Ever had trouble deciphering the labels on your skincare products, or wondered what certain beauty lingo meant? Not to worry, as our comprehensive A-Z glossary of beauty terms will help you on your way to become an at-home beauty guru in no time. Bookmark this page so you can refer back to it whenever you need to!
From mildly annoying blackheads and whiteheads to huge, painful pimples that seem to sprout up on the worst days, acne is a type of skin inflammation. It can be caused by oil imbalance, dead skin cell build-up, and slower skin cell turnover associated with ageing.
A colourless organic chemical used in nail polish remover. It works by softening and dissolving polymer molecules in polishes, gels, and acrylics.
Used to describe the acidic nature of the skin’s surface, acid mantle is a very thin film coating the skin that acts as a barricade against bacteria, viruses, and other potential contaminants. Acid mantle is created by sweat mingling with the sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands.
Active ingredients or “actives” in skincare products are, simply put, the chemicals or molecules doing what the product says it’s supposed to do. For example, zinc oxide is the active ingredient for boosting SPF, hyaluronic acid for combating skin dryness, and azelaic acid for treating rosacea.
Originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine theories of invisible lines on the body that carry energy called “qi”, acupressure uses specific points along these meridians to help restore balance to cure various ailments. Benefits also include reduced muscle tension and improved blood circulation.
A traditional Chinese medical procedure that involves stimulating certain points on the body with tiny needles to restore balance. This is believed to alleviate pain and nausea or help treat various health conditions.
A yeast-derived skincare ingredient that has strong anti-aging properties. Applied topically, it aids in the production of dermal fibroblasts (e.g. collagen and elastin) to improve and rejuvenate dull and sagging skin.
A naturally derived additive found in skincare products, extracted from plants such as beets and chamomile. Allantoin helps skin retain moisture for longer and fights issues such as dry and scaly skin.
Also called sunspots, freckles, and liver spots, age spots are flat brown, black or yellow skin discolorations that occur most commonly on the hands, neck, and face. The primary cause is sun exposure.
The process of becoming older, reflecting on the skin via changes caused by additional factors such as stress, gravity, sleep position, and daily facial movements.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) are a group of plant and animal-derived acids that are used in skincare products. They are considered chemical exfoliants for using chemicals (acids/enzymes) to slough away dead surface skin cells.
Amino acids are the building blocks of peptides and are found commonly in skincare products. They help to hydrate, replenish, and promote cellular repair in the skin.
Ammonium chloride is a popular form of ammonia that is used in shampoos, hair dyes, hand soap and body wash to create a thicker lather. Use should be subject to skin sensitivity.
The first phase of the hair growth cycle when the root of the hair divides at a rapid rate, averaging 1cm of physical growth per month. This active phase can last anywhere between 2 and 7 years.
Skincare products that come in plastic or glass vials that are broken open right before use. The easily portable vials contain high-potency serums to quickly boost skin wherever, whenever.
A product or technique designed to slow, prevent, or reverse the signs or appearance of getting older.
Red, blue and violet plant pigments that are thought to prevent against inflammatory disease and free radical damage. Studies have shown anthocyanins play a key role in the body by fortifying blood vessel walls to improve blood flow.
Antioxidants are molecules that protect cells against damage (aka “oxidative stress”) from free radicals. For example, lemon juice (containing the antioxidant Vitamin C) squeezed over an apple slice will prevent it from turning brown. The same can work on skin, including a cocktail of Vitamins A, C, and E to prevent damage and repair skin cells.
A fast-absorbing Vitamin E extract that moisturizes without clogging pores. Other benefits include reducing the appearance of fine lines, smoothening hair, and strengthening nails.
A synthetic version of this wound-healing amino acid is typically found in topical skincare products that combat fine lines and wrinkles caused by ageing. Considered a critical building block of skin collagen and hair keratin.
Also known as l-ascorbic acid, this topical form of antioxidant Vitamin C brightens skin, increases collagen production, and stems free-radical damage.
Also known as Aqua Peel, Aqua Facial is a treatment that uses a water-based gel for deep-pore cleansing and exfoliation, and a suction device that removes impurities whilst simultaneously flooding the skin with moisture. A gentler alternative to chemical exfoliants for visibly younger-looking skin.
