Skin Actives Vitamin A Cream
Skin Actives

Vitamin A Cream

Regular use of Vitamin A Cream will help keep pores clear, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and keep skin renewed.If you’ve used Retin-A and found that it was too irritating to your skin, this may be a good alternative.
Uploaded by: markinbrighton on 31/07/2017

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]
,
Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
Jojoba oil - a wax ester (chemically not a real oil), that's very similar to human sebum. It's uniquely excellent at helping the skin with its protective barrier and helping it to stay moisturized. [more]
,
Sorbitol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip.  [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]
,
Seakelp (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]
,
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]
,
Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Peg-100 Stearate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 1
A commonly used water-soluble surfactant and emulsifier. [more]
, [more]
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
Emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Sesame. Contains high amounts of nourishing and moisturizing fatty acids (about 38% of oleic 48% of linoleic acid). [more]
,
Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 2
The emollient plant oil that comes from almonds. Similar to other plant oils, it is loaded with skin-nourishing fatty acids (oleic acid - 55-86% and linoleic acid 7-35%) and contains several other skin goodies such as antioxidant vitamin E and vitamin B versions. It's a nice, basic oil that is often used due  [more]
,
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
Avocado oil - a highly moisturizing, rich emollient oil that is loaded with fatty acids (oleic - 70%) and vitamin A, E and D. [more]
,
Alpha-D-Tocopherol
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 2 2
Pure Vitamin E. Great antioxidant that gives significant photoprotection against UVB rays. Works in synergy with Vitamin C. [more]
,
Retinyl Acetate, Hydrolyzed Collagen
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The chemically chopped up version of the big protein molecule, collagen. It is often derived from fish or bovine sources and works as a nice moisturizer and humectant that helps the skin to hold onto water.  To understand a bit more what Hydrolyzed Collagen is, you have to know that proteins are large chains of amino acids connected with so called-peptide bonds. [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]
,
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The freeze-dried, powder form of coconut water (also called the liquid coconut endosperm) that's claimed to be loaded with all kinds of skin-nourishing things: proteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals and growth hormones (kinetin) that support healthy cell growth and skin hydration.According to the manufacturer' [more]
,
Allantoin
what‑it‑does soothing
irritancy, com. 0 0
Super common soothing ingredient. It can be found naturally in the roots & leaves of the comfrey plant, but more often than not what's in the cosmetic products is produced synthetically. It's not only soothing but it' [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]
,
Terminalia Ferdinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening
,
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]
,
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]
,
Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Pomegranate. The red fruit has lots of seeds (100-200 per fruit), but 7 kg of them are needed for 1 kg of oil. [more]
,
Tocotrienols, Tocopherols
It probably refers to Vitamin E (or multiple forms of it).  [more]
,
Astaxanthin
what‑it‑does antioxidant
An oil-loving, red-orange colored pigment known for being a potent antioxidant. [more]
,
Lycopene
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Xanthophyll
what‑it‑does antioxidant
A fat-soluble carotenoid pigment with significant antioxidant activity. It also increases skin hydration and absorbs potentially harmful blue light. [more]
,
R-Alpha Lipoic Acid
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a great antioxidant that's also part of the body's natural antioxidant system. It's soluble both in water-rich and lipid-rich environments so it's versatile and can interact with many types of evil oxidants as well as other nice antioxidants. ALA seems to be a great choice for topical use as studies show it can penetrate the skin rapidl [more]
,
Beta-Carotene, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Matrixyl - A 5 amino acid peptide with promising research showing that it can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and improve skin texture. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
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]
,
Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
A very common silicone that gives both skin and hair a silky smooth feel. It also forms a protective barrier on the skin and fills in fine lines. Also used for scar treatment. [more]
,
Carbomer
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
It’s a handy white powder that magically converts a liquid into a nice gel formula. [more]
,
Aminomethyl Propanol
what‑it‑does buffering
An alkaline (high pH, aka basic) material that is used to set the pH of the cosmetic formula to the right value.  [more]
,
Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
,
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: Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
Avocado oil - a highly moisturizing, rich emollient oil that is loaded with fatty acids (oleic - 70%) and vitamin A, E and D. [more]
,
Alpha-D-Tocopherol
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 2 2
Pure Vitamin E. Great antioxidant that gives significant photoprotection against UVB rays. Works in synergy with Vitamin C. [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]
,
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]
,
Terminalia Ferdinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening
,
Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Pomegranate. The red fruit has lots of seeds (100-200 per fruit), but 7 kg of them are needed for 1 kg of oil. [more]
,
Astaxanthin
what‑it‑does antioxidant
An oil-loving, red-orange colored pigment known for being a potent antioxidant. [more]
,
Lycopene
what‑it‑does antioxidant
,
Xanthophyll
what‑it‑does antioxidant
A fat-soluble carotenoid pigment with significant antioxidant activity. It also increases skin hydration and absorbs potentially harmful blue light. [more]
,
R-Alpha Lipoic Acid
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a great antioxidant that's also part of the body's natural antioxidant system. It's soluble both in water-rich and lipid-rich environments so it's versatile and can interact with many types of evil oxidants as well as other nice antioxidants. ALA seems to be a great choice for topical use as studies show it can penetrate the skin rapidl [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]
,
Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Matrixyl - A 5 amino acid peptide with promising research showing that it can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and improve skin texture. [more]
Skin brightening: 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]
,
Terminalia Ferdinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Fruit Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening
Skin-identical ingredient: 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]
,
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: Allantoin
what‑it‑does soothing
irritancy, com. 0 0
Super common soothing ingredient. It can be found naturally in the roots & leaves of the comfrey plant, but more often than not what's in the cosmetic products is produced synthetically. It's not only soothing but it' [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

