Abrasives ▪ Substances used for abrading, smoothing or polishing, such as emery or pumice.
Absorbents ▪ Substances that have the capacity to absorb or soak up liquids.
Acid Mantle ▪ The protective fluid made up of perspiration, different acids, oils and other debris lying over the live part of the dermis (inner skin). If the acid mantle is disrupted, the skin becomes more susceptible to damage. See epidermis, dermis and pH.
Adhesives ▪ Substances that unite or bond surfaces together.
Aldehydes ▪ See ketones.
Alkenes (Olefin) ▪ A group of unsaturated hydrocarbons derived from petroleum.The group of alkenes as a whole is called the alkene series or the ethylene series. Its first five members are ethylene (ethene), propylene (propene), butylene (butene), pentene, and hexene. They are used as an antioxidants in the skin care industry.
Allantoin ▪ A natural compound occurring in herbs such as comfrey, wheat and sugar beets that has a soothing and softening effect on the skin. Allantoin is one of the most commonly used skin care ingredients for calming the skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHA ▪ A natural plant extract that improves the look and condition of the skin by weakening the links between cells in the outer layer of dead skin, allowing the normal shedding process to occur at faster rate and thereby revealing younger, fresher skin. See exfoliation and fatty acids.
Amino Acids ▪ The building blocks of proteins.
Analgesic ▪ External substances that are applied to the skin to relieve pain (pain relieving).
Analog ▪ A chemical with a similar structure to another but differing slightly in composition.
Anti-acne Agents ▪ Substances that reduce the number of acne blemishes, acne pimples, blackheads and/or whiteheads.
Antibacterial ▪ Effective in killing bacterial infections.
Antifungal ▪ Substances that inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungal cells and decrease the number of fungi present, thereby effectively fighting fungal infections.
Anti-hemorrhagic (Anti-hemostatic) ▪ A substance that promotes hemostasis (stops bleeding).
Anti-inflammatory ▪ A substance that reduces swelling, redness, heat and the pain produced in an area of the body as a reaction to injury or infection.
Antimicrobial Agents ▪ Substances that kill microorganisms or prevent or inhibit their growth and reproduction.
Antioxidants ▪ A group of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help protect our bodies and serve as the antidote to free radicals, (destructive, reactive molecules created by a chemical reaction with oxygen). Antioxidants work by neutralizing the detrimental effects of free radicals on skin collagen, therebypreventing or slowing the deterioration of the skin that results in skin damage, disease and premature aging. See free radicals, collagen and fatty acids.
Antipyretic ▪ A drug or agent that reduces fever.
Antiseptic ▪ Reduces or prevents infection.
Antistatic Agents ▪ Substances that prevent or inhibit the buildup of static electricity.
Antiviral ▪ Substances that kill microorganisms caused by a virus, or prevent or inhibit their growth and reproduction.
Aqueous ▪ Substances that increase the thickness of the aqueous (water) portion of skin care products.
Astringent ▪ A substance that draws tissue together, inducing a tightening or tingling sensation on the skin or pores.
Ayurvedic ▪ Refers to a form of holistic, alternative medicine developed in India, that focuses on plant extracts and essential oils to bring relief to common ailments.
Bacteria ▪ Microorganisms, microbes, and germs.
Baking Soda(Sodium Bicarbonate) ▪ A natural, alkaline salt crystal used as an exfoliant in skin care products to remove dead and discolored (hyper-pigmentated) cells and scarring. Because its particles are rounded and fine in texture, it is both effective and gentle. Also a very effective cleansing agent that is sometimes used as a shampoo, it is well known to be extremely absorbent of odors. See crystalline and exfoliant.
Basicity (Base) ▪ See pH. Base can also refer to the solvent or solution in which other ingredients are dispursed.
Bentonite ▪ A light-colored clay which expands in water that has exfoliating properties. See exfoliant.
Benzoic Acid ▪ A colorless, crystallinesolid found in some natural resins that is used as a preservative in skin care products. See crystalline.
Betatne Hydrochloride ▪ A natural treatment that may be applied topically to decrease mild symptoms of Rosacea.
B Hydroxyl Acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid) (Salicylic Acid) ▪ In cosmetics, the term Beta Hydroxy Acid refers specifically to Salicylic Acid, a commonly used exfoliating agent. Salicylic acid is a key ingredient in many skin-care products and anti-aging creams for the treatment of acne, psoriasis, calluses, corns, keratosis pilaris, and warts. See exfoliate, fatty acids and keratosis pilaris.
Binders (to bond) ▪ Substances that cause molecules to hold (stick together). See molecules.
Bulking Agents ▪ Non-reactive, solid substances that are used to dilute other solids or to increase the volume of a product.
Callus ▪ A soft tissue that forms over a cut or an injury, or a localized thickening of the skin.
Caprylyl Glycol (natural source) ▪ An organic, humectant compound derived from the coconut that is used to preserve the quality of skin care products and to moisturize and condition the skin. Typically used as a base emollient, it is naturally derived and has the unique property of protecting against microbial growth from bacteria and yeast while giving the finished product exceptional feel. See emollient, humectant and pH.
