An A to Z Glossary of skin & hair care ingredients & terms. Definition guide of skin & hair care buzzwords. Focusing on ingredients with effective results.
- A (Vitamin)
- Topical Vitamin A is retinoids. Retinol has powerful anti-aging and collagen production properties. Retinoids treat acne and fade acne scars. Vitamin A keeps the scalp moist by producing healthy sebum, which keeps hair from drying out and breaking off. It also facilitates the hair growth phase. Too little or too much vitamin A from supplements can cause hair loss. Proper dosage is necessary. Vitamin A promotes the growth and repair of body tissues.
- Abyssinian Seed Oil
- Abyssinian Seed Oil is lightweight and absorbs easily. It contains linoleic acid, which is the predominant fat in skin cells. It forms the lipid barrier that holds moisture in skin cells, which keeps skin hydrated. It offers high spreadability with no tack. Abyssinian Seed Oil uniquely contains a high percentage of unsaturated C22 fatty acids, making it highly resistant to oxidation.
- Acacia (Shikakai) is a flowering shrub. It improves hair texture as a conditioning agent. It nourishes the scalp to promote hair growth. Shikakai is also used as a gentle shampoo. Combine with Amla as a hair treatment. On the skin, Acacia moisturizes, firms, and tightens; it reduces the look of wrinkles and smooths skin. It is often used in natural peel-off face masks to form a film.
- A Brazilian fruit that is high in nutrients and antioxidants. It delays signs of aging. While everyone can benefit from Acai, it is particularly useful for skin that has not yet shown signs of aging.
- See Argireline.
- Acetyl hexapeptide-37
- Acetyl hexapeptide-37 is a synthetic peptide. It is a combination of amino acids alanine, proline, serine, and glycine. Acetyl hexapeptide-37 balances the water in the skin’s surface layers to alleviate dehydrated skin.
Achillea Millefolium Extract
- Achillea Millefolium Extract is Yarrow. Traditionally used in both eastern and western ancient medicine and folk medicine practice, it reduces inflammation while promoting healing and circulation.
- Adapalene is Differin, OTC retinol available for acne.
- Age Spots
- Age spots are small and flat pigment spots due to sun exposure. Age spots usually occur after the age of 40.
- Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract
- Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract comes from the Ladys mantle flower/herb. It is rich in tannins, flavonoids, and salicylic acid. Salicylic build collagen and treats acne.
- Alcohol used as a stabilizer in products. Not all alcohols in skin and hair care are drying or irritating. There are “good” moisture-binding alcohols, preservative alcohols that are considered neutral to helpful, and “bad” alcohols that can be drying to hair and skin.
- Algae Extract
- Algae Extract is packed with skin essential vitamins and minerals. It not only detoxifies the skin. but algae conditions, hydrates, and softens skin while refining skin texture. The amino acids in algae neutralize free-radicals. Algae can improve skin barrier function. The Polyphenols in algae offer anti-aging benefits.  Red and brown algae each have unique properties within skincare. Algae used in tandem with light therapy offers increased benefits.
- Almond Seedcake
- Almond Seedcake (Extract) is a natural organic coating agent useful in hair conditioners and leave-in treatments. It has amino acids and proteins to strengthen the hair strand and smooth the appearance of the cuticle. Very helpful in restoring the appearance of health on damaged hair.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids are often referred to as AHAs. AHAs are a group of acids from sugar cane milk, grapes and citrus. AHAs are highly effective at making skin and wrinkles appear smoother. AHAs remove and loosen cells from the skin surface and helps the skin retain moisture. Some types of AHAs include lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and glycolic acid. AHAs are preferred for mature skin as there is no excess scrubbing or rubbing to achieve results.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is useful as both a vitamin and topical serum. It improves cellular energy production and reduces inflammation, a major cause of aging. It makes the skin have a natural glow. Helps the body best use Vitamin C and CoQ10. ALA improves cellular energy production, making skin look brighter. ALA is 400 times more powerful an antioxidant than Vitamin C and virtually eliminates free radicals.
Aloe Vera, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice comes from the Aloe Vera plant. It feeds the hair with essential nutrients and makes hair smooth, hydrated, soft, and shiny. Aloe Vera has an enzyme that repairs dead skin cells on the scalp for optimal hair growth. Aloe Vera soothes minor burns, scrapes, and heals the skin. It provides nourishment to the skin as it contains Vitamins A, C, Bs, and E as well as minerals and enzymes. This skin “food” heals, hydrates, and accelerates skin cell growth. It provides anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
- Alopecia is the complete or partial loss of hair in either gender.
- Altreno is the first tretinoin lotion made specifically for adult acne.
- Amino Acids
- Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in products. These small acids compose keratin. Keratin is the main structural component of hair. Amino acids contained in hair care are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft to repair and strengthen. Amino Acids are also found in skincare, generally geared towards collagen production.
- Amla (AKA Emblica Officinalis) is for both hair and skin care. For skin care, Amla is high in Vitamin C to increase collagen and fades scars. Amla is nutrient-rich and restorative. Amla is a wonder fruit. It is a non-greasy oil to help grow long, silky and shiny hair. Indian Gooseberry makes hair soft, silky, and pliable. Amla nourishes both hair and scalp, promotes hair growth and to prevent grey hair.
- Amalaki is another term for Amla or Indian Gooseberry. It prevents damage to the skin and soothes redness.
