Ingredients - What's in Your Products

It's hard to know what is good and what is bad on the huge list of ingredients on the back of most make-up and beauty products, that's if there even is a list (there should be - be wary of anything without one) so I've made a list of things here, some good, some bad for quick reference.
  • AHA's (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) - such as lactic, glycolic or tartaric acids. They can help reduce the sign of wrinkles.  
  • Almond Oil - an emollient that is easily absorbed into the skin. Improves complexion, soothes skin irritation and inflammation whilst helping the signs of ageing. Helps prevent moisture from leaving the skin.
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice - traditionally aloe was used to soothe a lot of skin problems including sunburn, inflammation and dry skin. It contains enzymes which help exfoliate the skin by encouraging cell renewal so it’s often used in anti-ageing products.
  • Amala - See Indian Gooseberry
  • Arachidyl Alcohol – a waxy substance used as an emollient, thickening agent and textural enhancer.
  • Arachidyl Glucoside – mildly cleansing this is also used as an emulsifier that helps to mix non-miscible products.
  • Avocado Oil - high skin penetration and rapid absorption making it perfect for moisturisers. High content of proteins, unsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids. Sterolin which facilitate the softening of the skin and reduces incidents of age spots. Antioxidants make it good for sun-damaged skin and can help relieve dry/itchy skin. Helps increase collagen production to keep skin plump.
  • Azelaic Acid - found in wheat, rye and barley, a gentle exfoliating acid that helps to unclog pores and refine skin. It kills some bacteria that infects pores and used for rosacea it reduces inflammation and can help with hyper-pigmentation. Basically a gentle leave-on exfoliator which reduces sensitivity, break-outs and bumps. A must-have in most skin routines as far as I'm concerned. 
  • Behenyl Alcohol – a thickener and emulsifier that can also be used as an opacifying agent to reduce the transparency of a product.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide - an antiseptic. Takes around 4 weeks to start working. Can cause skin irritation so build up usage. 
  • Butyrospermum Parkii - see Shea Butter
  • Calcium Glyconate - skin conditioning agent. 
  • Carrot Seed Oil (Darcus Carota Sativa) - nourishes, tightens and rejuvenates skin. Emollient and contains vitamins E and C which work well together as antioxidants and firming and toning the skin 
  • Chicory Root - naturally mimics the collagen-boosting activity of retinol and offers an immediate firming effect. 
  • Citric Acid - AHA, often used to adjust acidity in products. Can exfoliate the skin but usually found in small doses to prevent products from being too alkaline. 
  • Coco Glucoside - one of the most gentle natural cleansing agents. Derived from coconut oil and fruit sugar. Can help the foaming capacity of a solution - helps water mix with oil and dirt so they can be rinsed off. 
  • Coconut Oil - a great antioxidant. Delays appearance of ageing and sagging skin. Is used to treat a lot of conditions including psoriasis and eczema. 
  • Cucumber - helps revitalise and tighten the skin. It's very mild bleaching properties gives a youthful glow and helps sun-damaged skin. It is 95% water so it helps add moisture to the skin, the seeds are rich in Vitamin E and potassium which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes and other signs of aging. 
  • Diheptyl Succinate – a natural alternative to silicone (hurray) giving the same soft, silky finish, feel and viscosity. Sustainable and biodegradable texture enhancer.
  • Ferulic Acid - a naturally occurring antioxidant found in fruits and seeds. It fights free-radicals that can increase the signs of ageing, and can help skin rejuvenation. It also helps the skin naturally protect itself against UVA/UVB. Best applied topically (so in a serum or moisturiser) this stabilises Vitamin C and E making them more effective. 
  • Foraha Seed (Calophyllum Inophyllum) - commonly called Tamau. Native to Asia and believed to boost skin cells renewal. Helps reduce the appearance of scarring, contains a lot of lipids that are components of human skin tissue. 
  • Ginseng - naturally supplies oxygen to the skin.
  • Glycerin - a humectant often used in toners to keep the skin moist
  • Glyceryl Stearate - derived from palm kernel, vegetal or soy oil and found naturally in the human body. It acts as a lubricant on the skins surface. Easily penetrates the skin and slows the loss of water by forming a barrier on the skins surface. Has been shown to protect the skin from free radical damage. 
  • Glycolic Acid - the most heard-of AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) excellent at penetrating the skin can reduce wrinkles, acne scarring, hyper-pigmentation. Reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis weakening the bindings that hold the dead skin-cells together allowing them to be exfoliated to expose live skin cells. Derived from plants Glycolic Acid also assists in boosting collagen production. 
  • Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil - see Sunflower Seed Oil
      • Hyaluronic Acid - found naturally in the fluids around our joints and in the eyes and skin. Although it is abundant in young skin it declines with age. It gives skin volume by holding onto water but does not easily penetrate the skin so it has to be injected and is the primary ingredient in Restylane - a cosmetic filler. Sodium Hyaluronic is smaller so it penetrates the skin when applied topically. As it is found in the skin it is not harmful or irritating and replaces the natural acid that is lost through aging and sun damage. 
