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Sarah Chapman Platinum Stem Cell Elixir

Platinum Stem Cell Elixir

This revolutionary power elixir is expertly formulated with clinically tested actives, advanced botanical stem cells, growth factor technology and GLA omega oils to help remodel and strengthen slackening skin. Innovative, elasticity-boosting Platinum Matrix-EM peptide boosts collagen production, while two cutting-edge plant stem cells - Majestem™ and Senestem™ - combine with growth factor complex SWT-7™ to re-densify and repair thinning skin, redefine the contours of the face and deliver a firmer, smoother complexion. Potent, time-release vitamin A and retinoic-like tripeptide DermaPep™A350 add further science to target deeper damage and signs of ageing, enhancing results for a visible lifting and firming effect. The skin barrier is effectively supported by botanical, omega-rich oils to strengthen barrier function, reduce inflammation and support better healing, improving elasticity and clarity. Vitamin C radiance-boosters and a skin-brightening complex boost circulation and radiance to promote a youthful glow. Fragranced with a fusion of orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose. Platinum Stem Cell Elixir is packaged in an airless, platinum silver pump to protect light and air-sensitive ingredients such as vitamins and antioxidants, keeping the product fresh and potent to the last drop.
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Ingredients overview

Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Coconut Alkanes, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Maltodextrin, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride, Brassica Campestris/​Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate/​Sebacate, Polyglyceryl-6 Caprylate/​Caprate, Polysorbate 20, Leontopodium Alpinum Callus Culture Extract, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Coco- Caprylate/​Caprate, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Lecithin, Evodia Rutaecarpa Fruit Extract, Onopordum Acanthium Flower/​Leaf/​Stem Extract, Retinol, Swertia Chirata Extract, Spilanthes Acmella Flower Extract, Xanthan Gum, Arbutin, Linolenic/​Linoleic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glutathione, Myristoyl Tripeptide-31, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-17, Colloidal Platinum, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/​Twig Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil Expressed, Myrocarpus Fastigiatus Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil, Apium Graveolens (Celery) Seed Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Polianthes Tuberosa Flower Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Styrax Tonkinensis Resin Extract, Bulnesia Sarmientoi Wood Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Viola Odorata Leaf Extract, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Juniperus Mexicana Wood Oil, Menthol, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Leaf Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil, Cupressus Funebris Wood Oil, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Linalool

Highlights

Other Ingredients

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil emollient 0, 1-2 goodie
Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil emollient goodie
Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil antioxidant, emollient goodie
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil emollient, perfuming 0, 4 goodie
Aqua (Water) solvent
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 superstar
Borago Officinalis Seed Oil soothing, emollient goodie
Coconut Alkanes emollient, solvent
Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate antioxidant, skin brightening goodie
Maltodextrin
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil emollient, moisturizer/​humectant
Alcohol antimicrobial/​antibacterial, solvent, viscosity controlling icky
Parfum (Fragrance) perfuming icky
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride emollient
Brassica Campestris/Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling 0, 1
Propanediol solvent, moisturizer/​humectant
Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate/Sebacate solvent, surfactant/​cleansing
Polyglyceryl-6 Caprylate/Caprate surfactant/​cleansing
Polysorbate 20 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing 0, 0
Leontopodium Alpinum Callus Culture Extract antioxidant, soothing, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract soothing, antioxidant, antimicrobial/​antibacterial goodie
Coco- Caprylate/Caprate emollient
Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin goodie
Lecithin emollient, emulsifying goodie
Evodia Rutaecarpa Fruit Extract goodie
Onopordum Acanthium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract
Retinol cell-communicating ingredient superstar
Swertia Chirata Extract moisturizer/​humectant
Spilanthes Acmella Flower Extract
Xanthan Gum viscosity controlling
Arbutin antioxidant, skin brightening goodie
Linolenic/Linoleic Acid skin-identical ingredient, emollient, surfactant/​cleansing goodie
Tocopheryl Acetate antioxidant 0, 0
Glutathione
Myristoyl Tripeptide-31
Ascorbyl Palmitate antioxidant 0, 2 icky
Acetyl Tetrapeptide-17
Colloidal Platinum antimicrobial/​antibacterial, antioxidant
Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/Twig Oil
Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil icky
Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil Expressed perfuming
Myrocarpus Fastigiatus Oil
Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil perfuming
Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract perfuming
Cananga Odorata Flower Oil perfuming icky
Pelargonium Graveolens Oil perfuming icky
Vetiveria Zizanoides Root Oil perfuming
Apium Graveolens (Celery) Seed Oil perfuming
Rosa Damascena Flower Extract
Polianthes Tuberosa Flower Extract perfuming
Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract perfuming
Styrax Tonkinensis Resin Extract perfuming icky
Bulnesia Sarmientoi Wood Oil
Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil
Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil
Cera Alba (Beeswax) emollient, viscosity controlling, emulsifying, perfuming 0, 0-2
Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil soothing, perfuming goodie
Viola Odorata Leaf Extract
Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil perfuming
Juniperus Mexicana Wood Oil perfuming
Menthol soothing icky
Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil emollient, perfuming goodie
Pogostemon Cablin Leaf Oil perfuming
Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil perfuming
Cupressus Funebris Wood Oil perfuming
Benzyl Salicylate perfuming icky
Citronellol perfuming icky
Geraniol perfuming icky
Hydroxycitronellal perfuming icky
Limonene perfuming, solvent icky
Linalool perfuming icky