Carbolic Acid ▪ See Phenol and fatty acids.
Catalyst ▪ A substance that facilitates a chemical reaction but which in itself is not chemically changed by the reaction.
Cetyl Alcohol (natural source) ▪ A fatty alcohol derived naturally from palm oil that is used as an opacifier (to make something opaque) in shampoos, and as an emollient, emulsifier and thickening agent in the manufacture of skin creams and lotions. Widely used in skin care products, it increases foaming capabilities, gives emulsions body and stability and improves the feel of creams and lotions. See emollient and emulsions.
Citric Acid ▪ Citric Acid is a naturally occurring Alpha Hydroxy Acid derived from the fermented sugars in the juices of limes and lemons, that gently helps speed up cell turnover/cell renewal (exfoliation). Also used in aftershave lotions, baby shampoos and personal care products, it imparts a lemon-like fragrance. Citric acid is an excellent antioxidant and can be used as part of a preservative system by altering pH levels and it can be used lighten freckles. See ACA, exfoliate and fatty acids.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acids)▪ One of the essential fatty acids necessary for bodily health, it is found in grains and seeds. This naturally occurring nutrient, belonging to the Omega-6 family of fatty acids is helpful for the treatment of acne. See essential fatty acids.
Cleansing Agents ▪ Substances that clean the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away.
Coalescence ▪ To merge or cause things to merge into a single body or group.
Collagen ▪ A fibrous protein found in skin, bone and other connective tissue that gives the skin its firmness and structure and keeps it taut and resilient. With age, collagen is produced more slowly, degenerates more quickly, and diminishes because of genetics, sun damage, pollution and free radical damage. The deterioration of collagen is the cause of wrinkles and other signs of aging. See free radicals.
Copra ▪ The dried meat of coconut seeds. The main source of coconut oil, it is also known as coconut butter.
Coumarins ▪ A fragrant crystalline compound usually found in soaps and perfumes. See crystalline.
Crystalline ▪In skin care, it refers to a white or clear salt like solid, (like a salt crystal).
Cutaneous ▪ Pertaining to or affecting the skin.
Decoction ▪ The extraction of an essence or active ingredient from a substance by boiling. An infusion is steeped instead of boiled. See herbal infusion.
Deionized Water (demineralized) ▪ Deionized water is very often used as an “ingredient” in many cosmetics and pharmaceuticals where it is sometimes referred to as “aqua” on product ingredient labels. See purified water.
Dermis ▪ The thick sensitive layer of skin or connective tissue beneath the epidermis that contains the blood and lymph vessels, sweat glands and nerve endings. See Epidermis.
Dermatitis ▪ Inflammation of the skin.
Detoxification (to detoxify) (Detoxifying Agents) ▪ To get rid of, or agents that rid the body of toxic substances.
Dimethyl Stearamine (natural source) ▪ A clear liquid that is used in the formulation of hair sprays, conditioners, rinses and other hair and skin care products primarily to prevent or inhibit the buildup of static electricity. It is also used as a solvent that promotes the penetration of skin actives into the epidermis (increasing the effectiveness of the active ingredients), and it can be used as a disinfectant, a sanitizer, a deodorizer, a scavenger of free radicals and as a local analgesic and anti inflammatory agent. See solvent.
Disinfectant ▪ A substance that destroys or inhibits the growth of the microorganisms which cause disease.
Distillate ▪ A purified liquid substance obtained by the condensation of the vapors that are produced by boiling a liquid. See purified water.
Disulfide ▪ The protein property of Keratin which is modified by chemical oxidation causing the formation of a bond. Disulfide bonds can contribute to protein folding and stability, depending on the protein environment. This bond is very important to the structure and function of proteins, which is very important to the hair. Example: Under normal conditions, the hair’s dry weight is 90% protein and 10% water held together by disulfide bonds. The breaking and making of disulfide bonds governs the phenomenon of wavy or frizzy hair. See Keratins and bond.
Eczema ▪ An inflammation of the skin characterized by reddening and itching and the formation of scaly or crusty patches that may leak fluid.
Emollient ▪ Emollient substances act as lubricants on the skin surface, giving the skin a soft and smooth appearance. While the terms moisturizer and emollient are often used interchangeably, their functions are different. See moisturize.
Emulsion (to Emulsify) ▪ An emulsion is a semi-stable system in which two liquids, (which would not normally go into solution), are held in suspension by a small amount of an emulsifier, thus forming a smooth substance. The most common emulsions are oil-in-water emulsions (where oil droplets are dispersed in water) and water-in-oil emulsions (where water droplets are dispersed in oil). Because the majority of skin care products contain both oil and water soluble ingredients, emulsions are essential to the creation of creams, lotions and other skin care products. The problem with emulsions is that they separate easily and are generally unstable. See emulsifiers.
Emulsifier (Emulsifying Agents)( Emulsion Stabilizers) ▪ Emulsifiers are ingredients that help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified, enabling oils to be dispersed throughout a water base to form a cream or lotion. Once emulsified, they keep the resulting emulsions stable. See emulsions.
