Skin Actives Antioxidant Serum
Skin Actives

Antioxidant Serum

Fight free radicals formed by exposure to the sun, pollution, and heat.
Uploaded by: mxunicorn on 25/11/2017

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]
,
Sea Kelp (Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate) Bioferment
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
Sea Kelp fermented using lactobacillus. It's claimed to be an excellent oil-free moisturizer, emollient, and film former. Might also have some skin soothing properties. [more]
,
Sodium Pca
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. [more]
,
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
what‑it‑does skin brightening
A form of skincare superstar, Vitamin C - it has proven skin-brightening abilities (in-vivo) and it might be able to boost collagen production as well (in-vitro). [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]
,
Ferulic Acid
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A great antioxidant that is most famous for stabilizing the highly unstable Vitamin C. It also doubles the photoprotection abilities of Vit C+E formulas. [more]
,
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) 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]
,
Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Epigallocatechin Gallate
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing
The most active polyphenol in green tea. A fantastic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic agent. [more]
,
Niacinamide
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient | skin brightening | anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant
A multi-functional skincare superstar that has clinically proven anti-aging, skin lightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair properties. [more]
, [more]
Carnosine
what‑it‑does antioxidant | cell-communicating ingredient
A biomimetic peptide with antioxidant, anti-glycation and maybe collagen boosting abilities. It also protects against damages caused by infrared radiation. [more]
,
Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone
what‑it‑does antioxidant
This guy - let's just call it simply HMC - is a so-called flavonoid (flavonoids are natural things found it lots of fruits and vegetables). Hesperidin, in particular, is a flavonone and is found in citrus fruits. [more]
,
Carnitine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
,
Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, that is a standardized powdered extract from the roots of the Curcuma longa (Turmeric). Has skin-brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant magic properties. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). You can read more about THC's good properties here.  [more]
,
Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
It's one of those ingredients that defies the *BS* theory that if you cannot pronounce it, it must be an evil synthetic and you should not put it on your face.It comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). [more]
,
Sorghum Bicolor Leaf/Stem Extract, Lycopene
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Astaxanthin
what‑it‑does antioxidant
An oil-loving, red-orange colored pigment known for being a potent antioxidant. [more]
,
Fucoxanthin, Porphyridium Polysaccharide
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Glutathione, Sh-Polypeptide-2, Sh-Polypeptide-77, Superoxide Dismutase
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Superoxide Dismutase - or in short SOD - is the body's smart antioxidant enzyme that protects the cells from highly reactive, cell-damaging superoxide radicals (O2−).You have probably read the terms "free radicals" [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]
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
,
Diazolidinyl Urea
what‑it‑does preservative
An antimicrobial preservative that helps your products not to go wrong too quickly. It works especially well against bacteria, specifically gram-negative species, yeast, and mold.Somewhat controversial, it belongs to an infamous family of formaldehyde-releasers. [more]
,
Methylparaben
what‑it‑does preservative
The most common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon. Apart from the general controversy around parabens (we wrote about it more here), there is a 2006 in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) research about methylparaben (MP) showing [more]
,
Propylparaben
what‑it‑does preservative
A very common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon. [more]
[less]

