The Skincare Key Ingredients List


The ingredient in a skin-care product that’s actively doing the primary thing the product was made for. Many ingredients are minor and are required for factors ranging from texture to preservation to fragrance but the active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, peptides and vitamins are what really makes the noticeable difference to the skin. 



AHAs work by breaking apart the glue that holds dead skin cells together to speed exfoliation. AHAs are found in nature in fruits, milk, and sugarcane,.



This fatty acid found in all cells in the body contributes to skin's smoothness. It dissolves in both fat and water, enabling it to penetrate well into all parts of skin cells.



The building blocks of all proteins such as elastin, collagen and keratin, essential for healthy skin and nutritional to skincare.



Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. They are sometimes called “free-radical scavengers.” The sources of antioxidants can be natural or artificial and includes Omega3s and some vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E



Also known as vitamin C which serves to increase collagen production, and stems free-radical damage. A common essential ingredient in most skincare products.



An astringent, as part of the facial cleansing system, is commonly known as toner, and it controls oily skin and lowers the pH of the face after cleansing.  It draws tissues together.



Long-chain sugar molecules found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and grains, such as oats and barley. Powerful humectants and soothers, they can strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and stave off bad germs.



Botanical products are those highly desirable ingredients derived from plants, nut oils and berries. Thousands of years of being formed in nature’s lab have resulted in developing substances beneficial to our body,  including it’s largest organ, the skin.  



This oil is used in beauty products mainly for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and moisturizing properties. It cannot produce a high as it is the non psychoactive portion of cannabis. 



Affecting up to 90 percent of women (due to estrogen and genetics), cellulite occurs when fat cells swell and push through the tight, fibrous tissue bands (or septa) walling them in, creating a dimpled or lumpy appearance.



Clarifying lotion is the toner part of a cleansing system that balances the pH of the skin after cleansing.



Clean means that a beauty product should have considered human and environmental health, using nontoxic elements and plant-based ingredients for active results. Nearly 50 percent of women are already using clean beauty products, according to a Harper’s BAZAAR poll of more than 1,000 women across all ages, races, and ethnicities. And while the European Union has banned more than 1,000 chemicals common in personal care products, the United States has banned just 11. 



This protein makes up 80 percent of the skin protein, and its fibres give skin its firmness and strength. Collagen naturally breaks down over time, but certain ingredients can stimulate new collagen production. The most abundant protein in the human body, it makes skin thick, strong, and smooth. UV rays and free radicals tear collagen apart.


Found in many fine line-fighting formulas, these amino acids help to heal wounds, protect collagen from free-radical injury, soothe inflammation, and promote new collagen formation.



A condition that causes stinging, redness, burning, flaking, or scaling after coming into contact with something, often a makeup or skin-care product. The reaction can be related to either an irritant or an allergy.



The concept of removing toxins from your body. Some skin-care products claim they can “detox” you, but that’s not really how it works. In reality, detox products generally just remove dead skin cells and excess oil.



A slippery form of silicone that hydrates and protects the skin; often found in oil-free moisturizers. It is the linear silicone as opposed to the less desirable cyclic form. 



The most common form of this chronic, non contagious skin disorder is atopic dermatitis, which is characterized by itchy, red, scaly patches that often show up on the inner elbows, behind the knees, and around the neck and eyes. Prevalent in young children, it's increasingly diagnosed in adults — especially those with a family history of the condition — and may flare with exposure to harsh soaps, fragrances, and foods that provoke an allergic response.



Stretchy structural proteins that allow skin to snap back into place, elastin is particularly vulnerable to sun damage.



Emollients are moisturizing treatments applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. They cover the skin with a protective film to trap in moisture. Emollients are often used to help manage dry, itchy or scaly skin conditions such as eczema. The word "emollient" is derived from the Latin verb “mollire”, to soften.



An emulsifier is an additive which helps two liquids mix that may not mix well ie oil and water. Adding an emulsifier will help the insoluble liquids mix together.



Fragrances are another common irritant to those with sensitive skin, which is why it may be helpful to look for products that are fragrance-free, which means no scents have been added to the product. But beware of those labeled “unscented,” which may indicate that a scent has been added just to cover up the natural scent of the product.



They may be free but you do pay a price. These are highly unstable molecules created in the body by sunlight, cigarette smoke, age and pollution that latch onto and damage cells in ways that can lead to roughness, sagging, and wrinkling.



This age-accelerating process occurs when sugar molecules in the bloodstream bind to protein tissue throughout the body, creating advanced glycation end products (AGEs), free-radical damage, and inflammation. Among the tissues affected are the collagen and elastin fibers responsible for keeping skin smooth, plump, and flexible, which is why scientists now link a chronically high-glycemic diet to premature wrinkling and sagging.



