 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.

Expand to read more

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. 

What-it-does: emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1

Probably the cheapest and most common silicone of all. It is a polymer (created from repeating subunits) molecule and has different molecular weight and thus different viscosity versions from water-light to thick liquid.

As for skincare, it makes the skin silky smooth, creates a subtle gloss and forms a protective barrier. Also, works well to fill in fine lines and wrinkles and give skin a plump look (of course that is only temporary, but still, it's nice). There are also scar treatment gels out there using dimethicone as their base ingredient. It helps to soften scars and increase their elasticity. 

Expand to read more

As for hair care, it is a non-volatile silicone meaning that it stays on the hair rather than evaporates from it and smoothes the hair like no other thing. Depending on your hair type, it can be a bit difficult to wash out and might cause some build-up (btw, this is not true to all silicones, only the non-volatile types). 

What-it-does: emollient

An odorless and colorless emollient ester (cetyl alcohol + ethylhexanoic acid) that gives a velvety and silky feel to the skin. It has geat spreadability and a non-oily feel. It's a popular ingredient in makeup removers.

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

It seems to us that squalane is in fashion and there is a reason for it. Chemically speaking, it is a saturated  (no double bonds) hydrocarbon (a molecule consisting only of carbon and hydrogen), meaning that it's a nice and stable oily liquid with a long shelf life. 

It occurs naturally in certain fish and plant oils (e.g. olive), and in the sebum (the oily stuff our skin produces) of the human skin. As f.c. puts it in his awesome blog post, squalane's main things are "emolliency, surface occlusion, and TEWL prevention all with extreme cosmetic elegance". In other words, it's a superb moisturizer that makes your skin nice and smooth, without being heavy or greasy.

Expand to read more

Another advantage of squalane is that it is pretty much compatible with all skin types and skin conditions. It is excellent for acne-prone skin and safe to use even if you have fungi-related skin issues, like seborrhea or fungal acne.

The unsaturated (with double bonds) and hence less stable version of Squalane is Squalene, you can read about it here >> 

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

An organic derivative of hectorite clay, Disteardimonium Hectorite is used as a viscosity controller - it thickens up formulations to make them less runny.

It’s most popular use in cosmetics is in sunscreens, under the trademarked name Bentone 38 from Elementis. According to the manufacturer info, it is a real multi-tasker, including the ability to prevent pigments settling during storage, stabilizing a formula for longercreating a light and smooth skin feel and enhancing the water-resistance of sunscreen formulas
 

What-it-does: emulsifying

A silicone emulsifier that helps to create water in silicone emulsions. 

What-it-does: emulsifying

The snappily named Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone is a silicone emulsifier fluid whose main thing is being a good dispersant for powders such as mineral UV filters or color pigments. 

According to the manufacturer Kobo, this partly water- and partly oily soluble form of dimethicone helps filters like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide disperse more evenly and thus provide better UV protection while also minimizing any white-cast that often comes hand-in-hand with mineral filters.

Expand to read more

This is why it can also be found in makeup products like eyeshadows and concealers, as it helps disperse color pigments in the same way.

Also-called: Red Marine Algae | What-it-does: viscosity controlling

Red Marine Algae extract that works as a skin protectant and also helps to thicken up products. According to skincare manufacturer Indeed Laboratories, it's a nutrient-rich mineral that mildly stimulates circulation which helps famous IT-moisturizer, hyaluronic acid to penetrate into the skin deeper.  

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Caffeine - goodie
What-it-does: antioxidant

Hello, our favorite molecule that helps us wake up in the morning and then keeps us going through the day. As a super well-known stimulant from coffee, tea and plenty of other soft drinks, Caffeine needs no introduction. So we will skip right to the part where we talk about what the hell it does in so-so many cosmetic products.

Looking at the research, we were surprised to find how versatile Caffeine is. It is a small, water-loving molecule with pretty good skin penetration abilties. Once in the skin, it has nice antioxidant properties, meaning that it reduces the formation of evil free radicals and it might even be useful in preventing UV-induced skin cancers. 

Expand to read more

A well-known thing about Caffeine is that it improves the microcirculation of the blood vessels. Though conventional wisdom and anecdotal evidence says that this property is helpful for dark under-eye circles and puffy eyes, we have to mention that the double-blind research we have found about a 3% caffeine gel concluded that "the overall efficacy of the selected caffeine gel in reducing puffy eyes was not significantly different from that of its gel base."  But you know, the proof is in the pudding.

Another thing Caffeine is used for in body care products is its anti-cellulite effects. In theory, it can speed up the lipolysis process (the "fat burning"  by our cells) and stimulate the draining lymph system that might lead to the improvement of cellulite. But here again, the evidence that it actually makes a measurable, let alone visible,  improvement on actual human beings is limited (we could find only some animal skin studies or caffeine being combined with other actives). 

Last, but not least, we have to write about caffeine and hair growth. The theory is that it can inhibit the activity of the 5-α-reductase enzyme that plays an important role in hair loss and allows a renewed growth phase of the hair. We have found some recent and promising research to back this up. A 2017 study compared a 0.2% caffeine liquid with a 5% Minoxidil  (an FDA approved active to treat baldness) solution and found that  "a caffeine-based topical liquid should be considered as not inferior to minoxidil 5% solution in men with androgenetic alopecia", or English translation means that the caffeine liquid was pretty much as good as the FDA-approved Minoxidil stuff. Not bad!

Overall, we think that caffeine is a very versatile and biologically active ingredient. Even though some of its effects are more hyped up than backed up, it is still a nice to have on many ingredient lists. 