A common broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen that protects from sunburn-causing UVB rays and premature skin aging-causing UVA rays. Avobenzone works by absorbing harmful UV radiation, and is a common ingredient in sunscreen.
BB refers to “Beauty Balm” or “Blemish Balm”, a supercharged foundation concept originally created by dermatologists in Germany and Korea. The advertised “5-in-1” benefits include moisturizing dry and dehydrated skin, camouflaging uneven skin tones and blemishes, priming the skin by filling in uneven textures and pores, and providing SPF sun protection.
Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
BHA works to control excess oil production and reduce the amount of pore-clogging sebum that contributes to breakouts, whilst simultaneously working to exfoliate the skin surface. One of the most common BHA’s, Salicylic Acid is found in many acne washes, creams, and peels.
Popular and biodegradable material for sheet mask, with fibres derived from bacteria. Provides a snug fit and boasts unparalleled moisture retention, which helps to better soak active ingredients into the skin.
Biotin, or Vitamin B-7, is a coenzyme found in carrots, almonds, milk, and other foods. Oral biotin is important for regulating hair and nail growth, while biotin in shampoos and conditioners claim to reduce hair breakage and increase elasticity.
An ‘open-air’ skin blemish that forms when sebum draining from a pore becomes blocked by dead skin cells at the surface. The black colour results from the sebum pigment, which darkens when exposed to air.
Acne that develops under the skin surface deep within a pore, typically of the cystic variety that rarely comes to a head.
Trademark name for a form of botulinum toxin used in injections to target facial wrinkles. Botox paralyzes facial muscles to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, such as crow’s feet.
Acne breakouts are caused by clogged hair follicles, creating multiple points of inflammation along the skin.
A term for products that reduce skin redness and improve uneven pigmentation. Key active ingredients include kojic acid and salicylic acid.
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
A term for sunscreens that are proven to defend against both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) radiation.
Tiny blood vessels that appear at the surface of the skin as streaks or blotches. Main causes are ageing, sun exposure, and trauma.
A discoloration of skin caused by capillaries being damaged by trauma. This causes blood to be released and collect near the surface of the skin.
The chief stimulant in beverages such as coffee, caffeine is also commonly used in anti-aging skincare for its antioxidant properties. Due to its ability to constrict blood vessels, caffeine is commonly used in cellulite creams and eye creams to reduce redness and puffiness.
A naturally occurring chemical in the Cannabis sativa plant (aka marijuana), CBD is effective for combating skin aging. Available in serums, balms, lotions, and oils, CBD is a powerful antioxidant that supports healthy skin. It cannot produce a high.
Carbon Dioxide Laser
Also known as CO2 laser, it is commonly used to perform fractional skin resurfacing treatments. Healing time requires around 1-2 weeks.
The CC stands for “Color Correcting” and is similar to BB cream, but with additional anti-aging, spot-reducing and tone-balancing properties.
A broad term referring to the way proteins send signals to the body’s immune system to send new skin cells to a wound in the process of cell turnover. With aging, disruptions to communication between skin cells slow down the migration of skin cells.
Affecting up to 90% of women, cellulite occurs when fat cells swell and push through tight, fibrous tissue bands, creating a dimpled or lumpy appearance on the skin. This may be caused by poor lymphatic drainage, fluid retention, poor circulation, not drinking enough water, and simple genetics.
Naturally occurring in sebum, ceramides are waxy lipid molecules (aka fats) that hold together the cells of the epidermis to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier. They make up about 50% of the outer layer of skin.
Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)
An antioxidant produced naturally by the body for growth and maintenance. Levels of CoQ10 in skin go down with age and UV exposure, and is used in skincare products to preserve skin cell function.
A skin-resurfacing treatment technique used to improve and smooth texture of skin. Used to treat wrinkles, skin discoloration, and scars by removing the top layers of skin.
A sunscreen that is formulated using chemical compounds that penetrate in the skin to absorb UV rays, which are converted into heat and then released from the body. Requires 20 minutes to absorb after application.
