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Stemm Density Stimuli

Stemm
Density Stimuli

A high-potency serum for hair that looks thicker, denser, fuller and healthier. This advanced leave-in scalp formula combines a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, peptides, polyphenols and other [more] [more] nutrients at extraordinarily high concentrations to help hair achieve its healthiest-, densest- and fullest look with continued use [less]
Uploaded by: jerryjhou on 17/05/2018

Ingredients overview

​Aqua (Water), ​Propanediol, ​Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water, ​Panthenol, ​Butylene Glycol, ​Glycerin, ​Caffeine, ​Niacinamide, ​Maltodextrin, [more]​Dimethyl Sulfone, ​Lactobacillus/​Arundinaria Gigantea Leaf Ferment Filtrate, ​Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1, ​Biotin, ​Larix Europaea Wood Extract, ​Fulvic Acid, ​Humic Acid, ​Apigenin, ​Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, ​Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hyaluronate, ​Sodium Hyaluronate, ​Magnesium Aspartate, ​Zinc Gluconate, ​Copper Gluconate, ​Calcium Gluconate, ​Oxidized Glutathione, ​Citrulline, ​Arginine, ​Aspartic Acid, ​Glycine, ​Alanine, ​Serine, ​Valine, ​Isoleucine, ​Proline, ​Threonine, ​Histidine, ​Phenylalanine, ​Inositol, ​Glucose, ​Maltose, ​Fructose, ​Trehalose, ​Sodium Pca, ​Pca, ​Sodium Lactate, ​Urea, ​Allantoin, ​Oleanolic Acid, ​Pisum Sativum (Pea) Peptide, ​Mentha Arvensis Leaf Extract, ​Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, ​Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/​Leaf/​Stem Extract, ​Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, ​Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, ​Lactobacillus/​Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract, ​Phospholipids, ​Disodium Phosphate, ​Sodium Metabisulfite, ​Zinc Chloride, ​Sodium Chloride, ​Citric Acid, ​Pentylene Glycol, ​Menthol, ​Menthyl Lactate, ​Xanthan Gum, ​Hydroxyethylcellulose, ​Ppg-26-Buteth-26, ​Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, ​Sodium Hydroxide, ​Ethoxydiglycol, ​Leuconostoc/​Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, ​Potassium Sorbate, ​Sodium Benzoate, ​Phenoxyethanol, ​Chlorphenesin
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Highlights

#alcohol-free #fragrance & essentialoil-free
Alcohol Free
Fragrance and Essential Oil Free

Show all ingredients by function

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Aqua (Water) solvent
Propanediol solvent, moisturizer/​humectant
Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water soothing goodie
Panthenol soothing, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent 0, 1
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 superstar
Caffeine antioxidant goodie
Niacinamide cell-communicating ingredient, skin brightening, anti-acne, moisturizer/​humectant superstar
Maltodextrin
Dimethyl Sulfone solvent, viscosity controlling
Lactobacillus/Arundinaria Gigantea Leaf Ferment Filtrate
Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1 cell-communicating ingredient goodie
Biotin
Larix Europaea Wood Extract moisturizer/​humectant
Fulvic Acid
Humic Acid
Apigenin antioxidant
Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate moisturizer/​humectant
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hyaluronate
Sodium Hyaluronate skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Magnesium Aspartate
Zinc Gluconate anti-acne, soothing goodie
Copper Gluconate soothing goodie
Calcium Gluconate moisturizer/​humectant
Oxidized Glutathione emollient
Citrulline
Arginine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Aspartic Acid skin-identical ingredient goodie
Glycine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Alanine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Serine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Valine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Isoleucine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Proline skin-identical ingredient goodie
Threonine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Histidine skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Phenylalanine skin-identical ingredient goodie
Inositol moisturizer/​humectant
Glucose moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Maltose moisturizer/​humectant
Fructose moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Trehalose moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Sodium Pca skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Pca skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Sodium Lactate buffering, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Urea skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Allantoin soothing 0, 0 goodie
Oleanolic Acid
Pisum Sativum (Pea) Peptide
Mentha Arvensis Leaf Extract
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing, emollient goodie
Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract
Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract antioxidant, soothing, antimicrobial/​antibacterial superstar
Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract antioxidant goodie
Lactobacillus/Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Phospholipids skin-identical ingredient, emollient goodie
Disodium Phosphate buffering
Sodium Metabisulfite preservative
Zinc Chloride soothing
Sodium Chloride viscosity controlling
Citric Acid exfoliant, buffering goodie
Pentylene Glycol solvent, moisturizer/​humectant
Menthol icky
Menthyl Lactate
Xanthan Gum viscosity controlling
Hydroxyethylcellulose viscosity controlling
Ppg-26-Buteth-26
Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Sodium Hydroxide buffering
Ethoxydiglycol solvent 0, 0
Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate antimicrobial/​antibacterial, preservative
Potassium Sorbate preservative
Sodium Benzoate preservative
Phenoxyethanol preservative
Chlorphenesin preservative, antimicrobial/​antibacterial