Pressed from the seeds of industrial hemp plants, this supercharged moisturizer packs vitamins, minerals, and inflammation-quelling essential fatty acids. This is not to be confused with CBD or any cannabinoid. 



Often triggered by UV light exposure, a wound, illness, hormonal changes, or certain drugs, this darkening of the skin might appear as a uniform tan, melasma (patches of discoloration), or an isolated acne scar.



A type of hydrating ingredient found in moisturizers that actually draws water into the skin, but doesn’t necessarily keep it there. Common ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid are humectants. Products with these humectants allow moisture to bind to the skin without feeling greasy or heavy.



Setting the new standard of care for moisturizing, hyaluronic acid, nature’s filler, is an absolute necessity in any effective skincare routine. The most effective, deepest diffusing form is that of the cross polymer sodium hyaluronate. Its impressive skin penetration softens the dermal layer, hydrates at depth and leaves the skin youthful, gleaming and fresh.

The cross polymer (think of a mesh) increases skin's moisture content and prevents water loss. It can hold 1,000 times its weight in water and is typically found in high quality creams and serums. (see blog article All Hail Hyaluronic on this site).



INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) are systematic names internationally recognized to identify cosmetic ingredients. They are published by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.



A claylike mineral that absorbs oil and tamps down shine.



Organic fats (fatty acids, ceramics and even cholesterol) found throughout the skin. Along with proteins and carbohydrates, lips are the major component of every tissue and organ. Omega 3s are the most important lipids for maintaining skin suppleness and cellular integrity.



The pigment that gives hair, skin, and eyes their color. Patches of excess melanin can cause dark spots, freckles and moles. While needed to protect our skin and hair from UV exposure, the cells that contain melanin (melanocytes) occasionally turn cancerous and become a dangerous melanoma.



A chronic skin disorder characterized by brown patches of pigment usually on the forehead, cheeks, and chin. It tends to occur more in women and in pregnancy and can be triggered by hormonal changes, UV rays, and heat.



Performed by dermatologists and facialists, this treatment exfoliates the top layer of dead skin cells with a wand that sprays on and then vacuums off extremely fine aluminum-oxide crystals. Another form of the technology uses a vibrating diamond tip in place of the crystals.



A cosmetic procedure during which a device studded with tiny needles pierces the skin to incite the body's natural healing response, resulting in increased cell turnover and collagen production to improve skin's tone and texture. At-home tools have shorter pins, which work superficially; professional devices with longer needles drive deeper for more significant improvements in wrinkles and scars (along with greater downtime).



Moisturizer or emollient is a cosmetic preparation used for protecting, moisturizing, and lubricating the skin. These functions are normally performed by sebum produced by healthy skin but often need to be supplemented depending on climate, genetics etc. 



One of the more important ingredients to look for in any skincare product, niacinamide is a type of vitamin B3. Niacinamide's prowess lies in its ability to increase the fatty content of the skin cells (reducing fine lines and wrinkles) and aid in water retention. It strengthens the skin's outer layers, improves elasticity, and curbs redness and irritation. Research also suggests that niacinamide: can be helpful for managing acne, rosacea, and signs of aging including hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.



Abundant in some fish, algae, plants and nuts these essential fatty acids maintain the function of cell membranes throughout the body, preserving cells' ability to take in nutrients, dispose of waste, and hold onto water. In the epidermis, this can translate to smoother, more supple, hydrated skin.



A class of preservatives used to protect cosmetics against the growth of bacteria and fungi. These controversial ingredients — including methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben — have been shown to possess weak estrogen-like properties, but the FDA deems them safe when used at very low levels (.01 to .3 percent) in cosmetics.



Also known as a spot test, it is advisable to just apply the skincare product to a small patch on your skin and then look for signs of irritation or even an allergic response. An adverse reaction may be immediate or may be delayed. Retinols and fragrances are well known to be irritating so any product containing these means you must do a patch test first. 



Skincare peptides stimulates collagen production serving to reduce fine lines and wrinkles creating a smoother more youthful face. Considered comparable to Botox but in a non invasive cream, peptides are excellent for sensitive skin new to an anti-aging routine. In skin care, peptides are used because they’re thought to penetrate more deeply into the skin than large, full proteins, like collagen.



A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Water has a neutral pH of 7. A healthy skin barrier has an acidic pH of 4.5 to 5.5. And pH-balanced skin-care products generally fall on the slightly acidic side of neutral.



Photoaging is damage to the skin caused by too much exposure to the sun. UV damage comes typically from UVA (UV Aging) or UVB (UV Burning) and leads to dry, wrinkled and sagging skin. 



