Don't know your AHAs from your UVBs? Check out this glossary of tricky makeup and skin-care terms to make beauty jargon as simple as ABC.
As the list goes from alphabetical order of A - Z, all the jargons and buzzwords are being categorised accordingly to alphabetical order as as well. For example, List A - B, followed by List C - D, then List D - E. If the word(s) you are looking for happened to be, for example, Melanin, you need to navigate to List M - O for it. Easy? Now's your turn to discover some new beauty jargons as well.
Ablative/Non-Ablative Lasers: These heat lasers are used to treat scarring (often from acne or sun damage) and to resurface the skin to diminish wrinkles and improve pigmentation. Ablative lasers are more aggressive, removing the outer layer of skin to treat scarring; non-ablative lasers keep the epidermis intact and are used to treat more superficial scarring and facial wrinkles, especially in delicate areas such as around the eyes.
Acid Mantle: A very finem slightly acidic film (a mix of sebum and sweat) on the skin surface that acts as a barrier to infections and invaders.
Acne: A skin condition causing blocked and infected pores that result in blackheads and whiteheads, pimples and cysts, on the face, neck, chest, back and shoulders.
Adipose Cells: Adipocytes store energy as fat
Adrenaline: Also called epinephrine,a "fight or flight" hormone produced in the adrenal glands when the body is under physical, mental or emotional stress.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs):Natural chemical compounds that are often derived from fruit, AHAs help exfoliate dead skin and combat aging. Common AHAs found in skin-care products include glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid.
Alpha-spinasterol: A compound that stimulates cell regeneration.
Amino-acids: The building blocks of protein, completely essential for our bodies to function; we can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids, the others must come from food (meat, milk and eggs contain all the essential amino-acids. Nuts, beans and soy beans have high levels) - they can't be stored, so a good diet is vital.
Antioxidants: These chemical compounds slow the oxidation of cells by preventing the formation of free radicals, which cause cells to age and degrade (think of what happens when an apple slice is exposed to air). Used as ingredients in skin-care production, antioxidants may be natural, such as Vitamins C and E and beta carotene, or synthetic, such as BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene).
Apocrine gland: A sweat gland attached to hair follicles, mainly found under the armpits and in the genital area.
Arginine: A food source for the virus that causes warts.
Aromatherapy: A complementary therapy that uses fragrant essential oils and other aromatic compounds to affect mind and body; often combined with massage.
Ayurvedic: The traditional medicinal system of India: literally, the science (vedal) of life (ayus).
Basal layer: The bottom layer of the epidermis (top layer of the skin), where cells being their lives
Benzophenone: A family of synthetic chemicals found in chemical sunscreens.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Found in cleansers, gels, creams and lotions, this is one of the most frequently used ingredients to treat acne. The bacteria that cause acne breakouts can't survive in the presence of oxygen, benzoyl peroxide releases oxygen into the pores, killing bacteria and causing the skin to dry and peel, opening blocked pores.
Beta-carotene: A precursor of Vitamin A
Beta Hydroxy Acids: BHAs are similar to AHAs in that they exfoliate skin and encourage cell renewal. They are fat-soluble, so they can penetrate oil-filled pores, and are often prescribed for acne. Salicylic acid is a BHA.
Biofeedback: A technique that helps control involuntary physical functions, such as breathing, heart rate and muscle contractions.
Bioflavonoids: Derived from fruits and vegetables, bioflavonoids are thought to have antioxidant properties and work with Vitamin C to promote healthy collagen and capillaries.
Chromosomes: Each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry DNA and tell the cell what to do
Cinnamate: A family of synthetic chemicals found in chemical suncreens
Citral: Chemical compound of natural essential oils
Citronellol: Chemical perfumery constituent
Co-Enzyme q10: A naturally occurring antioxidant that also helps the skin's cellular respiratory system to function, co-enzyme Q10 starts to diminish
after age 30, making it harder to produce collagen and elastin.
Collagen: One of the main ingredients in skin and connective tissue, collagen binds with water, keeping skin looking plump and healthy. The production
of collagen fibers decreases with age, causing wrinkles to appear.
Connective tissue: A type of tissue (group of cells) made up of fibers that form a framework and support structure for body tissues and organs. In skin terms, the most important fibers are made up of collagena and elastin.