Cosmetic and skincare products that use sustainably sourced ingredients in recyclable or biodegradable packaging. Rejects ingredients considered toxic such as parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and more.
A “skin building block” protein that makes up roughly 80% of skin. Collagen fibres give skin its strength and firmness. Laser treatments and retinoids build it up, while UV rays and free radicals tear it down.
A skin type that features two or more different skin characteristics, depending on the number of sebaceous glands on each area of the face. For example, combination skin can be part dry, part oily, and part normal.
Small white or dark bumps on the skin that can occur as part of an acne outbreak. Common areas include the face, neck, chest, and back. Singular: Comedo.
Refers to the natural colour, texture, and appearance of a person’s skin, particularly on the face.
An FDA-cleared non-invasive fat reduction treatment that contours body by freezing and killing unwanted fat cells. Once frozen, the body naturally eliminates the dead cells in 1-3 months.
A copper complex that naturally occurs in the human body, and can promote wound healing, anti-aging, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Tiny enough to penetrate skin in line-fighting formulas, copper peptides increase collagen production.
Thicker than serums or lotions, creams are a mixture of oil and water. Creams tend to have a higher concentration of oil, which causes the thicker consistency.
The most serious type of acne, caused by a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells that get trapped deep within the skin tissue. This leads to infection and inflammation, which usually cannot be treated with over-the-counter acne medication and would require oral antibiotics.
A harmless scalp condition that causes white-yellow scaly flakes of skin to appear in the hair, caused by excessive skin cell production.
Atopic dermatitis is also known as eczema. Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin caused by direct contact with an irritating substance.
A doctor that specializes in skin and scalp conditions.
A small skin roller that has multiple tiny needles to create micro-lesions in the skin in a process called microneedling. This triggers a wound-healing response in the skin and promotes collagen production.
Also called microplanning or blading, dermaplaning is a skin treatment that uses an exfoliating blade to skim off dead skin and hairs from the skin surface.
The thickest and deepest layer of the skin underlying the epidermis. This is where blood vessels, nerve endings, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, fat cells, hair follicles and muscles are located.
A Korean beauty ritual of using a cleansing oil in tandem with a water-based face wash to thoroughly dissolve and remove oil-based makeup, sunscreen, and other pollutants that have collected on the skin.
The process of exfoliating dead skin cells on the body using a firm brush with natural bristles. The technique originates from 5000-year-old Ayurvedic medicine, a popular treatment that improves circulation, reduces the appearance of cellulite, reduces swelling, and relieves tension.
A starch or silica-based powder or aerosol formula that soaks up excess oil between hair washes. Also works as a texturizing and volumizing agent when hair styling.
A common skin condition characterized by lack of hydration in the epidermis. Dry skin may often feel ‘tight’ or uncomfortably stretched after cleansing, so creamy cleansers and cleansing oils are recommended, in addition to drinking plenty of water.
Like Botox, Dysport is another injectable form of the botulinum toxin that paralyzes wrinkles to combat fine lines and wrinkles.
A chronic, non-contagious disorder of the skin. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which is characterized by itchy, red, and scaly patches that often show up on the inner elbows, behind the knees, and around the neck and eyes. Flare-ups may occur with exposure to harsh soaps, fragrances, and foods that provoke an allergic response.
Like collagen, elastin is a protein that can be found within the skin’s connective tissues. Formed of peptides, fibroblasts, and amino acids, elastins are responsible for the skin’s elasticity and ability to ‘bounce back’. Sun exposure causes the most damage to the network of elastin fibers over time, making sunscreen important in the protection of skin elasticity.
In skincare, elixirs are a potent combination of various oils that help to prevent fine lines. Typically, they contain herbal ingrains, plant extracts, and high concentrations of active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.
Any ingredient that increases water levels in the epidermis. Synonym: moisturizer.
Any ingredient that binds oil and water-based components together in skincare products.
Chemicals that speed up the rate of chemical reactions. In skincare, enzymes can dissolve surface skin cells for better product absorption while simultaneously enhancing skin-ingredient compatibility. Enzymatic exfoliation using the three P’s (Papaya, Pineapple, and Pumpkin) is a popular method of skin rejuvenation.