Stemm Density Stimuli
Ingredients explained

Also-called: Water | What-it-does: solvent

Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product. 

It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water. 

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

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

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

Also-called: Cornflower Flower Water | What-it-does: soothing

Flower distillate coming from the beautiful blue flowers, commonly known as cornflower.  The flowers are traditionally used in European phytotherapy to treat smaller eye inflammations and contain polysaccharides (mainly galacturonic acid, arabinose, glucose, rhamnose, and galactose) with anti-inflammatory and soothing properties

Panthenol - goodie
Also-called: Pro-Vitamin B5 | What-it-does: soothing, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

An easy-to-formulate, commonly used, nice to have ingredient that’s also called pro-vitamin B5. As you might guess from the “pro” part, it’s a precursor to vitamin B5 (whose fancy name is pantothenic acid). 

Its main job in skincare products is to moisturise the skin. It’s a humectant meaning that it can help the skin to attract water and then hold onto it. There is also research showing that panthenol can help our skin to produce more lovely lipids that are important for a strong and healthy skin barrier. 

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Another great thing about panthenol is that it has anti-inflammatory and skin protecting abilities. A study shows that it can reduce the irritation caused by less-nice other ingredients (e.g. fragrance, preservatives or chemical sunscreens) in the product.

Research also shows that it might be useful for wound healing as it promotes fibroblast (nice type of cells in our skin that produce skin-firming collagen) proliferation. 

If that wasn’t enough panthenol is also useful in nail and hair care products. A study shows that a nail treatment liquide with 2% panthenol could effectively get into the nail and significantly increase the hydration of it.

As for the hair the hydration effect is also true there. Panthenol might make your hair softer, more elastic and helps to comb your hair more easily. 

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. 

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

Caffeine - goodie
What-it-does: antioxidant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: absorbent/mattifier

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

Also-called: Methylsulfonylmethane, MSM | What-it-does: solvent, viscosity controlling

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

A three amino acid peptide where the famous collagen fragment, Tripeptide-1, aka GHK is combined with Biotin, the well-known supplement for stronger nails and hairs. The result of the combination is Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1, a peptide claimed to be helpful for reducing hair loss and for making the eyelashes appear longer, fuller, and stronger.

As for proof, the manufacturer did some in-vitro (made in test tubes) studies that show that our molecule can promote hair bulb keratinocyte proliferation and also helps optimal hair anchorage by stimulating the synthesis and organization of the adhesion molecules laminin 5 and collagen IV. This means that our peptide might help the hair to be stronger and to stay longer in its place, though these are only in vitro results that might or might not translate to real-world use. 

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As for a clinical, made on real people study, the manufacturer did one for eyelash growth with 30 volunteers. Using a mascara with 2% of SpecPed LashLD  (trade name for the diluted, buyable version of Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1), the lashes got longer by 17% and thicker by 19% after 30 days. 

Also-called: Vitamin H

Also called vitamin H, biotin is the main component of many enzymes in our body. A nice ingredient to take as a supplement for stronger nails and hair. When you do not take it as a supplement its effects are a bit more questionable but according to manufacturer info it can smooth the skin and strengthen the hair.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: miniHA | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

It's a super small, chemically chopped up version of sodium hyaluronate. Its trade name is miniHA, and its molecular weight is 10 kDa. This counts as really tiny given that "normal" HA has a molecular weight of 0.5-2 million Da.