Corneocytes: Flattened-out cells in the top horny layer (stratum corneum) of the epidermis (top layer of the skin)
Cortisol: A corticosteroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, involved in the stress response; cortisol rises naturally in the early morning to increase blood pressure and blood sugar in preparation for the day
Cortisone: A type of hormone/steroid-like compound that acts to quell inflammation; however, cortisone creams may thin the skin long-term
Cuticle: This term is used both for nails (to describe the flap of skin at the base of the fingernail) and hair (for the protective outer layer of the
hair shaft). When cuticles are healthy, nails and hair are strong and shiny. But if the cuticles in hair damaged by chemicals, heat, or overprocessing,
dullness and breakage can result.
Delta 7 stigmasterol: a compound that stimulates cell regeneration
Depilatory: Depilation is the removal of unwanted hair from the face or body by any means, including shaving or waxing. But a depilatory refers
specifically to a chemical sulfide that dissolves hair in the follicle.
Dermatitis: Any inflamed red skin condition, including eczema and psoriasis
Desquamation: The skin's natural exfoliation process, in which the top dead cells of the epidermis are sloughed off
DHA: Dihydroxyacetone is the active ingredient in sunless tanners. A glycerol deriative, it reacts with amino acids and oxidizes just the surface of
the skin, giving it a tanner appearance without the damage associated with UV exposure.
Diethanolamine (DEA) / Triethanolamine (TEA): These can cause allergic reactions, irritate the eyes and dry the hair and skin, DEA residues are cancer suspects
Dihydroxyacetone: Synthetic molecule, principle ingredient in self-tanners
Dimethicone: This organic silicone is a common skin-care ingredient that creates a film on the skin's surface to retain moisture and plump fine lines.
DNA: Stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the famous double helix that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms
Eccrine gland: A type of sweat gland, responsible for most of the body's sweat output and found all over the body
Eczema: Inflammation of the epidermis, a form of dermatitis
EFAs: Essential fatty acids, the fats or lipids that provide the building blocks of healthy skin, and play a significant role in the structure and function of every cell; they are essential, but the body can't manufacture them. so they have to be derived from diet; often referred to as omega-3s and 6s
Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA): One of the omega-3 polyunsaturated essential fatty acids; the others are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and docosahexanoix acid (DHA)
Elastin: Collagen's partner-in-beauty, elastin is another fibrous connective tissue found in skin. But while collagen gives skin firmness, elastin
makes it supple.
Emollients: Substances that soften and soothe the skin, used to correct dryness and scaling
Emulsifier: A thickener or binding agent, this unifier joins two or more ingredients in a way that alters their physical makeup, for example, by
thickening a lotion into a cream. In food, egg yolk is a common emulsifier; in a beauty product, it's likely to be cetearyl alcohol or an emulsifying wax.
Epidermis: The surface layer of skin
Exfoliate: To remove the top dead layer of cells on the skin surface. revealing fresh skin underneath
Follicle: A very fine tube opening on the surface of the skin, which may or may not contain a hair
Formaldehyde: A potentially toxic chemical ingredient which is a common ingredient in nail polish (as a hardener), classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Free Radicals: These scavenging molecules, found in the environment and also produced by our bodies, cause cell breakdown and inflammation that can
lead to diseased and wrinkled skin. Antioxidants help fight their effects.
Gernaoil: Chemical perfumery constituent
GLA: Gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid found principally in plant-based oils such as evening primrose and borage
Glucosamine: Provide the building blocks to repair connective tissue
Glycaemic Index (GI): A measure of the effects of carbohydrates (starches and sugar) on the sugar (glucose) levels in the blood; high-GI food releases sugar (as glucose) rapidly into the bloodstream, while low-GI foods initiate a slower process
Glycaemic Load: Similar to the GI, but allows a more precise measurement of the carbohydrates in a food and how they affect your blood sugar levels
Glycation: Process where a sugar molecule bonds to a protein or lipid (fat) molecule without being controlled by an enzyme, which may, among other things, degrade collagen, causing wrinkles
Glycolic Acid: A plant-derived alpha hydroxy acid (also known as hydroxyacetic acid), this substance exfoliates skin and is used to fight acne, wrinkles and discoloration and promote cell renewal.
Grape-Seed Extract: A powerful antioxidant and bioflavonoid, this ingredient helps fight free radicals and improve circulation and skin elasticity.
