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A-Z List of Beauty Ingredients


Decode beauty speak with our A-Z of beauty ingredients. A quick scan through our glossary should inform and illuminate. And if we can just add one thing: Please treat this as a generic guide; if you want more information please 'google it'.


Acacia Senegal
Acacia senegal is a sub-Saharan species of tree from which flowers and gum (more commonly known by its technical name gum arabic) are derived. Gum arabic is primarily used in the food and cosmetic industries as a binding agent and can be found in cosmetic formulations such as mascara and hair styling products. Gum arabic is also a demulcent that is used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Acacia gum and flower extracts are traditionally used in herbal remedies for a variety of ailments.

A colourless, flammable solvent that is the active ingredient in nail polish remover. Also found in nail finishes and used as an astringent in skincare applications. May cause skin irritation, such as stinging, rashes and drying. Can cause lung irritation if inhaled.

> Acetyl Glyceryl Ricioleate
A semi-synthetic compound derived from glycerin and castor oil fatty acids. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

> Acetyl Hexapeptide-3
A synthetic peptide also known by its trademark name Argireline. It is manufactured by the Spanish company Lipotec, which claims it has effects similar to botox. Acetyl hexapeptide-3 purportedly inhibits the release of neurotransmitters, relaxing facial tension, leading to a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. There are no clinical studies to substantiate these claims, and no research on its safety.

> Acetylated Lanolin
An organic compound derived from lanolin (fat produced by the sebaceous glands of sheep and extracted from their wool). Acetylated lanolin has been reacted with acetic acid and is commonly used as an emollient due to its excellent moisturising properties (it closely resembles human sebum). However, it can aggravate acne.

> Alchemile
An extract of lady's mantle (botanical name: alchemilla). Widely used in herbal medicine to control bleeding and alleviate menstrual cramps. In topical applications it is used for its anti-elastase and free radical scavenging activity. Elastase is responsible for breaking down collagen and elastin, therefore use of alchemile is said to improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles. Has an astringent effect on skin. Active compounds are tannins (which may irritate) and trace salicylic acid.

> Algae
Marine algae are chlorophyll-containing organisms, ranging from simple single cell formations to more complex multi-cell forms, such as seaweed. Seaweed is a natural thickening agent commonly found in cosmetics. It is also used for its water binding and antioxidant attributes. Blue-green algae may cause skin irritation. See Carrageenan, Fucus Vesiculosis, Palmaria Palmata and, Seaweed Extract.

> Alkyloamides
Synthetic fatty acids. Some common forms are DEA (diethanolamine), cocamide DEA, triethanolamine (TEA), and MEA (monoethanolamine). They are used variously in skincare and beauty products as foam boasters, emulsifiers, waxes, thickeners, gelling and conditioning agents. Primarily found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths, hand and body cleansers.

> Allantoin
Allantoin is a botanical extract of comfrey that has healing and anti-irritant properties. It is a mild astringent that softens and soothes skin while promoting healthy tissue. Found in a wide array of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, particularly anti-acne, sun care and clarifying lotions. Often present in oral hygiene products, shampoos and lipsticks.

> Aloe Vera
From the aloe vera plant, one of the oldest medicinal plants known. Commonly used in concentrated gel form. Renowned for its softening and soothing properties, it is particularly beneficial for sunburned skin. It is an excellent emollient that provides a refreshing, cooling sensation when applied to skin. Therapeutic benefits include healing and anti-irritant properties, but studies are inconclusive.

> Alpha Bisabolol
A compound of the essential oil of chamomile that has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-microbial and mild sedative effects. Studies have shown that it reduces fever and shortens the healing time of burns in animals.

> Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHAs)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are commonly known by their acronym AHA. AHAs are derived from plant sources and milk, the most effective being glycolic (sugar cane) and lactic acids (sour milk or molasses). Most topical applications are synthetically derived. Concentrations of 5% or more exfoliate the skin by breaking down the substance that holds cells together, sloughing away old dead skin while stimulating collagen production. Proven to be effective in treating sunspots, fine wrinkles, skin texture and acne, it is thought they work by irritating skin, which triggers a healing response. The higher the concentration the higher the irritation, with redness, stinging, peeling, blistering and sun sensitivity as known side effects. Doctors may administer acid peels in concentrations of up to 70%. There is concern that cells have a limited potential for renewal, and that over use of AHAs could be harmful. A UV sunscreen should be used in conjunction with AHA use.

> Alpha Lipoic Acid
A powerful and versatile water and fat-soluble antioxidant that helps deactivate a wide range of cell-damaging free radicals. There are ongoing studies into its effectiveness in treating age-related disease in humans and animals, but they are still in the early stages. May be taken as a supplement or applied topically via cosmetic applications where it is professed to minimise lines and increase skin resilience and texture.

> Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, one of the biggest components of our bodies. Non-essential amino acids are synthesised by the body, while essential amino acids must be obtained from food sources. In cosmetics they are primarily used for their water binding and emollient properties.

> Anise
Pimpinella anisum - a flowering plant also known as aniseed or anis. Has antioxidant and antibacterial properties and is used in many herbal remedies. Anise extracts can be found in oral hygiene products, perfumes and skincare formulations. It can be a potential skin irritant and may cause photosensitivity.

> Anthocyanocides
A potent bioflavonoid derived from anthocyanins (Etymology (Greek) anthos:flower, kyáneos:purple). The pigments responsible for the red, blue or violet colours in flowers and fruits, eg blueberries. Anthocyanocides scavenge oxidants and free radicals as well as boosting intracellular vitamin C levels.

> Antiglyskin®
An extract of sunflower that is rich in phenolic acids and glycopeptides. Prevents glyco-oxidation and is used as an active anti-ageing agent in skin care products.

> Antioxidant
A chemical that reduces oxidation of cells. Antioxidants are produced by the body and obtained from dietary sources. Cells are oxidised when exposed to environmental (sunlight, pollution, smoking) free radicals (compounds that contain oxygen molecules). This oxidisation damages the cells' components and can even cause cellular death. All living organisms have complex antioxidant systems to guard against this damage. Examples of antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids and coenzyme Q10.

> Apricot Kernel Oil
A plant oil extracted from the seeds of the apricot pit. It that has a light consistency and is readily absorbed by the skin. It is used in skincare products for its excellent emollient properties and rich vitamin E and essential fatty acid content. Often used in face and body creams, soaps, lip balms and massage oils.

> Apricot Seed Powder
Produced from the crushed seed from the apricot pit. Acts as a natural exfoliant and is often found in skin masks and scrubs.

> Arbutin
A natural skin lightening agent extracted from the bearberry plant. Arbutin is rich in natural hydroquinones, organic compounds that lighten skin by inhibiting melanin production. It is safe for external use and does not have any toxicity, however when reading product labels it should not be confused with the additive Hydroquinone™, which is a synthetic lightening agent that mimics Arbutin. See bearberry.

> Arnica
A perrenial plant of the sunflower family also known as arnica montana leopard's bane and European arnica. Applied topically, arnica's main action is as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Used widely for bruises, sprains and the relief of rheumatic pain, there are no known cosmetic benefits. It may cause skin irritation and sensitivity in beauty applications.

> Ascorbyl Glucosamine
Ascorbyl Glucosamine - A vitamin C derivative that is more stable and less irritating than ascorbic acid. Used in skin lightening/brightening formulations. There is no evidence to substantiate whether vitamin C derivatives are as effective as vitamin C itself.

> Asebiol®
Trademarked compound consisting of amino acids and B vitamins. Main action is the controlling of sebaceous excretions. Used in skincare preparations for oil control. Has mattifying and astringent properties.

> Atelocollagen
Marine derived collagen used in cosmetic applications as a vehicle for sub dermal delivery and as a skin conditioning agent.

> Avocado Oil
Plant oil extracted from the pulp of avocado fruit. It that has a rich, heavy consistency but is readily absorbed by the skin. An excellent emollient that is rich in vitamins A, C and E and essential fatty acids. Used in a wide array of skin and hair products for its excellent conditioning and moisturising properties.

> Awapuhi
Zingiber zerumbet - flowering plant from the ginger family commonly known as pinecone ginger, shampoo ginger, awapuhi kuahiwi (Hawaiian) or ava pui vao (Samoan). The creamy liquid substance in the cones is used in shampoos and conditioners for its conditioning and nourishing properties.

> Azelaic Acid
Also known by its trade name azelex®, a compound derived from barley, wheat and rye. Azelaic acid has anti-bacterial properties and is used widely in acne preparations. It also reduces pigmentation and may be useful in treating skin discolourations, although there is little research in this area and it may be more irritating than other skin lighteners.

> Azuki Beans
Paseolus angularis - commonly known as azuki, adzuki and red oriental. A small, red legume grown widely throughout Asia and the Himalayas. Ground down it is a gentle exfoliator that has been used in Japanese skincare regimes for centuries, where it is said to impart soft, flawless skin. Azuki easily mixes with clay, brans and oatmeals and is commonly found in masks, exfoliants and wraps.

> Azulene
An organic compound that is extracted from chamomile and takes the form of a dark blue crystalline solid (the name is derived from the Spanish word azul, meaning 'blue'). It is primarily used as a colourant in cosmetics, and may have soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.


> Baobab
Adansonia - commonly known as monkey bread trees, upside down tree or tree of life, it is native to Africa, Australia and Madagascar. The oil extracted from the seeds of baobab fruit is rich in vitamins A, C, D and E and fatty acids, and has been used in African skincare for centuries. An excellent emollient used in moisturising and hair conditioning formulations, it is believed to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

> Bay Leaf Oil
The Oil extracted from the leaves of the Mediterranean bay laurel tree, is a skin tonic and local antiseptic.

> Bearberry
Arctostaphylos uva ursi - also known as beargrape, uva ursi, arbutin or arbutine. Extracts of the leaves of the bearberry plant are used in skin formulations for their natural skin brightening properties. This is achieved through the active ingredient arbutin and its metabolite hydroquinone. Hydroquinones inhibit melanin production. See Arbutin.

> Beeswax
Excretion of honeybees that is used to build honeycomb cells. Used widely in cosmetics and skincare formulations as a natural emulsifier, it can be found in moisturisers, lipsticks, balms and salves.