Sarah Chapman Platinum Stem Cell Elixir
Ingredients explained

Also-called: Apricot Kernel Oil | What-it-does: emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1-2

The emollient plant oil coming from the kernel (the seed of the seed) of the delicious apricot fruit. Like other plant oils, it contains antioxidant vitamin E and nourishing fatty acids (mostly oleic acid 54-74%, linoleic acid 12-35%).

It's a nice general purpose emollient, has nourishing and moisturizing properties (as a high oleic oil it's ideal for dry skin types) and is quite easily absorbed into the skin.

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

The golden yellow oil coming from the Macadamia nut, a native Australian nut. Similar to other plant oils, it's loaded with emollient and nourishing fatty acids. It's a high oleic acid oil (50-67% oleic acid and only 0-5% linoleic acid) that makes it very emollient and ideal for dry skin types (and less ideal for acne-prone skin).

Its unique property is that it contains high amounts of a rare fatty acid called palmitoleic acid (12-25%) that give Macadamia oil a "cushiony" feel. It's also easily absorbed and makes the skin soft and supple. 

Also-called: Grape Seed Oil | What-it-does: antioxidant, emollient

A goodie plant oil coming from the polyphenol-rich seeds of the grape. It's a light emollient oil that makes your skin feel smooth and nice and also contains a bunch of good-for-the-skin stuff. It's a great source of antioxidant polyphenols, barrier repair fatty acid linoleic acid (about 55-77%, while oleic acid is about 12-27%) and antioxidant, skin-protectant vitamin E

Also-called: Coconut Oil | What-it-does: emollient, perfuming | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also-called: Water | 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. 

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 - superstar
Also-called: Glycerol | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • A natural moisturizer that’s also in our skin
  • A super common, safe, effective and cheap molecule used for more than 50 years
  • Not only a simple moisturizer but knows much more: keeps the skin lipids between our skin cells in a healthy (liquid crystal) state, protects against irritation, helps to restore barrier
  • Effective from as low as 3% with even more benefits at higher concentrations up to 20-40% (around 10% is a good usability-effectiveness sweet spot)
  • High-glycerin moisturizers are awesome for treating severely dry skin
Read all the geeky details about Glycerin here >>

Also-called: Borage Seed Oil, Starflower Seed Oil | What-it-does: soothing, emollient

We feel that this one is a bit under the radar probably because the Borage plant is not very well known. Maybe because its name isn't as cool as some others, it's hard to compete with kukui or baobab, not to mention murumuru. But let us tell you when it comes to skin care, borage seed oil is one of the best oils that can happen to your skin. Especially, if it's dry, sensitive, easily irritated, often itchy or eczema prone. 