Hormones: The body's chemical messengers which transport signals from one cell to another, they're involved in virtually everything we do, from sleep to reproduction to appetite
Human chorionic gonadtrophin (HCG): Pregnancy hormone
Humectant:Any ingredient - such as glycerin - that pulls moisture from the surrounding air into the skin or hair, increasing its moisture retention,
is known as a humectant.
Hyaluronic Acid: A naturally occuring substance that retains moisture in the skin, hyaluronic acid is used as both a cosmetic filler and an ingredient
in skin-care products. In the latter, it fights skin dehydration by plumping cells and temporarily reducing the appearance of fine lines.
Hydocortisone: Treats inflammation but blocks wound healing
Hydrogenation: Forcing hydrogen at high pressure and temperature into liquid oils to prevent them becoming solid at room temperature; it results in a mixture of unnatural fats, many of which are trans fatty acids (transfats), known to be dangerous to the heart and possibly linked to certain cancers
Hyperpigmentation: This is a condition in which patches of skin become darkened when UV rays provoke melanocytes to create extra melanin. Hormones can
make skin more prone to hyperpigmentation. It is often treated with topical lightening agents such as Vitamin C or hydroquinone, or with lasers.
Hypoallergenic: This term is used to indicate ingredients or products that are unlikely to cause allergic reactions. The use of this term is not
overseen by the FDA, however, so it's best to scan a product's ingredient list (which every product is required to display) to see if you are allergic to
anything on it.
Hypodermis: subcutaneous layer of skin
Hypothyroidism: Condition where the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroxin hormone to keep the body functioning properly, causing muscle weakness, fatigue, dry flaky skin, weight gain
Iodine: Trace element required for thyroid hormone
Isopropyl alcohol: An antibacterial solvent, derived from petroleum. Inhalation or ingestion of large quantities - albeit much longer than you'll find in cosmetics - may cause anything from dizziness to depression, nausea, etc
Keratin: An extremely strong protein, this amino acid is a key component in healthy hair, skin and nails, and is used in many beauty products.
Keratinocytes: Skin cells; keratin is the protein in skin, hair and nails
Kigelinone: Active compound of the napthoquinone group, with anti-inflammatory properties
Lactic Acid: A widely used alpha hydroxy acid that is derived from milk, lactic acid is used as an exfoliant to help soften rough skin, it also helps
skin retain moisture.
Langerhans cells: Immune cells found in the epidermis (top layer of skin)
LED Treatments: LED stands for light-emitting diode. Specific wavelengths of light are aimed at the face to treat acne (blue LEDs kill skin bacteria)
or sun damage (red LEDs boost skin cells' energy, stimulating regeneration). Treatments may be done in a doctor's office, or by the patient at home, using a
Linalool: Chemical compound of natural essential oils
Linoleic acid: An essential fatty acid found principally in plant-based oils such as borage
Liposomes: A liposome is a microscopic delivery system created in a lab; its outer walls are made of lipids similar to those found in skin, but the
interior can hold any ingredient for delivery. It is commonly used to deliver active ingredients to the skin.
Lymph: Clear yellowish fliud that flows around the body, sweeping up threatening substances like toxins, bacteria and viruses
Lymphatic system: Network of fine, fluid-filled tubes and small glands (nodes) that runs throughout the body, operating in tandom with your blood circulation
Melanin: Pigment that controls your skin color, how much you tan, your hair color and helps protect your skin against sunlight
Melanocyte: A cell that produces pigment (also called melanin) and is responsible for the color of your hair, skin and eyes. The darker your skin, the
more melanin you have.
Melanoma: Malignant melanoma is a rare but potentially fatal form of skin cancer, involving melanocytes; basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are common, but much less serious forms of skin tumours, categorized as "nonmelanoma" skin cancers
Melatonin: Sleep hormone
Metabolism: The chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life
Methylisothiazolinone: A preservative with a potential for causing allergic reactions or irritants
Methyl paraben: A naturally occurring paraben found particularly in vanilla pods
Micro-Encapsulation: Through this process, tiny particles are coated and turned into spherical microcapsules. Active ingredients that biodegrade
quickly become more stable if they are micro-encapsulated because the ingredient inside is protected.