> Behentrimonium Chloride
A chemical that is used as an anti-static and conditioning agent in hair conditioners and colourants.

> Bentonite
Also known as china clay or kaolin. A natural mineral that has clay like properties. It is highly absorbent is and used in skin masks to absorb facial oil and clarify. Also found in cosmetics where it acts as a thickener and mattifying agent. May clog pores and can be drying. See clay and kaolin.

> Benzophenone-3
Also known as oxybenzone, it is a synthetic chemical used in sunscreens as a UV filter.

> Benzoyl Peroxide
A strong bleaching agent that is used in over the counter acne treatments in concentrations of 10 per cent and lower. It may be drying on skin and will bleach clothing on contact. Also found in teeth whiteners and hair colourants.

> Beta Carotene
Also known as pro-vitamin A. It belongs to a family of plant pigments called carotenoids that are found in yellow, orange and green leafy fruits and vegetables. The body transforms beta carotene into vitamin A. A valuable anti-oxidant that helps protect cells against free radical damage. Applied topically it is believed to reduce the effects of sun-damage.

> Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
More commonly known as salicylic acid, it acts as an exfoliator, antiseptic and preservative in cosmetic products. A very strong exfoliant, it accelerates skin turnover by breaking down and sloughing away dead skin cells. In varying concentrations it is a highly effective treatment for acne, warts, calluses, dandruff, psoriasis, and black heads. May cause irritation and sun sensitivity.

> Betaine
Refers to a group of surfactants; some common types are cocamidopropyl betaine (derived from coconut) and milkamidopropyl betaine (derived from cow's milk). They are used in hair and skin care products such as soaps, shampoos and gels for their cleansing, emulsifying and foaming properties.

> Bicarbonate of Soda
Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, sodium bicarb and bicarb. This naturally occurring substance was founded in the late 1840s. It has many diverse uses. It is a natural cleanser and can be combined with other natural substances to deodorize. According to www.healthbeforebeauty.com, one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in the bath may help with the itchiness associated with eczema. While www.bakingsodabook.co.uk suggests taking a cool bath with two cups of baking soda to cool the body down, bringing relief to symptoms associated with sunburn. Another tip involves boiling a pan of water, adding a cup of baking soda and boiling hair brushes and combs for about ten minutes to remove dirt. Refer current listing

> Bilberry extract
Vaccinium myrtillus - an extract of bilberry fruit and leaves. Used as a tonic and astringent in skin care products. It is a potent antioxidant when ingested, but it is not known if antioxidant benefits are gained when applied topically.

> Bioflavanoids
Also known as flavonoids or vitamin P, they are a group of plant pigments. Potent antioxidants that help maintain capillary strength. They are used in skin care applications as anti-aging agents, to prevent sunspots and irregular pigmentation, and to assist in the absorption of vitamin C.

> Bioprotectyl®
Bio-engineered compound derived from pyrus malus (apple) extract. Rich in phenolic compounds, bioprotectyl® claims to act as a free radical scavenger and antioxidant in skin care formulations.

> Biowhite®
Trademark name for a complex derived from plant extracts: scutellaria, white mulberry, saxifrage, and grape. It has skin depigmentation effects by blocking melanin production and is used in skin care products as a skin brightener/whitener.

> Bitter Orange
Citrus aurantium - citrus tree extract that is used in fragrances, and in skin care formulations treating cellulite.

> Borage Seed Oil
Derived from the crushed seeds of the borage plant, borage seed oil (borago officinalis) is beneficial both topically and internally. It is rich in gamma linolenic acid - an omega-6 fatty acid, which makes it highly beneficial for the body's metabolism, brain function and for healthy hair, bones and skin. Because borage seed oil helps regenerate and stimulate cell renewal, it can be useful for psoriasis, eczema and prematurely aged skin.

> Botanisil
Derived from silica, this ingredient is used to moisturise and protect the skin. It contributes to water repellency and leaves a soft, smooth feeling.

> Botox®
Trademark name for botulinum toxin type A, a complex produced from the bacterium clostridium botulinum. Botox® temporarily smoothes out facial wrinkles by paralysing the underlying muscles. Treatments need to be repeated every four to six months. Side effects may include droopy eyelids, headache and nausea.

> Bromelain
A digestive enzyme that is present in the pineapple plant. It is used as an exfoliant in cosmetics for its ability to dissolve dead skin cells. Can be a skin irritant.

> Burdock
Used in acne treatments, burdock has antibacterial properties and can be called upon to help regulate oil production. Burdock is known to be a natural healer and a blood purifier. A good source of vitamins E and P and B-complex, burdock can help skin disorders, reduce pain and swelling, while cleansing and purifying the blood. It can also be used to nourish oily skin. Burdock root oil extract is used in Europe as a hair treatment. It feeds the scalp, promoting hair strength, shine and body. It can be used as a natural hair tonic to reduce an itching scalp, combat dandruff and heal the skin.


> Caffeine
Alkaloid found in the coffee tree, tea, guarana berries, cocoa and yerba mate. It is claimed that caffeine stimulates skin circulation. Used as a skin-conditioning agent in cellulite creams. May have antioxidant benefits.

> Calendula
Calendula is a natural remedy for many of life's little afflictions such as eczema, burns, inflammation, bruises, rashes, sunburn, chapped skin and insect bites. It is the anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and astringent properties of calendula that make it such a soothing (and useful) ingredient. And it is calendula's healing properties that make it a sound choice for those with sensitive skin.

> Camphor
A fragrant compound found in the wood of the camphor laurel tree, cinnamonum camphora. It can also be manufactured synthetically from oil of turpentine. Used as a soother and calmant in cosmetics, it has a cooling effect on skin, similar to menthol. Often found in acne preparations, medicated powders and lip balms. Poisonous when ingested.

> Canadian Honey
Honey is the saccharic secretion of the honeybee. It functions in cosmetics as an emollient, humectant and moisturiser. Has mild antiseptic qualities and is found used widely in lotions, creams, soaps and balms. Canadian honey is prized for its high quality.

> Candelilla Wax
Derived from the leaves of a small shrub, euphorbia cerifera and euphorbia antisyphilitica, it is used as a stabiliser and thickener in cosmetic products. It gives lipsticks and stick foundations their form and is also found in lip balms and lotion bars.

> Canola
Canola is a contraction of Canadian oil. It is low acid and is a cultivated variety of rapeseed with much lower levels of erucic acid; also known as LEAR oil (low erucic acid rapeseed). A natural moisturising factor (mimics lipid content of skin), it is used as an emollient in skin care and cosmetics. It provides barrier repair and has anti-inflammatory properties.

> Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
Derived from coconut and palm kernel oils, it is an emollient, lubricant and solvent in skin, hair and make-up products.

> Carnosic Acid
Fat-soluble phenolic compound extracted from the leaves of the rosemary plant; rosa marinus officinalis. Used as a natural antioxidant additive in skin preparations.

> Carob (Locust Bean Gum)
Derived from the seeds of the carob pod, locust bean gum is used as a stabiliser and thickener in cosmetics.

> Carotene
See Beta Carotene

> Carrot
Carrots are a fantastic source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is recommended by dermatologists to keep skin young and smooth. Acne is also respondent to vitamin A. The oil derived from carrots also has its uses. Carrot oil accelerates epidermal regeneration and acts as a free radical scavenger. Munching on a carrot can also encourage healthy hair, skin and bones.

> Carrot Seed Oil
Daucus carota or daucus carota sativa - carrot seed extract. Used in skin and hair products as an emollient and astringent agent.

> Cellulose
The primary structural component of all plants. Used in cosmetics to bind and thicken, and in hair styling products as a setting agent.

> Centaurium
Centaurium erythraea - extract of the centaury herb. Used as a skin conditioning agent in soothing creams and gels.

> Centella Asiatica
Extract of the Asian herb also known as asiatic acid, asiatic pennywort, gotu kola, hydrocotyl and pegaga. Used in anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle and stretch mark creams, where it claims to speed up fibroblast activity. Has wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

> Ceramides
A naturally occurring skin lipid found within the cell membrane, it is a major structural component of the epidermis. A skin conditioning agent, synthesised ceramides claim to visibly reduce the signs of ageing through replenishment of ceramide loss, improving barrier function and preventing water loss.

> Chamomile
Anthemis nobilis - also known as camomile or Roman camomile, an extract of the chamomile flower; and Anthemis nobiliso oil - a volatile oil distilled from the chamomile flower head. A tonic and skin-conditioning agent that has soothing and anti-irritant properties It is commonly found in toners, skin and face creams, sunburn creams, burn ointments and hair rinses.

> Charcoal
Known as activated carbon or activated charcoal. A carbon material derived from burning organic matter in a super oxygenated environment, resulting in a material that has a huge increase in surface area relative to its volume, eg one teaspoon = a surface area of 10,000 feet. This gives it uniquely absorbent properties that allow it to bind to, and draw out, toxins from deep within the skin. Used in face cleansers, masks and facial bars. Also used to treat wounds and poisonings.

> Chlorella Micro-Algae
Chlorella emersonii, chlorella pyrenoidosa and chlorella vulgaris - single-celled green algae. Rich in proteins, amino acids and chlorophyll, it is used in anti-ageing products where it claims to restructure and regenerate tissue.

> Chlorelline®
Active ingredient bio-engineered from algae. Rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids, it is thought claims to regulate cellular metabolism and activate protein synthesis.

> Chocolate
According to research conducted by scientists from Holland's National Institute of Public Health and Environment, dark chocolate has four times as many antioxidants as tea. The research results indicated that dark chocolate has 53.5mg of catechins per 100g, milk chocolate has 15.9mg per 100g, whereas black tea contains a mere 13.9mg per 100mL. Note: it's important to bear in mind the amount of fat and sugar contained in chocolate.

> Clariskin II®
Active ingredient bio-engineered from wheat germ. Contains glutathione and glutathione reductase, which control melanin production. Used in skin whitening/brightening formulations.

> Clay
Highly absorbent, natural minerals with bulking, anti-caking, mattifying, thickening and opacifying properties. Found in many personal care and make-up products, eg masks, foundations, powders, bases, eye shadows, deodorants and soaps. See Bentonite and Kaolin.