So what is so special about it? It is the richest known plant source of the super important essential fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is soothing and nourishing, and can repair even severely dry and irritated skin, but it's pretty rare and borage contains by far the most of it (17-28%). Next to GLA, it also contains more common fatty acids, like linoleic (36%), oleic (18%) or palmitic acid (10%). 

If your skin is dry and sensitive, this one is totally for you. 

What-it-does: emollient, solvent

Coconut Alkanes is a volatile (something that does not absorb into the skin but evaporates from it), naturally derived vegetable alkane coming from renewable sources. It is a light, oily liquid that works as an emollient and gives a smooth skin feel.

It's often combined with another emollient called Coco-Caprylate/Caprate and the two together can serve as a great replacement for some volatile silicones, like Cyclopentasiloxane

Also-called: Form of Vitamin C, Ascorbyl Isotetrapalmitate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, ATIP;Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is a stable, oil-soluble form of skincare big shot Vitamin C. If you do not know, why Vitamin C is such a big deal in skincare, click here and read all about it. We are massive vitamin C fans and have written about it in excruciating detail.

So now, you know that Vitamin C is great and all, but it's really unstable and gives cosmetics companies many headaches. To solve this problem they came up with vitamin C derivatives, and one of them is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (let's call it ATIP in short).

It's a really promising candidate (see below), but while reading all the goodness about it in a minute, do not forget that derivatives not only have to be absorbed into the skin but also have to be converted to pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid or AA) and the efficacy of the conversion is often unknown. In addition, vitamin C's three magic properties (antioxidant, collagen booster, skin brightener) are all properly proven in-vivo (on real people), but for the derivatives, it's mostly in-vitro studies or in the case of ATIP, it's in-vitro and done by an ingredient supplier.

With this context in mind let's see what ATIP might be able to do. First, it is stable (if pH < 5), easy to formulate and a joy to work with for a cosmetic chemist.

Second, because it's oil-soluble, its skin penetration abilities seem to be great. So great in fact, that it surpasses the penetration of pure vitamin C threefold at the same concentration and it penetrates successfully into the deeper layers of the skin (that is usually important to do some anti-aging work). There is also in-vitro data showing that it converts to AA in the skin. 

Third, ATIP seems to have all three magic abilities of pure vitamin C: it gives antioxidant protection from both UVB and UVA rays, it increases collagen synthesis (even more than AA) and it has a skin brightening effect by reducing melanogenesis by more than 80% in human melanoma cell cultures.

So this all sounds really great, but these are only in-vitro results at this point. We could find Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate mentioned only in one published in-vivo study that examined the anti-aging properties of a silicone formula containing 10% AA and 7% ATIP. The authors theorized that the 10% AA is released slowly from the silicon delivery system and probably stays in the upper layer of the skin to give antioxidant benefits, while ATIP penetrates more rapidly and deeply and gives some wrinkle-reducing benefits. The study was a small (10 patients), double-blind experiment, and the formula did show some measurable anti-aging results. However, it is hard to know how much pure vitamin C or ATIP can be thanked.

Bottom line: a really promising, but not well-proven vitamin C derivative that can be worth a try especially if you like experimenting (but if you like the tried and true, pure vitamin C will be your best bet).

It's a little helper ingredient coming from corn, rice or potato starch that can help to keep skin mat (absorbent), to stabilise emulsions, and to keep the product together (binding). 

Also-called: Wheat Germ Oil | What-it-does: emollient, moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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. 

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).

Also-called: Fragrance, Parfum;Parfum/Fragrance | 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 then fragrance is not your best friend - there's no way to know what’s really in it.  

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

What-it-does: emollient

A super common emollient that makes your skin feel nice and smooth. It comes from coconut oil and glycerin, it’s light-textured, clear, odorless and non-greasy. It’s a nice ingredient that just feels good on the skin, is super well tolerated by every skin type and easy to formulate with. No wonder it’s popular. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling | 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.

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. 