The thin outer layer of skin that sits atop the thicker and deeper dermis layer.
A concentrated skincare formula with water- or serum-like consistency that is applied after cleansing to boost hydration and to prepare the skin for subsequent products.
A non-ablative skin treatment that uses infrared light and radiofrequency energy to stimulate collagen growth deep in the dermis. The other setting selectively heats portions of the upper dermis with fractional RF to improve the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, acne scars, and uneven skin tone.
The process of removing dead skin cells from the top layer of skin to reveal healthier, newer skin underneath. Examples can range from physical scrubs and microdermabrasion to chemical peels.
A facial rejuvenation and body sculpting treatment that uses radiofrequency energy to penetrate the deeper layers of skin. The non-invasive treatment targets skin conditions such as wrinkles, skin laxity, and excessive fat.
With 40-odd muscles in our face, face gym is a type of exercise boot camp for the face. Skincare tools are commonly used to stimulate muscle release and lymphatic drainage.
A surgical procedure that lifts and stretches the patient’s skin to achieve a firmer and more youthful appearance. Full recovery is expected after 2-3 weeks.
A lymphatic massage performed on the face using face rollers made of precious stone materials such as jade, rose quartz, and amethyst. Benefits include enhanced blood circulation, reducing puffiness, and improving the look of fine lines.
A series of repetitive facial exercises to stimulate facial muscles, which tightens the skin and reduces the unsightly signs of aging.
The fermentation process of breaking down substances with bacteria can yield skin-friendly ingredients like probiotics and lactic acid. Probiotics in skincare works to create a healthy microsystem of bacteria that lives on the skin.
A type of cell that manufactures connective tissue including collagen and elastin. Fibroblasts also play a critical role in wound-healing by creating new extra-cellular matrix (ECM).
Dermal injectables that are made from FDA-approved hyaluronic acid or bio-stimulatory (collagen-growing) materials to restore fullness to parts of the face. A non-permanent way to add youthful plumpness to the lips, minimize wrinkles and scars, smooth under-eye hollows, contour cheeks, temples, noses, and jaw lines.
One of the earliest signs of aging, fine lines are less than 2 milometers deep and can develop over time into deeper folds and wrinkles. Causes may include repetitive facial movements and smoking.
Developed in 2001 to deliver skin resurfacing results with less downtime than a traditional CO2 laser, fractional devices apply small columns of thermal injury to the skin. After healing, patients tend to see improvements in skin tone and texture.
Small brown spots that are caused by an overproduction of melanin, typically in areas of the skin with the most sun exposure.
Highly unstable molecules created in the body by sunlight, cigarette smoke, and pollution that latch onto and damage cells. Free radicals reduce the skin’s natural rejuvenating abilities, leading to roughness, sagging, and wrinkling. Antioxidants protect against free-radical activity by reinforcing the skin’s defences.
Also known as galvanic therapy or galvanic facial, galvanic skin treatment is a cosmetic electrotherapy treatment that leaves skin smooth and youthful looking. A direct galvanic electrical current is used for infusing water-soluble substances such as serums directly into the skin.
A phytoestrogen, or plant hormone, that occurs naturally in soybeans. In skincare, it is known for its skin-brightening and antioxidant properties and is even believed to stimulate collagen in postmenopausal women.
A type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid derived from cane sugar that works to renew the skin surface. It has the smallest molecules of any AHA, which allows it to penetrate the skin most easily.
Also known as fruit peel, the glycolic acid peel is the most common AHA peel with zero downtime involved. The peel works to exfoliate the outermost dead layer of skin to diminish fine lines and to promote a youthful glow.
Grape Seed Extract
A lightweight oil that is extracted from grape seeds. Topical and oral formulations of grapeseed extract boast levels of antioxidants that are more powerful than vitamins E and C. Commonly used to protect the skin against UV damage and other environmental pollutants.
Hair that has lost its pigment.
Produced by stem cells throughout the body, these large proteins relay messages crucial to cellular growth and division.