> Cocoa Butter
Theobroma cacao - a natural, edible oil extracted from the cacao bean. A highly stable fat, rich in antioxidants with a long storage life, it is an excellent emollient renowned for its skin softening properties.

> Coconut Oil
Or coconut butter - a natural fat extracted from coconuts. An excellent emollient, coconut oil is a safe and effective moisturiser used in a wide array of skin, hair and make-up products.

> Coenzyme Q10
Also known as ubiquinone or vitamin Q, it is a vitamin- like substance synthesised by the body. It plays a vital role in the delivery of cellular energy and has antioxidant effects. As we age, production of Q10 tapers off. It is used in anti-ageing skin creams to boost skin repair and regeneration, but there is limited evidence regarding benefits from topical application. Q10 supplementation is used in the treatment of heart conditions and gum disease. Should not be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding.

> Cohesine®
Active ingredient bio-engineered from sesame. Claims to be a metabolic activator that increases cell cohesion and strengthens the epidermis.

> Copper Gluconate
A type of copper peptide that is readily absorbable. Copper is an essential element that promotes wound healing and antioxidant activity. The enzyme responsible for elastin and collagen formation, lysyl oxidase, is copper dependant - therefore copper is a co-factor in collagen production. Used in skin formulations as a skin conditioner/protectant. When ingested, large amounts are toxic. Should not be taken by pregnant woman or lactating mothers. See Active Copper.

> Corn Oil
Zea mys - extracted from the germ of corn. Contains linoleic acid, which hydrates and softens skin. Used as an emollient, texturiser and carrying agent in cosmetics. Can be found in ointments, bath powders and soaps. See Epaline.

> Cornflower
Centaurea cyanus - an extract of the flowering cornflower plant, it is used in cosmetics for its calming, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Found in cleansers, toners, make-up removers and floral waters.

> Cress
Leaf vegetable. Nasturtium officinale - an extract of the flowers and leaves of the watercress. Used as a tonic, antiseborrheic and soothing agent, found in facial creams, cleansers, eye creams, oil controllers, make-up removers, masks etc. Tropaeolum majus - an extract of the flowers, leaves and stems of the Indian cress. Used as tonic and anti-microbial agent;, found in toners and masks.

> Cucumber
Cucumis sativas - juice, extract or oil from the cucumber fruit. An emollient due to its high water content.

> Cyprus
Cupressus sempervirens - An extract of the cone, leaves, twigs or nuts of the cypress tree. Used as a firming agent in cosmetics.


> Decyl Glucoside
An extract of corn that is used as a surfactant. Surfactants emulsify oil and fats, rinsing them away easily and completely. Decyl glucoside is a particularly mild cleansing agent that is biodegradable, and has with a low toxicity profile. It does not irritate or cause sensitivity, and is therefore used in a vast array of personal care and cosmetic products.

> Deionised/Demineralised water
DI water or de-ionised water (aqua on product labels) is water that has been purified through the removal of all ions, except H3O+ and OH?. Deionised water is used in all cosmetic and skin care products to prevent ingredients from being contaminated with impurities, that would compromise product stability and performance.

Short for dihydroxyacetone, a simple non-toxic sugar mainly derived from plant sources, eg sugar beets. DHA is the active tanning ingredient in all self-tanning products. It reacts with the amino acids on the skin surface resulting in brown colouring. It does not wash away but fades gradually over a period of days in conjunction with the skin's natural exfoliation process. Safe to use, it does not damage skin and is considered the most effective self-tanning additive available.

> Dibutyl Phthalate
A plasticiser. Plasticisers are man-made compounds used to soften material, increasing workability. Commonly found in nail polish, colognes, perfumes and hair sprays. Dibutyl phthalate is toxic, and inhalation may cause nose, throat and eye irritation.

> Diethanolamine
Also known as DEA. DEA is a synthetic fatty acid that functions as a surfactant, emulsifier and foam boaster in personal care products such as shampoos, hair dyes and bath products. DEA itself is rarely used in cosmetics, but DEA-related ingredients in concentrations of 1-5% are. Residual build-up of DEA may be carcinogenic. S; studies on laboratory animals have shown a link between DEA/DEA-related ingredients and cancer. Additionally there is evidence that DEA reacts with nitrate preservatives in products to form nitrosamines; nitrosamines are carcinogenic chemical compounds that can cause cancer in humans. DEA-related ingredients are: cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate, triethanolamine.

> DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol)
A compound naturally found in fish that has been shown to firm skin and improve skin tone. A non-animal source is used in skin care.

> Dogwood
A species of deciduous woody plant. Extracts of the bark and fruit have shown to have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antioxidant effects.


> Ensulizole
Also known as phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid, a UVB filter/absorber used in sunscreen products. It has a non-greasy feel due to its water solubility and is used in products wishing to obtain a non-greasy finish, such as cosmetic moisturisers.

> Enzyme
Protein molecules essential to life, they speed up chemical reactions within biological cells. Used in skin care formulations to speed up the breakdown and removal of damaged/dead skin cells, where it is claimed they can cure acne, remove hyperpigmentation, freckles, or wrinkles, and help restore skin's youthfulness. A group of enzymes known as oxidoreductases are said to have anti-oxidant properties. Enzymes are commonly identified through the 'ase' suffix, eg papaya: proteinase papain. See bromelain, papaya.

> Epaline®
A derivative of corn oil extract that has been enriched with oxygen. It is used for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

> Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Commonly known as omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega 6 (linoleic acid). Essential to human health these polyunsaturated fats cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained through nutritional sources. EFAs play an important role in cell membrane structure: they are necessary for the proper functioning of body cells, and influence the shape and fluidity of membranes. They help preserve moisture and have anti-inflammatory properties. Supplemental use of omega 3s has shown to benefit skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema. Topically, EFAs may be used in skin formulations as emollients. For further info visit: http://www.canolainfo.org/resources/litsearch.html

> Ester-C®
The trademark name of a patented non-acidic form of vitamin C. The makers claim that ester-C® is absorbed faster and retained more readily than ordinary vitamin C due to the addition of vitamin C metabolites. It is used in cosmetic formulations where it purports to deliver the collagen and antioxidant benefits of vitamin C with far higher stability and penetrability. There is little independent data substantiating these claims and it is argued that the best form of vitamin C is that which is naturally synthesised by animals. See ascorbic acid.

> Ethyl Acetate
Known as acetic acid ethyl ester, ethyl ethanoate, acetic ether or acetic ester. A clear, flammable liquid synthesised from acetic acid and ethanol. Used as a solvent in nail polish, nail polish remover, base coats and other manicuring preparations.

> Eucalyptus Extract
Eucalyptus globulus - an extract of the leave of the eucalyptus tree. It may have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Used as a tonic and masking agent, it is found in soaps, gargles, sprays, lozenges and dentrifices. It is also used in lice treatments and insect repellents. Can be a skin irritant.

> Evening Primrose Oil
Oil extracted from the seeds of the flowering plant evening primrose plant: oenothera biennis. The oil is rich in the omega 6 fatty acids: linolenic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Evening primrose oil is used to treat skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. Supplementation with evening primrose oOil supplements areis said to alleviate PMS, but evidence is inconclusive. It should not be taken during pregnancy, or by individuals with epilepsy. A doctor should be consulted if taking other forms of medication.

> Eyebright Extract
An astringent and a tonic herb with anti-inflammatory properties, traditionally used to treat eye conditions.

> Exsy ARL®
A patented pseudopeptide that is used as a detoxifier (anti-pollutant) in skin formulations. Claims to protect proteins from damage caused from pollution and stress.


> Fagara Bark Extract
This bark from the bark of Prickly Ash is used to treat skin afflictions and promote healthy circulation. It is a tonic and mild analgesic.

> Fatty Acids
Fatlike chemical compounds derived from plant and animal lipids. Some types are: stearic acid (animal fat), oleic acid (olive oil), linoleic acid (grape seed oil), EPA (fish) and alpha-linolenic acid (flaxseed oil). Fatty acids are structural components of the brain and cell membranes. Used primarily in skin formulations for their emollient and skin conditioning properties, or as an emulsifying agent when mixed with glycerin.

> Ferric Ferrocyanide
Known as prussian blue and pigment blue 27. A synthetic blue pigment used in some cosmetics as a colouring agent, eg eye pencils, shadow, mascara, liner and nail enamel.

> Fibronectin
A protein that is involved in the wound healing process, it is found in blood plasma and in the extracellular matrix of the skin where it helps bind cellular components such as collagen. It is used in skin substitutes for treatment of burns where it stimulates the wound healing process. Found in skin care formulations for its antimicrobial and skin repair properties. There is no evidence that applying fibronectin topically enhances fibronectin in the skin.

> Fig
Fig's revitalising properties make it a common ingredient in skincare products. Its high water content provides it with the benefit of cleansing the skin, improving acne and helping to clear the complexion. The sweet, warming fragrance associated with figs is often used in soaps and to scent candles, while they are also a natural humectant. Good digestion is also great for helping to achieve and maintain fabulous skin. Figs are high in fibre, making them a healthy snack.

> Film-forming Agent
A group of ingredients (including acrylates, acrylamides, and copolymers) found in haircare products and skincare products, particularly moisturisers.

> Fitoderm®
Trademark name for vegetal squalane derived from olive oil. This light non-greasy oil is similar in structure to human lipids and is easily absorbed by the skin. Used in skin formulations as an emollient. See vegetal squalane.

> Fructose
A simple sugar found in many foods, eg beet roots, honey and, berries. Often found in cosmetics and skin preparations as a humectant; it is a water-binding agent that attracts and retains water within the skin, helping the skin to function normally and reduces dryness.

> Fucus Vesiculosis
Commonly known as bladderwrack, black tang, rockweed, and sea wrack - it is a brown seaweed belonging to the kelp family. An extract of the dried thallus is used in skin formulations for its soothing, smoothing and emollient properties.

> Fumaric Acid
Used by cells to produce energy from food, the body synthesises fumaric acid on exposure to the sun. As a supplement it is used in the treatment of psoriasis where it has shown to be effective. In cosmetics it acts as a buffering agent, where it minimises the change in acidity levels of formulations.


