COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser
COSRX

Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

Cleanse your skin and fight breakouts at the same time with this gentle exfoliating cleanser! Formulated with 0.5% salicylic acid, this cleanser keeps breakouts at bay while removing dead skin cells.
Uploaded by: lwk2018 on 06/07/2018

Ingredients overview

Water
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Myristic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying | perfuming
irritancy, com. 0 3
A 14 carbon length fatty acid that can be naturally found in nutmeg, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and butter fat. It's used as a foam building cleansing agent. [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]
,
Potassium Hydroxide
what‑it‑does buffering
It's a very alkaline stuff that helps to set the pH of the cosmetic formula to be just right. [more]
,
Lauric Acid
what‑it‑does anti-acne | surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 1 4
A fatty acid that can be found in coconut milk and human breast milk. It can be used as an emulsifier or as a cleansing agent. There are also promising studies about lauric acid being an effective anti-acne ingredient. [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]
,
Glycol Distearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
,
Polysorbate 80
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together, aka emulsifier. [more]
, [more]
Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water
what‑it‑does soothing
,
Saccharomyces Ferment
Comes from the fermentation of saccharomyces, that is a type of yeast. It contains a number of enzymes, which bio-converts several malodorous substances, so it works as a natural deodorant. [more]
,
Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
A sugar-rich plant extract that is a great skin moisturizer and has also promising anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. [more]
,
Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A mild and non-drying cleanser that gives skin a nice and soft after-feel. It also has great foaming properties, comes from coconuts and it's biodegradable. 
,
Cocamidopropyl Betaine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
Super common ingredient in all kinds of cleansing products: face and body washes, shampoos and foam baths. Number one reason for its popularity has to do with bubbles. [more]
,
Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A castor oil derived, white, lard-like helper ingredient that is used as a solubilizer to put fragrances into water-based products such as toners.
,
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]
,
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]
,
Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
what‑it‑does soothing | anti-acne | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The famous tea tree oil. One of the best known essential oils which comes from Australia where it has been used for almost 100 years for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions. [more]
,
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]
,
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]
,
1,2-Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A multi-functional helper ingredient that acts as a humectant and emollient. It's also a solvent and can boost the effectiveness of preservatives. [more]
,
Ethyl Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A colorless, slightly viscous liquid that, similar to other glycols, is used as a solvent in cosmetic products. Its recommended concentration is less than 5%.  [more]
,
Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
,
Ethylhexylglycerin
what‑it‑does preservative
It can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too. [more]
,
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]
[less]
Water, Glycerin, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Lauric Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycol Distearate, Polysorbate 80, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Saccharomyces Ferment, Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Sodium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Anti-acne: Lauric Acid
what‑it‑does anti-acne | surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 1 4
A fatty acid that can be found in coconut milk and human breast milk. It can be used as an emulsifier or as a cleansing agent. There are also promising studies about lauric acid being an effective anti-acne ingredient. [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]
,
Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
what‑it‑does soothing | anti-acne | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The famous tea tree oil. One of the best known essential oils which comes from Australia where it has been used for almost 100 years for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions. [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]
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: Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water
what‑it‑does 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]
,
Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
what‑it‑does soothing | anti-acne | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The famous tea tree oil. One of the best known essential oils which comes from Australia where it has been used for almost 100 years for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions. [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Antimicrobial/antibacterial: Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
what‑it‑does soothing | anti-acne | antimicrobial/antibacterial
The famous tea tree oil. One of the best known essential oils which comes from Australia where it has been used for almost 100 years for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions. [more]
Buffering: Potassium Hydroxide
what‑it‑does buffering
It's a very alkaline stuff that helps to set the pH of the cosmetic formula to be just right. [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]
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: 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]
,
Glycol Distearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
,
Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
Emulsifying: Myristic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying | perfuming
irritancy, com. 0 3
A 14 carbon length fatty acid that can be naturally found in nutmeg, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and butter fat. It's used as a foam building cleansing agent. [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]
,
Lauric Acid
what‑it‑does anti-acne | surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 1 4
A fatty acid that can be found in coconut milk and human breast milk. It can be used as an emulsifier or as a cleansing agent. There are also promising studies about lauric acid being an effective anti-acne ingredient. [more]
,
Glycol Distearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
,
Polysorbate 80
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together, aka emulsifier. [more]
,
Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A castor oil derived, white, lard-like helper ingredient that is used as a solubilizer to put fragrances into water-based products such as toners.
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]
,
Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
A sugar-rich plant extract that is a great skin moisturizer and has also promising anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. [more]
,
Pueraria Lobata Root Extract
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
,
Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
Perfuming: Myristic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying | perfuming
irritancy, com. 0 3
A 14 carbon length fatty acid that can be naturally found in nutmeg, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and butter fat. It's used as a foam building cleansing agent. [more]
,
Fragrance
what‑it‑does perfuming
The generic term for nice smelling stuff put into cosmetic products so that the end product also smells nice. It is made up of 30 to 50 chemicals on average. [more]
Preservative: 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]
,
Ethylhexylglycerin
what‑it‑does preservative
It can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too. [more]
Solvent: Water
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [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]
,
1,2-Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A multi-functional helper ingredient that acts as a humectant and emollient. It's also a solvent and can boost the effectiveness of preservatives. [more]
,
Ethyl Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A colorless, slightly viscous liquid that, similar to other glycols, is used as a solvent in cosmetic products. Its recommended concentration is less than 5%.  [more]
Surfactant/cleansing: Myristic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying | perfuming
irritancy, com. 0 3
A 14 carbon length fatty acid that can be naturally found in nutmeg, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and butter fat. It's used as a foam building cleansing agent. [more]
,
Lauric Acid
what‑it‑does anti-acne | surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 1 4
A fatty acid that can be found in coconut milk and human breast milk. It can be used as an emulsifier or as a cleansing agent. There are also promising studies about lauric acid being an effective anti-acne ingredient. [more]
,
Polysorbate 80
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together, aka emulsifier. [more]
,
Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A mild and non-drying cleanser that gives skin a nice and soft after-feel. It also has great foaming properties, comes from coconuts and it's biodegradable. 
,
Cocamidopropyl Betaine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
Super common ingredient in all kinds of cleansing products: face and body washes, shampoos and foam baths. Number one reason for its popularity has to do with bubbles. [more]
,
Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A castor oil derived, white, lard-like helper ingredient that is used as a solubilizer to put fragrances into water-based products such as toners.
Viscosity controlling: 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]
,
Glycol Distearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
,
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]