Also-called: Zemea | What-it-does: solvent, moisturizer/humectant

Propanediol is a natural alternative for the often used and often bad-mouthed propylene glycol. It's produced sustainably from corn sugar and it's Ecocert approved. 

It's quite a multi-tasker: can be used to improve skin moisturization, as a solvent, to boost preservative efficacy or to influence the sensory properties of the end formula. 

What-it-does: solvent, surfactant/cleansing

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. 

Also-called: Majestem, Edelweiss Stem Cell Extract | What-it-does: antioxidant, soothing, moisturizer/humectant

A plant stem cell extract derived from the famous mountain flower, Edelweiss. It goes by the trade name Majestem and the manufacturer claims that it has a visible lifting action on the neck and face.

In their in-vivo (made on real people) tests, the sagging skin on the neck was tightened by -10.6% up to -56% in three weeks. After six weeks, the cheeks were also lifted and the crow’s feet wrinkles were smoothed out (surface -11% up to -75%).

Apart from manufacturer claims, edelweiss is traditionally known for and used for its soothing properties. We found a 2012 study confirming that edelweiss cell culture extract contains the active called leontopodic acid that seems to be responsible for the plant's anti-inflammatory properties.

Also-called: Plantain Leaf Extract | What-it-does: soothing, antioxidant, antimicrobial/antibacterial

The plant extract coming from the leaves of English plantain or narrowleaf plantain that's native to Europe and Asia. The plant has plenty of traditional medicinal uses. Regarding the leaf and the skin, it's used to promote maturation of abscess and to speed up the recovery of incisions, pimples or wounds. 

Modern studies do confirm that the plant, and specifically the leaves are loaded with active compounds that give the extract anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant magic properties. An in-vitro (made on chicken membrane, not on real people) study in Phytotherapy Research found that Plantain Leaf Extract in large concentrations has a comparable soothing effect to anti-inflammatory big shot, hydrocortisone.

Another study in the Journal of Herbal Medicine examined the antioxidant properties of the plant and found that the leaf extract has potent antioxidant activity (thanks to its flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids content) that's comparable or superior to multiple herbs and Chinese medicinal plants. 

All in all, definitely a goodie plant extract that's good to spot on the ingredient list.

What-it-does: emollient

A light emollient ester (C8-10 fatty acids connected to C12-18 fatty alcohols) that absorbs quickly and leaves a dry but silky finish on the skin. In terms of skin feel, it is similar to Dicaprylyl Carbonate, another commonly used light emollient. 

It goes by the trade name "Phytodermina Lifting" that refers to two things: it's a "lifting" ingredient and it comes from plant raw materials. 

The manufacturer claims that it gives the skin a marked lifting effect, moisturizes, makes the skin soft and smooth, enhances brightness, and helps make-up to stay on after application.

Lecithin - goodie
What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A very common ingredient that can be found in all cell membranes. In cosmetics it's quite the multi-tasker: it's an emollient and water-binding ingredient but it's also an emulsifier and can be used for stabilization purposes. It's also often used to create liposomes

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Retinol - superstar
Also-called: Vitamin A, Form of Retinoids | What-it-does: cell-communicating ingredient
  • Retinol (pure Vitamin A) is probably the most proven anti-aging ingredient available OTC
  • It has to be converted in the skin to retinoic acid to work its magic
  • Once converted, it has the same effect as all-trans-retinoic acid, aka tretinoin
  • A generally accepted ballpark number is that retinol is 10-to-20 times less potent than retinoic acid
  • It makes skin less wrinkled, smoother, firmer and tighter
  • It might also be helpful for acne prone skin as it normalizes keratinization and makes the pores produce less sebum
  • Possible side effects and irritation are also much less than with retinoic acid
  • Do not use whilst pregnant
Read all the geeky details about Retinol here >>

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

It's one of the most commonly used thickeners and emulsion stabilizers. If the product is too runny, a little xanthan gum will make it more gel-like. Used alone, it can make the formula sticky and it is a good team player so it is usually combined with other thickeners and so-called rheology modifiers (helper ingredients that adjust the flow and thus the feel of the formula). The typical use level of Xantha Gum is below 1%, it is usually in the 0.1-0.5% range. 