Emulsifying Vegetable Wax ▪ A type of natural plant wax used as an emulsifier and thickener in many types of skin care products including lipsticks, baby products, eye and facial makeup, as well as nail care, suntan lotion, sunscreen, fragrances and non coloring hair preparations. It lessens the brittleness of stick products and adds strength and stability to lipsticks. See emulsions and Emulsifying Wax (NF).
Emulsifying Wax Profile NF (National Formulary) ▪ A specific combination of several natural fatty alcohols (all vegetable and plant derived), that basically serve the same purpose in skin care and cosmetic lotions and creams as cholesterol does in the human body. They make oils and fats water-soluble by being able to attach to both, thus binding the two,(to emulsify). Emulsifying Wax NF is created with skin in mind, and is completely non-toxic and non-irritating, but because of its heavily manufactured nature, alcohol content and post-production residue which includes polysorbates, this material cannot be considered a benign natural additive. See emulsions and polysorbates.
Epidermis ▪The outer protective layer of the skin. See dermis.
Essential Fatty Acids ▪ Sometimes referred to as Vitamin F, the essential fatty acids (Palmitic, Linoleic, Linoenic and Oleic Acid) are fatty acids crucial to our body’s basic health. Called the essential nutrients, they are essential for healthy functioning, yet are not produced by the body and must be supplied externally or by the diet. They regulate the inflammatory response to injury, are essential for rebuilding cells and producing new ones and are essential to the normal health, function and beauty of the skin.
Essential Oils (Volatile Oils and Oil Extracts) ▪ Essential oils are a mixture of substances drawn out of a material by solution, heat or another physical or chemical process. Also known as volatile oils and as extracts, they are volatile, rapidly evaporating oils extracted from the root, bark, wood, seed, flower, fruit, and leaf of freshly harvested plants. Essentially they contain the plant’s powerful benefits and aromas in a concentrated form. Because of their high concentration levels they can cause skin irritation. Hence they are not used directly on the skin, but are blended with carrier oils such as avocado, almond and jojoba. Essential oils add fragrance to our skin care products and contribute healthful and beautifying qualities through their various abilities to tone, balance, relax, cleanse and invigorate. Although all essential oils are “fragrant”, not all “fragrances” are essential oils. True essential oils are plant derived.
Dried herbs and/or volatile essential oils are used for infusions because the minerals and nutrients contained within them are more concentrated and easily accessed. Although almost any part of the plant can be infused, the steeping time and amount of water or oil used will vary. Seeds, berries, flowers, and leaves will need to steep for shorter periods of time than roots and barks. Essential oils can also be blended with soaps, butters, and lotions. See herbal infusion.
Esters ▪ An organic, often fragrant compound formed in a reaction between an acid and an alcohol with the elimination of water. This condenses the acid creating a different form of the same compound. Esters are named after both their original molecules with the alcohols dropping the “ol” and gaining an “yl”, and the acids dropping the “ic” and gaining an “ate”. (Example; glycerol to glyceryl, stearic to stearate). Esters used in cosmetics and skin care are usually emollients and are mostly designed to spread easily and penetrate into the contours of the skin more readily. They tend to resist spoilage better than natural oils and are often used in place of oils in products. Esters are normally gentle in their actions and can be used with ease
Ethers ▪ Ethers are similar to esters, except their reaction is with oxygen instead of acid. Ethers are rare in nature. See esters.
Exfoliant (to exfoliate) ▪ Exfoliation refers to a gentle abrasive action usually by a gritty substance or surface which removes impurities and helps to remove dead skin cell tissue and dirt from the skin’s surface, leaving the skin feeling soft, smooth and silky. It works by weakening the links between the cells in the outer layer of dead skin, opening clogged pores and neutralizing the bacteria within. This prevents the pores from clogging up again and allows active ingredients (when used) to penetrate better. It also allows the normal shedding process to occur at a faster rate making room for new cell growth.
Farnesol ▪ A naturally occurring compound found in many plants that is used in skin care products for a floral aroma.
Fatty Acids ▪Fatty acids are necessary for regulating healthy skin and preventing premature aging. They can be either saturated or unsaturated, (depending on their composition), and they have powerful natural antioxidant properties which help protect from, slow down and/or correct the effects of free radicals. In addition they have strong astringent, moisturizing and conditioning properties that improve skin texture and softness.
Fatty acids come from oils found in the cells of vegetables, such as; olive, grape seed, evening primrose, sesame and soybean, and in seeds, nuts, legumes and whole grain. When the vegetable oil molecule is split in half, glycerin (glycerol) and fatty acids are the result. These fatty acids (still maintaining their healing properties) are then reacted with a natural salt emulsifier. the oils to be dispersed throughout a water base to form a cream or lotion that does not separate. Fatty acids can also be found in animal fats. See emulsions, esters, Glycerol and individual free radicals.
Ferment ▪ A process in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances; for example, the breakdown of sugar into alcohol.