Monounsaturated fats: Fats such as olive oil that are typically liquid at room temperature and start to solidify when chilled; usually high in Vitamin E and eaten in reasonable amounts, beneficial for health
Naturopathy: A form of complementary alternative medicine which heals the body holistically
Neuropeptides: The brain chemicals released into the nerve endings triggered by psychological stress
NMF: Natural moisturising factor; a group of chemicals in the skin which act like a magnet for water
Non-acnegenic: A name for products aimed at those with acne which has no legal definition
Non-comedogenic: Not likely to block pores in most people
Octyl Salicylate: A type of synthetic sunscreen
Oestrogen: The female reproductive hormone
Osteoporosis: Loss of bone mineral density, leading to thinner bones more prone to fracture
Oxidation: Oxidative stress - the cell-damaging process caused by free radicals, antioxidants counter it
PABA:: Para-aminobenzoic acid is a UV-absorbing chemical sunscreen that causes reactions in some users, so it is no longer found in most sunblocks. If
you have sensitive skin, check the label and ingredients list to be sure a product is PABA-free.
Parabens: Family of preservatives
Paraffin: Used in moisturisers, hair wax removers, eyebrow pencils, and much, much more - derived from petroleum or coal, which is a non-sustainable resource (Paraffinum liquidum is the name for mineral oil)
Peptides: These group of amino acids combine to form proteins, such as collagen, which keep skin firm. Naturally occurring in skin, they are also found in many skin-care products.
Petrolatum: A very cheap ingredient, derived from petroleum, which can produce photosensitivity (sun sensitivity, resulting in rashes/soreness), in some people - or may interfere with the body's own natural moisturising mechanism, as it sits on the skin
pH: This is used to measure the acidity and basicity of a solution or a cosemtic. "pH-balanced" means neutral (and is the ideal that many cosmetic products aim for). A neutral substance (like water or milk) wil have a pH of 7. Acidic substance have a pH value below7, and base or alkali substances have a
pH higher than 7.
Phenol: An antioxidant found in black tea and dark chocolate
Phenoxyethanol: An effective preservative used in face creams
Phenylethyl: Chemical perfumery constituent
Phospholipids: Fatty acids that form the "cement" of the skin barrier and come under attack by free radicals
Photoaging: The visible result of sun damage, photoaging refers to the premature breakdown of skin cells caused by UVA and UVB damage. In terms of your appearance, that means wrinkles, slackness and discoloration.
Photosensitivity: Essentially, this is sun sensitivity. It's the reason rashes, swelling or pigment problems occur after sun exposure. It can be triggered by certain chemicals, drugs, foods or the application of Vitamin A. Also, certain ingredients, like retinol and chemical sunscreens, like Avobenzone, are photosensitive, that is, they break down (are destablized) when exposed to sun.
Phyto-estrogens: Estrogens, natural reproductive hormones, derived from plant (phto-) sources
Phytosterois: Plant-derived fatty molecules with a similar structure to skin sterols (fats or lipds) and also cholesterol; used in moisturisers to restore and rejuvenate skin
Phtyotherapy: The use of plants or plant extracts medicinally
Phthalates: Organic chemicals used as plasticizers, phthalates are found in most nail polish (they make it harder and more durable) and perfume (they make it last longer). Government agencies have ruled that phthalates are safe in the small doses in which they occur in beauty products, but because these chemicals have been shown to affect sex hormones, some people prefer to use products that are phthalate-free.
Pilates: Exercise method focusing on building your body's core strength and improving posture through low-impact stretching and conditioning exercises
Pityriasis capitis: The Latin name for common dandruff, meaning "scaly head"
Polyphenols: A group of antioxidants found in substances such as green tea and grape seeds, they're also used in topical skin creams for their free-radical-fighting benefit.
Pores: Where follicles open on the skin's surface
Probiotics: Dietary supplements containing "good" bacteria for the gut, which help support health in many ways; often recommended after a course of antibiotics, which diminishes "good" as well as "bad" bugs in the gut
Procollagen: A precursor (forerunner) of collagen
Progesterone: One of the two main female reproductive hormones; the other is estrogen
Propylene glycol: A potential skin irritant in high doses, though in small doses has softening and emollient properties
Psoriasis: Noncontagious, inflammatory skin disease caused by speeded-up cell growth and excessive shedding
Reactive oxygen species (ROS): The collective term for oxygen free radicals, the type that cause the most problem for our body cells
Restylane: A hyaluronic-acid-based injectable dermatological filler, Restylane is used to re-sculpture the face, for example, filling wrinkles and plumping lips.