To be honest, low molecular weight (LMW), and especially this ultra-low molecular weight HA is a controversial ingredient. On the upside, it can penetrate the skin better (though 10kDa still counts as big!) and might be able to moisturize the deeper layers of the skin where normal HA cannot get. Also, according to the manufacturer of miniHA, it has better antioxidant activity than a 1.6MDa version HA and it also has better sun protection and after-sun repair abilities than the higher MW versions. It also works in synergy with higher molecular weight versions, and the combination of 0.1% 1.45MDa-HA + 0.1% 380 kDa-HA + 0.1% miniHA hydrated the skin significantly better than 0.3% 1.45MDa-HA alone.

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On the downside, the biological role of LMW-HA in the skin is being a pro-inflammatory signaling agent and there is a study by another manufacturer called Evonik showing that HA versions with smaller than 50kDa molecular weight might be pro-inflammatory when put on the skin. Granted, the study was only done on reconstituted human epidermis, so it might or might not be like this on real human skin. 

If you wanna get confused and read much more about hyaluronic acid and what the different molecular weight versions might or might not do, click here and read our excruciatingly long description

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).

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: anti-acne, soothing

If you are fighting acne and have looked into oral supplements, chances are that zinc gluconate sounds familiar to you. It is a zinc salt that has research proving it to be effective against inflammatory acne, though not quite as effective as the antibiotic minocycline (31.2% vs. 63.4% success rate). However, zinc supplements are easily available, have little-to-no side effects, so supplementing them with a 30mg per day dose can still be a good idea.

As for smearing zinc gluconate all over your face, it is also not a bad idea. Zinc has multiple magic abilities: it is antibacterial (including evil, acne-causing P. acnes) and sebum-regulating (5α-reductase inhibitor), great for acne-prone skin types. It also stimulates antioxidant enzyme systems (mainly superoxide dismutase) and has nice wound healing abilities acting mainly in the first, proliferation phase. So great for skin types in need of healing and soothing.

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What about the gluconate part? It is there to promote the absorption and bioavailability of zinc and also plays a role in cellular regeneration (involved in the synthesis of ribose sugars, structural components of DNA and RNA).

What-it-does: soothing

A copper salt (copper cation + gluconate anion) probably best known for promoting cellular regeneration and wound healing. It works mainly in the final healing phase that complements nicely with the wound healing abilities of its mineral salt sister, zinc gluconate

Other than that, copper is also involved in several enzyme systems: it is a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase and also a cofactor for the melanin stimulating enzyme, tyrosinase. This means that copper has some tan activating properties, though we think you should not be into tanning at all, as UV is so bad for the skin

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The gluconate part is there to promote the bioavailability of copper and it also plays a role in cellular regeneration (involved in the synthesis of ribose sugars, structural components of DNA and RNA).

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Arginine - goodie

A semi-essential (infants cannot synthesize it, but adults can) amino acid that is one of the primary building blocks of hair keratin and skin collagen. It's a natural moisturizing factor, a skin hydrator and might also help to speed up wound healing

Arginine usually has a positive charge (cationic) that makes it substantive to skin and hair (those are more negatively charged surfaces) and an excellent film former.  Thanks to the positive charge, it also creates a complex with AHAs (AHAs like to lose a hydrogen ion and be negatively charged, so the positive and the negative ions attract each other) that causes a "time-release AHA effect" and reduces the irritation associated with AHAs

Aspartic Acid - goodie

A non-essential amino acid  (important building block of collagen and elastin) that hydrates the skin. It is also used to set the pH of the cosmetic product (buffering).

Glycine - goodie

A non-essential amino acid (the building blocks of skin proteins, like collagen or elastin), that the body can produce itself, but its production decreases with age. When you put it all over your face, it works as a moisturizer and maybe more. 

According to great skincare blog Futurederm, glycine might help with wound healing and tissue repair and when used together with other amino acids, leucine and proline it might improve wrinkles

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BTW, it's also a building block of a bunch of important and famous peptides, including copper-tripeptide-1, palmitoyl tripeptide-1 or palmitoyl hexapeptide-12.

Alanine - goodie

A non-essential amino acid (a building block of skin proteins like collagen or elastin) that hydrates the skin.

Serine - goodie

Serine is an amino acid that most often comes to the formula as part of a moisturizing complex. It's a non-essential amino acid (meaning that our body can synthesize it) and serves as a water-binding ingredient.

In general, amino acids are great skincare ingredients that play an important role in proper skin hydration but there is not much info out there about what specifically serine can do for the skin.

Valine - goodie

An essential amino acid (a building block of skin proteins like collagen) that our body cannot produce itself but has to take from external sources, like diet. 