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]
,
Aminomethyl Propanol
what‑it‑does buffering
An alkaline (high pH, aka basic) material that is used to set the pH of the cosmetic formula to the right value.  [more]
Emollient: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
Jojoba oil - a wax ester (chemically not a real oil), that's very similar to human sebum. It's uniquely excellent at helping the skin with its protective barrier and helping it to stay moisturized. [more]
,
Seakelp (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]
,
Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
Emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Sesame. Contains high amounts of nourishing and moisturizing fatty acids (about 38% of oleic 48% of linoleic acid). [more]
,
Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 2
The emollient plant oil that comes from almonds. Similar to other plant oils, it is loaded with skin-nourishing fatty acids (oleic acid - 55-86% and linoleic acid 7-35%) and contains several other skin goodies such as antioxidant vitamin E and vitamin B versions. It's a nice, basic oil that is often used due  [more]
,
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
Avocado oil - a highly moisturizing, rich emollient oil that is loaded with fatty acids (oleic - 70%) and vitamin A, E and D. [more]
,
Hydrolyzed Collagen
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The chemically chopped up version of the big protein molecule, collagen. It is often derived from fish or bovine sources and works as a nice moisturizer and humectant that helps the skin to hold onto water.  To understand a bit more what Hydrolyzed Collagen is, you have to know that proteins are large chains of amino acids connected with so called-peptide bonds. [more]
,
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The freeze-dried, powder form of coconut water (also called the liquid coconut endosperm) that's claimed to be loaded with all kinds of skin-nourishing things: proteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals and growth hormones (kinetin) that support healthy cell growth and skin hydration.According to the manufacturer' [more]
,
Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Pomegranate. The red fruit has lots of seeds (100-200 per fruit), but 7 kg of them are needed for 1 kg of oil. [more]
,
Dimethicone
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 0 1
A very common silicone that gives both skin and hair a silky smooth feel. It also forms a protective barrier on the skin and fills in fine lines. Also used for scar treatment. [more]
Emulsifying: Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Glyceryl Stearate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
Waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. [more]
,
Peg-100 Stearate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 1
A commonly used water-soluble surfactant and emulsifier. [more]
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
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: Sorbitol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip.  [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]
,
Seakelp (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]
,
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]
,
Hydrolyzed Collagen
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The chemically chopped up version of the big protein molecule, collagen. It is often derived from fish or bovine sources and works as a nice moisturizer and humectant that helps the skin to hold onto water.  To understand a bit more what Hydrolyzed Collagen is, you have to know that proteins are large chains of amino acids connected with so called-peptide bonds. [more]
,
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
The freeze-dried, powder form of coconut water (also called the liquid coconut endosperm) that's claimed to be loaded with all kinds of skin-nourishing things: proteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals and growth hormones (kinetin) that support healthy cell growth and skin hydration.According to the manufacturer' [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]
,
Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Propylene Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
Preservative: Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
,
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]
,
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]
,
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]
Surfactant/cleansing: Peg-100 Stearate
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 1
A commonly used water-soluble surfactant and emulsifier. [more]
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
Viscosity controlling: Cetyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
A fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier).
,
Stearyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 2 2
As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions. [more]
,
Carbomer
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
It’s a handy white powder that magically converts a liquid into a nice gel 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]