- Antioxidants prevent premature aging by slowing down or preventing the oxidation of important molecules, including within the hair and skin. They prevent deterioration from various chemical reactions with oxygen. Anti-oxidant foods, supplements, and topicals are a scientifically proven part of effective skincare.
- Apple Stem Cells
- Apple Stem Cells are a highly effective form of stem cells that target wrinkles. Apple Stem cells come from a specific Swiss apple variety.
- Apricot Oil
- An emollient that softens and smooths. Apricot Kernel oil is lighter than many other oils but still provides great sheen.
Ideal for thin, fine hair, or thin blonde or silver hair. An emollient that softens and smooths. For skin, apricot oil contains antioxidant vitamin E and nourishing fatty acids (mostly oleic acid 54-74%, linoleic acid 12-35%). It has nourishing and moisturizing properties and is quite easily absorbed into the skin.
- A natural skin-lightening agent extracted from bearberry. It is composed of glucose and hydroquinone. It inhibits melanocytes from producing melanin. Over time this slowly reduces hyperpigmentation. Effective on acne scars, photoaging, age spots and certain types of dark undereye circles. Pairs well with Niacinamide. Also seen as Alpha-arbutin in some cosmetic formulations.
- Argan Nut Oil deeply hydrates scaly skin and dry hair. For skin, it regulates sebum production to reduce breakouts and fades acne scars. It is an anti-oxidant with fatty acids that are like a superfood for the skin. Argan oil massaged into the scalp aids in stimulating hair growth. It softens hair length but its’ best use is the repair of damaged follicles.
- Argireline is called Botox in a Jar because it inhibits the muscle contractions that cause expression lines. There is no impairment of your actual facial expressions. Argireline does not repair skin or boost collagen; it only limits future damage.
- Arnica flower is a natural anti-inflammatory. It reduces puffiness without causing dryness or dehydration around the delicate eye skin. It also decreases bruising and inflammation. Arnica promotes healing and reduces swelling. Arnica flower is also known as the mountain daisy.
- Arrowroot Powder
- Arrowroot Powder is a skin softener that heals burns and abrasions. It also works to thicken the consistency of a product. Commonly used in organic shaving lotions and dry skincare creams and lotions. It is a pre-emptive remedy for razor burn.
- Ascorbyl Glucoside
- A stable C derivative that easily penetrates the skin. Research shows once it penetrates the skin it behaves like pure vitamin C offering antioxidant protection, collagen boosting, and fading hyperpigmentation.
- Ascorbyl Palmitate
- Ascorbyl Palmitate a stable form of topical Vitamin C. It is fat-soluble. It is less acidic, resulting in less skin irritation or redness when applied topically. As a supplement, Ascorbyl Palmitate is an excellent anti-oxidant and is readily available in powder and supplement form. See C Ester.
- Asparagus is an anti-inflammatory and diuretic that removes skin puffiness. It has excellent skin-conditioning and anti-aging properties. It slows the cellular aging process including collagen loss and dermis thinning.
- Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants in skincare. It is 65 times stronger than Vitamin C in combating free radicals. It protects collagen and elastin skin cells against oxidation or decay. [3, 4] It is moisturizing and has UV blocking properties. Astaxanthin counteracts UV damage and improves elasticity via improved skin function. It promotes collagen production.  Astaxanthin suppresses hyperpigmentation and photoaging. Clinical studies show Astaxanthin reduces wrinkle formation .
- Avocado Oil
Avocado oil benefits the hair, scalp, and skin. Avocado oil massaged into the scalp prompts blood flow to hair follicles. Avocado Oil is 72% monounsaturated fatty acids. This is higher than Coconut or Grapeseed oils. Avocado Oil mixes with water better than other oils. Avocado oil readily penetrates into the hair strand and even the hair cortex. Avocado Oil doesn’t sit on the scalp like Coconut. Rather it absorbs, making it an ideal moisturizer for dry, itchy scalps. Avocado oil decreases dryness and improves texture on hair and skin. Rich in Omegas 3 and 6, Vitamins C, D, and E, Avocado Oil promotes scar healing and collagen production.
- Azelaic Acid
- Azelaic Acid is an organic compound that brightens the skin tone. It gently reduces skin redness even in pustular rosacea.
- Vinay, T. et al. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algal Compounds in Cosmeceuticals. Marine Drugs 11(1), 146-164 (2013)
- Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Volume 11 (4) – Dec 1, 2012, Stability, transdermal penetration, and cutaneous effects of ascorbic acid and its derivatives
- Davinelli S, Nielsen ME, Scapagnini G. Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2018 Apr 22;10(4):522. doi: 10.3390/nu10040522. PMID: 29690549; PMCID: PMC5946307.
- Nishida, Y. and E. Yamashita. “Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System.” (2007).
- Camera E., Mastrofrancesco A., Fabbri C., Daubrawa F., Picardo M., Sies H., Stahl W. Astaxanthin, canthaxanthin and beta-carotene differently affect UVA-induced oxidative damage and expression of oxidative stress-responsive enzymes. Exp. Dermatol. 2009;18:222–231. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2008.00790.x.
- Tominaga K., Hongo N., Karato M., Yamashita E. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on human subjects. Acta Biochim. Pol. 2012;59:43–47.
- de Oliveira, Ana Paula et al. “Effect of semisolid formulation of persea americana mill (avocado) oil on wound healing” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2013 (2013): 472382. doi:10.1155/2013/47238
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