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A-Z glossary of skincare ingredients

December 07, 2021
Home / Glow School / A-Z glossary of skincare ingredients

Aloe Vera: Antioxidant-rich Aloe Vera helps to soothe, firm, nourish and detoxify your skin.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): These water-soluble acids are made from sugary fruit, and exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells from the surface and this process will often be referred to as chemical exfoliation. They're great to use if you have uneven skin tone, congested skin, enlarged pores or fine lines. Mandelic Acid, Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid are some of the most common AHAs. 


Antioxidants: Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body, and protect your skin from environmental stressors like pollution, toxins and UV rays. Some of our favourite antioxidants are Vitamin C, Niacinamide and Vitamin E.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs): BHAs go deep into your skin to unclog pores by drying out excess oils and dead skin cells. A common BHA you’ll find in skincare is Salicylic Acid.

Biotin: An essential B Vitamin with a heap of benefits for your entire body, but we love that it supports hair growth and helps to get your nails in tip top shape.

Bromelain: This natural digestive enzyme is extracted from the pineapple stem.

Cold Pressed Cacay Oil: This pure nut oil is a bit of a powerhouse. It’s rich in nutrients, Vitamins A and E, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Plus, it absorbs into the skin really easily!

Collagen: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body — it’s in your bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles and skin – think of it as the glue that holds everything together. Not only does it keep our nails and hair strong and shiny, it also makes our skin plump, and helps with creaky joints and stiff muscles. The bummer? Collagen production decreases as we age, which is why people turn to external collagen supplements to help slow the decline.

Emollient: Emollients are moisturising ingredients that soften and smooth skin by repairing any damage on the skin’s surface. They work by filling in the gaps between cells, which visibly improves the appearance of dry skin.

Fatty Acids/Essential Fatty Acids: Fatty acids are found in oils that are derived from plant sources like olives, avocados, almonds and cacay. Your skin’s barrier relies on essential fatty acids to function properly because they decrease trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). They’re antimicrobial, and they also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Flavonoids: The diverse range of substances that make up flavonoids are components of lots of fruits and vegetables, many of which have been shown to have potent antioxidant properties.

Glycerin: Glycerin is a natural compound that attracts moisture and holds it within the skin’s moisture barrier to keep the outer layer of your skin from drying out. It’s often used in cleansers or active serums to help the skin retain moisture.

Glycolic Acid: A type of AHA with a low molecular weight, which means it can easily penetrate (and get deeper into) your skin to do what it does best – things like removing dead skin cells to reveal brighter layers underneath and stimulating collagen production for a smoother, firmer-feeling face!

Humectant: Humectants are moisturising ingredients that attract and pull water into the epidermis layer of the skin, either from the air or from the deeper layers of the dermis, to rehydrate the skin’s surface.

Hyaluronic Acid: This naturally occurring substance is created by our skin cells to retain moisture and keep our skin looking hydrated and plump. It declines with age, which it’s why it’s such an essential in your skincare routine. Fun fact: One gram of Hyaluronic Acid can hold up to six litres of water.

Jojoba Oil: Made from the nut of the jojoba plant, Jojoba Oil is gentle and calming with antibacterial properties. It’s rich in Vitamin E and B-Complex Vitamins that help to support skin repair and form a protective layer on the skin to keep moisture locked in.

Kakadu Plum: Antioxidant-rich Kakadu Plum has been identified as the world’s richest source of Vitamin C – with more than 50 times the amount found in oranges! It detoxifies, brightens and evens skin tone and protects the skin from environmental stressors.

Kaolin: Kaolin (White Clay) Gently exfoliates your skin, removing dead skin and impurities, leaving your skin looking brighter, smoother and firmer. Kaolin is fantastic for oily and acne-prone skin and helps refine pores and clear blackheads.

L22®: A botanically-sourced patented lipid complex that’s designed to deliver the skin surface lipid profile of a healthy 22-year-old (ah, yes please!).

Mandelic Acid: A non-irritating AHA derived from almonds with anti-ageing and anti-acne properties. It has larger molecules compared to some other AHAs so it penetrates the skin more slowly, making it an excellent chemical exfoliation option for those with sensitive skin.

Polysaccharides: Polysaccharides reduce transepidermal water loss, provide moisture control, and reduce possible inflammation.

Niacinamide: This form of Vitamin B3 does it all: visibly refines pores, improves uneven skin tone, softens fine lines, firms the skin and delivers a serious dose of glow. It’s also an antioxidant so it can help protect against free radicals.

Occlusives: Occlusives are moisturising ingredients that act as a physical barrier to lock in moisture and prevent water loss from your skin’s surface. They sit on the surface of your skin, and help to strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier.

Passionfruit Seed Oil: With high Vitamin C and antioxidant content, Passionfruit Seed Oil helps keep skin looking firm and youthful. It’s also a great source of Vitamin A in the form of carotenoids which help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Peptides: Peptides are smaller versions of protein and they penetrate the skin and body more easily, which is why they’re essential in any skincare routine. Some peptides have been shown to improve the appearance of wrinkles, increase skin firmness and help to soften fine lines.

Progeline: Resculpts the skin and is scientifically shown to visibly reduce the signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin firmness and elasticity, and visibly improve jawline contour for a resculpting effect.

Retinol: A Vitamin A derivative that is primarily used to treat ageing. Retinol works by going deep under the epidermis (which is the outer layer of skin) to your dermis (the middle layer of skin) to neutralise free radicals, unclog pores and boost the production of collagen and elastin.

Rosehip Oil: As a rich source of skin-loving fatty acids, Rosehip Oil is a popular choice of plant oil in skincare – this is also due to its antioxidant properties.

Salicylic Acid: Derived from willow bark, this BHA is best-known for helping with acne and preventing further breakouts. It penetrates your skin at a deeper level and unclogs your pores by dissolving the dead skin cells, as well as helping with inflammation.

Siberian Ginseng Root: A traditional Chinese adaptogen that supports immune defense, the nervous system, normal mood balance, mental acuity, and healthy energy levels. Siberian Ginseng also helps your body to adapt and cope with the physiological and psychological stresses we encounter on a daily basis.

Squalane: An olive-sourced antioxidant that helps to maintain the skin’s moisture barrier, with powerful anti-ageing properties that help to neutralise environmental damage and protect against free radicals.

Stearic Acid: A common skincare ingredient and saturated fatty acid. Used for both formulation and benefits purposes. It softens and smooths skin, and works to strengthen your skin barrier.

Vitamin C: An antioxidant-rich vitamin that brightens skin, improves elasticity, supports the production of collagen, visibly fades dark spots, reduces wrinkles and protects against harmful free radical damage!

Vitamin E: An antioxidant-rich nutrient that helps to neutralise free radicals and protect against cellular damage.

Zinc: Zinc is an all-rounder and essential mineral that helps support your general health and wellbeing. It also supports immune function and the health of your hair, skin and nails.

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