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Water solvent
Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil emollient goodie
Sorbitol moisturizer/​humectant
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent 0, 1
Seakelp (Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate) Bioferment moisturizer/​humectant, emollient goodie
Niacinamide cell-communicating ingredient, skin brightening, anti-acne, moisturizer/​humectant superstar
Cetyl Alcohol emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling 2, 2
Glyceryl Stearate emollient, emulsifying
Peg-100 Stearate surfactant/​cleansing, emulsifying 0, 1
Stearyl Alcohol emollient, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing, viscosity controlling 2, 2
Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil emollient goodie
Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil emollient 0, 2 goodie
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil antioxidant, emollient goodie
Alpha-D-Tocopherol antioxidant 2, 2 superstar
Retinyl Acetate
Hydrolyzed Collagen emollient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Carnosine antioxidant, cell-communicating ingredient goodie
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice emollient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Allantoin soothing 0, 0 goodie
Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing goodie
Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing goodie
Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing goodie
Terminalia Ferdinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Fruit Extract antioxidant, skin brightening
Sodium Hyaluronate skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil antioxidant, emollient goodie
Tocotrienols
Tocopherols
Astaxanthin antioxidant goodie
Lycopene antioxidant
Xanthophyll antioxidant goodie
R-Alpha Lipoic Acid antioxidant goodie
Beta-Carotene
Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3 cell-communicating ingredient goodie
Polysorbate 20 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing 0, 0
Citric Acid exfoliant, buffering goodie
Dimethicone emollient 0, 1
Carbomer viscosity controlling
Aminomethyl Propanol buffering
Phenoxyethanol preservative
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. 

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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: Jojoba Oil | What-it-does: emollient

Jojoba is a drought resistant evergreen shrub native to South-western North America. It's known and grown for jojoba oil, the golden yellow liquid coming from the seeds (about 50% of the weight of the seeds will be oil).  

At first glance, it seems like your average emollient plant oil: it looks like an oil and it's nourishing and moisturizing to the skin but if we dig a bit deeper, it turns out that jojoba oil is really special and unique: technically - or rather chemically - it's not an oil but a wax ester (and calling it an oil is kind of sloppy). 

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So what the heck is a wax ester and why is that important anyway? Well, to understand what a wax ester is, you first have to know that oils are chemically triglycerides: one glycerin + three fatty acids attached to it. The fatty acids attached to the glycerin vary and thus we have many kinds of oils, but they are all triglycerides. Mother Nature created triglycerides to be easily hydrolyzed (be broken down to a glycerin + 3 fatty acid molecules) and oxidized (the fatty acid is broken down into small parts) - this happens basically when we eat fats or oils and our body generates energy from it.

Mother Nature also created wax esters but for a totally different purpose. Chemically, a wax ester is a fatty acid + a fatty alcohol, one long molecule. Wax esters are on the outer surface of several plant leaves to give them environmental protection. 25-30% of human sebum is also wax esters to give us people environmental protection. 

So being a wax ester results in a couple of unique properties: First, jojoba oil is extremely stable. Like crazy stable. Even if you heat it to 370 C (698 F) for 96 hours, it does not budge. (Many plant oils tend to go off pretty quickly). If you have some pure jojoba oil at home, you should be fine using it for years. 

Second, jojoba oil is the most similar to human sebum (both being wax esters), and the two are completely miscible. Acne.org has this not fully proven theory that thanks to this, jojoba might be able to "trick" the skin into thinking it has already produced enough sebum, so it might have "skin balancing" properties for oily skin.

Third, jojoba oil moisturizes the skin through a unique dual action: on the one hand, it mixes with sebum and forms a thin, non-greasy, semi-occlusive layer; on the other hand, it absorbs into the skin through pores and hair follicles then diffuses into the intercellular spaces of the outer layer of the skin to make it soft and supple.

On balance, the point is this: in contrast to real plant oils, wax esters were designed by Mother Nature to stay on the surface and form a protective, moisturizing barrier and jojoba oil being a wax ester is uniquely excellent at doing that.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip. 

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

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

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

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

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.

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 >>

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 2

A so-called fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that does all kinds of things in a skincare product: it makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier). Can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil.

