Ingredient Glossary

A work in progress…

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)

Common names: lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid

Uses: exfoliate, pH adjuster, skin conditioning agent, humectant

What it does: AHAs are derived from milk (lactic), sugar (glycoic), and citrus fruits (citric), or they can be synthetically created. AHAs are chemical exfoliants that weaken the bond between the top layer of skin and dead skin cells, allowing the dead skin to slough off and promoting cell renewal. Having balanced a pH is important for your skin because a healthy/balanced acid mantle gives your skin  a better protective barrier that retains moisture and blocks unwanted bacteria, pollutants, etc. An alkaline acid mantle can leave the skin inflamed, acneic and dehydrated. If the acid mantle is stripped and alkaline (high on the pH scale), AHAs (low on the pH scale) balance the skin’s pH by making it less alkaline.

Why some people avoid it: They can be irritating to skin causing redness and burning.


Bismuth Oxychloride

Common names: Basic Bismuth Chloride, Bismuth Chloride Oxide, Bismuthine

Uses: Colorant

What it does: Bismuth Oxychloride is a mineral the occurs naturally or it can be synthetically made. It is used in cosmetics and skin care as a colorant that produces an iridescent/pearlescent effect.
Why some people avoid it: Because of it’s shape, bismuth oxychloride can poke the skin or get stuck in pores and cause irritation.


Hyaluronic Acid

Common names: N/A

Uses: Humectant, Moisturizer

What it does: Hyaluronic acid works by penetrating into the skin and drawing moisture from the air – one gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water! Products will advertize different molecule sizes of HA becuase the molecule size affects how deeply it can be absorbed. HA can temporarily reduce the appearance of wrinkles by plumping the skin.

Why some people avoid it: In more dry climates, hyaluronic acid can actually draw water out of the skin, rather than drawing it.


Mineral Oil

Common names: paraffin oil, petroleum, liquid petrolatum

Uses: conditioning agent, emollient, occlusive,

What it does: Mineral oil is a by-product of turning petroleum into gasoline. Mineral oil acts as a skin conditioning agent by creating a protective layer on the skin that makes it appear soother and softer (emollient) and seals in moisture (occlusive).

Why some people avoid it: Mineral oil does not nourish your skin or provide hydration, it can clog pores, and contaminated mineral oil my be related to health issues/build up inside the body after prolonged use. It is a very inexpensive ingredient so it can be a big turn off in high end products.



Common names: methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben

Uses: fragrance, preservative

What it does: Parabens are primarily used as preservatives in cosmetics, skincare and body products.

Why some people avoid it: Parabens may be linked to health issues such as breast cancer and reproductive problems.



Common names: butyrospermum parkii, karite butter

Uses: skin conditioning agent, occlusive, emollient

What it does: Shea butter is a vegetable fat made from the but of the butyrospermum parkii. Shea butter is used in cosmetics because it has antioxidants and good fatty acids.

Why some people avoid it: Shea butter may clog pores or irritate skin.



Common names: Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone

Uses: skin conditioning agent, emollient, moisturizer

What it does: In skin care, silicones even out skin’s texture by filling in fine lines and pores. They also create a protective layer over the skin, sealing in moisture. Similarly, in hair products, silicones coat the hair, sealing in moisture, protecting it from the environment and creating silky, smooth feeling strands.

Why some people avoid it: Because silicones create a layer over the skin, some people believe it traps bacteria and oils, causing break outs. For the hair, silicones create the illusion of healthy hair and some silicones can only be washed out using shampoos containing Sodium Laurel Sulfate. Silicones are also non-biodegradable.



Common names: french chalk, asbestine

Uses: abrasive, anti-caking agent, opacifying agent, absorbent, skin protectant

What it does: Talc is very common in powder cosmetics and is used to make the product opaque, absorb moisture and prevent caking.

Why some people avoid it: People can have skin sensitivities to talc.