      • Indian Gooseberry (also known as Amala) - Antioxidant super fruit. Helps prevent degradation of skins proteins enhancing the firmness of the skin. 
      • Lactic Acid - part of the AHA family, derived from sour or fermented milk. Good for improving skins texture and hydration level. Can be irritating or damaging to allergy prone skin. Can increase sensitivity to the sun so it's important to use sunscreen if you use products containing lactic acid. Moisturises and sloughs off the dead skin and promotes collagen growth - helps to even out the skin tone and diminish acne scars. Most gentle of the AHA's. Is used in some chemical peels. It increases natural barrier lipids in the outer layer of skin.  
      • Malic Acid - an AHA that encourages cell turnover and encourages the production of collagen. 
      • Niacinamide - helps keep your skin hydrated and firm. Soothes acne and is part of the Vitamin B group. Very good anti-inflammatory so good for those who suffer from acne and roascea. Encourages the production of ceramides which form a protective barrier. Works best at a concentration of 5%. Helps prevent trans-epidermal water loss and helps slow the transfer of melanin so helps with pigmentation. 
      • Oat Kernel Protein - a protein obtained from the kernels of oats - it soothes the skin. 
      • Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil - oil expressed from the Babassu palm. Used in soaps and detergents, makeup, skin and haircare products. Emulsifying and slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skins surface. 
      • Paraben preservatives (methyl, butyl, ethyl, propyl) - used as a preservative in conditioners, foundations, concealers, mascaras, face masks... these can disrupt hormones and have been linked to breast cancer (though no firm scientific evidence linking to tumors) and skin rashes, damage and ageing.
      • Retanoic Acid - Vitamin A, Retinol and Retanoic Acid are all very confusing. Retinol and retanoic acid are actually very different. Retinol needs to be converted into retanoic acid on the skin which is a big variable, so it's often more effective to get a retanoic acid. 
      • Salicylic Acid - a great product to have in the cupboard for topical application to breakouts. An anti-inflammatory known to ease aches and pains and reduce fevers, Salicylic Acid is found in a lot of acne, dermatitis and psoriasis treatments. A BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that removes the outer layer of skin and causes skin cells to shed more readily and unclogs and neutralises bacteria from pores whilst decreasing the diameter of the pores to prevent them re-clogging. 
      • Shea Butter - (Butyrospermum Parkiiextracted from nuts this is rich in vitamins A, E & F and helps visibly reduce inflammation, nourish and moisturise. Filled with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that help skin protection and rejuvenation
      • Simmondisa Chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil - used in bath products, eye makeup, haircare, makeup, nail care, personal hygiene and skincare products. Often as an emulsion stabiliser to stop oil separating from it's liquid components. It's skin and hair conditioning and can increase the thickness of the oil/lipid portion of a cosmetic product. Found in The Body Shop Nutriganics Gel to Oil Cleanser.
      • Sodium Benzoate - the salt of Benzoic Acid found naturally in cranberries, prunes, plums, cinnamon and apples. Used as a preservative - prevents fungus and bacteria from developing and changing a products composition. When used with caffeine (caffeine sodium benzoate) it can have a sunscreen effect and provide UVB protection. 
      • Sodium Hyaluronate - the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid. A powerful humectant that attracts and holds water helping hydrate the skin, keeping it moist and supply and reducing trans-epidermal water-loss. Because it attracts and binds to water it causes slight swelling which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's easily absorbed by the skin and as hyaluronic acid is found in the skin it is a natural ingredient to find in skincare.  
      • Sucrose Laurate - can help to soften and condition the skin and remove dirt. Found in The Body Shop Nutriganics Gel to Oil Cleanser.
      • Sulphur - This is used to treat various skin conditions as it's anti-inflammatory and it's antibacterial properties properties stops the growth of some bacteria. It also absorbs excess sebum. You don't want to overdo this as it can increase sebum production and can change the skin barrier.causes mild shedding of the top layer of skin. Helps clear away dead skin. It's a natural occurring mineral found in hot springs, clay and volcanic ash. Can soothe rosacea by reducing inflammation and killing bacteria. Its an essential part of collagen production. 
      • Sunflower seed oil - (Helianthus Annuus Seed Oilsqueezed from the hulled seeds, contains essential fatty acids, and linoleic acid which improves cell regeneration. It moisturises, non-comedogenic and anti-inflammatory. Particularly good for dry, dehydrated or environmentally compromised skin as the linoleic acid helps the skin synthesis lipids and repair the skin barrier. Helps keep moisture in the skin without clogging pores and doesn't leave any greasy residue. 
      • Tocopherol - naturally occurring chemical compounds related to Vitamin E. Fat soluble and antioxidant. 
      • Vitamin C - a powerful antioxidant that protects collagen whilst stimulation further collagen production. It plumps the skin, reduces redness, hyper pigmentation and combats dullness. A must in your skincare routine. But make sure you get good quality properly packaged. Look for Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid. 
      • Zinc Oxide - creates a protective barrier and deflects UV rays (UVA &B) from your skin. It can soothe the skin and ease inflammation. Antiseptic. Supports skin healing. Astringent so great for oily skin. Physical sunscreen. 

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