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A super common, waxy, white, solid stuff that helps water and oil to mix together and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth.

It can be produced from most vegetable oils in a pretty simple, "green" process that is similar to soap making. It's readily biodegradable.

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It also occurs naturally in our body and is used as a food additive. As cosmetic chemist Colins writes it, "its safety really is beyond any doubt".

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing, emulsifying | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1

A very common water-loving surfactant and emulsifier that helps to keep water and oil mixed nicely together. 

It's often paired with glyceryl stearate - the two together form a super effective emulsifier duo that's salt and acid tolerant and works over a wide pH range. It also gives a "pleasing product aesthetics", so no wonder it's popular.

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying, surfactant/cleansing, viscosity controlling, emulsion stabilising | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 2

As you can see from the what-it-does list, it's a handy multi-tasker that can do quite many things. It's a white to light yellowish water-loving wax that works very well in oil-in-water emulsions.  It not only stabilizes the formula but also helps to thicken it up.

Oh, and one more thing: it's a so-called fatty alcohol - the good, emollient type of alcohol that is non-drying. 

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

A goldish to dark yellow emollient plant oil coming from Sesame seeds. Similar to many other plant oils, it contains high amounts of nourishing and moisturizing fatty acids (about 38% of oleic and 48% of linoleic acid) and is a nice oil to repair and regenerate dry skin. It is rapidly absorbed and gives the skin a soft and gentle feel.  

Also-called: Sweet Almond Oil | What-it-does: emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

The emollient plant oil that comes from almonds. Similar to other plant oils, it is loaded with skin-nourishing fatty acids (oleic acid - 55-86% and linoleic acid 7-35%) and contains several other skin goodies such as antioxidant vitamin E and vitamin B versions. 

It's a nice, basic oil that is often used due to its great smoothing, softening and moisturizing properties. It's also particularly good at treating dry brittle nails (source).

Also-called: Avocado Oil, Persea Americana Oil | What-it-does: antioxidant, emollient

The oil coming from the pulp of one of the most nutritious fruits in the world, the avocado. It's loaded with the nourishing and moisturizing fatty acid, oleic (70%) and contains some others including palmitic (10%) and linoleic acid (8%). It also contains a bunch of minerals and vitamins A, E and D

Avocado oil has extraordinary skin penetration abilities and can nourish different skin layers. It's a very rich, highly moisturizing emollient oil that makes the skin smooth and nourished. Thanks to its vitamin E content it also has some antioxidant properties. As a high-oleic plant oil, it is recommended for dry skin

Alpha-D-Tocopherol - superstar
Also-called: Vitamin E | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 2
  • Primary fat-soluble antioxidant in our skin
  • Significant photoprotection against UVB rays
  • Vit C + Vit E work in synergy and provide great photoprotection
  • Has emollient properties
  • Easy to formulate, stable and relatively inexpensive
Read all the geeky details about Tocopherol here >>

Also-called: Form of Retinoids

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

The chemically chopped up version of the big protein molecule, collagen. It is often derived from fish or bovine sources and works as a nice moisturizer and humectant that helps the skin to hold onto water.  

To understand a bit more what Hydrolyzed Collagen is, you have to know that proteins are large chains of amino acids connected with so called-peptide bonds. These bonds can be broken up when a water molecule is added and the resulting thing is a mix of shorter length amino acids, also called peptides. So Hydrolyzed Collagen is not really collagen, it is rather an undefined and varying mix of largish peptides. Based on a manufacturer's data, the whole, soluble collagen has an average molecular weight of 300 000 Da, while this chopped up mixture has an average MW of 12 000 Da (still pretty big). 

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The main thing of these largish peptides is to act as water-binding agents, and to make the skin nice and smooth (aka emollient). Hydrolyzed Collagen is also often used in cleansers as it can make harsh surfactants milder and in hair conditioners as it improves the flexibility and manageability of hair. 

If you wanna know more about collagen in cosmetics, we have a shiny explanation about soluble collagen 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".  

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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: Coconut Endosperm, Cococin | What-it-does: emollient, moisturizer/humectant

The freeze-dried, powder form of coconut water (also called the liquid coconut endosperm) that's claimed to be loaded with all kinds of skin-nourishing thingsproteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals and growth hormones (kinetin) that support healthy cell growth and skin hydration.

According to the manufacturer's double blind placebo controlled clinical study, 8 weeks of using a 1% Cococin cream increased skin elasticity by 31.1%. 