> Gamma Linolenic Acid
Known as GLA, it is an omega 6 acid falling under the umbrella of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are necessary to human health. Found in plant oils such as evening primroseprimrose, blackcurrant, hemp and borage. The body also produces GLA from linoleic acid (LA), and therefore deficiencies are rare. In skin care it is used as an emollient and for the treatment of skin disorders. See Essential Fatty Acids and Evening Primrose Oil.

> Gatuline
Made from beech bud extracts. It increases protein synthesis, regulates the architecture of the skin and increases hydration capacity of the skin.

> Gelatin
Also known as hydrolysed collagen. A complex of proteins produced by the hydrolysis of collagen through prolonged boiling of animal skin, connective tissue or bone. It functions as a film forming, viscosity controlling and skin conditioning agent in cosmetics.

> Geranium
The extracts and volatile oil of geranium maculatummaculatum, and extracts of geranium robertianum can have mild astringent, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Used to stimulate and rejuvenate, it functions in skincare formulations as a tonic and astringent. Recent studies show that some geranium extracts exhibit antioxidant properties.

> Ginkgo Biloba
Strengthens bonding mechanism of the cellular layers, vasodilator. Rich in B vitamins & amino acids. Said to have a positive effect on collagen production.

> Ginseng
An ingredient well known for its revitalising, oxygenating and tonic action. It is rich in vitamins and hormones. In some cultures ginseng is used medicinally and is thought to have anti-cancer benefits. Ginseng is commonly found in sports drinks as it is said to aid physical activity due to its energy boosting capabilities. The root of the Ginseng plant contains vitamins that are useful in helping dry skin, increasing skin elasticity and rejuvenating the skin. Ginseng is popular in skincare, oral supplements and even in cooking.

> Glabridin
The compound of licorice extract. There is evidence that glabridin inhibits melanin synthesis and may be effective as a skin lightening agent. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is used to treat skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and to calm allergic skin. See Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Licorice.

> Gluconolactone
Contains four hydroxyl groups instead of one. Gluconolactone is a poly hydroxy acid (PHA). Unlike some other alpha hydroxy acids won't irritate skin, is more moisturising, and delivers full strength benefits of AHAs.

> Glycerin
A sugar alcohol that is naturally present in all animal and plant lipids,glycerol, and is also manufactured synthetically, glycerine. It is a water-binding agent that draws water into the skin to keep skin it moist and soft. As well as its moisturising properties, it is non-irritating and soothing, making it suitable for people with sensitive skin. In personal care products it serves as an emollient, humectant, solvent and lubricant.

> Glycoproteins
A macromolecule made up of a protein and a carbohydrate. Glycoproteins have many functions, they play a vital role in the immune system and are also components of blood plasma, cell membranes and the extracellular matrix. Used in skincare formulations as a skin conditioning and repair agent. See Fibronectin.

> Glycyrrhetinic Acid
Also known as enoxolone. An active compound isolated from the root of licorice. Possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is widely used in the cosmetics industry as a skin lightening agent due to its ability to inhibit tyrosinase activity of melanocytes. See Glabridin, Licorice.

> GP4G
Artemia salina, a micro-crustacean, releases this substance, which has the same structure and action as ATP, to promote cellular energy.

> Grape Seed Extract
Vitis vinifera - contains the potent bioflavonoid proanthocyanidins, an antioxidant that reduces or prevents oxidative damage to cells through exposure to environmental stress' such as pollution, UV radiation and smoking. Proanthocyanidins play a role in the stability of collagen and maintenance of elastin, however there is no evidence that this is achieved through topical application. See Bioflavonoids.

> Grape Seed Oil
Pressed from the seeds of various varieties of grape, this light, thin oil is high in antioxidants and vitamin E. It is a good emollient due to its high linoleic acid content and, it is commonly found as a base in moisturisers for its nourishing properties. See Essential Fatty Acids, Fatty Acids.

> Grapefruit
Citrus grandis - the oil, juice and extracts of the leaves, seeds, and peel are used variously in skincare products as an astringent, tonic and skin conditioner. Grapefruit seed extract has shown to have antioxidant activity and may also be anti-microbial.

> Green Tea
Leaves from the tea plant (camellia sinensis) that are minimally processed and therefore retain much higher levels of antioxidants than black (heavily oxidised) varieties. Green tea is a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants and studies have shown that applied topically it protects against sunburn and UV damage. Furthermore, there is evidence that green tea may be effective in preventing and treating cancer. There is no conclusive evidence that topical application of green tea diminishes wrinkles. See Antioxidants, Bioflavonoids.

> Guarana
Paullinia cupana- shrubs and small trees native to Venezuela and Brazil. The seeds contain guaranine, which is identical to caffeine. Extracts of both the fruit and seeds are used as a tonic and skin conditioning agent where it is claimed to stimulate circulation and combat cellulite. See Caffeine.

> Guava
Psidium guajava - shrubs and small fruit trees also known as guyava, kuawa or goiaba. A good source of vitamins B and C, and carotenoids, the fruit extracts are used for their moisturising and astringent properties. Can have constricting properties on the skin, and therefore may irritate.

> Gums
Gums function as binders and thickeners in cosmetics, and as film forming agents, eg hairsprays. See Acacia Senegal, Carob.


> Hawthorn
Crataegus oxycantha - shrubs and trees that produce small apple-like fruits. Hawthorn is rich in bioflavonoids and is traditionally used as a heart drug when taken orally. There is no data on its topical use. Should not be taken if pregnant or nursing, or by small children.

> Hazelnut Oil
Corylus Americana - a pale, aromatic amber oil extracted from the nuts of a shrub. Contains vitamin E, and is rich in oleic and omega 6 acids. Used as an emollient, it has mildly astringent properties and is purported to be good for acne prone skin.

> Hops
Humulus lupulus - A flowering plant, extracts of which are traditionally used in beer as a stabiliser and flavouring agent. It may have antibacterial properties and is used variously as an anti-microbial, tonic, astringent and soothing agent. Used widely in hair products for conditioning, it is also said to aid scalp conditions such as dandruff.

> Horsetail
Equisetum arvense - also known as bottlebrush and shave-grass, extracts from the sterile caules and leaves of the horsetail plant that contain high levels of nicotine and silica. Thought to act as an astringent and tonic, it may also tighten skin.

> Hyaluronic Acid
Also known as hyaluronan, a non-toxic, biodegradable sugar derivative that occurs naturally in the skin, cartilage and eyes. It is a major component of the extra cellular matrix where it plays an important role in tissue hydration, lubrication and cellular function. Found in abundance in young skin, it tapers off with age. A powerful humectant (something that attracts and binds water within the skin), it is commonly found in hospital burns units for hydration. Cosmetic benefits include its use as an injectable skin filler for lip augmentation, acne scar revision, and treatment of lines and wrinkles (trade name restalyne). In skin formulations it is a very efficient moisturiser, used to increase hydration, improving skin smoothness and texture.

> Hydroquinone
A synthetically produced bleaching agent that mimics hydroquinone found naturally in nature. It inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme needed to make melanin. Available from pharmacies in two per cent topical applications and found widely in cosmetics as a whitening and brightening agent, it is used to treat freckles, age spots and melasma. During application a sunscreen should be used and exposure to sunlight avoided. It may cause hyperpigmentation in some skin types, and may induce itching, stinging and redness in skin. Clinical studies have implicated it as a carcinogenic, but evidence is inconclusive. Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women. The EU banned the use of hydroquinone in all cosmetics in 2001.


> Idebenone
A synthetic variant of coenzyme Q10 that is claimed to be similar in structure. It is said to perform the same life essential functions as Q10 without the risk of an auto-oxidation reaction (under low oxygen conditions Q10 auto-oxidises, rapidly producing free radicals which damage the tissues of the body). Is also said to be more effective than Q10 in neutralising some types of free radicals. Used in anti-ageing creams, there is no data comparing its efficacy over Q10 with regards to topical application. See Coenzyme Q10.

> Indinyl®
Trade name for a botanically derived concentrate from the seeds of Indian senna, an Ayurvedic plant. It is similar in structure to hyaluronic acid and claims to improve water absorption and retention of the skin and form a protective film at the skin surface.

> Iris ISO®
Trade name for butylene glycol and iris florentina root extract. Rich in isoflavones from the iris flower, it claims to have estrogen-like activity that helps to fight against wrinkle formations, dryness and skin slackening.

> Isohexadecane
Aliphatic-branched chain hydrocarbons material, also known as isoparaffins, derived from petroleum. Colourless and odourless with a low toxicity profile, it is mainly used as a solvent for its ability to spread easily and its compatibility with other cosmetic fluids, including silicone. Found in colour cosmetics, make-up removers, skin, hair and sun products,.

> Ivy
Hedera helix - also known as English ivy, a climbing or ground creeping evergreen plant. A mild irritant known for its astringent, tightening and stimulant qualities, commonly used in skin care for its firming and toning actions. It may have antibacterial properties and can be found skin care as an anti-microbial agent.


> Jojoba
Simmondsia chinensis - a perennial woody shrub grown for the liquid wax (jojoba oil) contained in its seeds. An odourless, stable liquid that spreads easily, with excellent lubrication qualities and a non-greasy feel. Jojoba has unique properties that make it closer in structure to sebum than other vegetable oils and is often used as an emollient in cosmetics, and as a carrier oil in fragrances.


> Kaolin
Also known as china clay - a finely- textured clay comprised of layered silicate mineral. Highly absorbent, it is used as an oil-absorbing, bulking and opacifying agent in masks, powders, blush, eye shadows and foundation. See Bentonite, Clay.

> Kinetin
Also known as 6-furfurylaminopurine - a plant growth regulator similar in structure to cytokinins (plant hormones). Used in agriculture, it promotes cell division. Topically, it is said to reverse the signs of ageing caused by photo damage, but to date there is limited clinical data substantiating this.


> L-ascorbic Acid
See Vitamin C.

> L-Carnitine
Also known as carnitine and levocarnitine - an amino acid derivative, synthesised by the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine, it can also be obtained through food sources. An essential nutrient that helps convert fatty acids into energy. Because of its role in fat metabolism and energy production it is used in cellulite and contouring creams where it purports to stimulate lypolysis.