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

Arbutin - goodie
Also-called: Beta-Arbutin | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening

A pretty well-known and often used ingredient with the magic ability to fade brown spots. It's used traditionally in Japan and can be found naturally in a couple of plants, including the leaves of pear trees, wheat and bearberry

Arbutin seems to work its magic and hinder the pigmentation process at the second step of it. An enzyme called tyrosinase is needed to create melanin (the pigment that causes the brown spots) and while several other skin lightening agents work to inhibit the synthesis of tyrosinase itself (like vitamin C or licorice), arbutin lets tyrosinase be and rather hinders the melanin-forming activity of the enzyme. (So it might be a good idea to combine arbutin with some direct tyrosinase inhibitors for more skin lightening effect.)

All in all, arbutin is one of the better-known skin brightening agents, that's probably worth a try if pigmentation is an issue for you.

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

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. 

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. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Form of Vitamin C | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

A form of skincare superstar, vitamin C. Even though we are massive vitamin C fans,  Ascorbyl Palmitate  (AP) is our least favorite. (Btw, if you do not know what the big deal with vitamin C is then you are missing out. You must go and read our geeky details about it.) 

So, AP is one of the attempts by the cosmetics industry to solve the stability issues with vitamin C while preserving its benefits,  but it seems to fall short on several things.

What's the problem?

Firstly, it's stability is only similar to that of pure ascorbic acid (AA), which means it is not really stable. A great study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared a bunch of vitamin C derivatives and this derivative was the only one where the study said in terms of stability that it's "similar to AA". Not really that good.

Second, a study that examined the skin absorption of vitamin C found that ascorbyl palmitate did not increase the skin levels of AA. This does not mean that ascorbyl palmitate cannot penetrate the skin (because it can, it's oil soluble and the skin likes to absorb oil soluble things) but this means that it's questionable if ascorbyl palmitate can be converted into pure Vit C in the skin. Even if it can be converted, the palmitate part of the molecule is more than the half of it, so the efficacy will not be good and we have never seen a serum that contains a decent (and proudly disclosed) amount of AP.  We are highly skeptical what effect a tiny amount of AP has in a formula.

Third, another study that wanted to examine the antioxidant properties of AP was surprised to find that even though AP does have nice antioxidant properties; following UVB radiation (the same one that comes from the sun) it also promotes lipid peroxidation and cytotoxicity. It was only an in-vitro study meaning that it was done on cell cultures and not on real people, but still, this also does not support the use of AP too much. 

The only good thing we can write about Ascorbyl Palmitate is that there is an in-vitro (made in the lab, not on real people) study showing that it might be able to boost collagen production.

Regarding the skin-brightening properties of pure vitamin C, this is another magic property AP does not have, or at least there is no data, not even in-vitro, about it.

Overall, Ascorbyl Palmitate is our least favorite vitamin C derivative. It is there in lots of products in tiny amounts (honestly, we do not really understand why), however, we do not know about any vitamin C serum featuring AP in high amounts. That is probably no coincidence. If you are into vitamin C, you can take a look at more promising derivatives here

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Petitgrain Oil

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Bitter Orange Flower Oil, Neroli Oil

The essential oil coming from the flowers of bitter orange (which is the sister of the sweet orange we all know and eat). It contains several fragrance components including linalool (around 30%) and limonene (around 10%) and has a lovely sweet smell

As it's an essential oil with lots of fragrant components, be careful with it if your skin is sensitive.  

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Ylang Ylang Essential Oil | What-it-does: perfuming

Sweet, exotic and floral, it’ no surprise that Ylang Ylang is a popular essential oil. It is coming from the yellow, fragrant flowers of the Cananga tree native to tropical Asia and, similar to other essential oils, it is a chemically complex mixture with several pros and cons. 

Unfortunately, these are a bit tricky to pin down as the composition varies largely depending on where it is sourced, how the oil is extracted and the grade of it that is used in the product, but we’ll do our best!