Flavonoids ▪ A naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phenolic compound belonging to a large plant group including; apricots, cherries, cantaloupe, papaya, grape seed, citrus fruits, black tea, onions, parsley, legumes, red wine, red grapes and all blue and purple berries. Flavonoids act as powerful antioxidants in the body and are considered effective free radical scavengers. They are essential for the stability and absorption of Vitamin C (one of the key collagen building catalysts) and they have beneficial effects in the human diet to neutralize the free radicals which damage body tissue and lead to heart disease, strokes and cancer. See collagen, fatty acids, free radicals and phenolic acids.
Foam Boosters ▪ Substances that increase foaming capacity or that stabilize foams.
Fragrance ▪ The particular aromatic blend of essential oils added to a fragranced product making it more appealing to the consumer. Synthetic fragrances are also often used, but should not be found in natural products.
Free Radicals ▪ Very reactive atoms, molecules or chemicals that destroy collagen and lead to wrinkles, lines and premature aging. They come both from the environment (the sun, pollution, smoke, etc.) and from our lifestyle and body (metabolic causes). Free radicals can damage our inner cells, impair our immune system, lead to degenerative diseases and cause the deterioration of healthy skin cells. See antioxidants, fatty acids and molecules.
Fungal ▪ Describes a condition caused by a fungus as in a fungal infection.
Glycerides ▪ Glycerides are esters formed from Glycerol and fatty acids that are used in making soaps. Soaps are formed as the result of a reaction of the glycerides with Sodium Chloride (salt). See esters and Sodium Chloride.
Glycerin (Kosher Vegetable)(Glycerine) ▪ Glycerin is natural component of all fats and oils, and Kosher vegetable glycerin is certified pure, kosher and suitable for food and cosmetic use. It acts as a preservative and it is a good solvent of herbal constituents. A well known humectant, it is used as a hair and skin conditioning agent, as a skin protectant, as a viscosity decreasing agent and it is helpful in pulling oxygen into the skin. Glycerin’s natural emollience adds a cooling effect on the skin and it has become a predominant ingredient in most natural skin care products and soaps. See humectants, viscosity and solvent.
Glycerol ▪ A ester of glycerine that can soften dehydrated skin by absorbing moisture from the air. See esters.
Glycol ▪ The same as ethylene glycol. See alkenes.
Glycoside ▪ A compound belonging to a group that reacts with water to form a sugar and a non-sugar. Glycosides are used in natural skincare to assist in the absorption of other vital ingredients into the skin. They also hydrate the skin by binding onto water molecules.
GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) ▪ GMO’s are any organisms (plant or animal) that have had their genetic material altered. GMOs are often used in the medical, pharmaceutical and agriculture industries, causing much concern and controversy about their effects on the human body.
Hair Conditioning Agents ▪ Substances that enhance the appearance and feel of the hair by increasing body, suppleness or sheen, or by improving the texture of hair that has been damaged physically or by chemical treatment.
Herbal Infusion ▪ Herbal infusion is the outcome of steeping plants or herbs with desired chemical compounds and/or flavors in water or oil (in our case olive oil). It is similar to a decoction but is used with herbs that are more volatile and release their active ingredients easily. Water or oil (or liquid of the appropriate temperature) is poured over the herb, heated and allowed to steep for a time. The amount of time the herbs are left in the water or oil depends upon the purpose of the liquid being prepared. Herbal infusions are used to introduce the healing properties of specific herbs and plants into the body and to make external applications, such as hair rinses, shampoos, infused oils, poultices, and other medicinal preparations. See decoction.
Herbs ▪ Extracted from plants, herbs are vegetable matter used in the form of the leaves, flowers and stems for their taste and healing properties. Their use throughout history is well documented as both effective and safe in the treatment of many ailments. They have been used for centuries for the same purposes we use our chemical medications today.
Honey ▪ Honey is a sweet, fragrant, syrupy substance produced by bees. In skin care, honey is an excellent, natural moisturizer that soothes and adds softness to the skin.
Humetcant ▪ Humectants are substances that extract moisture from the air. Used as a skin conditioning ingredient in creams and lotions, they prevent water loss and drying of the skin. Humectants are hygroscopic and all are moisturizers. Lotions are humectants and good moisturizers will contain strong humectants. See hygroscopic and moisturizer.
Humulene ▪ A substance, found in the essential oils of the flowering cones of the hops plant that has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Hydrating(Hydration) (Hydrating Agents) ▪ Hydration refers to providing water for somebody or something in order to reestablish or maintain a correct fluid balance, or the ability to restore or maintain the normal fluid proportion in the skin or body. In skincare products, hydrating agents are used to keep the skin moist, firm and young-looking.
Hydrogen ▪ A highly reactive colorless gas which is the lightest and the most abundant element in the universe.
Hydrogenated Olive Oil ▪ Olive oil which has been chemically reacted with hydrogen. It is used to increase the thickness of skin care products, while also moisturizing, hydrating and conditioning the skin.
Hygroscopic ▪ Substances that attract and hold moisture, and/or either absorb or help other substances to absorb and retain moisture.
Hydrophilic ▪ Dissolving in, absorbing, or mixing easily with water.
Hydrotropes ▪ Substances that have the ability to enhance the water solubility of another substance.
Hydroxide ▪ A chemical compound which includes both hydrogen and oxygen.
