Beauty Glossary: Acne to Zinc Oxide forums

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Feb 12, 2005
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A common inflammation of the pores caused by buildup of sebum, keratinized cells, and the presence of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) deep in the follicle.

Active Ingredient

Components that impact cellular activity and structure, and stimulate or suppress function within the human body. Active ingredients work hard to bring about a change in the skin.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA's)

Exfoliants that remove the flaky, "dead" layer of skin from the epidermis (the skin's outermost layer) to improve the skin's texture and color, and speed up cell renewal. They 're also moisturizing and with continued use, may help smooth fine lines and wrinkles. AHA is the family name for a variety of acids: citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid.

Amino Acid

A chemical compound containing nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that is essential in protein structure. They are often used in cosmetic formulations to enhance water retention and skin moisturization.


Ingredients such as vitamins A, C, and E that help the body to resist free radicals that prematurely age the skin. They interrupt oxidation, the spoilage process that makes iron rust, cut apples turn brown, and skin collagen break down. In cosmetics, antioxidants are often used to extend the shelf life of a product. Lecithin, tocopherol, and citric acid are some of the most common antioxidants.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)

Commonly known as salicylic acid, it exfoliates inside the pore to help the skin shed cells and loosen plugs to improve the size and function of the pore. Highly effective in reducing clogged pores and breakouts.


A commercial name for a solution that is injected underneath the skin to paralyze the facial muscles, thus removing wrinkles.


Ceramides are lipids, which are oils found in all skin, that create a water barrier on the skin.

Cetyl Alcohol

A solid fatty alcohol used as an emollient and emulsion stabilizer that gives skin a velvety feel.


A fibrous substance used to build a moisture shield for the skin. Collagen is also found in human skin, providing firmness, elasticity, and a youthful appearance.

Comedone (aka Blackhead)

A pore blocked by a plug of sebum and keratin. When sebum comes into contact with air it darkens as a result of oxidation. Thus, a comedone is commonly known as a blackhead. A white comedone (aka whitehead) occurs when the blocked pore has a cap of skin over it, limiting its exposure to air.


The middle of the three skin layers. It’s often called “true skin†because it contains living skin elements - blood vessels, nerve endings, hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, collagen, and elastin.


A silicone polymer, it forms a protective barrier on the skin.

Eau de Cologne (EDC)

A women’s fragrance concentration of 2-5 percent essential oils that is used for generous, all over body application, and a men’s fragrance concentration of 10-12 percent essential oils that can be used liberally all over the body.

Eau de Parfum (EDP)

A women’s fragrance concentration of 12-20 percent essential oils for less long-lasting wear than a perfume. The most concentrated and lasting form of men’s fragrance, with a concentration of 18-22 percent essential oils. It is often referred to as cologne in men’s fragrance.

Eau de Toilette (EDT)

A women’s fragrance strength for more liberal use, with 4-18 percent essential oils. Most women’s fragrances sold today are in this concentration. A form of men’s fragrance containing 12-20 percent essential oils. Not as concentrated as cologne and still long lasting.


A substance contained in the skin that enables it to stretch. Topical elastin cannot resuscitate damaged elastin in the skin, but the large size of this protein molecule makes it a great barrier for sealing in moisture.


The outermost layer of the skin, it is constantly shedding dead cells that are in turn replaced by new ones. The epidermis is covered by the lipid film, which protects it form attack by bacteria. The thickness of the epidermis varies - the soles of the feet and palms of the hands are comparatively thicker, whereas the face, neck, and eyelids are very thin. It contains pigment cells, but no blood vessels or nerves.

Free Radicals

Highly reactive, oxygen-based molecules that oxidize and destroy whatever they come in contact with. A by-product of normal oxygen metabolism, caused when an oxygen molecule is produced with an uneven number of electrons from other molecules, most commonly found in DNA, lipids, cell walls, and cell interiors. The damage that results can be found in an array of aging symptoms, including less energetic cells, “mutant†or malformed cells produced from mangled DNA (leading to cancer), and wrinkles resulting from cross-linked collagen and elastin fibers. Sun, stress, poor nutrition, certain drugs (e.g. antibiotics), and smoking can all lead to free radical formation. Antioxidants interfere with the manufacture of free radicals or turn them into harmless alcohols by evening out their number of electrons.

