|Ingredient name||what-it-does||irr., com.||ID-Rating|
|Butylene Glycol||moisturizer/humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling||0, 1|
|Pentylene Glycol||solvent, moisturizer/humectant|
|Niacinamide||cell-communicating ingredient, skin brightening, anti-acne, moisturizer/humectant||superstar|
|Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6||viscosity controlling|
|Zinc Pca||anti-acne, moisturizer/humectant||goodie|
|Retinyl Retinoate||cell-communicating ingredient||goodie|
|Curcuma Longa Root Extract||antioxidant, soothing, skin brightening, perfuming||goodie|
|Glycerin||skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant||0, 0||superstar|
|Sodium Hyaluronate||skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant||0, 0||goodie|
|Portulaca Oleracea Extract||soothing, antioxidant||goodie|
|Lactic Acid||exfoliant, moisturizer/humectant, buffering||superstar|
|T-Butyl Alcohol||perfuming, solvent|
|Tocopheryl Acetate||antioxidant||0, 0|
VERSO SKINCARE Blemish FixIngredients explained
Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product.
It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water.
Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying.
One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time.
Butylene glycol, or let’s just call it BG, is a multi-tasking colorless, syrupy liquid. It’s a great pick for creating a nice feeling product.
BG’s main job is usually to be a solvent for the other ingredients. Other tasks include helping the product to absorb faster and deeper into the skin (penetration enhancer), making the product spread nicely over the skin (slip agent), and attracting water (humectant) into the skin.
It’s an ingredient whose safety hasn’t been questioned so far by anyone (at least not that we know about). BG is approved by Ecocert and is also used enthusiastically in natural products. BTW, it’s also a food additive.
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.
- 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
It's a helper ingredient that helps to thicken up formulas and form a nice gel texture. It leaves a rich, elegant feel with a velvety finish on the skin and works over a wide pH range.
If you have oily, acne-prone skin, Zinc PCA is one of the actives to put on your "TO TRY" list.
It's a synergistic association of two great things: Zinc and L-PCA. The Zinc part is there to help normalize sebum production and limit the proliferation of evil acne-causing bacteria. L-PCA stands for pyrrolidone carboxylic acid and it's a key molecule in the skin that helps with processes of hydration and energy (it's actually an NMF, a natural moisturizing factor).
L-PCA is not only there to hydrate the skin, but it also helps to increase the efficacy and bioavailability of zinc. An in-vivo (done on real people) test done by the manufacturer shows that Zinc PCA reduces sebum production statistically significantly after 28 days of application (1% was used in the test), and in-vitro (made in the lab) measurements show that Zinc PCA has strong anti-microbial activity against P. acnes (between 0.1-0.25%) and other bacterial strains.
If that would not be enough there is also a 2011 research paper saying that based on in-vitro (made in the lab, not on real people) findings Zinc PCA might be a promising anti-aging active that helps with the production of type I collagen (and we all know more collagen = firmer skin).
All in all, definitely a goodie for oily, acne-prone skin.
Retinyl Retinoate (RR) is a less well known but super interesting member of the retinoids (vitamin A derivatives), aka the "royal family of skincare". Unless you live under a skincare-news-shielding rock, you must have heard about tretinoin, the FDA-approved anti-aging superstar, and retinol, the most common OTC version of tretinoin. You can read more about whos-who in the retinoid family here.
Enter Retinyl Retinoate, a molecule that is created by attaching retinol to retinoic acid. The attachment makes the molecule more stable (pure retinol is unstable and hard to formulate) as well as more active. If you read our shiny description about retinol you will know that it is not active and has to be converted by our metabolic machinery to become retinoic acid, the biologically active molecule. The conversion is not very effective and takes two steps. Retinyl Retinoate also has to be converted, but in the first step, our cells break up the molecule to become retinoic acid (the active) and retinol, meaning that it becomes active both after the first conversion step as well as later on once retinol is further converted.