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Anti-acne: Niacinamide
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient | skin brightening | anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant
A multi-functional skincare superstar that has clinically proven anti-aging, skin lightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair properties. [more]
Antioxidant: Ferulic Acid
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A great antioxidant that is most famous for stabilizing the highly unstable Vitamin C. It also doubles the photoprotection abilities of Vit C+E formulas. [more]
,
Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Epigallocatechin Gallate
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing
The most active polyphenol in green tea. A fantastic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic agent. [more]
,
Carnosine
what‑it‑does antioxidant | cell-communicating ingredient
A biomimetic peptide with antioxidant, anti-glycation and maybe collagen boosting abilities. It also protects against damages caused by infrared radiation. [more]
,
Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone
what‑it‑does antioxidant
This guy - let's just call it simply HMC - is a so-called flavonoid (flavonoids are natural things found it lots of fruits and vegetables). Hesperidin, in particular, is a flavonone and is found in citrus fruits. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, that is a standardized powdered extract from the roots of the Curcuma longa (Turmeric). Has skin-brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant magic properties. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). You can read more about THC's good properties here.  [more]
,
Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
It's one of those ingredients that defies the *BS* theory that if you cannot pronounce it, it must be an evil synthetic and you should not put it on your face.It comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). [more]
,
Lycopene
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Astaxanthin
what‑it‑does antioxidant
An oil-loving, red-orange colored pigment known for being a potent antioxidant. [more]
,
Porphyridium Polysaccharide
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Superoxide Dismutase
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Superoxide Dismutase - or in short SOD - is the body's smart antioxidant enzyme that protects the cells from highly reactive, cell-damaging superoxide radicals (O2−).You have probably read the terms "free radicals" [more]
Cell-communicating ingredient: Niacinamide
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient | skin brightening | anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant
A multi-functional skincare superstar that has clinically proven anti-aging, skin lightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair properties. [more]
,
Carnosine
what‑it‑does antioxidant | cell-communicating ingredient
A biomimetic peptide with antioxidant, anti-glycation and maybe collagen boosting abilities. It also protects against damages caused by infrared radiation. [more]
Skin brightening: Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
what‑it‑does skin brightening
A form of skincare superstar, Vitamin C - it has proven skin-brightening abilities (in-vivo) and it might be able to boost collagen production as well (in-vitro). [more]
,
Niacinamide
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient | skin brightening | anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant
A multi-functional skincare superstar that has clinically proven anti-aging, skin lightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair properties. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, that is a standardized powdered extract from the roots of the Curcuma longa (Turmeric). Has skin-brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant magic properties. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). You can read more about THC's good properties here.  [more]
,
Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
It's one of those ingredients that defies the *BS* theory that if you cannot pronounce it, it must be an evil synthetic and you should not put it on your face.It comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). [more]
Skin-identical ingredient: Sodium Pca
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. [more]
,
Sodium 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]
Soothing: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) 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]
,
Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Epigallocatechin Gallate
what‑it‑does antioxidant | soothing
The most active polyphenol in green tea. A fantastic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic agent. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, that is a standardized powdered extract from the roots of the Curcuma longa (Turmeric). Has skin-brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant magic properties. [more]
,
Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
Comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). You can read more about THC's good properties here.  [more]
,
Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening | soothing
It's one of those ingredients that defies the *BS* theory that if you cannot pronounce it, it must be an evil synthetic and you should not put it on your face.It comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Antimicrobial/antibacterial: Ferulic Acid
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A great antioxidant that is most famous for stabilizing the highly unstable Vitamin C. It also doubles the photoprotection abilities of Vit C+E formulas. [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]
Emollient: Sea Kelp (Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate) Bioferment
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
Sea Kelp fermented using lactobacillus. It's claimed to be an excellent oil-free moisturizer, emollient, and film former. Might also have some skin soothing properties. [more]
,
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) 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]
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: Sea Kelp (Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate) Bioferment
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
Sea Kelp fermented using lactobacillus. It's claimed to be an excellent oil-free moisturizer, emollient, and film former. Might also have some skin soothing properties. [more]
,
Sodium Pca
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. [more]
,
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]
,
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) 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]
,
Niacinamide
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient | skin brightening | anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant
A multi-functional skincare superstar that has clinically proven anti-aging, skin lightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair properties. [more]
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
Preservative: Diazolidinyl Urea
what‑it‑does preservative
An antimicrobial preservative that helps your products not to go wrong too quickly. It works especially well against bacteria, specifically gram-negative species, yeast, and mold.Somewhat controversial, it belongs to an infamous family of formaldehyde-releasers. [more]
,
Methylparaben
what‑it‑does preservative
The most common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon. Apart from the general controversy around parabens (we wrote about it more here), there is a 2006 in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) research about methylparaben (MP) showing [more]
,
Propylparaben
what‑it‑does preservative
A very common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon. [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]
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
Viscosity controlling: Carnitine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Water solvent
Sea Kelp (Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate) Bioferment moisturizer/​humectant, emollient goodie
Sodium Pca skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate skin brightening goodie
Sodium Hyaluronate skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Ferulic Acid antioxidant, antimicrobial/​antibacterial goodie
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract soothing, emollient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Epigallocatechin Gallate antioxidant, soothing superstar
Niacinamide cell-communicating ingredient, skin brightening, anti-acne, moisturizer/​humectant superstar
Carnosine antioxidant, cell-communicating ingredient goodie
Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone antioxidant goodie
Carnitine surfactant/​cleansing, viscosity controlling
Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing goodie
Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing goodie
Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing goodie
Sorghum Bicolor Leaf/Stem Extract
Lycopene antioxidant
Astaxanthin antioxidant goodie
Fucoxanthin
Porphyridium Polysaccharide antioxidant
Glutathione
Sh-Polypeptide-2
Sh-Polypeptide-77
Superoxide Dismutase antioxidant goodie
Citric Acid exfoliant, buffering goodie
Propylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling 0, 0
Diazolidinyl Urea preservative icky
Methylparaben preservative
Propylparaben 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. 