> Lactic Acid
An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from milk. The synthetic form of lactic acid is used in skin care products as an exfoliant due to its ability to break down the substance holding cells together. See Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

> Lactobionic Acid
A complex PHA. Combines the benefits of gluconolactone and galactose, with the latter a key factor in collagen synthesis. Lactobionic acid delivers unique skin rejuvenation and free-radical fighting benefits.

> Lady's Mantle Extract
See Alchemile.

> Lanachrys®
An active ingredient bio-engineered from chrysanthellis that claims to stimulate fat cell lipolysis. Used in slimming and cellulite formulations.

> Lanolin
Also called wool fat, wool grease, wool wax - fat produced by the sebaceous glands of sheep and extracted from their wool. A blend of oils and waxes, it is an excellent moisturiser that is found in a vast array of personal care and cosmetic products as a base and an emollient. The wool alcohol component of lanolin may induce an allergic reaction in some people. Medical grade hypoallergenic lanolin is used to treat eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, chapped lips, fever blisters, cold sores, cradle cap and cracked nipples. See Acetylated Lanolin.

> Laureths
A group of surfactants (synthetic detergents). Surfactants degrease and emulsify oil and fats allowing them to be washed away, and are found in many personal care products such as shampoos and cleansers. See Toxic Beauty article.

> Lavender
This evergreen shrub is known for its antiseptic, healing, analgesic and stimulant properties while also boasting a long history in herbal healing. Used in soaps, scents and skincare, lavender is widely available. Lavender was used by the Romans to scent their baths and even today the Tibetans incorporate lavender into an edible butter, which is used to treat nervous disorders. Lavender's calming scent is utilized to address nervous tension and lift mild depression. Massage therapists will often add a few drops of lavender oil to a neutral carrier oil to elicit relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.

> Lavender (flowers)
Lavandula angustifolia - known as common lavender, a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. Extracts of the flower are used in endless soaps, perfumes, shampoos, bath gels and cosmetics for its aromatic scent. Traditional herbal remedies utilise it for its soothing properties and ability to promote sleep. Said to be soothing to the skin, it also functions as a tonic and deodorant in personal care products.

> Lecithin
A phospholipid. A key structural component of cell membranes, it is also involved in the movement of cholesterol in the body and some brain functions. Available through dietary sources such as eggs yolks, soy, wheat germ, peanuts and liver. Commercial lecithin is isolated from soy and egg yolk and is used in cosmetics as a non-toxic surfactant and emollient, for its emulsifying and lubricant properties. See Phospholipid.

> Lemon Essential Oil
Citrus limonum - obtained from the fresh peel of lemons, it has a cool fragrance and is mainly used in cosmetics as a tonic and masking agent, to stimulate and refresh. May have antioxidant activity and is often found in skin lightening formulations.

> Lemon Juice
Citrus limonum - expressed from the fresh pulp of the lemon. Highly acidic, it is mainly used in cosmetics as a tonic for its invigorating and refreshing qualities. Traditional remedies include its use to treat rough elbows, dandruff and oily skin, to lighten freckles and sunspots, exfoliate skin and promote shiny hair. Its high acidity can cause skin irritation. See Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

> Lemongrass Oil
Cymbopogon - volatile oil obtained through steam distillation of the fresh leaves of an aromatic grass. Used traditionally for its insecticide, antiseptic and tonic properties, it is commonly found in pet products, soaps, cosmetics, deodorants, perfumes, massage oils, insect sprays and mosquito repellents. The main component of lemongrass oil, citral, can be a skin irritant.

> Licorice
Glycyrrhiza glabra, also known as licorice - legume plant from which a sweet substance is extracted from the roots. Its active principle glycyrrhizin is 50 times sweeter than sucrose and has pharmaceutical effects. The active compounds of glycyrrhetinic acid, glycyrrhizinic acid and glabridin are used in skincare for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and skin lightening effects. See Glabridin and Glycyrrhetinic acid.

> Linden flower
Tilia cordata - the flowers of a small-leafed European linden tree. Components include volatile oil, mucilage (soothing/anti-inflammatory) and flavonoids (antioxidant).

> Lipids
Lipids are a large and diverse group of biologically important molecules that are essential to life. Fatty acids, fats, oils, waxes, steroids and phospholipids are types of lipids. Major roles include cell membrane structure, energy storage and cell communication. Used in skin care products as an emollient.

> Liposomes
A microscopic spherical vesicle with a membrane consisting of a phospholipid bilayer and an aqueous core that transports drugs or genetic material into cells. In medicine they are used as delivery systems for vaccines, anti-cancer therapy and non-viral gene therapy. In cosmetics liposomes encapsulate active ingredients that are then deposited in the epidermis and dermis. Empty liposomes are also used in skincare where they increase skin humidity.

> Liquid crystal emulsion
A molecular structure copying the water/oil bi layers of the skin giving perfect assimilation into the skin.

> Lupin
Lupinis - also known as lupine, extracts of the seeds and oil expressed from the seeds of a protein rich legume plant. Contains isoflavones, phytoestrogen-producing flavonoids that are strong antioxidants. Functions in skin care as an emollient and skin-conditioning agent. See Antioxidants, Flavonoids.

> Lysine
An essential amino acid (the building blocks of protein). It is not synthesised by the body, and must be obtained from food sources such as legumes and fish. Lysine is one of the four main amino acids found in collagen, the protein that forms the structural grid of the skin. Used as an anti-static and conditioning agent in cosmetic products, there is no evidence that topical application of lysine stimulates collagen production.


> Magnesium Aluminium Silicate
A mineral belonging to the smectite group of clays. Primarily used as an anti-caking and suspending agent in cosmetics, or for its absorbing and opacifying properties. Can be found in facial creams, masks, hair care products, make-up preparations, hand and body lotions, shaving creams, anti-perspirants and, toothpastes.

> Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
A stable water-soluble derivative of vitamin C. Considered an effective antioxidant, it is used in skin care where it appears to have a similar potential to enhance collagen production.

> Majoram
Origanum majorana - also sweet majoram, knotted majoram, a perrenial herb with sweet pine and citrus flavours. The essential oil is used in baths and massage oils for its sedative and healing qualities. Traditional remedies include its use for chilblains and bruises.

> Mallow
Althea officinalis - from the Greek altho meaning to cure. A plant material derived from the dried roots of the marshmallow. An anti-inflammatory said to be good for inflamed or irritated skin, it can be found in ointments and creams to treat chapped skin or insect bites. Also found in skincare products as a thickening agent (contains a high percentage of mucilage; a natural gummy substance) and as an emollient.

> Mandarin Orange
Citrus reticulata - a small citrus tree with fruit resembling oranges. Extracts of the peel and fruit, and the oil of the peel are used in cosmetics for its tonic and skin conditioning effects, to cleanse, refine and brighten dull skin.

> Manuka Oil
Leptospermum scoparium - a shrub or small tree native to New Zealand and belonging to the myrteacea (tea tree) family of plants. Long recognised by the Maori people for its healing properties, the oil of the Manuka tree has proven anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and insecticidal properties. Studies have shown some types of Manuka to be 30 times more effective against gram-positive bacteria than tea tree oil. Found in personal care products to treat acne, eczema, dermatitis, athlete's foot, fungal infections and ringworm, it is also effective against parasites lice and scabies, and as an insect repellent.

> Marine Algae
Marine components such as seaweed, sea salt, kelp and marine algae provide a range of beneficial effects. They help increase circulation and oxygen supply, stimulate collagen and elastin production and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Ocean algae is also known to be one of the richest sources of natural minerals. Sea algae is often found in anti-cellulite or skin firming creams along with facial masks and scrubs that are intended to help detoxify the body. Note: there are varying forms of algae, each of which will regulate different skin types. Red algae - normal to combination skin; Green algae - dry/mature skin; Brown algae - oily and acne-prone skin.

> Marine Collagen
Refers to an ingredient derived from marine species that contains an essential amino acid, hydroxyproline, a critical building block for collagen synthesis. It is used in skin care where it claims to reduce the effects of photo aging and increase epidermal thickness.

> Marine Cytochrome
Cytochromes are membrane bound proteins that catalyse reductive and oxidative reactions. This marine derived biological active claims to be an anti-pollutant oxidant booster that reduces intracellular build-up of free radicals by increasing the oxygen uptake of the epidermis.

> Matrixyl®
The tradename for palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, a man made precursor to collagen 1. It is five amino acids linked in a fatty acid and structurally related to the c portion terminal of collagen 1. Claims to challenge retinal as a treatment for photo damaged skin without the irritation. Manufacturer studies show that it stimulates production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, key components of the extra cellular matrix, but there is little in the way of independent evaluation.

> Menthol Oil
Obtained from peppermint or other mint oils, or made synthetically. It is antipruritic (reduces itching) and has a cooling effect on skin. Found in decongestants, deodorants, perfumes, preparations for muscular and joint pain, and products for minor mouth and throat irritations, such as lip balms and cough medicines. Menthol oil should be kept away from eyes and mucus membranes, and may cause contact dermatitis or other types of rash if applied topically. Pure menthol is poisonous.

> Methylpropanediol
A glycol (alcohols containing two hydroxyl groups) used in cosmetic products as a solvent to dissolve ingredients or to confer a soft feeling to formulations.

> Mica
A natural mineral used in cosmetics for its pearlescent shine. Mica is translucent and its colour is achieved by coating it with a very thin layer of titanium dioxide through which light interference with the mica causes colour to appear. Varying the thickness of the titanium dioxide coating varies the colour result. Mica is the primary source of sparkle and shine in lipsticks, blushes, powders and eye shadows.

> Mimosa
Mimosa tenuiflora and hostilis, also known as sleeping grass, sensitive plant, skin tree - bark and leaf extract of a perrenial evergreen shrub. Used traditionally to treat wounds and burns (under the name tepezcohuite), it is promoted as a skin rejuvenator in skin care formulations due to its flavonoid content. May have antibacterial properties.

> Mineral Oil
Paraffinum liquidum, also known as paraffin oil, liquid fatum and white mineral oil - liquid hydrocarbons from petroleum. A highly refined cosmetic grade mineral oil used in a huge array of cosmetics as an emollient, skin protector, solvent and antistatic agent. Mineral oil creates a barrier between the skin and air, preventing moisture loss. It can cause acne in some people and there is a risk of chemical pneumonia if accidentally inhaled into the lungs.

