Overwhelmed with ingredient lists? No need to stay in the dark — bookmark this page to help you navigate everything in the beauty realm. This skincare ingredient glossary is backed by dermatologists, cosmetic chemists, and more, so you can rest easy knowing exactly what’s in your products and how they perform on your skin.
What is it? Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is a group of naturally derived and synthetic acids that gently exfoliate the top layers of the skin revealing a brighter, more even complexion.
Who should use it? AHA can be used by anyone looking to reduce the appearance of fine lines while smoothing and evening skin. It also brightens the appearance of dull-looking skin.
How should it be used? Use products containing AHA after cleansing and toning and before moisturizing. When you first start with AHA use it every other day, then gradually increase usage to once daily. Check-in with your derm when using AHA and retinol together.
Learn more about the difference between glycolic acid and lactic acid, two of the most popular AHAs.
What is it? Beta-hydroxy acid, (BHA) is oil-soluble so it can penetrate a little deeper into the skin and help improve the appearance of blemishes and enlarged pores by removing excess sebum.
Who should use it? BHA works well for people with acne-prone or oily skin. It works to clear out our pores and rid them of excess sebum, dirt and pollution, which if left in the pore can lead to inflammation and breakouts.
How should it be used? If you have oily or acne-prone skin, use BHA once daily after cleansing and toning and before moisturizing. If you have normal or dry skin, you may use it every few days.
Learn more about how to incorporate BHAs as one of the 3 active ingredients every skincare routine needs.
What is it? In addition to getting the morning started, caffeine is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can reduce the appearance of puffiness and inflammation by restricting the blood vessels. It can reduce the appearance of under-eye bags, wrinkles, and cellulite.
Who should use it? Caffeine is a great ingredient to incorporate for those who aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, or who want to brighten and smooth skin.
How should it be used? Look for an eye cream or body scrub that contains caffeine and use it once or twice daily.
Our recommended products: Auto Correct Eye Cream.
Learn more about the best sources of caffeine and the recommended amount to consume.
What is it? Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-mind-altering compound found in marijuana. In skincare, CBD may help with anything from clearing acne to reducing the appearance of wrinkles and easing redness and eczema.
Who should use it? CBD is a gentle, skin-normalizing ingredient that works well for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin.
How should it be used? Look for cleansers, moisturizers, and oils that contain CBD.
What is it? Ceramides are lipids that help lock moisture into the skin for deep hydration while protecting against pollution and environmental damage.
Who should use it? Ceramides work well for hydrating skin that is dry, dehydrated, dull, or showing signs of aging.
How should it be used? Look for a moisturizer that contains ceramides to lock in hydration after a shower or bath. They can be used twice a day, or throughout the day if you need a little more.
Learn more about how ceramides help build a strong skin barrier.
What is it? Charcoal is a natural material that helps draw impurities out of the skin to unclog pores, clarify the skin, reduce acne, even the complexion, and slough off dead skin cells.
Who should use it? Charcoal is a key ingredient for anyone looking to deeply cleanse and purify the skin.
Our recommended products: Charcoal Smoothie Jelly Body Scrub.
What is it? Glycolic acid is an AHA that’s derived from sugar cane. It has a low molecular weight to easily penetrate the skin and it works to make skin look brighter and more even. It exfoliates the surface of the skin by dissolving the glue that binds the dead skin cells to the surface.
Who should use it? Anyone who is noticing the signs of aging on their skin or who is experiencing hyperpigmentation or melasma can benefit from adding glycolic acid to their skincare routine.
How should it be used? Use glycolic on your face or scalp after cleansing.
Learn more about why glycolic acid is your skincare exfoliant holy grail.
What is it? Lactic acid is an AHA derived from milk (though in skincare it’s commonly synthetically reproduced and therefore vegan). It’s slightly more hydrating than glycolic acid.
Who should use it? Anyone with dark spots, blemishes, or uneven skin can benefit from using lactic acid.
How should it be used? Use lactic acid two to three times a week on clean dry skin and follow with moisturizer.
Our recommended products: Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment (can be used daily).