Also-called: Fermented Sea Kelp | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, emollient

A viscous yellow to amber colored liquid that's coming from the fermentation of Sea Kelp using lactobacillus. The idea behind the fermentation is that it breaks down the cell walls of the kelp so that the useful stuff inside the cells become bio-available for the skin.

Sea Kelp Ferment is claimed to be an excellent oil-free moisturizer, emollient, and film former. Might also have some skin soothing properties.

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

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

Also-called: Form of Vitamin C, MAP | What-it-does: skin brightening

A form of skincare superstar, Vitamin C. If you do not know, what the big deal about Vitamin C is, click here and read all about it, we will wait here for you. 

So now you know that pure vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid, AA) is really unstable and hard to formulate so the cosmetics industry is coming up with a bunch of derivatives to solve the problem and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (or MAP) is one of them.  

Expand to read more

MAP does solve the stability problem: it's stable up to pH 7, so far so good. What is not so good is that, as the great review study about vitamin C derivatives in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology writes, MAP is "at very best, poorly absorbed in comparison to AA." 

Moreover,  derivatives not only have to be absorbed into the skin, they also have to be converted into pure AA. The good news is that in-vitro data shows that MAP does convert, but the bad news is we do not really know if the same is true on real, living human skin. Even if it does, we don't know how good the conversion rate is (but to be fair the same is true for all other derivatives).

Regarding the three magic abilities of pure vitamin C (antioxidant, collagen booster, skin brightener), there is no published data about MAP's antioxidant or photoprotection capabilities. We have better news about the other two things: in-vitro data shows that MAP can boost collagen synthesis similar to AA (though in the case of AA it's proven in-vivo) and even better, MAP is proven to work as a skin brightener in-vivo (on real people). 

Bottom line: when it comes to vitamin C derivatives, MAP is definitely an option. We especially recommend it if you are after skin brightening as this seems to be the strongest point of MAP. 

 

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". 

Expand to read more

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).

Ferulic Acid - goodie

Ferulic Acid (FA) is a goodie that can be found naturally in plant cell walls. There is a lot of it especially in the bran of grasses such as rice, wheat and oats. 

FA - whose main job is to be an antioxidant - owes its fame to a 2005 research that discovered that adding in 0.5% FA to a 15% Vitamin C + 1% Vitamin E solution not only stabilizes the highly unstable, divaish Vit C, but it also doubles the photoprotection abilities of the formula. 

Expand to read more

Couple of other studies show that FA just by itself is also a nice addition to cosmetic formulations: it can penetrate the skin (which is kind of important to do the job) and it has protecting properties against UV caused skin damage.