A natural alternative facial therapy designed to relieve muscle tension, boost blood circulation, and promote lymphatic drainage using a handheld scraping tool.
Minor to moderate hair loss that can affect both men and women. Different from total loss of hair, which refers to balding.
High-intensity focused ultrasound is a non-invasive and FDA-approved treatment that targets different depths of tissue for skin tightening and lifting.
A high frequency facial is a safe and gentle skin rejuvenation treatment. It increases oxygen flow to the skin via an electrical current, improving overall texture, tone, and glow by promoting collagen and elastin production.
A sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the skin, which works to increase the skin’s moisture content while preventing water loss. It can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a popular ingredient in hydrating skincare.
The trademarked name for a four-step exfoliating facial treatment offered at spas. The facial includes a gentle acid peel, vacuum pore extraction, moisturizing cocktail infusion of hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, and a tailored take-home kit of topical skincare.
Collagen proteins that have been broken down into smaller peptides to make for easier absorption into the bloodstream. Typically, they are found in beauty supplements and drinks that aim to plump and hydrate skin.
A wrinkle-fighting form of vitamin A shown to be less irritating and more stable than traditional retinol. It is most commonly known by its trade name, Granactive Retinoid.
A term used for products that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
A hydrating agent found in skincare and hair-care products that can attract and bind with water molecules from the environment to help skin retain moisture.
A chemical that bleaches the skin, used commonly for hyperpigmentation conditions such as melasma, freckles, or lentigines. Hydroquinone is available without a prescription in strengths up to 2%, and 4% and prescription formulas.
Darkening of the skin triggered by UV radiation exposure, genetics, wounds, illness, hormonal changes, or certain drugs. Usually, hyperpigmentation is characterized by dark spots and/or larger dark patches on the skin.
A best-kept beauty secret, an ice-cold water facial can constrict the capillaries in the face to reduce swelling and puffiness in the morning, reducing the appearance of inflammation and fatigue.
Hair that does not break the surface of the skin and grows inwards. Ingrown hairs can range from mild to severe, and cause inflammation, soreness, and infection.
A medical procedure is defined as invasive when a break in the skin is created. It is essentially surgery.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
A machine that emits various wavelengths of lights to remove hair, acne, dark spots, wrinkles, spider veins, and more. The treatment consists of short pulses of light sent through an applicator that is gently pressed against the skin.
Ionic technology uses negative ions to neutralize static-causing positive ions, which makes the hair less frizzy while retaining moisture. When hair is wet, ionic technology breaks up the water molecule to allow smaller droplets to absorb in the hair more easily.
Antioxidant rich oil that is similar to the skin’s natural oil and offers moisturizing, antibacterial and oil-controlling properties. It is able to penetrate skin without clogging pores.
A popular category of skincare products, beauty rituals, and trends (“glass skin”) hailing from South Korea.
A raised and enlarged scar from overgrowth of scar tissue, more likely to occur among those with darker skin. It can be pink, red, skin-coloured, or darker than the surrounding skin.
A type of fibrous structural protein that is found in hair, outer layer of skin, and nails. Keratin fortifies the outermost layer of skin, smooths and strengthens hair, and nourishes nails.
A common and harmless form of dry skin characterized by small bumps that develop on the arms, legs, or buttocks. This is caused by keratin blockages in the hair follicles and is thought to be a hereditary condition. It usually goes away on its own over time.
A by-product in the fermentation of malting rice, and a common ingredient in topical skincare products for lightening pigmented skin. Kojic Acid is effective at blocking the production of new melanin in the skin but can cause irritation in higher concentrations.
An acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A common skin treatment device that uses light technology for cosmetic and surgical procedures.
Laser Hair Band
At-home medical device that uses patented hair parting teeth to deliver laser light therapy directly into the hair follicles to stimulate hair growth.
Base coating for mascara, often with nourishing and conditioning properties. Often, it helps to bind with mascara to prevent clumping.
An acronym for Light Emitting Diode, which is a skin therapy that aims to treat acne and wrinkles by killing p.acne bacteria and stimulating the production of new collagen. Different wavelengths of light target different skin issues. For example, blue light kills the bacteria associated with acne.