It's a branched chain amino acid that is claimed to enhance energy, increase endurance and aid in muscle tissue recovery and repair when taken as a supplement. It's not clear what valine does when you put it on the skin, but as all amino acids, it must be at least a great skin hydrator.

Isoleucine - goodie

A branch-chained, essential amino acid that can be found in things like almond, cashew or soy protein. When taken orally it may promote protein synthesis. As for skincare - like all the amino acids - it's a skin-identical ingredient and moisturizer. It also seems to be useful as a barrier repair ingredient.  

Proline - goodie

A non-essential amino acid (meaning that our body can produce it) that's also one of the major building blocks of collagen. According to the Futurederm blog, it might be able to improve wrinkles when combined with other amino acids, glycine and leucine

Threonine - goodie

An essential amino acid that's also a key building block of collagen and elastin. When taken orally, it helps the digestive and intestinal tracts function more smoothly and also helps the absorption of nutrients. As for skincare, it is not clear what it does other than being a skin hydrator

Histidine - goodie

A semi-essential amino acid meaning that enough has to be eaten from it so that the body does not use up essential amino acids (that our body cannot produce itself) to synthesize it. It has an important role in regulating the immune defense, allergic reactions, and inflammatory processes in the body.

As for skincare, it's a skin moisturizer that might also protect from some skin infections

Phenylalanine - goodie

An essential amino acid that the body cannot produce itself but has to take from the diet. Combined with UVA exposure, phenylalanine is used in the treatment of vitiligo (a pigmentation disorder where patches of the skin lose the pigment).

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Glucose - goodie
What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

A fancy name for sugar. Luckily when you put it on your skin it's good for you not like when you eat it. :) It has water-binding properties, which means that it helps to keep your skin nice and hydrated

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Fructose - goodie
What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

Fancy name for fruit sugar. It has nice water-binding properties and helps to keep skin hydrated

Trehalose - goodie
What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

A type of sugar that has water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated

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. 

Pca - goodie
Also-called: Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant

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. In fact, after amino acids, it is the second biggest NMF component of the skin with 12% being PCA of the NMF composition of normal skin.  So similar to other NMFs, it's a skin goodie that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. 

The sodium salt of lactic acid. It's a great skin moisturizer and also used to regulate the pH value of the cosmetic formula. It's a natural ingredient approved by both ECOCERT and COSMOS.

Urea - goodie
Also-called: Carbamide | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant

Yes, it's the thing that can be found naturally in pee. And in the skin. It is an awesome natural moisturizing factor, aka NMF.  NMFs are important components that help the skin to hold onto water and keep it plump, elastic and hydrated. Urea makes up about 7% of NMFs next to other things such as amino acids (40%), PCA (12%) or Lactate (12%).

What makes urea special, is that it is not only a simple moisturizer, but it is thought to be a "small-molecule regulator of epidermal structure and function" meaning that it has a bunch of extra biological activities. It acts as a mild keratolytic agent (some of its moisturizing action is thought to come from urea's ability to break down bonds in the protein called filaggrin and thus freeing up amino acids in the skin), enhances antimicrobial peptide expression and improves skin barrier function

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Being a mild keratolytic agent and strong moisturizer means that high-percentage (10-40%) urea treatments are found effective in a bunch of skin disorders connected to excessive dryness and malfunctioning skin barrier such as ichthyosis, xerosis, psoriasis, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.  

Overall, just like glycerin, urea is a real oldie but a goodie, a nice ingredient in any moisturizer.

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.

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: Soybean Extract | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening, soothing, emollient

When you hear the word Soy, you probably associate it with soy sauce or tofu, not skincare. But as it turns out, the soybean has a bunch of useful active components and soybean extract is an interesting cosmetic ingredient with a wide range of possible effects. 

Its main active components are antioxidant phenolic acids and flavonoids as well as small and large soy proteins. The large proteins give soybean extract nice skin smoothing and softening properties, while the small proteins (soybean trypsin inhibitor (STI) and Bowman-Birk inhibitor (BBI)) are thought to inhibit skin pigmentation and delay hair regrowth.   