So if you spot it on the ingredient list be happy about it. :)

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.

Also-called: EGCG | What-it-does: antioxidant, soothing

If EGCG does not tell you anything, green tea sure does. We have written about green tea in excruciating details, so if you wanna become an expert in the "green tea in skincare" topic,  click here and read it

So now you know that EGCG is the magic ingredient in green tea. It's the most active polyphenol that green tea owes most of its magic properties to. It's a fantastic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic agent. Be happy, if you spot it on the ingredient list. 

Niacinamide - superstar
Also-called: vitamin B3, nicotinamide | What-it-does: cell-communicating ingredient, skin brightening, anti-acne, moisturizer/humectant
  • A multi-functional skincare superstar with several proven benefits for the skin
  • Great anti-aging, wrinkle smoothing ingredient used at 4-5% concentration
  • Fades brown spots alone or in combination with amino sugar, acetyl glucosamine
  • Increases ceramide synthesis that results in a stronger, healthier skin barrier and better skin hydration
  • Can help to improve several skin conditions including acne, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis
Read all the geeky details about Niacinamide here >>

Carnosine - goodie

Though its name does not reveal it, Carnosine is a peptide, a small, two amino acid (β-Ala-His) one. It is naturally present in high concentrations in muscle and brain tissues, but the one used in cosmetic products is biomimetic, meaning that it is synthetically produced in a lab to copy the natural thing. 

A 2017 review paper on topical peptides writes about Carnosine that it is a "well-documented aqueous antioxidant with wound healing activity".  

Expand to read more

Other than that we can write about manufacturer-done in-vitro (in the lab, not on real people) studies that show Carnosine to have anti-glycation properties. Glycation is the not-so-nice process that happens when we bombard our body with too much sugar that results in damaged body proteins and eventually in more wrinkles.  

Also, a manufacturer done in vitro study shows that carnosine might have collagen-boosing magic power. However, the 2017 research paper also mentions that even though Carnosine is a small molecule, it is water soluble and does not penetrate the skin past the top layers so we have some doubt if the collagen-boosting works in real life. We could find one anti-aging study made on real people that mentions Carnosine, but it was combined with a bunch of other anti-aging actives so it is pretty much impossible to know what Carnosine did or did not. 

One last thing to mention is that there is also a manufacturer done clinical study (done on real people) that shows carnosine being effective against the damages caused by infrared (IR) radiation. (source)

Also-called: Part of Eyeliss | What-it-does: antioxidant

This guy - let's just call it simply HMC - is a so-called flavonoid (flavonoids are natural things found it lots of fruits and vegetables). Hesperidin, in particular, is a flavonone and is found in citrus fruits. The methylation of hesperidin gives HMC, that has well-established blood vessel protecting properties and can be found in drugs that treat problems related to blood vessels.

As for skincare, there is a mouse study showing HMC has very promising abilities in the "treatment of UVB irradiation-induced skin inflammation and oxidative stress", or English translation = it's an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Expand to read more

HMC is also part of a 3 active ingredient complex called Eyeliss (with Dipeptide-2 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7), that's supposed to fight under-eye bags. The manufacturer claims that in their ex-vivo test HMC decreased capillary permeability by 25%.

All in all, HMC definitely deserves a goodie status, at least as an antioxidant but it might even do something with under-eye bags.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, Curcumin | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing

A standardized powdered extract from the roots of the Curcuma longa (Turmeric) plant (together with this and this).  The trio is called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC) and has skin-brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant magic properties. 

Other turmeric extracts have brilliant yellow color that makes them difficult to use but this one is color-free. 

Also-called: Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, Curcumin | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing

Comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). You can read more about THC's good properties here

Also-called: Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, Curcumin | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing

It's one of those ingredients that defies the *BS* theory that if you cannot pronounce it, it must be an evil synthetic and you should not put it on your face.