Let’s start with the easy stuff.  The main components are fragrant molecules, including super common linalool (1-19%), benzyl benzoate (2-10%) and several others adding up to a max amount of 37.6% of EU sensitizers. The most expensive Extra grade is the most fragrant (has more benzyl acetate and cresyl methyl ether) and is used in high-end perfumes, while the First and Second grades are less fragrant, and used mainly in cosmetics.   

Other than smelling nice and making cosmetic formulas also smell nice, Ylang Ylang might have some antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits and also works as an insect repellent. Its nice smell is also commonly known as being relaxing and calming (also backed up by a few recent studies), but it is an aromatherapy use case (when inhaled) so this probably does not count much skincare-wise. 

On the other hand, the nice smell also means allergen fragrant components and 37.6% of EU sensitizers counts as quite high and the oil is considered to have high skin sensitization potential. It is a good idea to avoid if your skin is sensitive.

Also-called: Rose Geranium Essential Oil | What-it-does: perfuming

The fragrant essential oil coming from the whole plant of Rose Geranium. It has a lovely scent with a mix of rose and citrus. 

Like most essential oils, it contains antioxidant and antimicrobial components, but the main ones are fragrant constituents (like geraniol and citronellol). Be careful with it, if your skin is sensitive. 

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Benzoin Resin, Siam Benzoin | What-it-does: perfuming

The resin extract coming from a small, nice tree with white flowers living in South-East Asia. The resin has a nice sweet vanilla-like aroma (contains vanillin) and is used in perfumes as a fixative agent (it can help to slow down the evaporation of the other fragrant components making the scent more long lasting). 

It contains potential allergen components benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate, so it's best to avoid if you have sensitive skin.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Clary Sage Oil

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Sandalwood Oil

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Beeswax | What-it-does: emollient, viscosity controlling, emulsifying, perfuming | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0-2

It's the yellow, solid stuff that you probably know from beeswax candles. It's a natural material produced by honey bees to build their honeycomb.

As for skincare, it's used as an emollient and thickening agent. It's super common in lip balms and lipsticks. 

Also-called: Roman Chamomile Flower Oil | What-it-does: soothing, perfuming

The essential oil coming from the second most common type of chamomile, the Roman Chamomile. It also contains the biologically active anti-inflammatory componentsbisabolol, and chamazulene, but less than the more commonly used German Chamomile.  It's not clear what Roman Chamomile knows that the German one does not. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming, astringent

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Menthol - icky
What-it-does: soothing

Menthol needs no introduction: it's the thing that causes the cooling sensation so well-known both from cosmetic products as well as a bunch of other things like chocolate, chewing gum, toothpaste or cigarette. It's a natural compound that comes from the essential oil of Mentha species (peppermint oil contains 40-50% menthol) and it gives them their typical minty smell and flavor.

As for skincare, menthol seems to be a mixed bag. Apart from the cool cooling sensation (that might last up to 70 mins!), it also has painkilling, itch reducing, antibacterial, antifungal and even penetration enhancing properties. On the other hand, it also seems to act as a skin irritant that increases trans-epidermal water loss (the water that evaporates from the outer layer of the skin) and thus contributes to drying out the skin.

Also-called: Linseed Oil, Flaxseed Oil | What-it-does: emollient, perfuming

The oil coming from the plant Linum Usitatissimum or commonly called Flax. If you are into healthy eating, you probably know flaxseeds as a rich source of hard-to-eat-enough omega-3 fatty acids, or if you are into fashion, you probably have some light summer cloth made from linen.

As for skincare, flaxseed oil is one of the few natural plant oils that is a rich source (35-65%) of moisturizing and probably anti-inflammatory  ω-3 fatty acid, aka linolenic acid. It also contains skin-nourishing oleic acid (11-35%) and barrier repairing linoleic acid (11-24%). 

According to manufacturer claims, it is used as an emollient, anti-inflammatory and healing agent and it is well-known to create smooth and soft skin. 