Milk peptide complex - polypeptides, which stabilise the cytokines responsible for cellular equilibrium. Results in a firming effect.

> Mucopolysaccharides
Or glycosaminoglycans (GAG). A class of complex carbohydrates composed of amino-sugars chemically linked into repeating units, to form a chain. Found in the mucous secretions and intercellular spaces. See Hyaluronic Acid.

> Myrtle
Myrtus communis - a flowering plant. Extracts of the leaves and the volatile oil of the leaves that have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Used in skincare as an astringent and tonic.


> Neem Extract
A tonic and detoxifying herb that promotes healing and calms inflamed skin. Neem has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic properties.

> Neroli
A plant oil extracted by steam distillation from the flower buds of the orange blossom (citrus aurantium var. amara or bigaradia). A sweet, floral, citrus fragrance that is commonly used in perfumes, more than 12 per cent use neroli as a principal ingredient. Also used in massage and bath oils for the relief of nervous tension and depression, and in skincare where it is said to be a mild astringent (clearing oil) beneficial to problem skin.

> Niacinamide
The water soluble amide of vitamin B3 (niacin). Used in anti-ageing products, studies have shown it stimulates collagen synthesis and increases ceramide and fatty acid levels in skin. There is also evidence it reduces hyperpigmentation and increases skin lightness by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes, and is therefore a popular skin lightening active. Additionally studies show topical application if four per cent niacinamide is an effective vitamin treatment for acne that does not induce bacterial resistance. In short niacinamide appears to be an effective active in treating ageing and photo damaged skin by improving skin texture, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and skin barrier function.

> Niaouli Oil
Melaleuca viridiflora - the oil extracted from the leaves and twigs of a tree belonging to the same genus as the tea tree. Has antiseptic qualities and can be used to treat cuts and infections, acne, boils, burns and insect bites. Can also be found in pharmaceutical preparations such as gargles, cough drops, toothpastes and mouth sprays.

> Nicotinate
A form of niacin (B3) primarily used in cellulite and sliming formulations. It creates a warming sensation and claims to increase microcirculation, reducing the appearance of cellulite and improving the lipid profile.


> Oat
Avena sativa - a type of cereal grain. The extracts of the seeds, bran, and kernel, oil of the kernel and the flour and meal are all used in skincare. Traditionally used for soothing properties, oats are said to be good for absorbing oil and reducing irritation. They are natural exfoliants, and oat amino acids have moisture binding properties. Found in a vast array of personal care products including shampoos, cleansers, exfoliators, soaps and moisturisers, oat protein is also used in hair products to protect and revitalise hair.

> Octisalate
Also known as octyl salicylate, an active ingredient used in over the counter sunscreens. It is a weak UV-B absorber, but is stable, hypoallergenic, waterproof and emollient, therefore it is a popular ingredient in combination with other UV filters.

> Octocrylene
An active ingredient used in over the counter sunscreens. It is an emollient water resistant molecule.

> Olive Oil
Vegetable oil extracted from the fruit of the olive tree. Rich in fatty acids (oleic acid), polyphenols (antioxidant) and squalene (a natural component of the sebum and antioxidant), it possesses good moisturising, antioxidant and immune stimulating properties. Studies have also shown that it may counteract the harmful effects of UV radiation. Used in beauty regimes throughout the centuries, it has a multitude of applications in skin, hair and nail care and is found in a vast array of personal care products. See Antioxidants, Fatty acids, and Vegetable Squalene.

> Oxide Pigments
Naturally occurring compounds of metals that are used as physical sun blockers. The main three, iron oxide, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are chemically inert and safe, providing broad spectrum sun protection by reflecting, absorbing or scattering UV rays. Often found in non-chemical formulations, as they are not absorbed through the skin. Hypoallergenic.

> Oxybenzone
An active ingredient used in over the counter sunscreens. It is a powder absorber offering moderate broad spectrum protection. See Toxic Beauty article.

> Oxylastil
An active ingredient bio-engineered from soy that claims to be a oxygenating agent that activates cellular breathing, encouraging cell turnover and skin restructuring.

> Ozokerite
Naturally occurring mineral wax mainly composed of hydrocarbons that occurs in association with petroleum. Primarily used as a thickener, binder and emulsifier in cosmetics.


> Palm Oil
Vegetable oil from the fruit of the oil palm (elaeis) tree. A very good emollient that is rich in carotenoids (a source of vitamin A) and vitamin E, it also contains linoleic acid, squalene and ubiquinone (Q10). Palm oil lends hardness and creamy bubbles to soap, and is used often in the manufacture of soaps and other products as an emulsifier, surfactant and emollient. See Beta-Carotene, Coenzyme Q10, Essential Fatty Acids, Vegetable Squalene, Vitamin E,

> Palmaria Palmata
Palmaria palmata - also known as sea parsley, dulse, dillisk or creathnach. An extract of red seaweed. Used in skin care as a soothing agent, it activates the cutaneous microcirculation and has anti-irritant properties. See Algae.

> Palmitates
Salts or esters of palmitic acid, the major component of palm oil. Often used in soap as an emulsifier and surfactant, or in creams as an emollient.

> Pantothenic Acid
See Vitamin B5.

> Papain
Proteinase papain - the active enzyme of papaya. Found in hair and skin products where it is used to dissolve and remove dead cells. Can be a skin irritant. See Enzyme.

> Papaya
Also known as mamao, tree melon, paw paw - the fruit of the carica papaya tree. Extracts of the fruit and leaves are used in skin care as a tonic. See Papain.

> Paper Mulberry
Broussonetia papyrifera -extracts of the leaves and roots of a small deciduous tree. A botanical skin brightener that inhibits tyrosinase activity, the enzyme needed to make melanin. It is considered a non-irritant and is used in skin lightening formulations.

> Parabens
Esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. Parabens are used in shampoos, lotions, deodorants and lubricants. Due to their functionality and low cost, parabens are used in the majority of skincare and cosmetic products. See Toxic Beauty.

> Patchouli
Pogostemon cablin - Asian shrub belonging to the mint family. The oil is distilled from the leaves and has a distinct rich, earthy aroma. An extremely common ingredient in perfumes, it can also be used in skincare as a tonic.

> Peach
Prunus persica - the kernel oil, juice and extracts of the leaves and fruit of a tree native to China used as a conditioning and moisturising agents. The kernel oil is an easily absorbed light emollient containing vitamin E, which is good for dry or sensitive skin types. Also used as a massage oil.

> Pectin
A complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of ripe fruits and some vegetables, eg apples, plums, cherries. Forms a gel when exposed to acidic conditions (that''s how you get jam), and is used in cosmetics as a thickening agent.

> Peppermint
Menthol, the main active ingredient in peppermint, has a soothing and cooling effect when applied to skin, and is used to treat itching and skin irritation such as hives. Known for its invigorating and stimulating effects (reaped through foot creams and scrubs), it is also used in oral products to treat bad breath and gum infections, and in insect repellents. The extracts of the leaves and oil are believed to have medicinal properties (anti-microbial).

> Peptide
Short polymer chains of amino-acids that form the basic structural building units of protein. Synthesised bioactive peptides have many functions in skincare such as intracellular messengers, wound healing, tissue regeneration and anti-oxidant activity. See Copper Peptides.

> Petrolatum
Semi-solid hydrocarbon mixture derived from petroleum (Vaseline aqua petroleum jelly is petrolatum). An emollient that provides a protective barrier over skin, petrolatum is found in one of every 14 products on the market, including 15 per cent of all lipsticks and 40 per cent of all baby lotions and oils. There are concerns that petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens. Its use is banned in EU cosmetics unless manufacturer proves safety. See Toxic Beauty.

> Phosphatidylcholine
See lecithin.

> Phospholipid
A major structural lipid of the cellular membrane that contains phosphate. Used in skincare as a skin- conditioning agent to provide moisture or deliver other active ingredients, see Liposomes (artificial phospholipid membranes), and as surfactants and emulsifiers, see Lecithin.

> Phospholipoproteins
Complex of phospholipids and protein. See Phospholipid.

> Phosphoric Acid
Also called orthophosphoric acid - an inorganic mineral acid made up of phosphorus, oxygen and hydrogen. Used as a buffering agent, such as a pH adjuster.

> Photonyl®
A bio-engineered complex of cyto-chromophores that claims to provide cyto-photo-immunoprotection, ie strengthening cell immunity to provide protection from external elements.

> Photopreventine®
Active ingredient bio-engineered from lupine. Rich in oligosaccharides, it is used to reinforce the skin's protection barrier

> Phytoalexins
Anti-microbial substances that are produced by plants and that help to defend the plant by inhibiting the growth of invading microbes. Also a potent antioxidant benefiting skin, particularly for wound healing.

> Phytolene
Complex of pine, rosemary, hops, horsetail & lemon aromatic extracts for dull tired skins.

> Phytomalt
Extract obtained by residues and by-products of the distillation of malt from whisky. Adapted for sensitive or dehydrated skins.

> Phytotec
Green seaweed+Centella+Ginseng+Horsetail stimulates cell metabolism.

> Pine
Pinus - oil and extracts of the bark, needles and cones of a coniferous tree. Has antibacterial properties, and is used in skincare formulations as a tonic, cleansing or refreshing agent. Pine bark extract contains proanthocyanidins, bioflavonoid compounds that are potent antioxidants.

> Pineapple
Ananas sativus - a tropical plant. Contains an enzyme that breaks down and removes dead skin cells. See Bromelain.

> Pitera®
Patented ingredient derived from sake during the yeast fermentation process. Said to stimulate and renew the outer layer of skin, to provide optimum rejuvenation.

> Polyamides
Molecules chemically joined by peptide bonds to form a long repeating chain. Used as film formers in cosmetics and hair products; they provide durability, adhesion, water resistance, gloss and cohesion to products.

> Propolis Pollen
Enzymes collected from honey bee (bee glue) composed of resins, balsam, essential oils, pollen, flavanoids, vitamins and minerals. Has strong antibacterial properties.

> Proteases
Enzymes that break down the peptide bonds of proteins. See Bromelain, Enzymes, Papain.