Immunostimulant Activity ▪ Increases the body’s defense mechanisms to fight infections, organisms and other foreign material.
Isoflavones ▪ A class of chemical compounds found in legumes (especially soy beans) that have potent antioxidant properties.
Kaolin ▪ A natural finely textured, pure, light colored clay, found in the ground, whosemildly drying and disinfectant properties help to heal blemishes and prevent new ones from forming while also absorbing moisture and oil from the skin.
Keratins ▪ A natural protein that is the main structural element in hair, nails and skin. See disulfide and bonds.
Keratosis Pilaris ▪ A condition marked by the formation of hard conical elevations in the openings of the sebaceous glands (especially of the thighs and arms) that resemble permanent goose bumps. Often referred to as chicken skin, it occurs when excess keratin accumulates within the hair follicles, forming hard plugs. See keratins.
Ketones ▪ Ketones and aldehydes are well known molecules found in abundance in natural surroundings that can also be created by chemical processes. They are used in cosmetic products because of their flowery notes and solvent characteristics, as a preservative, a bonding agent and for their strong antimicrobial activity. The simplest ketone is acetone, an important industrial solvent immediately associated with nail hardeners and nail enamel remover. The ketones of essential oils are useful in skin regeneration, wound healing and in reducing old scar tissue in wounds, stretch marks and adhesions. See aldehydes.
Lactic Acid (Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs) (natural source) ▪ Lactic Acids are naturally occurring organic acids commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products for their exfoliant, emollient and humectant properties, as skin conditioning agents and as a pH adjuster. See emollient, exfoliant, humectants, fatty acids and pH.
Lauric Acid ▪ A crystalline fatty acid used in skin care for the manufacture of soaps. See crystalline.
Linoleic Acid ▪ An Omega 6 unsaturated fatty acid considered essential to human health that is used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. Research has shown it to be effective in cell regulation and skin-barrier repair, as well as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. The word linoleic comes from the Greek word linon which means flax. See essential fatty acids.
Lipids ▪ A biological compound that is not soluble in water, (a fat). The group also includes waxes, oils, sterols, triglycerides, phosphatides, and phospholipids. The difference between oils and fats lies in their melting temperature, rather than in any fundamental structural difference.
Lipophilic (oil) Extract ▪ Herbs or substances infused in lipids (oils), such as an herb infused oil or extract. Lipophilic refers to the ability of a chemical compound to dissolve in fats, (oils or lipids). See lipids.
Liposomes ▪ Substances useful for stabilizing ingredients which are sensitive to degradation when exposed to air.
Lubricants ▪ Compounds (most commonly found in hand creams) that make the skin feel softer and smoother to the touch by reducing friction.
Lytic Agents ▪ Substances that help to break down lipids, proteins, and polysaccharides into smaller components, usually by the action of enzymes. See lipids, proteins and polysaccharides.
Malic Acid ▪ An organic compound used to adjust the pH of skin care products. See pH.
Mannose ▪ A six-carbon sugar found in many plant cell walls that is used in skincare products as a binding agent. See bind or bond.
Mask ▪ A cosmetic absorbent which, when mixed with water, draws impurities from the skin’s pores. See Bentonite, exfoliate and Kaolin.
Membrane ▪ A thin layer of animal or plant tissue that serves as a covering or lining for an organ or part.
Moisturize (Moisturizer) ▪ Substances which help the skin retain, restore or add to its natural moisture (usually a liquid, lotion, cream, or oil). While the terms moisturizer and emollient are often used interchangeably, their functions are different. See emollient.
Molecule ▪ The smallest physical unit of a substance that can exist independently.
Natural ▪ Any substance that is harvested from nature and then isolated and purified by a variety of environmentally sound techniques including; filtration, fermentation, distillation, expressing and other like processes. It is the same as an organic, but the product or substance has not been certified organically grown, and/or as of containing 95% certified organic ingredients. See distillate, ferment and organic.
Nonaqueous ▪ Substances that increase the thickness, thinness or stickiness of the lipid (oil) portion of a cosmetic product and/or substance. See Viscosity.
Nonsurfactant Suspending Agents ▪ Substances that modify the interface between solids and liquids to improve the particles resistance to settling. Many of these substances are gums and polymers.
Occlusive Skin Conditioning Agents ▪ Substances that slow the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin.
Oils ▪ See lipids.
Oleic ▪ Relating to or derived from oil
Oleic Acid ▪ Oleic acid is a naturally occurring monounsaturated Omega-9 fatty acid found in various animal and vegetable oil sources. Considered one of the essential fatty acids, it is used for fragrance, as a cleansing agent in soap and in skin creams to help restore normal skin barrier functions. It also has emollient, and emulsifying properties. See emollient and emulsify.
Oleoresin ▪ A natural plant product containing essential oils and resin. See Resin.
Oleuropein ▪Oleuropein is believed to be the key, active ingredient responsible for the benefits of olive leaf extract.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids ▪ Found in fish oil and soybean protein, they are known to help reduce acne, decrease skin inflammation, moisturize dry and scaly skin, reduce cellulite and to improve skin texture and softness. See fatty acids and soybean protein.