Retinoids: These powerful chemical compounds derived from Vitamin A are often used to treat acne, increase collagen formation, and even out skin pigment. They may appear on product labels as tretinoin, retinoic acid or retinol.
Serum: Technically, a serum is the clear or watery part of any bodily fluid. In terms of beauty products, serum often refers to a fluid that is lighter than a lotion and rich in active ingredients. To get the full benefit, you apply it before you put on other thicker products.
Rosacea: Chronic skin disease that typically causes flushing and redness over the centre of the face
Salicylic acid: A beta-hydroxy acid derived from the bark of the willow tree (Salix), used to clear and prevent blackheads and pimples
Sebum: Oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin
Selenium: An important antioxidant found in chicken eggs
Sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfates (SLES): A commonly used detergent and well-known skin irritant that can thin the skin barrier. Bad reaction can include redness, itchiness, burning and stinging
Solar keratoses: Small, rough, slightly raised bumps, ranging from the size of a pinhead to more than an inch across, usually on the face, neck, back of hands, bald patch and other areas often exposed to the sun - a warning sign that skin has been under sun assault
SPF: Sun Protection Factor is a measure of how long your skin can stay in the sun without burning. SPF measures the effect of only UVA rays, which cause burning. The FDA is developing a more comprehensive sunblock rating system, in the meantime, look for a product that offers broad-spectrum protection (from UVA and UVB rays).
Staphylococcus aureus: A bacterium that lives in the nose and gets into the hair follicles after shaving, potentially causing barber's rash
Stearalkonium chloride: A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions; it was originally developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbal ingredients, which genuinely boost hair health
Steroid: Topical steroids, aka corticosteroids, are used to treat inflammatory skin conditions, including eczema
Sterols: Found in plants and help to reduce age spots, sun damage and scars
Stratum corneum: The top surface layer of the epidermis. also known as the horny layer, which is composed of dead cells called corneocytes
Subcutaneous: Just under the skin
Sulfate: Any chemical compound containing sulfur acid that acts as a detergent can be called a sulfate. Sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate, for example, can be found in household cleansers, toothpastes, shampoos and conditioners. Studies have indicated that sulfates may irritate skin and build up in body tissue, so some consumers prefer sulfate-free alternatives.
Surfactant: Also known as a surface-acting agent, a surfactant lowers the tension of a liquid, making it combine more easily with other substances. In beauty products, surfactants are often foaming agents or lubricants, as in shaving cream.
Synthetic colors: Some experts say that we should avoid the synthetic colors used to make a product 'pretty'; on labels, these will appear as FD&C or D&C, followed by a number and a color. Many of these FD&C or D&C ingredients are derived from coal tar, and may potentially be carcinogenic
Teripen-4-ol: An antibacterial found in tea tree oil
Testosterone: One of the reproductive hormones; the dominant hormones in men but women have some, too; the ratio of estrogen to testosterone changes with menopause, as estrogen declines and the relative levels of testosterone goes up
TEWL: Trans epidermal water loss, which occurs if the skin barrier (the stratum corneum) is damaged, allowing fluid to escape; high TEWL is linked to increased permeability, allowing infections and irritants to get through thr barrier
Thermage: A noninvasive treatment using radio frequency, thermage consists of a dermatologist's exposing a patient's skin to radio-wave pulses of heat to stimulate and thicken collagen and make skin appear tighter and smoother.
Titanium: Mineral found in mineral sunscreen
Transfats: Trans fatty acids formed by hydrogenating liquid fats
Trans-retinoic acid: A form of Vitamin A which helps remove the top dead layer of skin cells
Triterpernoids: An extract found in Calendula which is said to have antiseptic and healing properties, that prevent the spread of infection and spped up the rate of repair
T-Zone: Oily patch across the forehead and down the nose to chin
UVA / UVB: The UV stands for ultraviolet. Ultraviolet light is made up of the invisible rays of sunlight that cause burns, photoaging and skin cancer. Type A UV rays, with their long wavelengths, penetrate skin deeply and cause photoaging. Type B UV rays, whose wavelengths are shorter, visibly and wuickly damage the outer layers of skin, causing dryness, redness, tanning and burns. Think of them as UVAging and UVBurning.
Xanthine oxidase: An enzyme that, undigested attacks the arterial walls and parts of the heart muscle, causing inflammation
Zeaxanthine: A skin-supporting antioxidant found in organic milk
Zinc oxide: Mineral found in mineral sunscreen (together with titanium)