Photosensitivity is a common skin condition, manifested in rashes or swelling, that results from applying or eating certain medications, chemicals or foods, then exposing the skin to sunlight. The interaction of the sun with the skin of some people who have consumed these (tetracycline is one of the most famous) creates this self-limiting rash.



Phytocosmetics are cosmetics that are made with natural ingredients from plants or nuts. As skincare trends towards natural, clean and green (more clean-ical), interest in the therapeutic power of plants has skyrocketed. 



A recently discovered nut from the Amazon Cloud forest, the oil of this nut is the richest source of Omega 3s known. Also known as Super Sacha Inchi, this material was recently added as an accepted cosmetic ingredient by INCI. Rapidly absorbed into the skin with no oily residue, this extraordinary emollient moisturizes, soothes and smoothes the skin creating a liquid silky soft, lustrous and fresh face experience. This rare sacha inchi ecotype also contains an excitingly high level of tocopherols, a powerful antioxidant that reduces UV damage as it nourishes and protects skin from damage caused by free radicals.



A derivative of vitamin A used in fine line-fighting products to stimulate the turnover of skin cells and increase collagen production. The maximum amount allowed in over-the-counter products is 1 percent due, in part, to how easily retinol can irritate the face. Retinyl palmitate and retinaldehyde are weaker, less-irritating forms of retinol.



The natural oil produced by specialized cells in the skin. Sebum is composed of lipids and squalene. Some people naturally produce more sebum than others, giving them oilier skin. Sebum can also contribute to the development of acne.



A skin-care product that contains high concentrations of active ingredients and claims superior penetration of the skin's surface when applied. It is often applied by itself or prior to application of other face creams. Serum should be a standard item in all skincare routines.



A natural mineral that’s a component of sand, silica is added to make mixtures thick and to make them absorbent. Silica has to go through a significant chemical process to become silicone.

Silicones are best known for forming a barrier-like coating on the skin that’s resistant to both water and air.  They have a unique velvety texture, giving skin care products a slick feel. They often leave skin looking plump and smooth, thanks to that filmy coating.

Used medically, silicones have been proven to help heal wounds and improve scarring. Not all silicones are created equal as the cyclic silicones have been banned by companies like Credo and in cosmetic companies in Europe, due to their negative impact on the environment. So while it draws moisture to the surface of your skin, plumps up wrinkles and increases collagen producing blood flow, make sure that your product has a linear type of silicone (ie. dimethicone) rather than cyclic.



A measure of the protection a particular product provides against the sun’s rays. It’s important to note, however, that SPF is not an indication of the time it will take you to burn (SPF 50 needs to be applied just as frequently as SPF 30, for instance). The SPF value of a sunscreen only takes into account its UVB (Burning) protection and does not account for UVA (Aging) exposure or damage.



Squalane is a light moisturizing oil that mimics a component of sebum, the oily substance our skin produces. Rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, this natural moisturizer is made by the skin, but diminishes with age. Found in many skin-care products, it can make your face feel smoother and more moisturized without being too heavy or occlusive.



The outermost layer (of three) of your skin, the SC is the barrier that is often difficult to penetrate. It’s composed of skin cells held together by intercellular lipids with a layer of dead skin cells and oil on top. It keeps hydration in and potential irritants and allergens out.



Tocopherol is another name for the fat-soluble vitamin E, the only form of vitamin E that's recognized to meet human requirements. Found in plant and nut oils (such as Super Sacha Inchi), tocopherols are one of the more important skin vitamins given that tocopherols make up 96% of your skin's natural antioxidant defence system and aids in skin renewal and repair.



A type of skin-care product generally used to deliver active ingredients like chemical exfoliators or antioxidants.



The wavelength of ultraviolet light that leads to signs of Aging (as opposed to UVB for Burning) by destroying existing collagen and elastin within the skin and undermining the body's ability to create more of each. These rays cause skin aging and even cancer, and they are also generated in tanning beds. They are constant throughout the year, which is why sun protection should be worn daily regardless of season.



The high-energy wavelength of ultraviolet light that leads to darkened pigment in the form of tanning, freckles, and age spots — plus, of course, sunburns. They are strongest in summer months.



Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin.  A deficiency in dietary vitamin A can cause toughening and hardening of the skin.



Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a skin antioxidant that boosts collagen production and inhibits pigment formation. It’s also used in anti-aging creams because of its preservative properties. When applied topically, it can prevent UV-related damage. It can also inhibit the production of melanin (pigment) in the skin, making it a good option for lightening dark spots due to photoaging or other kinds of damage.



Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.  It promotes strong bones and teeth, but can be detrimental if collected in the skin as a result of too much exposure to the sun.



Also known as tocopherol, vitamin E has antioxidant properties which makes it useful for promoting healthy skin and hair.  It can also improve the healing of dermal wounds. As a moisturizing antioxidant, vitamin E protects against free-radical damage.