Opacifying Agents ▪ Substances that reduce the clear or transparent appearance of cosmetic products causing them to become opaque. Some opacifying agents are used in skin make-up for hiding blemishes.
Organic ▪ A naturally grown or created product that has been certified to be organically grown and/or as containing 95% certified organic ingredients. The same as natural but with certification verifying its purity. See natural.
Oxidizing Agents ▪ Substances that restore the hair or skin to its normal oxidized state after exposure to environmental toxins, to the reducing agent in permanent waving or that aids in oxidative hair dyeing.
Palm Stearic Acid (PSA) (Palmitic Acid) ▪ Palm Stearic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid that has good emulsifying and thickening properties. 100% Palm derived (with no added chemicals, emulsifiers or other agents), it is used to emulsify, thicken, bind, and stabilize lotions and creams while giving the skin a soft, waxy, pearly and soft feeling. One of the most common saturated fatty acids found in animals and plants, it is a widely used basic ingredient in soaps, creams, lotions, candles and other personal care products. See emulsions and essential fatty acids.
Parabens ▪ A group of chemical ingredients that mimic the hormone estrogen. Evidence suggests that parabens can play a role in the development of breast tumors. Often used in cosmetics, deodorants and food, they include methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl, isopropyl and isobutyl. Highly effective in preventing the growth of fungi and bacteria, they are used to preserve products and greatly extend their shelf life. See alkenes.
Petrochemicals ▪ A substance derived from petroleum or natural gas, e.g. gasoline or paraffin.
pH (Potential of Hydrogen) (pH adjusters) ▪ A measurement of the acidity or basicity (alkalinity) of a substance, pH refers to the power of the hydrogen molecule. In skincare it is the pH of the acid mantle that is considered most important to the health of the skin. Although acid and alkaline are on opposite ends of the spectrum, either disrupts the pH and either can cause dry skin. A too acid environment creates a positive breeding ground for disease and bacteria, while an alkaline level stronger than (8) is very irritating to the skin. Many skin care products, soaps and household cleansers are far too alkaline.
pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, where the pH of (0) is very acidic, a pH of (14) very alkaline, (or base), and a pH of (7) is considered neutral (neither acidic or basic ,water). Most people who suffer from an unbalanced pH are acidic. This condition forces the body to borrow minerals (including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium) from vital organs and bones to buffer or neutralize the acid and safely remove it from the body. Because of this strain, the body can suffer severe and prolonged acidity that may go undetected for years, resulting in the acceleration of free radical damage and premature aging.
The body is able to assimilate minerals and nutrients properly only when its pH is balanced, so it isimportant to choose skin care products that have the proper balance. The pH of normal skin ranges from 4 to 6.5, (which is slightly acidic), so most of the pH adjusters used in skin care products aim for a level of approximately 5.5.
Phenol (Phenolic Acids) (Carbolic Acid) ▪ A white, crystalline, water-soluble, poisonous mass that is used in organic synthesis and as a disinfectant and antiseptic in the manufacture of resins, dyes, and pharmaceuticals. Phenolic antioxidants are antioxidants that are derived from or contain phenol. See Carbolic acid, crystalline, flavonoids, fatty acids and synthesis.
Phenoxyethanol (Phenoxy) ▪ Phenoxyethanol is an organic, chemical compound (a glycol ether) often used in dermatological products such as skin creams and sunscreen as a preservative. It is also used as an anti-bacterial agent in cosmetics as well as a stabilizer in perfume. Manufacturers that are trying to be paraben free are using Phenoxy in very small doses as an alternative. See ether and glycol.
Phyto ▪ Plant based substances or substances derived from plants.
Phthalates (Phthalic Acid) ▪ Phthalates are chemicals with estrogenic properties that mimic a natural hormone. They are used in cosmetic products as a solubulizer, (an agent that something is dissolved in), most commonly as plasticizer, (to give flexibility to rubber, plastic, or resin) or as denaturant (to make the product bitter to the taste). Derived from the organic chemical, Phthalic Acid, Phthalates, are found in just about every major product category.
Phytoestrogen ▪ A rare plant based source of CLA, phytoestrogen is a chemical compound used as a plastic softener and in many personal grooming products. It is reported to be a possible cause of reproductive or developmental problems because it mimics the properties of estrogen. See CLA.
Phytosterols ▪ Sterols derived from plants. See Sterol.
Polysaccharides ▪ A large group of natural complex carbohydrates (such as starch or cellulose) which is made up of sugar molecules linked into a branched or chain structure. Polysaccharides are easily hydrolyzed into simple sugars. A natural component of the skin, it can be a good water-binding agent that potentially has antioxidant properties.
Polysorbates ▪ Derived from Lauric Acid, polysorbates are a class of emulsifying and dispersing agents often used in cosmetics to solubilize essential oils into water based products. See solubilize.