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Water solvent
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Myristic Acid surfactant/​cleansing, emulsifying, perfuming 0, 3
Stearic Acid emulsifying, emollient, viscosity controlling 0, 2
Potassium Hydroxide buffering
Lauric Acid anti-acne, surfactant/​cleansing, emulsifying 1, 4 goodie
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent 0, 1
Glycol Distearate emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling
Polysorbate 80 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water soothing
Saccharomyces Ferment goodie
Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract moisturizer/​humectant
Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract
Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract
Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract
Pueraria Lobata Root Extract moisturizer/​humectant
Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate surfactant/​cleansing
Cocamidopropyl Betaine surfactant/​cleansing
Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Salicylic Acid exfoliant, anti-acne, soothing, preservative superstar
Citric Acid exfoliant, buffering goodie
Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil soothing, anti-acne, antimicrobial/​antibacterial goodie
Sodium Chloride viscosity controlling
Disodium Edta chelating
1,2-Hexanediol solvent
Ethyl Hexanediol solvent
Caprylyl Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, emollient
Ethylhexylglycerin preservative
Fragrance 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. 

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: surfactant/cleansing, emulsifying, perfuming | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 3

A 14 carbon length fatty acid that can be naturally found in nutmeg, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and butter fat. It's used as a foam building cleansing agent. Paula Begoun writes that it can be a bit drying to the 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.

What-it-does: buffering

It's a very alkaline stuff that helps to set the pH of the cosmetic formula to be just right. It's similar to the more often used sodium hydroxide and pretty much the same of what we wrote there applies here too. 

Lauric Acid - goodie
What-it-does: anti-acne, surfactant/cleansing, emulsifying | Irritancy: 1 | Comedogenicity: 4

A 12 carbon length fatty acid that can be found naturally in coconut milk, coconut oil, laurel oil, and palm kernel oil. It's also in breast milk. As a skincare ingredient, it can be used as an emulsifier or as a cleansing agent.

What's more, there is emerging research about lauric acid being a good anti-acne ingredient.  A 2009 study found that the lowest concentration to prevent evil acne-causing P. acnes growth of lauric acid is over 15 times lower than that of gold standard anti-acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide.

Expand to read more

Though the studies are only in-vitro (made in the lab, not on real people), and it also has a high comedogenicity index, it might be worth a try if you are prone to inflamed acne (the type that's caused by P. acnes bacteria).

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. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

A common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together, aka emulsifier. 

The number at the end refers to the oil-loving part and the bigger the number  the more emulsifying power it has. 20 is a weak emulsifier, rather called solubilizer used commonly in toners while 60 and 80 are more common in serums and creams.