Allantoin - goodie
What-it-does: soothing | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

Super common soothing ingredient. It can be found naturally in the roots & leaves of the comfrey plant, but more often than not what's in the cosmetic products is produced synthetically. 

It's not only soothing but it' also skin-softening and protecting and can promote wound healing.

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

What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 >>

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

The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of Pomegranate. The red fruit has lots of seeds (100-200 per fruit), but 7 kg of them are needed for 1 kg of oil. Among the many similar plant oils, Pomegranate oil is a really unique one, as its main fatty acid (60%) is a rare one called punic acid, a so-called conjugated fatty acid with three double bonds. It also contains the common linoleic (2-10%) and oleic acids (3-12%), but only in small amounts.

Punic acid is thought to be a biologically active compound, a powerful anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant agent. The oil itself is also claimed to have strong antioxidant properties as well as having excellent nourishing and moisturizing abilities. On top of that, we also found a research that examined Pomegranate as a cosmeceutical source and it concluded that the seed oil can nicely promote the regeneration of the epidermis (the top layer of the skin).

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

It probably refers to Vitamin E (or multiple forms of it). 

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. 

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Xanthophyll - goodie
Also-called: Lutein | What-it-does: antioxidant

A fat-soluble carotenoid pigment that can be found in dark green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage or broccoli, as well as in colorful vegetables and fruits such as corn, oranges, or peaches. It has significant antioxidant properties when taken orally or applied topically.  

According to the manufacturer's claims, Lutein is much more than just a simple antioxidant. It also increases skin hydration and elasticity and absorbs potentially harmful blue light (the one at 400-500 nm also called high energy visible light, aka HEV light). Whether HEV light is bad for the skin or not remains to be seen, but Lutein, being an awesome antioxidant, is a nice addition to any cosmetic product even if HEV-protection turns out to be a fad. 

Also-called: Alpha-Lipoic Acid | What-it-does: antioxidant

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a great antioxidant that's also part of the body's natural antioxidant system. It's soluble both in water-rich and lipid-rich environments so it's versatile and can interact with many types of evil oxidants as well as other nice antioxidants. 

ALA seems to be a great choice for topical use as studies show it can penetrate the skin rapidly where it's converted to DHLA (dihydrolipoic acid), an even more potent antioxidant molecule.  A nicely designed (we mean double-blind, placebo-controlled) 12-week study from 2003 confirmed that 5% ALA cream can decrease skin roughness and improve general signs of photoaging statistically significantly.  A slight catch, though, is that burning and warmth in the skin was quite a common side effect, especially in the first 4 weeks. 

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All in all, ALA is definitely a research-proven, great antioxidant but if your skin is sensitive higher concentrations might not be for you.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Matrixyl, Pal-KTTKS, Formerly Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3 | What-it-does: cell-communicating ingredient

A pretty famous and better-researched peptide consisting of five amino acids (the building blocks of all proteins). It was created in a joint effort by the French ingredient supplier, Sederma and the cosmetics industry big shot, Procter&Gamble.

The amino acid sequence of the peptide is lysine–threonine–threonine–lysine–serine (KTTKS). Sometimes, it's also called collagen pentapeptide, as it's a subfragment of skin-structure-giving type I collagen. The KTTKS amino sequence is then attached for better oil solubility and skin penetration to palmitic acid and BOOM; we get Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4. 

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Though most research is manufacturer sponsored, the clinical studies about Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 are promising.  In short, it can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and improve skin texture significantly (and at crazy low concentrations, the studies were done with just 3 ppm that is 0.0003%).

There are also studies comparing Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 with anti-aging gold standard, retinol. One of them compared 3ppm Pal-KTTKS with 700 ppm (0.07%) retinol and found that they showed similar wrinkle improving ability with the peptide showing better skin tolerability.

Bottom line, if you are into peptides, this is a good one to try.

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. 

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: emollient | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1

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

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

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

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

It’s a handy white powder that magically converts a product into a nice gel formula. If you see gel in the name of a moisturiser type thing, chances are carbomer will be in the ingredient list. 

It’s not too common, but sometimes there is also a number after it. The reason for it is that carbomer in itself actually refers to a group of stuff and the number shows the weight and type of the molecule. 

What-it-does: buffering

An alkaline (high pH, aka basic) material that is used to set the pH of the cosmetic formula to the right value

What-it-does: preservative

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

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

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

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

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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