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Regarding skin pigmentation, the soybean extract works by hindering melanosome transfer, meaning it blocks the melanin pigment from traveling up to the surface of the skin and becoming visible there. This is useful for most pigmentation situations but, if you have melasma, soy is not for you as melasma is estrogen-mediated and soy is a well-known phytoestrogen

The most famous and bioactive flavonoids in soybeans are the isoflavones called genistein and diadzein that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Genistein is also proven to inhibit UV induced redness in human skin. These isoflavones are also the ones that make soy a phytoestrogen, meaning they have a (weak) estrogenic effect. Topical estrogen is known to decrease skin thinning and collagen loss and soy might be able to do the same, especially during and after menopause when natural estrogen levels run low.  

There is also some promising, but as yet not in-vivo (done on real people), research that soybean extract can stimulate both elastin and collagen synthesis and thus lead to healthier, younger-looking skin. 

Overall, soybean extract is a promising and multi-functional active, a nice addition to most ingredient lists.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Green Tea | What-it-does: antioxidant, soothing, antimicrobial/antibacterial
  • Green tea is one of the most researched natural ingredients
  • The active parts are called polyphenols, or more precisely catechins (EGCG being the most abundant and most active catechin)
  • There can be huge quality differences between green tea extracts. The good ones contain 50-90% catechins (and often make the product brown and give it a distinctive smell)
  • Green tea is proven to be a great antioxidant, UV protectant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antimicrobial
  • Because of these awesome properties green tea is a great choice for anti-aging and also for skin diseases including rosacea, acne and atopic dermatitis
Read all the geeky details about Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract here >>

Also-called: Watermelon Fruit Extract | What-it-does: antioxidant

We love a cold slice of watermelon on a hot summer day and we love watermelon as a skincare ingredient. It's really full of good-for-the-skin stuff: it contains a bunch of vitamins (A, B, C and E), mineral salts (K, Mg, Ca and Fe), amino acids citrulline and arginine and antioxidant carotenoids and phenolics

It's especially rich in potent antioxidant, lycopene (a type of carotenoid), the cool pigment that's responsible for the red color of the watermelon. According to manufacturer info, in-vitro (made in the lab not on real people) studies show that watermelon extract gives significant DNA protection against UV damage. The in-vivo (made on real people) study also confirmed this and the watermelon formula showed 25% increase in skin protection compared to placebo.

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All in all, a cool fruit extract with potent antioxidant magic abilities.

Also-called: Yerba Santa Glycoprotein | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

Yerba Santa is a nice plant that's native to California and North Mexico. As for skincare, its leaves are rich in moisturizing mucopolysaccharides and glycoproteins.

This paticular extract is obtained by fermenting the leaves of the plant with the bacteria Lactobacillus lactis. The fermentation helps to break down the complex bio-molecules in the plant and helps to isolate the beneficial components such as the glycoproteins. 

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The extract is not only a simple moisturizer but it also enhances emolliency, gives skin a soft and smooth feel, helps to reduce tackiness and might reduce skin irritation. (source: manufacturer info

Phospholipids - goodie

A type of lipid that's the major (about 75%) component of all cell membranes. As for skincare, it works as an emollient and skin-identical ingredient.

It has a water-loving head with two water-hating tails and this structure gives the molecule emulsifying properties. It is also often used to create liposomes, small spheres surrounded by phospholipid bi-layer designed to carry some active ingredient and help its absorption.

What-it-does: buffering

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: preservative

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: soothing

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Salt | What-it-does: viscosity controlling

Sodium chloride is the fancy name of salt. Normal, everyday table salt

If (similar to us) you are in the weird habit of reading the label on your shower gel while taking a shower, you might have noticed that sodium chloride is almost always on the ingredient list. The reason for this is that salt acts as a fantastic thickener in cleansing formulas created with ionic cleansing agents (aka surfactants) such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate. A couple of percents (typically 1-3%) turns a runny surfactant solution into a nice gel texture.

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If you are into chemistry (if not, we understand, just skip this paragraph), the reason is that electrolytes (you know, the Na+ and Cl- ions) screen the electrostatic repulsion between the head groups of ionic surfactants and thus support the formation of long shaped micelles (instead of spherical ones) that entangle like spaghetti, and viola, a gel is formed. However, too much of it causes the phenomenon called "salting out", and the surfactant solution goes runny again. 

