Anti...what? Hydroxi...huh? It’s an ingredient jungle out there and reading skin care labels can be hella confusing! We don’t want you to be in the dark about the products you’re using on your face, you deserve to know what skincare companies are selling you. To help you out, we’re putting together a Talk The Talk blog series. Over numerous posts, we’ll give you the lowdown on 100’s of common (and not so common) skin care terms and how they relate to your skin.
Acid + skin, sound scary? The right acids can actually do great stuff for your skin and the two most common types, AHA and BHA, feature in many common skin treatments.
ALPHA HYDROXY ACID (AHA)
These acids originate from milk and fruit sugars, the most common being glycolic acid (sugar cane) citric acid (citrus fruits) and lactic acid (milk). Super effective for exfoliating the skin, AHA’s act on both the epidermal and dermal levels, sloughing away dull skin and promoting cellular renewal.
BETA HYDROXY ACID (BHA)
Also known as Salicylic acid, BHA have a slightly different chemical make-up to AHA’s. BHA is known for working exfoliating magic inside the pore to clear acne forming bacteria.
A natural substance found in the body, this acid has a remarkable ability to replenish moisture. It can hold up to 1000 times it’s own weight in water! As a skincare ingredient it’s derived from either rooster cones or fermented grass yeast and used to revitalise the outer layers of the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Visible signs of ageing skin are caused by free radical damage, otherwise known as oxidative stress. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals, slow the ageing process and bring dull skin back to life. Basically, antioxidants are big skincare heroes. Antioxidant compounds include vitamin C and E, idebenone, copper, zinc and beta-carotene.
Stressing over big pores? Astringent cleans and minimises pores (oh yeh!) helping clear pimples and excess facial oil. Examples of natural astringents include witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Astringent is applied after cleansing.
Botanical ingredients originate from part of a plant, the herbs, flowers, seeds, leaves or roots. Botanicals were some of the first skin care solutions. We luuuuurve botanicals!
Collagen in a protein produced by our cells which present throughout the entire body in the dermis, the middle layer of skin. It holds our skin together like a scaffold, giving it firmness and elasticity.
An emollient is supple, lubricating agent that creates a protective barrier across the skin to trap in moisture. They make the skin look smoother and softer and natural emollients include lanolin and cocoa butter.
Water and oil don’t place nice together naturally. To get them to mix properly when creating skincare, an emulsifier is needed. Emulsifiers contain a lipophilic element (oil loving) and a hydrophilic element (water loving) that allows the two to blend.
The epidermis is the top, superficial layer of our skin, the layer of skin we can see. The epidermis is waterproof and uses a protein called keratin which works to protect the vulnerable cells inside our bodies from everything in the outside world. It’s also responsible for touch sensations.
Humectants are alllllll about keeping your skin hydrated. Substances that absorb water, humectants draw moisture from the air to the skin’s surface and lock it in. Examples of humectants include aloe vera, fatty acids and amino acids.
Noticed dark patches on your skin? It could be Hyperpigmentaion. It’s a common (usually) harmless skin condition that happens when melanin - that's the stuff that gives our skin and hair colour - is overproduced in certain areas. These areas become darker than the skins natural colour, resulting in Hyperpigmentaion
pH is the measurement of acidity and in terms of your skin, the pH is measured on the scale of 1 being highly acidic, 14 being very alkaline and a neutral pH is 7. It’s important to keep the pH level of your acid mantle balanced for healthy, happy skin.
It’s the oil secreted by the skin’s sebaceous glands. Yep, it’s the stuff that makes your face look shiny! The Latin word for ‘fat’, Sebum is secreted across every inch of your skin, except the the soles of your feet and palms of your hands.
VITAMIN E (TOCOPHEROL)
Vitamin E is a superstar when it comes to protecting against the free radical damage that leads to ageing. It boosts collagen production, keeping wrinkles at bay. Known as tocopherol, it’s both a nutrient and antioxidant with a light brown/reddish colour.
We hope this list has cleared up a few ‘what the?’ questions when it comes to deciphering product labels. You’ll be in the know when it comes to scooping up your next skincare purchase!