It comes from the well-known Indian spice, turmeric and is part of a trio called Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC). You can read more about THC's good properties here

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Astaxanthin - goodie
What-it-does: antioxidant

An oil-loving, red-orange colored pigment that is becoming more and more well-known as a potent antioxidant.

If being an orange-colored pigment reminds you of beta-carotene from carrots, that is no coincidence: astaxanthin also belongs to the chemical group called carotenoids known for giving yellow, orange, or red color to plants. Our guy comes mostly from microalgae, a well-known and often used source is Haematococcus Pluvialis

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So Astaxanthin's main thing is being an antioxidant. You can take it as a supplement or slather it on your skin, it works both ways. A mouse skin study from 2012 found that a liposomal Astaxanthin formula prevented UV‐induced skin damage in multiple ways: UV-induced skin thickening, collagen reduction, and melanin formation were all hindered or prevented when the skin was pretreated with the Astaxanthin formula. 

Another study from 2012 examined the cosmetic benefits of Astaxanthin and found that combining oral supplementation (6mg/day) and topical application for 8 weeks in 30 volunteers showed improvements in skin wrinkle (crow’s feet), age spot size (cheek), elasticity (crow’s feet), skin texture (cheek) and moisture content of the skin (cheek).  If that would not be enough, a 2017 mouse study found our carotenoid molecule to be effective in speeding up wound healing.

Overall, Astaxanthin is an up and coming antioxidant nice to spot on any ingredient list. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: SOD | What-it-does: antioxidant

Superoxide Dismutase - or in short SOD - is the body's smart antioxidant enzyme that protects the cells from highly reactive, cell-damaging superoxide radicals (O2−).

You have probably read the terms "free radicals" and "antioxidants" a thousand times, and you know that free radicals are the evil guys, and antioxidants are the good guys. So superoxide radical is a very common free radical that can cause all kinds of cell damages and superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of superoxide radicals into molecular oxygen and hydrogen peroxide (btw, this one has to be further converted by other antioxidant enzymes, called catalases).

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The extra nice thing about SOD is that it remains intact during the neutralization process and can continue its magic, while non-enzymatic antioxidants (like vitamin E) are used up during neutralization.

The efficacy studies of topical SOD are promising. In-vitro (made in the lab) tests show that SOD is a more effective antioxidant than vitamin E, green tea extract, and MAP. There is also an in-vivo (made on real people) study that measured how SOD can reduce the redness caused by UV rays and it was much more effective than vitamin E (pure or acetate form) and ascorbyl palmitate

All in all, SOD is a really potent antioxidant and slathering it all over yourself is a great way to give the skin a little extra help in protecting itself from all the bad environmental things out there. 

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. 

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

What-it-does: preservative

An antimicrobial preservative that helps your products not to go wrong too quickly. It works especially well against bacteria, specifically gram-negative species, yeast, and mold.

Somewhat controversial, it belongs to an infamous family of formaldehyde-releasers. That is, it slowly breaks down to form formaldehyde when it is added to a formula. We have written more about formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and the concerns around them at Dmdm Hydantoin, but do not get too scared, those are more theories than proven facts.

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As for Diazolidinyl Urea itself, a study from 1990 writes that at concentrations up to 0.4%, it was a mild cumulative skin irritant, but the CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) reviewed it in 2006 and found that, in concentrations of <0.5%, it is safe as used, as the amount of formaldehyde released will be smaller than the recommended limit (of less than 0.2%).

All in all, it is up to your personal decision and skin sensitivity. 

What-it-does: preservative

The most common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon

Apart from the general controversy around parabens (we wrote about it more here), there is a 2006 in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) research about methylparaben (MP) showing that when exposed to sunlight, MP treated skin cells suffered more harm than non-MP treated skin cells. The study was not done with real people on real skin but still - using a good sunscreen next to MP containing products is a good idea. (Well, in fact using a sunscreen is always a good idea. :))

What-it-does: preservative

A very common type of feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason parabens. It's a cheap, effective and well-tolerated ingredient to make sure the cosmetic formula does not go wrong too soon.

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