Potassium Sorbate (Sorbic Acid) (natural source) ▪ Potassium Sorbate (the potassium salt of Sorbic Acid) occurs as a white crystalline powder, white granules, or pellets. In skin care products, Sorbic Acid and Potassium Sorbate are used primarily in the formulation of facial and eye makeup and in hair products as a preservative. Sorbic Acid and Potassium Sorbate kill microorganisms, or prevent or retard their growth and reproduction, and thus protect products from spoilage. See preservatives and crystalline.
Preservatives ▪ Ingredients that prevent or retard bacterial growth by killing, preventing or retarding the growth and reproduction of microorganisms, thus protecting products from spoilage. These are compounds that destroy harmful bacteria, yeast and/or moulds. Some preservatives can cause irritation to the skin, but the use of products that have been spoiled by microorganisms can be even more dangerous. Antioxidants and stabilizers can also be called preservatives since they slow the chemical breakdown of the ingredients in skin care products.
Protein ▪ Called our body’s building blocks, protein is a naturally occurring, complex organic substance present in relatively high amounts in meats, fish, eggs, cheese and legumes. It is made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur and phosphorus.
Psoriasis ▪ A skin disease usually marked by red scaly patches and silver scales.
Punicic Acid ▪ A unique Omega-5 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid found in Pomegranate seed oil. It is one of the most potent antioxidants known to modern science and the only known botantical source of a conjugated (refers to its molecular structure) fatty acid. It’s conjugated structure allows it to infuse easily into the skin, making it effective in helping to repair damaged cells See essential fatty acids.
Purified Water ▪ Water that has been physically processed to remove impurities (filter out sediments, remove all dissolved minerals and to kill all micro-organisms). Distilled water and deionized water have been the most common forms of purified water, but water can also be purified by other processes including reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, ultraviolet oxidation or electrodialysis. See demonize and distillate.
Reducing Agents ▪ Ingredients which during their reaction with oxidizing agents lose electrons. They can be used as antioxidants since they scavenge oxygen. In addition, reducing agents have the ability to split disulfide bonds in hair. See antioxidants and disulfide.
Resin ▪ A semisolid substance secreted in the sap of some plants and trees that is used in varnishes, paints, adhesives, inks and medicines. Natural resins are excretions released from trees, while prepared resins are oleoresins from which the essential oil has been removed. See oleoresin.
Rosacea ▪ A condition mostly present on the face that can cause skin rashes, enlarged capillaries and even acne flare-ups.
Salicylic Acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid) ▪ See Beta Hydroxy Acid.
Salt (Sodium Chloride) ▪ Sodium Chloride (also known as common salt or table salt) is a white crystalline solid used to affect product viscosity (thickness, stickiness) of products. Used in the formulation of skin, hair, cleansing and bath products, it is a concentrated mineral sea salt that acts as a detoxifying cleanser able to draw impurities out of the body through the skin. See crystalline and viscosity.
Sap ▪ A watery solution of sugars, salts and minerals that circulate through a plant’s vascular system.
Saponify (Saponification) ▪ To be converted into soap, or convert a fat into soap, or the reaction between a caustic alkali (lye or salt) and the fatty acids in vegetable oil or animal fat that results in soap. See unsaponifiables.
Saponins ▪ Used in making detergents, saponins are a glucoside extracted from plants that form a soapy lather when mixed with water. See glycosides.
Scabies ▪ A contagious skin disease marked by intense itching, inflammation, and red papules.
Sebum ▪ The natural oil found in your own skin and also in the oils of many plants.
Sebum Equalizing Agent ▪ An oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands that lubricates the hair and skin and gives some protection against bacteria.
Sitosterol ▪ Any of a group of closely related plant sterols (steroid alcohols) that are obtained from various plant sources and used in organic synthesis. See esters, sterols and synthesis.
Skin Conditioning Agents ▪ Skin conditioning agents are substances that enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.
Skin Protectants ▪ A substance that temporarily protects injured or exposed skin from harmful or annoying stimuli, providing relief to such skin.
Solubilizing Agents (Solubulizer) ▪ Ingredients that help another ingredient to dissolve in a solvent in which it would not normally dissolve, or an agent that something is dissolved in.
Solvents ▪ Substances, such as alcohol or water, in which other substances are dissolved; or substances, usually liquids, that are used to dissolve other substances. See Solubilizing agents.
Sorbic Acid (Potassium Sorbate) (natural source) ▪ See Potassium Sorbate.
Soybean Protein ▪ Soybean Protein is an Omega 3 fatty acid used as a hair and skin conditioner and as an emulsifier in the formulation of bath products. It is often found in conditioners and shampoos, and in body, hand and face skincare products. See fatty acids and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Squalene ▪ Squalene is a property of olive and other plant oils (as well as shark liver), used as a natural moisturizer and antioxidant in skin care products. A natural component of human sebum, it penetrates the skin quickly, does not leave a greasy feeling on the skin, and it blends well with other oils and vitamins. See sebum.
Stabilizing Agents ▪ Used to keep emulsions from separating. See emulsions.
Stearalkonium Chloride ▪ Stearalkonium Chloride is used in the formation of hair products, including rinses, conditioners, setting lotions and bleaches as an antistatic ingredient to control “fly away” hair.