> Proteasyl®
A vegetal peptide derived from the extract of pea. Used in anti-wrinkle products where it claims to reduce fine lines by reinforcing cutaneous firmness and improving cell regeneration.

> Pullulan
A water-soluble polysaccharide derived by bacterial fermentation from corn. Creates an edible, tasteless film, similar to gelatin, it is used for edible breath fresheners such as Listerine Pocket Packs. In skincare and cosmetics it improves texture and provides binding and film forming properties to formulations.

> Pumice
The powder from this light, volcanic rock is a mild abrasive used to remove dead skin cells.

> Pycnogenol
Commonly known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) - an antioxidant bioflavonoid found in grape seed, pine bark, wine, cranberries, and the leaves of bilberry and ginkgo. Reports suggest OPCs inhibit collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid degradation and lipid peroxidation, while increasing the cell membranes resistance to injury and degradation. See Grape Seed Extract, Pine.


> Quest Ice
Menthol extract with skin cooling properties.

> Quince
Pyrus cydonia - a small deciduous tree bearing fruit similar to apples. Extracts of the fruit are used in products to help to tighten and refine pores, reduce excess oil and to soothe. The dried seed is also used as an abrasive agent.


> Raffermine®
Hydrolysed soy flour that contains a high concentration of glycoprotein and polysaccharides. Found in skin firming products where it claims to be a skin tightener with anti-elastase activity.

> Raspberry Extract
Rubus idaeus - extracts and oil of a plant producing a sweet red composite fruit. Has potent antioxidant properties due to its high bioflavonoid content (anthocyanins, quercetin and catechins) and is also a natural source of salicylic acid, making it an effective keratolytic and smoothing agent. Has soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities and is often used in toners, cleansers and formulations treating acne and problematic skin. See Beta Hydroxy Acids.

> Reductine®
A molecular combination of bioprotein and polysaccharides derived from oats. Used in anti-wrinkle treatments where it purports to increase skin smoothness.

> Remoduline®
An active ingredient bio-engineered from bitter orange flower. Used in anti-cellulite and slimming formulations where it claims to facilitate the draining of skin tissue by stimulating microcirculation via its vasodilating activity.

> Resorcinol
A white crystalline compound obtained from resins and used in topical applications as a disinfectant or antiseptic, to treat acne, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff and other skin disorders. It is also the main active ingredient in many hair dyes as a colour component. Resorcinol can be very irritating to skin and may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

> Retinol
A derivative of vitamin A that is less irritating than stronger forms such as tretinoin (Retin A). Enzymes in the skin convert retinol to retinoic acid, the active form of vitamin A that is responsible for adjusting cell metabolism. Used in skin products to improve skin tone, texture, pigmentation, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. See Vitamin A.

> Rosehip
Evens skin tone, hydrates, repairs and works to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Rosehip oil is rich in essential fatty acids, beta-carotene and vitamins C & E. It is also a harmonising ingredient, containing the anti-ageing antioxidant lycopene. Rosehip is the core ingredient used by Renew Skincare, a certified organic skincare range including 100 per cent Certified Organic Rosehip Oil as well as other skin, hand and body care products. The range also includes rosehip enriched hair care.

> Rosemary
Rosmarinus officinalis - extracts, leaf powder and oil of a perrenial herb native to the Mediterranean. Thought to encourage hair growth and remedy dandruff, it stimulates, purifies and refreshes. Used as a tonic, or fragrant additive. The aromatic components can cause skin sensitivity.


> Sage
Salvia officinalis, or common sage - extracts of the leaves, and oil of an aromatic shrub of the mint family. Has a multitude of functions including antiseptic, antimicrobial, astringent, tonic and cleansing. Can be used to treat skin infections, for oral hygiene and as an antiperspirant where it suppresses perspiration. A soothing anti-inflammatory that contains rosmarinic acid, which gives it good antioxidant properties.

> Salicylic Acid
Also known as beta hydroxy acid - simple organic acids found in nature or synthesised in the laboratory. Extremely effective keratolytic often used to treat acne, and in anti-ageing formulas where it claims to reduce fine lines. Should be used with a sunscreen. See Beta Hydroxy Acids, Raspberry Extract.

> Saponaria
Commonly known as soapwort, the crushed leaves and roots of an herb, which contains saponins (plant steroids) that form lather in water. A natural detergent that is used in shampoos, cleaners and soaps, where it functions as an emulsifier, surfactant and foaming agent. Saponins are toxic when ingested therefore soapwort is a mild poison.

> Sculpturine
Coming from a Chilean shrub (the bolbo) this active reduces the storage of lipids in the adipocytes by activating their elimination and blocking the transformation of fatty acid from glucose. Activates lypolysis and limits storage of waste in the cells.

> Sea Salt
Used as a manual exfoliant in scrubs and also as bath crystals.

> Seaweed Extract
Also known as kelp, bladderwrack and green/brown/red algae. A multi-cellular marine plant rich in minerals, it is a popular salon ingredient in facial masks and body wrap treatments where it is claimed to have detoxifying and diuretic effects. Widely touted as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, although there is little clinical evidence. See Alginates, Algae.

> Selenium
A trace mineral found in soil, selenium is an essential micronutrient that acts as an intracellular antioxidant. It is a cofactor in the creation of glutathione peroxidase: an enzyme that detoxifies the body, and is necessary for immune response and thyroid function. Combined with sulphur, selenium has antimicrobial properties and is used in this combination in many anti-dandruff treatments.

> Shea Butter
Butyrospermum parkii (butter seed) - natural plant lipid extracted from the seed of an African tree, used widely in cosmetics for its emollient properties.

> Siegesbeckia
Siegesbeckia orientalis pubescens - extracts of a small composite plant, usually found in cooling formulations where it is said to sooth inflammation and stimulate healing.

> Silica
The oxide of silicon, main constituent of sand and also found in quartz and opal. Anti-caking agent, thickener, suspending agent and non-surfactant that can be found in anything from eye make-up, foundation and lipstick to toothpaste, hair dye and shampoo.

> Slip Agent
A range of ingredients that help other ingredients spread and penetrate into the skin. Slip agents include propylene glycol, butylene glycol, polysorbates, and glycerin and are very common in skincare.

> Sodium Laureth Sulfate
SLES, chemically synthesised compound originally derived from coconut. Found in thousands of personal care products due to its highly effective foaming, surfactant and cleansing properties. See Toxic Beauty.

> Soya Lecithin
A phospholipid extracted from the soybean. See Lecithin.

> St Johns Wort (Hypericum)
Hypericum perforatum - the oil and extracts of the flowers, leaves and stem heads of a yellow flowering perrenial herb. It is thought to be soothing for sore irritated skin and is used to treat wounds, burns and bruising. It also functions as an antiseptic, tonic and masking agent in skin care. Can cause photosensitivity in some people.

> Sweet Almond Oil
Prunus amygdalus - the oil extracted from the fruit of a small deciduous tree. It closely mimics the lipid content of skin, making it a very good emollient. A nourishing oil that contains the potent antioxidant vitamin E, it is easily absorbed into skin, providing moisture and relieving inflammation.


> Talc
Talcum - a naturally occurring mineral, talc rock, composed of hydrated magnesium silicate that is crushed, dried and milled to a fine powder for use in cosmetics as an absorbent and bulking agent. Talc is also found in medicated and perfumed body powders. Talc may contain asbestos fibres, although cosmetic grade talc (asbestos free) is classified as 'generally recognised as safe'. There is still a risk of possible contamination with impurities as cosmetic grade talc is non-regulated. Studies support a link between the use of talcum powder in the genital area and ovarian cancer. Talc is toxic, and may cause respiratory illness or death if inhaled. The European Union has mandated that talcum powder is not to be used in products for children under the age of three. See Toxic Beauty.

> Tallow
Rendered beef or mutton fat. Its derivatives (acids, amines, amide etc) have many functions including emulsifying, foam boasting, refatting, surfactant and emollient.

> Tamanu Oil
From a tree native to Polynesia. Some say it has wound-healing properties, as well as being a cure-all for almost every skin ailment from acne to eczema to psoriasis.

> Tannins
Plant metabolites that have astringent properties, and give wine and unripe fruit its tart flavour. Widely dispersed throughout nature, high levels are found in grapes, tea and pommengrades. Used in skin care as an astringent agent.

> Tea Tree Oil
Melaleuca alternifolia - oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of the tea tree plant. Used as an anti-microbial agent in many personal care products, clinical studies appear to support its effectiveness in treating bacterial and fungal infections. Often found in products targeting oily skin, acne, dandruff, athlete's foot and candidiasis complaints. It is also an antiseptic and can be used to treat minor cuts, scrapes and insect bites, as well as soothing skin irritations such as sunburn. Tea tree oil is toxic if taken orally, therefore ingestion should be avoided.

> Thistle
Silybum marianum - milk thistle, marian. Contains a potent compound called silymarin that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical studies show it protects against certain types of cancers, including skin. Used as a skin conditioning agent.

> Thyme
Thymus vulgaris - extracts of the flowers and leaves, and the volatile oil of an aromatic herb. Found in scrubs, exfoliants and cleansers for its antiseptic, disinfectant and cleansing attributes. Can be used to treat minor injuries, mouth, throat and gum infections. It is also a tonic used in hair products to revitalize hair and treat dandruff. Thyme has deodorant properties and is found in antiperspirants and deodorants.

> Tocotrienols
Part of the vitamin E family (vitamin E includes eight related fat soluble vitamins) considered the most potent form of vitamin E due to its strong antioxidant and photo protection properties. Tocotrienols penetrate rapidly through skin, efficiently combating oxidative stress induced by the sun or ozone. Good food sources include rice bran, palm and coconut oils, and cereals. Can also be synthesised. See Vitamin E.

> Toniskin®
A purified yeast extract that claims to reinforce the dermal-epidermal junction by stimulating the synthesis of collagens and integrins. It remodels facial contours and improves tone.

> Triclosan
A chemical with anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties, popular in personal care products such as acne creams, cleansers, antiperspirants, toothpastes and hand soaps. There are health concerns surrounding triclosan: its overuse may contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria, and triclosan reacts with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, a known carcinogen. Another concern is that it is known to react with other intermediates to form dioxin.