A new dermatologic condition that affects the face from wearing a mask all day. Conditions may include outbreaks of pimples, redness, bumpiness, and irritation.
The natural pigment that gives hair, skin and eyes their colour. Excess melanin production – which can happen from overexposure to sun – causes dark spots on the skin
The most serious form of skin cancer that begins in cells known as melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells. While the cure rate is high when caught early, unchecked cases can spread quickly to other organs in the body. Genetics and immune disorders are definitely risk factors, but the biggest cause of melanoma is a history of sun or tanning bed exposure.
A more common skin problem in women than men that presents as patchy brown or blue-grey discoloration on the face. It tends to occur in those with tan or darker skin types, triggered by hormonal changes, pregnancy, UV rays, and heat.
A natural point in a woman’s life when her period stops, marking the end of her menstrual cycles. Menopause is usually diagnosed after a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without having her period.
Refers to the billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, or microorganisms, that inhabit different regions of your skin. The oiliest parts of the body including face, chest, and back will often have the most amounts of bacteria and make them more prone to acne.
An electrical current emitted from an at-home slimming device that penetrates deeply into the muscle underneath the skin. By doing so, the current triggers increased cellular metabolism and reduces fat.
Made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules called micelles suspended in a water-like cleanser, the Micellar Water formula helps to remove dirt and makeup more easily than a regular cleanser.
Low-level electrical currents that are nearly identical to the body’s own natural electrical frequencies. Microcurrent is a painless and non-invasive innovation used widely in modern beauty treatments to promote cell growth in the skin.
A minimally invasive skin-exfoliating treatment that improves overall skin tone and texture. A special applicator with an abrasive surface is used to gently sand away the outermost epidermal layers.
A minimally invasive skin-rejuvenating procedure. Multiple tiny needles are used to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin, kicking off the body’s wound-healing response while producing collagen.
A skincare staple that combats skin dryness and replenishes hydration. Moisturizers are usually emulsions of water, oil, and essential ingredients for various purposes such as anti-aging or protecting your skin from UV radiation.
In skincare formulations, nanotechnology improves delivery, stability, and enhances the functions of key ingredients. For example, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are nanoparticles in physical sunscreens that give the formulas a smooth and easy application.
A form of B3 that strengthens the skin’s outer layers, improves skin elasticity, and prevents redness and irritation.
A term used for products that have been tested to not block or clog pores.
Procedures that do not involve tools that break the skin or enter the body.
An ideal skin type with zero to few skin imperfections, no severe sensitivity, and barely visible pores. When choosing skincare products, normal skin types should focus more on protection from environmental stressors such as UV damage.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids that the body cannot make on its own, and which instead is derived from the foods we eat such as fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and olive oil. Omega-3 fatty acids help to maintain the function of cell membranes throughout the body.
Meaning ‘hot spring’ in Japanese, onsen are categorized by their mineral composition. Alkaline onsen is believed to be the key to glowing skin, as well as reduction of stress and fatigue.
An organic compound found in sunscreens. A derivative of benzophenone, it is used in sunscreen and other cosmetic products because of its ability to absorb UV-A sun rays.
An allergy test performed on a patch of skin to ensure the user isn’t sensitive to a product or service using potential allergens. This is typically done on the arm or back 24 hours prior to use.
Synthetic preservatives used to inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and microbes in products, with a long history of use in foods, pharmaceuticals, and beauty products.
The loss or shedding of the outer layer of the skin. Peeling is the skin’s natural method of maintenance to get rid of dead skin cells. It can also be caused by direct trauma or serious conditions, illnesses, or disorders. Scientific term: desquamation.
Small chains of amino acids that comprise the building blocks of certain proteins essential to the skin, such as collagen, elastin, and keratin. Peptide-infused serums or moisturizers can benefit skin by stimulating collagen growth.
Permanent Hair Reduction
A hair-eliminating medical treatment whereby the hair follicle is disabled by light energy (such as IPL), rendering it unable to support hair growth.
A measurement term used to describe the level of acidity or alkalinity of an ingredient, product, or the skin itself.