Stearates ▪ A salt or an ester of stearic acid. Occurring in many natural oils and fats, it is used in making soap. See emulsions, esters and Stearic acid.
Stearic Acid (natural source) ▪ Stearic acid is a fatty acid that occurs naturally in vegetable fats. See fatty acids, Palm Stearic Acid, Stearol Alcohol and Stearates.
Stearyl Alcohol (natural source) ▪ Stearyl alcohol is a plant based long chain fatty alcohol that has a wide range of uses as an ingredient in lubricants, resins, perfumes and cosmetics. It helps to form and stabilize emulsions and reduces the tendency of finished products to generate foam when shaken. Stearyl alcohol acts as a lubricant on the skin surface, giving the skin a soft, smooth appearance, and it is also widely used as a hair coating in shampoos and conditioners. Cetyl alcohol and Stearyl alcohol are the two major components of Cetearyl alcohol. See Cetyl alcohol, emulsions, fatty acids, Palm Stearic Acid and Stearic Acid.
Sterols ▪ A class of solid cyclic unsaturated fatty alcohols found in plant and animal tissues. Sterols are waxy and insoluble in water. See esters and fatty acids.
Styptic ▪ Slowing down the rate of bleeding or stopping bleeding altogether, whether by causing the blood vessels to contract or by accelerating clotting. Also a styptic drug, cream, or lotion deprives something of its strength or vigor.
Sulfates ▪ (a chemical) substance obtained from petroleum or natural gas, such as gasoline or kerosene.
Surface Modifiers ▪ Surfictants that are added to other ingredients to make those ingredients either attract or repel water.
Surfactants ▪ Known as a wetting agents and an abbreviation of the term, surface-active-agent, surfactants lower the surface tension of oils, greases and other substances, allowing them to be broken into smaller particles or globules to facilitate cleansing. Surfactants also help two substances (that normally do not mix) to become dissolved or dispersed into one another.Skin care products use surfactants to make a topical product easy to apply.
Suspending Agents ▪ Suspending agents are surfactants that function by modifying a solid’s surface characteristics by adsorption.
Synthesis ▪ The process of combining objects, ingredients or ideas into a complex whole or the combination or whole produced by such a process.
Tannins ▪ A brownish or yellowish compound found in plants, (especially in the pomegranate), that has powerful antioxidant and skin protectant effects. Tannins help boost collagen production and help condense the cells, thereby having a firming and toning effect on the skin. See collagen.
Tetrasodium EDTA ▪ A water softener and preservative, Tetrasodium EDTA is a water soluble ingredient used as a chelating agent in skin care products because of its ability to sequester metal ions. This allows them to remain in formulas while losing their ability to react with other ingredients. This ability allows it to not only soften water, but to preserve formulas, to help maintain clarity, to protect fragrance compounds and to improve product stability, thereby preventing product deterioration and rancidity.
Tonic ▪ A medicine or substance that purports to make patients feel stronger, more energetic, and generally healthier.
Triclosan ▪ An antibacterial and antifungal agent that was developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals that has also been used in pesticides. In recent years, it has been added to a host of consumer products to kill bacteria and fungus and prevent odors. It can be found in everything from kitchen cutting boards to shoes and it is often packaged with labels that tout “antibacterial” properties.
Triterpene Saponins ▪ Triterpene Saponins refers to any of the various plant glycosides that form soapy lathers when mixed and agitated with water. Used in detergents as foaming agents and emulsifiers, they also help reduce inflammation and have wound healing and antiseptic properties. Saponins can enter into fatty materials, and in large enough quantity, break them up (just as soap can dissolve fat). See Glycosides.
Triterpenoid Bitters ▪ A key component in Neem oil having potent antioxidant and astringent properties.
Ulcerated ▪ A sore on the skin that does not heal and results in the destruction of tissue.
Unsaponifiables ▪ Found in most vegetable oils, unsaponifiables are important in the making of soaps. They are the fraction of the components of an oil, fat, wax or unspecific lipid mixture that fails to saponify (is not converted in the processing of the soap). This allows the components to maintain their moisturizing, conditioning, vitamins and texture properties.
Vehicle ▪ The base of a compound that contains the active ingredients.
Viscosity (Viscosity Decreasing Agents) ▪ Ingredients used to alter the thickness or stickiness of liquid cosmetic products. If a substance has low viscosity, it tends to flow more easily, (it is thinner), while a high viscosity substance is less fluid, (thicker).
Volatle Oils ▪ See essential oils.
Vulnenary (Vulnerary Properties) ▪ Any preparation, plant, or drug or remedy used in healing or treating wounds. Vulnerary properties prevent tissue degeneration while arresting bleeding.
Xanthan Gum ▪ A polysaccharide produced from the fermentation of plant carbohydrates that is used as a skin conditioner and to control the consistency and texture of skin care products. This food grade material is edible and often used to thicken ice cream and salad dressing. Zanthan gum is an ingredient used to help prepare water gels, (usually in conjunction with Bentonite), and in oil-in-water emulsions to help stabilize the oil droplets against coalescence (merging into a body). It also has some skin hydrating properties. See Bentonite
Helpful Research Sites