What-it-does: soothing, astringent

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

There is not much info out there about this ingredient but the little we can know is the following: it comes from the fermentation of saccharomyces, that is a type of yeast and according to the manufacturer it's a natural deodorant. It contains a number of enzymes, which bio-converts several malodorous substances, so most often you will spot this ingredient in natural, aluminum- free deodorants. 

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

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: Ulmus Extract | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

A nice plant extract that's used as a traditional oriental medicine in China and Korea. A 2006 study examined the cosmetic properties of the  polysaccharide extract and found a couple of promising things:

The main components of the extract are water-binding sugars, namely  rhamnose, galactose, and glucose. After this, it's not very surprising that the extract itself is also a great skin moisturizer almost as good as superstar NMF, hyaluronic acid. But that's not all: the researchers also found that Ulmus extract has promising anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. Seems like a goodie plant extract. 

Also-called: Evening Primrose Flower Extract | What-it-does: astringent

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A mild and non-drying cleanser that gives skin a nice and soft after-feel. It also has great foaming properties, comes from coconuts and it's biodegradable. 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

Super common ingredient in all kinds of cleansing products: face and body washes, shampoos and foam baths. 

Number one reason for its popularity has to do with bubbles. Everyone loves bubbles. And cocamidopropyl betaine is great at stabilizing them. 

Expand to read more

The other reason is that it’s mild and works very well combined with other cleansing agents and surfactants. The art of cleansing is usually to balance between properly cleansing but not over-cleansing and cocamidopropyl betaine is helpful in pulling off this balance right. 

Oh, and one more nice thing: even though it’s synthetic it’s highly biodegradable. 

More info on CAPB on Collins Beaty Pages.

A castor oil derived, white, lard-like helper ingredient that is used as a solubilizer to put fragrances (those are oil loving things) into water-based products such as toners.

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 >>

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: Tea Tree Oil, TTO | What-it-does: soothing, anti-acne, antimicrobial/antibacterial

The famous tea tree oil. One of the best known essential oils which comes from Australia where it has been used for almost 100 years for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions. Legend has it that the medicinal benefits of the oil were considered so important that Australian soldiers were supplied with some tea tree oil in their World War II military kit.

Similar to other essential oils, tea tree oil is a very complex chemical mixture consisting of about 100 components, the major ones being terpinen-4-ol (40%), γ-Terpinene (23%) and α-Terpinene (10%). Terpinen-4-ol is considered to be the main active component but as a great article in Clinical Microbiology Reviews states "while some TTO components may be considered less active, none can be considered inactive" and most components contribute to TTO's strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects

Expand to read more

Regarding skincare and tea tree oil, its most well-known effect is probably being a well established anti-acne ingredient. Multiple studies confirm that TTO is effective against the evil acne-causing bacteria called P. acnes and the effectiveness of 5% TTO gel is comparable to the gold standard anti-acne treatment, 5% Benzoyl Peroxide lotion. You need to be a bit more patient with TTO, though, as its effects come slower but also with fewer side effects.

Regarding TTO and sensitive skin, we say that you should be careful. Even if your skin is not sensitive you should never put undiluted TTO on your skin. Luckily, it contains only very small amounts of the common allergens (such as limonene), but irritant and allergic reactions still happen, especially by oxidation products that occur in older or not properly stored oil.  So if you have some pure TTO at home, know that storage matters, keep it in a cool, dry, dark place and use it up in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall, we do not often give a goodie status to essential oils, but we feel that TTO's unique antibacterial and anti-acne properties with its minimal allergen content warrant an exception. If your skin is acne-prone, TTO is something to experiment with.

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.

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: solvent

A really multi-functional helper ingredient that can do several things in a skincare product: it can bring a soft and pleasant feel to the formula, it can act as a humectant and emollient, it can be a solvent for some other ingredients (for example it can help to stabilize perfumes in watery products) and it can also help to disperse pigments more evenly in makeup products. And that is still not all: it can also boost the antimicrobial activity of preservatives

What-it-does: solvent

A colorless, slightly viscous liquid that, similar to other glycols, is used as a solvent in cosmetic products. Its recommended concentration is less than 5%. 

It’s a handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel. At the same time, it also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives, such as the nowadays super commonly used phenoxyethanol

The blend of these two (caprylyl glycol + phenoxyethanol) is called Optiphen, which not only helps to keep your cosmetics free from nasty things for a long time but also gives a good feel to the finished product. It's a popular duo.

What-it-does: preservative

If you have spotted ethylhexylglycerin on the ingredient list, most probably you will see there also the current IT-preservative, phenoxyethanol. They are good friends because ethylhexylglycerin can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too.

Also, it's an effective deodorant and a medium spreading emollient

Fragrance - 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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