Signs of aging caused by exposure to the sun’s UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the dermis and cause irreversible damage to collagen fibres. Symptoms include skin sagging, wrinkles, and sunspots.
Sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb UV rays to convert into heat, physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and physically block the harmful rays. Synonym: mineral sunscreen.
A laser device that delivers energy to the skin in trillionths of a second to break apart pigment clusters and spur collagen growth. Originally designed for tattoo removal, it is 1000 times faster than a traditional nanosecond laser.
A type of comedo that occurs due to a combination of excess sebum, bacteria and trapped dead skin cells in the pores. Synonym: acne.
Plant Stem Cells
Stem cells are a group of undifferentiated cells that act as the source of new cells to grow or replace specialised tissues. Not only are plants able to regenerate damaged tissue, but they are also able to develop new plants altogether (e.g. cutting off the branch of a tree results in the growth of a new branch). Little evidence supports the claim that these same regenerating effects translate to human skin when plant cells are extracted and applied topically via skincare products.
A minimally invasive method of skin regeneration that uses plasma energy to improve signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. The skin is also charged with high amounts of energy so it is able to absorb water soluble skincare products more easily.
Small openings in the skin surface. Salts left behind by sweat, along with trapped oil, bacteria and dead skin can clog pores and cause skin conditions such as acne.
Beneficial live bacteria and yeasts that naturally occur in the body. These ‘good’ bacteria help to eliminate an excess of bad bacteria, returning to a healthy balance. Probiotics can be ingested through fermented foods and supplements or applied topically to improve skin health.
Used for thousands of years for its wealth of medicinal properties, propolis is a resin-like material made by honeybees from different plants. Rich in flavonoids, it is often used as a soothing antioxidant in skincare.
A type of non-ionizing radiation, radiofrequency (RF) is at the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum. RF is a popular method of non-surgical skin firming, using low energy radiation to heat the deep layer of skin to stimulate collagen production.
A derivative of Vitamin A, used in skincare products to fight wrinkles, encourage collagen production, and stimulate the turnover of skin cells. The maximum concentration of retinol in over-the-counter products is 1%.
A class of chemical compounds that comprise different types of vitamin A derivatives. In skincare, retinoids can address many skin concerns such as enlarged pores, visible lines, and uneven skin tone. Retinoids can make skin more photo-sensitive, so use a UVA/ UVB broad-spectrum sunscreen daily.
A chronic skin with symptoms including persistent redness, easy flushing, broken blood vessels, and pimples that appear primarily on the nose and cheeks. While there is no known cure, it is important to control triggers such as heat and alcohol.
Salicylic Acid (See: BHA)
A beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is used topically to treat acne. It works to reduce swelling, redness, and unclogs pores, as well as treats skin conditions like psoriasis by loosening dry skin.
A small, oil-producing gland present in the skin.
An oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands to moisturize, coat, and protect skin.
A sunless tanning product that contains DHA, which triggers a chemical reaction with amino acids present in the top layer of skin to temporarily darken skin. Lasts around 2-4 days. Synonym: fake tan.
An oil- or water-based skincare product that contains high concentrations of active ingredients. Typically applied after toner and before heavier creams.
Face-shaped facial masks that are soaked with beneficial ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid that penetrate deep into the skin. Typically made from paper, cotton, biocellulose (plant fiber), or hydrogel.
Derived from sand, silicone is typically used in cosmetics to provide an elegant, silky, and spreadable texture of moisturizers and creams. Silicones can prevent moisture loss while smoothing the appearance of imperfections.
A highly effect method for removing makeup, dirt, and oil lodged in the skin using an electronic brush with soft, oscillating bristles.
An acronym for Sun Protectant Factor, ranging from the lowest SPF 2 – highest SPF 50 in protective strength against UVB radiation.
Splitting of hairs at the ends, caused by excessive heat or damage. Synonym: Trichoptilosis.
A natural moisturizer that occurs naturally in the skin, but which diminishes with age. Squalene is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, and for skincare purposes, can be derived from olives, rice brand, wheat germ, and more.