Other than that, salt also works as an emulsion stabilizer in water-in-oil emulsions, that is when water droplets are dispersed in the outer oil (or silicone) phase. And last but not least, when salt is right at the first spot of the ingredient list (and is not dissolved), the product is usually a body scrub where salt is the physical exfoliating agent

Citric Acid - goodie
What-it-does: exfoliant, buffering

Citric acid comes from citrus fruits and is an AHA. If these magic three letters don’t tell you anything, click here and read our detailed description on glycolic acid, the most famous AHA. 

So citric acid is an exfoliant, that can - just like other AHAs - gently lift off the dead skin cells of your skin and make it more smooth and fresh. 

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There is also some research showing that citric acid with regular use (think three months and 20% concentration) can help sun-damaged skin, increase skin thickness and some nice hydrating things called glycosaminoglycans in the skin. 

But according to a comparative study done in 1995, citric acid has less skin improving magic properties than glycolic or lactic acid. Probably that’s why citric acid is usually not used as an exfoliant but more as a helper ingredient in small amounts to adjust the pH of a formulation. 

A multi-functional, silky feeling helper ingredient that can do quite many things. It's used as an emulsion stabilizer, solvent and a broad spectrum antimicrobial. According to manufacturer info, it's also a moisturizer and helps to make the product feel great on the skin. It works synergistically with preservatives and helps to improve water-resistance of sunscreens. 

Menthol - icky

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

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

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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

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

Also-called: HEC | What-it-does: viscosity controlling

A nice little helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. It is compatible with most co-ingredients and gives a very good slip to the formulas. 

A helper ingredient that usually comes to the formula coupled with PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil. The two together work as surfactants and oil solubilizers. It's a non-sticky duo that works at low concentration and is often used to solubilize fragrance components into water-based formulas.

A mildly viscous, amber-colored liquid with fatty odor, made from Castor Oil and polyethylene glycol (PEG).

If it were a person, we’d say, it’s agile, diligent & multifunctional. It’s mostly used as an emulsifier and surfactant but most often it is used to solubilize fragrances into water-based formulas.

Also-called: lye | What-it-does: buffering

The unfancy name for it is lye. It’s a solid white stuff that’s very alkaline and used in small amounts to adjust the pH of the product and make it just right. 

For example, in case of AHA or BHA exfoliants, the right pH is super-duper important, and pH adjusters like sodium hydroxide are needed.  

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BTW, lye is not something new. It was already used by ancient Egyptians to help oil and fat magically turn into something else. Can you guess what? Yes, it’s soap. It still often shows up in the ingredient list of soaps and other cleansers.

Sodium hydroxide in itself is a potent skin irritant, but once it's reacted (as it is usually in skin care products, like exfoliants) it is totally harmless.

What-it-does: solvent | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

A nice odorless liquid used mainly as a superior solubilizer and efficacy booster for cosmetic active ingredients such as skincare bigshot vitamin C, self-tanning active DHA or the anti-acne gold standard, benzoyl peroxide

Other than that it can also be used in hair care products where it gives a longer-lasting and more uniform coloring. According to a manufacturer, it might even prevent the formation of split ends.

Also-called: Fermented Radish Root | What-it-does: antimicrobial/antibacterial, preservative

It's an alternative, natural preservative that comes from radishes fermented with Leuconostoc kimchii, a lactic acid bacteria that has been used to make traditional Korean dish, kimchi. During the fermentation process, a peptide is secreted from the bacteria that has significant antimicrobial properties

It is one of the more promising natural preservatives that can be used even alone (recommended at 2-4%), but it's not as effective as more common alternatives, like parabens or phenoxyethanol

What-it-does: preservative

It's one of those things that help your cosmetics not to go wrong too soon, aka a preservative. It’s not a strong one and doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. To do that it has to break down to its active form, sorbic acid. For that to happen, there has to be water in the product and the right pH value (pH 3-4). 

But even if everything is right, it’s not enough on its own. If you see potassium sorbate you should see some other preservative next to it too.

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BTW, it’s also a food preservative and even has an E number, E202.

What-it-does: preservative

A helper ingredient that helps to make the products stay nice longer, aka preservative. It works mainly against fungi. 

It’s pH dependent and works best at acidic pH levels (3-5). It’s not strong enough to be used in itself so it’s always combined with something else, often with potassium sorbate.

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.