> Triglyceride Esters
Glycerol esterified with three fatty acids - a naturally occurring constituent of fats and oils. Often found in soaps, it is also used as an emollient in skin products. An example is the glycerol esters from palm oil found in almost all soaps. See Palmitates.

> Tritisol®
High molecular weight wheat used as a moisturiser/film former to improve skin firmness, give hair shine/body, and improve curl retention.

> Tyrosine
An amino acid that cells use to synthesise proteins, it is a precursor to melanin. Used primarily as a tanning accelerant, where it is thought to enhance melanin formation. Its effectiveness is based on the assumption that it is able to penetrate the skin, which has not been convincingly demonstrated. See Unipertan.


> Ulva Lactuca Extract
Also know as sea lettuce - green algae. Used in facial treatments and moisturisers to nourish and hydrate, it has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. See Algae.

> Unipertan
Active ingredient in many tanning accelerators composed of tyrosine, protein, riboflavin and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The body converts tyrosine to melanin, ATP assists in the conversion, and the protein aids in the products absorption. Unipertan formulations contain either animal proteins (P-24) or vegetable proteins (VEG-242). Its efficacy is based on the assumption that the tyrosine is able to penetrate the skin, which has not been convincingly demonstrated. However the absorption of UV rays is enhanced when the skin is moist.

> Usnic Acid
A potent antibiotic and antifungal agent derived from linchen (usnea; old man's beard), a symbiotic organism consisting of fungi and algae. Found in creams, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorants and sunscreen products as an active ingredient (anti-microbial) or as a preservative.


> Valerian
Valeriana officinalis - extracts of the roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of a perennial herb. Used in herbal medicine as a sedative and to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. Valerian is believed to hamper sweat secretion. Used to soothe and relax, particularly in bath oils, salts and soaks.

Ascorbyl tetra-isopalmitate - an oil soluble form of vitamin C that is extremely stable. Used in treatments for acne, photoageing, and pigmentation. See Vitamin C.

> Vegetal Squalane
Squalane is a hydronated form of squalene. Squalene is found naturally in vegetable oil, shark oil and the human sebum, but is unsuitable for use in cosmetics as it is highly unstable. The stable version; vegetal squalane, is a light oil close in structure to human lipids that is easily absorbed by the skin and does not leave a greasy residue. Used for its ability to attract water, it hydrates and softens skin.

> Vitamin A
Plays an important role in vision, bone growth, immune function and tissue and skin formation. There are two forms: provitamin A, a carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables, and preformed vitamin A that is absorbed in the form of retinol from animal sources such as beef, chicken liver, milk and eggs. Topically the skin rejuvenation effects of retinoid forms (retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, isotretinoin, tretinoin [retin A] and retinol) are well documented. They work by increasing cell turnover and are used to treat photoaged skin, age spots, acne and psoriasis. Can cause skin irritation and flaking. Vitamin A oral supplementation and topical application should be avoided during pregnancy, as excess levels are known to cause birth defects. See Beta Carotene, Retinol.

> Vitamin B1
Thiamine - one of eight water soluble B vitamins known as B-complex vitamins. Like all B vitamins it is involved in energy production, converting carbohydrates into sugar, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. Supports the nervous systems and is thought to enhance the immune system, therefore is considered an 'anti-stress' vitamin. Sources: spinach, asparagus, sunflower seeds, corn, lentils, beans, oats, broccoli, tomato.

> Vitamin B12
Cyanocobalami - one of eight water soluble B vitamins known as B-complex vitamins. Like all B vitamins it is involved in energy production, converting carbohydrates into sugar, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. Important for nerve cell function, DNA andRNA synthesise, iron function and red blood cell production. Deficiency can cause anaemia. Sources: fish, organ meats, eggs, dairy products, beef, pork.

> Vitamin B2
Riboflavin - one of eight water soluble B vitamins known as B-complex vitamins. Like all B vitamins it is involved in energy production, converting carbohydrates into sugar, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. Riboflavin also has antioxidant properties. Deficiency can cause burning and itching around the eyes, sensitivity to light, sore, cracked lips, swollen tongue. Sources: liver, beef, eggs, milk, asparagus, spinach, soybeans, mushrooms.

> Vitamin B3
See Niacinamide.

> Vitamin B5
Pantothenic acid: from the Greek pantothen meaning "from everywhere". A water-soluble vitamin essential to life that is needed to form coenzyme A. It is critical in food metabolism, and hormone and cholesterol synthesis. Found in many hair products as an antistatic and conditioning agent, to protect and repair damage (panthenol). Also used in skincare where it is said to aid tissue repair and inhibit inflammation.

> Vitamin B6
Pyridoxine - one of eight water soluble B vitamins known as B-complex vitamins. Like all B vitamins it is involved in energy production, converting carbohydrates into sugar, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. An especially important B vitamin that is involved in many enzymatic processes as well as nerve function and cell formation. Deficiency can cause anaemia, and skin disorders such as dermatitis and eczema. Sources: spinach, brown rice, chicken, tuna, liver, banana.

> Vitamin C
Ascorbic acid- an essential nutrient and potent anti-oxidant. An important antioxidant vitamin integral to the formation and maintenance of collagen, a protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It enhances iron absorption and protects cells against free radical damage. Most animals and plants synthesise their own vitamin C, however humans cannot make or store it, therefore it must be constantly replenished from nutritional sources. A highly unstable acid that is oxidised on contact with air and destroyed when exposed to heat and light. For this reason it is extremely difficult to stabilise in skincare formulations. Applied topically, it may irritate skin due to high acidity levels. Its role in the growth and repair of tissues, and antioxidant activity makes it is an intregral element in the maintenance of healthy skin and hair. Deficiencies can lead to dry, splitting hair, rough, scaly skin, easy bruising and slow wound healing.

> Vitamin D
Fat soluble vitamin essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones. There is also research showing that it is involved in regulating cell growth and differentiation, and supports the immune system. Vitamin D can is found in food and is also synthesised in the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight. Sources: cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, mackerel, shrimp and, egg yolk.

> Vitamin E
A group of eight fat soluble antioxidant vitamins: four tocotrienols and four tocopherols. A very important antioxidant, one of its main functions is to protect lipids from oxidative damage. Studies show that oral and topical application protects against UV radiation. It may also slow down cellular and tissue ageing, reduce scarring and promote wound healing. See Tocotrienols

> Vitamin F
Essential fatty acids were initially designated as vitamin F, until it was realised that they should be classified as fats. These essential nutrients are important for maintaining healthy skin and hair. See Essential Fatty Acids.

> Vitamin H
Biotin - one of eight water soluble B vitamins known as B-complex vitamins. Like all B vitamins it is involved in energy production, converting carbohydrates into sugar, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. Biotin is required for the synthesis of fat, a critical cell component. Deficiency can cause skin related problems like cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis, and may also cause hair loss.

> Vitamin K
A fat soluble vitamin known as the clotting vitamin; without it blood would not clot. Also plays an important role in bone health.


> Walnut Extract
Juglans regia, juglans nigria - seeds and extracts of the leaves or shells, commonly used for their abrasive and astringent properties in foot treatments, face and body scrubs and cleansers. Black walnut can also be used as a colourant in hair dye, or in self tanners to darken skin. Black walnut is traditionally used to treat skin diseases such as eczema, but is also known to cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

> Water
See Deionised/Demineralised water.

> Wheat
Components of a grass (germ oil, germ extract, hydrolysed protein, amino acids) found in numerous cosmetic products. Germ oil contains squalene and is rich in vitamin E. Other wheat derivatives are used as exfoliants, skin whiteners, film formers, foam boasters, surfactants, conditioners and protectors. Found in anything from anti-ageing creams, to facial scrubs and hair conditioners.

> White Nettle
Lamium album (white dead nettle) - extracts of the flowers of a herbaceous perrenial. Used in scrubs, cleansers and exfoliants for its astringent properties.

> White Tea
The new buds and young leaves of the tea plant (camellia sinensis), that are minimally processed and retain high levels of catechins: potent polyphenol antioxidants. White tea is thought to have antioxidant levels and benefits comparative to green tea, ie an powerful free radical scavenger with anticarcinogenic properties. However it is much less studied at this time.

> Witch Hazel
Hamamelis virginiana - extracts of the leaves and bark of a deciduous shrub that has astringent, tonic and sedative qualities. Used to treat minor skin injuries or irritations, eg sunburn, itching, insect bites, scrapes, and to stop minor bleeding. Can have a tightening effect on skin. Often found in aftershave lotions, cleansers, toners, towlettes, skin firmers and deodorants.


> Xanthan Gum
A natural gum that has been modified through microbial fermentation. Functions in cosmetics as a binding, controlling, stabilising and gel-forming agent.


> Yarrow Root Extract
This herbal extract reduces inflammation and swelling and tones blood vessels. Yarrow is an astringent and a tonic.

> Yeast
Saccharomyces cervisiae - single cell fungi, used as a skin conditioning agent.

> Yucca Extract
Y. brevifolia, Y. glauca, Y. aloifolia, Y. schidigera, Y. vera - extracts of the roots and leaves of a desert plant. Rich in saponins (plant steroids) and polyphenolics, including resveratrol, it can have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects. Often used as a skin protectant for cuts, itching, insect bites, sunburn, or as a surfactant in soap and shampoos.


> Zeolites
Hydrated alumino-silicate minerals formed in three dimensional crystalline lattice works that have a high negative charge and are microporous. Considered a safe, non toxic alternative to phosphates, synthetic zeolites are used in many industries, including cosmetics where they function as absorbent, bulking and anti-caking agents. Zeolites can help control the rheology and tactile qualities of facial make-up.

> Zinc Oxide
Also known as zinc white and Chinese white. A white or yellowish powder that occurs in nature as the mineral zincite. Used in sunscreen as a physical blocker that absorbs UV rays, zinc oxide is noticeable by the white residue it leaves on skin. Nanotechnology is now being employed to reduce the particle size, resulting in a clear product. While traditional zinc oxide is considered safe and non-toxic, there is limited information of the safety profile of micronised zinc oxide. Also found in formulations to protect skin from dehydration, wind and diaper rash. See Oxide Pigments.

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