Bookmark this page. Seriously, do it now. We know (probably better than anyone) just how vast and complex the beauty landscape can be, especially the shifting terrain of the skin realm. To better help you navigate, we've updated our already extensive collection of complexion-relevant terms with nearly 100 new definitions, covering everything from ingestibles to injectables, wonders both natural and lab-made, nagging skin conditions, and the popular tools pros use to improve them. So, the next time you're stumped by an ingredient label (What the heck is Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and why do I want it near my face?), or perplexed by a procedure on your dermatologist's ever-evolving treatment menu (RF? LED? IPL? PRP?), enlightenment will be but a click away. Here, your ultimate skin-care glossary...
A palm tree, native to Central and South America, known for its deep purple berries. The fruit extract is used as a potent antioxidant in skin-care products and supplements.
A colorless, strong-smelling solvent found in many nail-polish removers, it works by softening and dissolving the polymer molecules in polishes, gels, and acrylics. Because it's drying to the nails and skin, many removers containing it are also spiked with moisturizers, like glycerin.
Having a pH ("potential hydrogen") less than 7. The skin’s barrier, or acid mantle, is naturally slightly acidic, with a pH hovering around 4.5 to 5.5. When it drops out of range, skin becomes prone to breakouts and irritation.
Long used in emergency rooms to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses, this form of carbon — found in cleansers, masks, toothpastes, health drinks — has been specially treated to increase its absorbency, allowing it to sponge up dirt and oil from pores (or toxins from the stomach when taken internally).
Present in all living organisms, this molecule plays a critical role in regulating blood flow and providing cells with usable energy. When applied topically, the ingredient can smooth and firm the skin, repair sun damage, and relax wrinkles.
Used as a thickener in makeup, skin-care products, and shampoo, this gelatinous, algae-derived sugar molecule also has mild antioxidant benefits.
ALCOHOL (SD ALCOHOL)
Undrinkable ethyl alcohol has many uses in skin care. It delivers other ingredients into the skin and drives them deeper down. In toners and acne products, it can help dissolve oil and temporarily tighten pores. When added to certain moisturizers, like gel-based lotions, it makes them less tacky and helps them dry down faster on the face.