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

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The well-known stimulant from coffee. It has nice antioxidant properties and can improve the microcirculation. Might be helpful for dark circles, puffy eyes, as well as cellulite and hair loss. [more]
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A multi-functional skincare superstar that has clinically proven anti-aging, skin lightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair properties. [more]
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A three amino acid peptide where the famous collagen fragment, Tripeptide-1, aka GHK is combined with Biotin, the well-known supplement for stronger nails and hairs. [more]
Vitamin H is a great supplement for stronger nails and hair. As a skincare ingredient, it's a bit more questionable, but it might smooth the skin and strengthen the hair. [more]
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A super small, chemically chopped up version of sodium hyaluronate. Small molecular weight (SMW) HA is a controversial ingredient: it can penetrate deep into the skin and moisturize deeper layers but might act as a pro-inflammatory agent. [more]
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A zinc salt known for its soothing and wound healing properties as well as for its anti-acne properties.  [more]
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An amino acid that is one of the primary building blocks of hair keratin and skin collagen. It's a natural moisturizing factor and might also help to speed up wound healing.  [more]
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
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what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
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what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
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An essential amino acid that hydrates the skin and might be also a barrier repair ingredient. [more]
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
A non-essential amino acid (meaning that our body can produce it) that might be able to improve wrinkles combined with other amino acids, glycine and leucine. [more]
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
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what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient
An essential amino acid that is used in the treatment of vitiligo. [more]
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what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
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Fancy name for fruit sugar. It has nice water-binding properties and helps to keep skin hydrated. 
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
A type of sugar that has water-binding properties and helps to keep your skin hydrated. 
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When you hear the word Soy, you probably associate it with soy sauce or tofu, not skincare. But as it turns out, the soybean has a bunch of useful active components and soybean extract is an interesting cosmetic ingredient with a wide range of possible effects. Its main active components are antioxidant phenolic acids and flavonoids  [more]
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Green Tea - one of the most researched natural ingredients that contains the superstar actives called catechins. It has proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic properties. [more]
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Watermelon extract that's full of good-for-the-skin stuff, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. A useful antioxidant-rich ingredient to protect skin from UV-induced damage. [more]
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
A fermented plant extract rich in moisturizing glycoproteins. It's also soothing and gives skin a soft and smooth feel. [more]
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A type of lipid that's the major component of all cell membranes. As for skincare, it works as an emollient and skin-identical ingredient. It's also often used to create liposomes. [more]
what‑it‑does buffering
what‑it‑does preservative
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what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
Sodium chloride is the fancy name of salt. Normal, everyday table salt.  If (similar to us) you are in the weird habit of reading the label on your shower gel while taking a shower, you might have noticed that sodium chloride is almost always on the ingredient list. [more]
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An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
what‑it‑does solvent | moisturizer/humectant
A multi-functional, silky feeling helper ingredient that can do quite many things. It's used as an emulsion stabilizer, solvent, and a broad spectrum antimicrobial. [more]
Menthol needs no introduction: it's the thing that causes the cooling sensation so well-known both from cosmetic products as well as a bunch of other things like chocolate, chewing gum, toothpaste or cigarette. It's a natural compound that comes from the essential oil of Mentha species (peppermint oil contains 40-50% menthol) and it gives them their typical minty smell a [more]
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A nice little helper ingredient that can thicken up cosmetic products and create beautiful gel formulas. It's derived from cellulose, the major component of the cell wall of green plants. [more]
A helper ingredient that usually comes to the formula coupled with PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil. The two together work as surfactants and oil solubilizers. [more]
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A mildly viscous, amber-colored liquid that works as an emulsifier and surfactant. [more]
what‑it‑does buffering
Lye - A solid white stuff that’s very alkaline and used in small amount to adjust the pH of the product.  [more]
what‑it‑does solvent
irritancy, com. 0, 0
A nice odorless liquid used mainly as a superior solubilizer and efficacy booster for cosmetic active ingredients such as vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide. [more]
what‑it‑does antimicrobial/antibacterial | preservative
It's an alternative, natural preservative that comes from radishes fermented with Leuconostoc kimchii, a lactic acid bacteria that has been used to make traditional Korean dish, kimchi. [more]
what‑it‑does preservative
A not so strong preservative that doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. [more]
what‑it‑does preservative
A preservative that works mainly against fungi. Has to be combined with other preservatives. [more]
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
what‑it‑does preservative | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A little helper ingredient that works as a preservative. It works against bacteria and some species of fungi and yeast. [more]