The Korean research group, who invented the molecule, did several studies published in well-respected journals to prove that Retinyl Retinoate has better anti-aging activity than retinol. In marketing materials, RR is often touted to be 8 times as active as retinol, but as far as research goes we can cite that "the biological activity of retinyl retinoate was in between the properties of retinol and retinoic acid. Retinyl retinoate showed higher biological activity than that of retinol, such as RAR activity and collagen synthesis. Also, retinyl retinoate showed a similar side-effect to that of retinol, and not retinoic acid."
As for in-vivo, aka done on real people studies, there is one from 2010 that compares 0.06% Retinyl Retinoate to placebo and to 0.075% retinol. The conclusion of this study was that 0.06% RR is "significantly" more effective than placebo or retinol, and RR also had a faster-acting effect. Another study (in test tubes + mouse skin) concluded that RR increases the Hyaluronic acid production more than other retinoids and is also less of an irritant.
RR shows promise for treating acne. In an 8 week, double-blind clinical study, 0.05% retinyl retinoate "showed a significant decrease in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions, and in sebum amount". It even had some activity against P.acnes that makes it a promising ingredient for acne prone skin, especially when combined with other actives.
Overall, we find Retinyl Retinoate a very interesting and promising member of the retinoid family. It is not as proven as good old retinol (the multiple studies on RR come from the same research guys), but it promises several advantages (more stable, more active, less irritating), so we say that if you like retinoids, RR is worth trying.
Turmeric is the yellow spice you probably know from curry and Indian food. It's also a traditional herbal medicine used in Ayurveda for its bunch of anti-something magic abilities including being anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic.
As for turmeric and skincare, we have good news: studies show that the root extract and its main biologically active component, curcumin can do multiple good things for the skin. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, it shows some promise for acne-prone skin and a small study from 2013 showed that it might be able to regulate sebum production.
It's also a potent antioxidant and skin-brightening agent so it often shows up in anti-aging and/or radiance-boosting products.
- 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
It’s the - sodium form - cousin of the famous NMF, hyaluronic 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".
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).
Portulaca Oleracea is a nice succulent with bright yellow flowers and edible nutritious vegetables. It's a famous plant in Korean traditional medicine to treat infection and irritated skin.
Modern research confirms that it's loaded with skin-goodies: it's the richest green plant source of omega-3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid), contains NMFs (polysaccharides and amino acids), vitamins (β-carotene), minerals, and antioxidants (yellow betaxanthins and reddish betacyanins). Thanks to all its beneficial components, Purslane Extract has several magic properties: it's a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent and also has wound healing abilities.
- It’s the second most researched AHA after glycolic acid
- It gently lifts off dead skin cells to reveal newer, fresher, smoother skin
- It also has amazing skin hydrating properties
- In higher concentration (10% and up) it improves skin firmness, thickness and wrinkles
- Choose a product where you know the concentration and pH value because these two greatly influence effectiveness
- Don’t forget to use your sunscreen (in any case but especially so next to an AHA product)
If you have spotted ethylhexylglycerin on the ingredient list, most probably you will see there also the current IT-preservative, phenoxyethanol. They are good friends because ethylhexylglycerin can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too.
Also, it's an effective deodorant and a medium spreading emollient.
We don't have description for this ingredient yet.
A clear liquid with a camphor-like odor that is used as a solvent.
It’s the most commonly used version of pure vitamin E in cosmetics. You can read all about the pure form here. This one is the so-called esterified version.
According to famous dermatologist, Leslie Baumann while tocopheryl acetate is more stable and has a longer shelf life, it’s also more poorly absorbed by the skin and may not have the same awesome photoprotective effects as pure Vit E.
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.
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, com.||0, 1|
|what‑it‑does||solvent | moisturizer/humectant|
|what‑it‑does||cell-communicating ingredient | skin brightening | anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant|
|what‑it‑does||anti-acne | moisturizer/humectant|
|what‑it‑does||antioxidant | soothing | skin brightening | perfuming|
|what‑it‑does||skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant|
|irritancy, com.||0, 0|
|what‑it‑does||skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant|
|irritancy, com.||0, 0|
|what‑it‑does||soothing | antioxidant|
|what‑it‑does||exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant | buffering|
|what‑it‑does||perfuming | solvent|
|irritancy, com.||0, 0|