Whey Protein - goodie
Also-called: Milk Peptide Complex | What-it-does: cell-communicating ingredient

Protein fragments, aka peptides and growth factors derived from milk (whey). It is claimed to boosts the production of important extracellular matrix components (the gooey stuff between the skin cells) such as hyaluronic acid, collagen I and fibronectin. The in-vivo (made on people) tests showed reduced wrinkles and improved firmness within two weeks by using 0.5% of Whey Protein.

Cholesterol - goodie

It's one of the important lipids that can be found naturally in the outer layer of the skin. About 25% of the goopy stuff between our skin cells consists of cholesterol. Together with ceramides and fatty acids, they play a vital role in having a healthy skin barrier and keeping the skin hydrated. 

Apart from being an important skin-identical ingredient, it's also an emollient and stabilizer

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

It’s the - sodium form - cousin of the famous NMFhyaluronic acid (HA). If HA does not tell you anything we have a super detailed, geeky explanation about it here.  The TL; DR version of HA is that it's a huge polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) found in the skin that acts as a sponge helping the skin to hold onto water, being plump and elastic. HA is famous for its crazy water holding capacity as it can bind up to 1000 times its own weight in water.

As far as skincare goes, sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid are pretty much the same and the two names are used interchangeably. As cosmetic chemist kindofstephen writes on reddit  "sodium hyaluronate disassociates into hyaluronic acid molecule and a sodium atom in solution". 

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In spite of this, if you search for "hyaluronic acid vs sodium hyaluronate" you will find on multiple places that sodium hyaluronate is smaller and can penetrate the skin better. Chemically, this is definitely not true, as the two forms are almost the same, both are polymers and the subunits can be repeated in both forms as much as you like. (We also checked Prospector for sodium hyaluronate versions actually used in cosmetic products and found that the most common molecular weight was 1.5-1.8 million Da that absolutely counts as high molecular weight).

What seems to be a true difference, though, is that the salt form is more stable, easier to formulate and cheaper so it pops up more often on the ingredient lists. 

If you wanna become a real HA-and-the-skin expert you can read way more about the topic at hyaluronic acid (including penetration-questions, differences between high and low molecular weight versions and a bunch of references to scientific literature).

Also-called: Petroleum jelly, Vaseline | What-it-does: emollient

The famous Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. Just like mineral oil, it is also a by-product of refining crude oil, aka petroleum, and it is also a mixture of hydrocarbons but with bigger (C18-90+) carbon chain length.

The unique thing about petrolatum is that it is the most effective occlusive agent known today. While the occlusivity of mineral oil is in the same league as the occlusivity of plant oils, petrolatum is in a league of its own. It sits on top of the skin and hinders so-called transepidermal water loss (TEWL) like nothing else.

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This comes in handy healing cracked lips or severely dry skin patches, though overdoing it (i.e. reducing TEWL by more than 40%) is not good as it can create a nice moist place for fungi and bacteria to grow.  

As for petrolatum and safety, we can write here pretty much the exact same thing as we have written at mineral oil. There is no evidence whatsoever that cosmetic, USP grade petrolatum is carcinogenic. It also does not absorb into the skin but sits on top of it and that in itself greatly minimises health risks. It also has a long history of safe use, as it was first used as a skincare product more than 100 years ago, in 1872 to be precise. 

It is also non-comedogenic, though its pure form is very heavy and greasy so combination and oily skin types might want to avoid it anyway. 

Overall, it is the gold-standard occlusive agent known today and a tub of Vaseline comes in handy in any household to heal cracked lips or other severely dry skin patches.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Sucrose - goodie

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

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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. 

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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. 

Also-called: Vitamin E Acetate | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

It’s the most commonly used version of pure vitamin E in cosmetics. You can read all about the pure form here. This one is the so-called esterified version. 

According to famous dermatologist, Leslie Baumann while tocopheryl acetate is more stable and has a longer shelf life, it’s also more poorly absorbed by the skin and may not have the same awesome photoprotective effects as pure Vit E. 

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. 

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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. 

A type of silicone elastomer (rubber-like material with both viscosity and elasticity) whose major function is forming a nice film on the skin.

It is also cosmetically very elegant with a non-tacky, non-oily and smooth skin feel. It also works as a stable delivery system of active materials, has sebum absorption and control properties and upon application, it transforms into a matte appearance with a powdery after feel.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

A smallish polymer molecule (created from repeated units of Polyethylene glycol, aka PEG) that's used as a solubilizer and viscosity control agent.

It is a clear, colorless liquid that is water-soluble and water-binding (aka humectant) and can help to solubilize sparingly-water soluble things (e.g. vanilla, perfumes) into water-based formulas. Thanks to its water-binding ability, it also prevents the drying out of formulas, especially when combined with the fellow hygroscopic agent, sorbitol

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

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

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Biopeptide El, pal-VGVAPG, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide (old name) | What-it-does: cell-communicating ingredient

A six amino acid peptide that is claimed to improve firmness and skin tone. Its amino acid sequence is Val-Gly-Val-Ala-Pro-Gly that is also called the "spring fragment" and is repeated six times in the important skin protein, elastin molecule.

The manufacturer made a double-blind, one-month long clinical study on 10 women and found that twice a day application of 4%  Biopeptide El improved skin firmness by 33% and skin tone by 20%. 

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). 

What-it-does: chelating

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

A little helper ingredient that works as a preservative. It works against bacteria and some species of fungi and yeast. It's often combined with IT-preservative, phenoxyethanol.

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.

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