Cleansing agents that emulsify and remove dirt and oil by creating lather. With more than 100 different varieties, they can be found in all types of products from facial cleansers to shampoos.
A natural element used in acne products to kill bacteria, combat inflammation, and break down dead skin cells to unclog pores.
Skincare products that reflect the sun’s rays, rather than absorb them. A good choice for those who are more sensitive to chemicals. See: Physical Sunscreen.
Skincare products with ingredients that absorb, rather than block, UVA and UVB radiation. For the best protection, find a sunscreen labelled broad-spectrum.
Melanocytes in the outermost layer of skin produce pigments to block UV radiation from damaging cells, giving the appearance of darker-coloured skin (AKA a tan).
Neck wrinkles that form from prolonged craning of the neck over screens and devices.
Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
The key ingredient in chemical peels for treating sun damage and hyperpigmentation. TCA peels promote shedding of the outermost layer of dead skin cells to allow new cells to rise to the surface.
A US FDA-approved anti-aging treatment, Thermage is a technology that uses a radio-wave device to tighten skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
A natural mineral used as a physical sunscreen to protect against both UVA and UVB, giving it the broad-spectrum label.
Applied after cleansing, liquid toners balance the skin’s pH, removes excess dirt or oils, and helps subsequent skincare products penetrate the skin more easily.
A term for wrinkled, sagging neck skin. It occurs when the skin loses its elasticity, caused by the natural process of aging and environmental stressors such as sun damage.
The area of the face that includes the forehead, nose, chin, and sometimes the neck.
A non-invasive FDA-cleared treatment that uses ultrasound energy to lift and tighten the skin, by stimulating the body’s natural process of collagen production.
The wavelength of ultraviolet light that is associated with signs of aging. It destroys existing collagen and elastin as well as the body’s ability to produce more. UVA is the main reason for skin damage associated with photoaging.
The wavelength of ultraviolet light that reaches the top layer of skin, and the main cause of sunburns. Short-wave UVB is also the chief culprit of tanning, freckles, and age spots, and is strongest in summer months.
The two types of rays from sunlight that reach the earth. Both are responsible for skin damage, while UVA is known to penetrate deeper into the skin to cause long-term damage such as wrinkles. Both can cause skin cancer.
The area of the face that includes the temples, cheeks, and chin. While the T-zone is associated with high sebum secretion, the U-zone is considered the opposite with low sebum in combination skin.
Vampire Facial (AKA Platelet-Rich Plasma [PRP])
A skin treatment that uses the patient’s own blood to trick the body into triggering a wound-healing response. Blood is extracted then placed in a centrifuge, after which it is injected into or applied topically on the patient’s skin to promote cell renewal.
A water-soluble vitamin with a wealth of antioxidant benefits in skincare. In addition to neutralizing free radicals, vit C is proven to fade hyperpigmentation for a skin brightening effect. Synonym: Ascorbic Acid.
Naturally produced in the body when exposed to UVB rays, vitamin D can be used as a topical skincare treatment to relieve symptoms of skin conditions such as psoriasis. It can also support elasticity and skin resilience.
Part of a group of vitamins that are primarily used to help heal wounds, Vitamin K is needed in the body for blood clotting. In skincare, it is used to reduce visible redness and combat dark circles under the eyes.
Hair that has no pigment. Causes can range from genetics to a Vitamin B deficiency.
A plant whose leaves, bark and twigs are used to make medicine. It is believed to have soothing and anti-inflammation benefits, while minimizing visible pores and reducing excess oils on the skin.
A fold, crease, or ridge that appears as a result of the natural aging process, sun damage, smoking, habitual facial movements, and other factors. Synonym: Rhytide.
An FDA-approved neurotoxin (similar to Botox) that is injected into the muscles to improve the appearance of modern to severe frown lines. It is said to be less likely than Botox to cause irritation and allergic reactions due to its purer form of the botulinum toxin.
Considered the best and safest sunscreen ingredient. Not only does Zinc Oxide block both UVA and UVB rays for broad spectrum protection, it is also photostable and resistant to water.
A slang term for spots or pimples, zits are small and inflamed blemishes on the skin that are typically filled with pus. Synonym: Pimples.