Glycolic Acid

Derived from sugar, glycolic acid is one of a number of alpha hydroxy acids. It improves the skin’s appearance, accelerating the natural process of cell renewal by exfoliating the top layer of the epidermis.


The approach to healing that takes into consideration the entire individual, their lifestyle, stress level, exercise, occupation, and any other factors that may effect a person’s well being.


Irregular darkening of the skin. The epidermis contains cells that produce melanin, the substance responsible for the color of our skin. These cells, known as melanocytes, can become damaged by scarring, excessive sun exposure, and trauma. As a result, melanin production accelerates as a protective mechanism and dark spots can appear.

Kojic Acid

A natural ingredient that safely lightens and brightens the skin.


Using several forms of a fragrance such as bath gel, body lotion, after shave, deodorant, and eau de toilette to extend the wear of the fragrance.

Middle Note

The middle note determines the character of the fragrance and is the stage in its development after the top note has faded and before the base note develops - approximately 20 to 30 minutes after the fragrance is applied.

Mouillette ( moo-yett )

A scent strip or blotter used to test the scent of the fragrance.

Parsol 1789

Also known as avobenzone, this is an ingredient that effectively neutralizes the damaging effects of both UVA and UVB rays in the skin which cause wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.


Dried powder obtained from freshwater pearls. It is used to add shine to lipsticks, powders, and other shimmer products.


A natural or synthetic compound used to link two or more amino acids.


The purest fragrance form, also the longest lasting due to the high content of essential oils.


A clear to yellowish, semi-solid insoluble emollient. It is an oil derivative, and acts as a lubricant in lipstick. It helps to smooth skin and prevents evaporation of moisture by forming a film on the skin’s surface.

pH Factor

The literal meaning is “potential of hydrogen.†This is a chemical term used as a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. 7 is a neutral value; 1 is the most acidic, 14 is the most alkaline. Normal skin’s pH is between 4.5 and 6.5, meaning that the acid mantle or lipid film is slightly acidic.


Imparts color in makeup products. A skin-staining, nontoxic dye. Generally the deeper or more concentrated the lipid, the more drying and opaque the product.


A family of substances, that when added to a product, provides elasticity, hardness, and strength. Examples of polymers include plastics, fibers, and rubber. It is a common ingredient in nail polishes.


A combination of flower oils and purified fat created during the maceration and enfleurage process.


Openings in the skin (epidermis) through which sweat glands secrete perspiration and sebaceous glands secrete oil. Each type of gland uses a different pore.


Aids in hydrating the skin, which extends the wear of foundation. Fills in the porous areas in skin to allow a smooth application.


Formed from amino acids, the body’s building blocks. Protein is found in all living cells. Animal and vegetable protein, such as collagen and elastin are used in cosmetic products to produce a film on the skin preventing moisture loss. They contribute to the thickness of the emulsion and stabilize the product.


A germicide that works against yeast, mold, and bacteria.

Raw Material

Ingredients that are not refined or processed before they are used.


A brittle substance formed from the hardened secretions of plants. In color products, it improves the adhesion, gloss, harness, and flow of nail enamel color. In fragrance, resins are the extracts of balsams, roots, and gums that have a thin and sticky consistency.


A medication derived from Vitamin A. It is used for treatment of acne and wrinkles. It is also used as an exfoliant pre-treatment in chemical peels. Retin-A stimulates skin growth and gives a smoother, younger-looking appearance to the skin.


Found in the body, retinol is a natural, primary form of vitamin A. When applied to the skin, it exfoliates the surface layer, speeds cell renewal, promotes collagen production, and reduces wrinkles.

Salicylic Acid (BHA)

Occurs naturally in wintergreen leaves, sweet birch, and select plants. This BHA improves the appearance and condition of the skin. Its exfoliating action removes the dead cells from the epidermis, allowing new cells to rise to the surface. Salicylic acid is also antimicrobial.