Learn more about how lactic acid can be incorporated into your scalp care routine and why lactic acid should replace salicylic acid while breastfeeding.
What is it? Lemongrass has some purifying properties that can naturally detoxify and tone the skin while neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals.
Who should use it? Lemongrass can help to reduce the appearance of the pores and calm acne and it works well for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
How should it be used? Use lemongrass products once a day on dry skin after cleansing. Generally, it can be used as much as you want as it’s hard to overdo it.
Learn more about how lemongrass can also be used as a sugar replacement by checking out our margarita cocktail recipe.
What is it? The root of the licorice plant is a powerful antioxidant that can help skin glow, reduce dark spots and discoloration, and reduce the production of oil.
Who should use it? Licorice root is beneficial for anyone experiencing hyperpigmentation, hoping to fade acne scars, or generally brighten the skin.
How should it be used? Licorice root is incorporated into moisturizers, oils and other treatments and can be used daily.
Learn more about how licorice root can be used to handle redness, rosacea, and stress.
Who should use it? Niacinamide should be used by anyone who spends a lot of time outside or experiences regular breakouts. Or those who have aggravated/irritated skin or surface redness.
How should it be used? Niacinamide can be used on the face or body daily.
Learn more about how niacinamides can be used to cure skin fatigue.
What is it? Peptides are amino acids that help build collagen and elastin for firmer, brighter, and more youthful-looking skin.
Who should use it? Peptides should be used by anyone noticing their skin losing firmness, elasticity or looking crepey.
How should it be used? For max efficacy, look for peptides in products that can be left on the skin (like moisturizers, serums, and essences) and use them twice daily or as much as you need.
Our recommended products: Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence.
Learn more about how peptides can make skin look younger and boost hair growth and how collagen peptides work.
What is it? Prebiotics feed the skin healthy bacteria (prebiotics are the food for the bacteria rather than being the good bacteria) to balance the skin’s microbiome. They can help minimize the appearance of redness, dryness, and help strengthen the skin barrier.
Who should use it? A prebiotic in skin care is beneficial for those with rosacea or other skin conditions, and anyone who wants healthy, balanced skin that glows.
How should it be used? After cleansing as the first step in the treatment phase of your regime and before applying any other products, apply prebiotics to dry skin.
Our recommended products: Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence.
Learn more about why prebiotics and probiotics are the perfect pair.
What is it? Probiotics are microorganisms that help balance skin, reduce inflammation, and help prevent premature aging caused by environmental stressors. They are responsible for keeping the microbiome in check and healthy.
Who should use it? Probiotic skincare can be helpful for those experiencing rosacea, acne, inflammation, or who live in a polluted or very sunny environment.
How should it be used? Look for moisturizers or face oils that contain probiotics and use them once daily in the morning. Prebiotics are vital in keeping probiotics healthy.
Our recommended products: Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence (it contains prebiotics).
What is it? Retinol is an over-the-counter version of a retinoid that boosts cell turnover, removes dead skin, brightens the appearance of dark spots discolorations and flattens the top layer of cells for skin that looks glowy, youthful, and even.
Who should use it? Retinol is a powerful ingredient for anyone looking to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles or who wants to clear blemishes and uneven texture on the skin.
How should it be used? Use products containing retinol a few times a week after cleansing and before moisturizing. Check-in with your dermatologist when considering using retinol at the same time as products containing AHA or BHA.
What is it? Salicylic acid is a BHA that is able to get deep into the skin to clarify pores and reduce redness and inflammation.
Who should use it? Salicylic acid works well for people wanting to clear up blackheads and whiteheads. For those with clear skin, salicylic acid can help prevent future breakouts from happening. It removes the excess sebum and really de-clogs the pores/follicle by removing dirt/pollution and product build-up.
How should it be used? Salicylic acid can be used morning and night.
What is it? Turmeric is an orangey-yellow spice that contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps skin look vibrant, firm, and bright.
Who should use it? Turmeric works well for anyone who wants to add some glow back to skin that’s looking dull, tired, or puffy.
How should it be used? Use turmeric once daily either in the morning or night.
Learn more about how to get glowing skin by drinking turmeric and other ingredients.
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