Also-called: Patchouli Essential Oil | What-it-does: perfuming

If you are into perfumes, you must know patchouli as an important essential oil in the perfume industry. It boasts a pleasant woody, earthy and camphoraceous scent and has fixative properties (makes the fragrance long-lasting).

Its composition is pretty unique: it does not contain any of the EU's 26 most common fragrance allergens, but its most important components are patchoulol (30%) and alpha-patchoulene (6%) which are responsible for its aroma and antifungal properties.

Among essential oils, the allergen profile of patchouli counts as pretty good (much better than ylang-ylang or lemongrass oils), but if your skin is sensitive, it's still best to avoid it.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: perfuming

It’s a common fragrance ingredient that has a light floral smell.  It’s one of the “EU 26 fragrances” that has to be labelled separately (and cannot be simply included in the term “fragrance/perfume” on the label) because of allergen potential. Best to avoid if your skin is sensitive.

What-it-does: perfuming

Citronellol is a very common fragrance ingredient with a nice rose-like odor. In the UK, it’s actually the third most often listed perfume on the ingredient lists. 

It can be naturally found in geranium oil (about 30%) or rose oil (about 25%). 

As with all fragrance ingredients, citronellol can also cause allergic contact dermatitis and should be avoided if you have perfume allergy. In a 2001 worldwide study with 178 people with known sensitization to fragrances citronellol tested positive in 5.6% of the cases.

There is no known anti-aging or positive skin benefits of the ingredient. It’s in our products to make it smell nice. 

Geraniol - icky
What-it-does: perfuming

Geraniol is a common fragrance ingredient. It smells like rose and can be found in rose oil or in small quantities in geranium, lemon and many other essential oils. 

Just like other similar fragrance ingredients (like linalool and limonene) geraniol also oxidises on air exposure and becomes allergenic. Best to avoid if you have sensitive skin.

What-it-does: perfuming

A common fragrance ingredient that has a sweet scent somewhere between lily and fruity melon. Can be found in essential oils, such as lavender oil, orange flower oil or ylang-ylang.

In cosmetics, it can be used up to 1%. It’s one of the “EU 26 fragrances” that has to be labelled separately (and cannot be simply included in the term “fragrance/perfume” on the label) because of allergen potential. Best to avoid if your skin is sensitive.

Limonene - icky
What-it-does: perfuming, solvent, deodorant

A super common and cheap fragrance ingredient. It's in many plants, e.g. rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and it's the main component (about 50-90%) of the peel oil of citrus fruits.

It does smell nice but the problem is that it oxidizes on air exposure and the resulting stuff is not good for the skin. Oxidized limonene can cause allergic contact dermatitis and counts as a frequent skin sensitizer

Limonene's nr1 function is definitely being a fragrance component, but there are several studies showing that it's also a penetration enhancer, mainly for oil-loving components.

All in all, limonene has some pros and cons, but - especially if your skin is sensitive - the cons probably outweigh the pros.  

Linalool - icky
What-it-does: perfuming, deodorant

Linalool is a super common fragrance ingredient. It’s kind of everywhere - both in plants and in cosmetic products. It’s part of 200 natural oils including lavender, ylang-ylang, bergamot, jasmine, geranium and it can be found in 90-95% of prestige perfumes on the market. 

The problem with linalool is, that just like limonene it oxidises on air exposure and becomes allergenic. That’s why a product containing linalool that has been opened for several months is more likely to be allergenic than a fresh one.

A study made in the UK with 483 people tested the allergic reaction to 3% oxidised linalool and 2.3% had positive test results. 

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what‑it‑does emollient
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what‑it‑does perfuming
what‑it‑does perfuming
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what‑it‑does perfuming
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Menthol needs no introduction: it's the thing that causes the cooling sensation so well-known both from cosmetic products as well as a bunch of other things like chocolate, chewing gum, toothpaste or cigarette. It's a natural compound that comes from the essential oil of Mentha species (peppermint oil contains 40-50% menthol) and it gives them their typical minty smell a [more]
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