Satin Finish

In color terminology, a “satin†finish refers to the creamy, velvety look given to the skin by foundation.

Sea Salts

Used for centuries, salts from the sea are used to exfoliate, detoxify, and recondition the skin.

Shea Butter

A natural lipid from the fruit of the Karite tree. It is an emollient that protects the skin from the effects of dehydration and other environmental influences.

Sheer Coverage

In foundation products, this coverage is a translucent color that evens out the skin tone, and allows the beauty of the skin to show through. Often favored by the young, those with good skin, or for a less formal, weekend look.


A substance derived from silica (e.g. sand) that has water repellant properties that can adhere to the skin. Silicone imparts emolliency for a silk-like feel to skin and hair. It can be found in aftershave preparations, hair serums, and straighteners, and protective creams. Silicone adds “slip†to cosmetic preparations, extends a product’s shelf lie, and improves a product’s protection against water evaporation.

Soft Floral Family

Characterized by subtle, floral bouquets with a hint of a powdery note. Aldehydes add sparkle, brilliance, and intensity to the fragrance. This family is part of the floral note fragrances.

Soft Oriental Family

Characterized by velvet notes of amber and spices touched with incense. The base notes are not as sweet or heavy as a true oriental, making these blends of flowers and spices distinctly softer. This family is part of the oriental note fragrances.


Often used in place of glycerin, sorbitol is a humectant alcohol found in berries, grapes, plums, and pears that can be manufactured synthetically and used as a moisturizing agent in creams.


A high-powered form of vitamin E that is 40 times more potent than traditional vitamin E. It has great antioxidant capabilities and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Top Note

The immediate effect of a fragrance upon the sense of smell. Chemically, the top note is the most volatile material in the composition of a fragrance. It is the note that is directly perceived out of the bottle and upon initial application to the skin.


The color that's found beneath the skin. Colors typically range from blue to green and green to yellow. Regardless of the skin color, undertones always remain the same.


Reddish-brown oil extracted from the roots of a fragrant grass and used in various fragrances.

Vitamin A

An essential family of fat-soluble antioxidants that are easily absorbed by the body. Vitamin A is necessary for normal cell growth and development. Helps maintain smooth, disease-free skin and is used to treat skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. Retinol is a natural, and the most active form of vitamin A and is used for cell renewal, wrinkle reduction, and collagen production. Accutane is a synthetic form of vitamin A, and is used specifically in decreasing the amount of oil production by the sebaceous glands.

Vitamin C

The most popular antioxidant, vitamin C is a required component in the production of collagen, the tissue responsible for skin suppleness. It has been shown to help slow the production of hyperpigmentation, or age spots.

Vitamin C Ester

A potent, fat soluble form of vitamin C that rapidly penetrates the skin without the irritating and stinging effects of natural vitamin C or other vitamin C derivatives. Provides all the significant benefits of vitamin C and is gentle enough for most sensitive skin types.

Vitamin D

Regulates the body’s absorption of calcium and is important in the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E plays a crucial role in protecting skin cells and membranes from environmental damage. It also deeply moisturizes the skin and calms inflammation. In products, it is an important antioxidant that is used to stabilize products against free radicals and enhance their shelf lives.

Vitamin K

Strengthens the capillary walls. It can be effective for people who experience rosacea and distended blood capillaries or couperose.


An odor that has a stimulating effect on the senses and generates a mental image of “heat,†conveying intimacy and tenderness.

Water Family

Created in the 1990’s as a result of Living Flower Technology. The water family has marine notes reminiscent of the sea and fresh mountain air. This family is part of the Fresh note fragrances.

Wheat Germ Oil

Derived from wheat, this oil moisturizes and soothes skin and has the added benefit of containing vitamin E.

Zinc Oxide

A mineral derived from zinc that contributes to the opacity, coverage, and color in foundation. Because it has the ability to reflect UVA and UVB rays, it is often an ingredient found in sunscreens.

you seem to have a lot of knowledge...... I have a question....

If makeup darkens as the day goes by, could it be the result of taking iron supplements or overly oily skin?

great info, after reading this, i will now go and get some vitamin c and A pills....

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