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Common Industry Skin Care Terms You Need to Know

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Getting familiar with common skin care terms is helpful when choosing skin care products! Understanding the following words will help you to understand your own skin and it's needs.

 

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Alpha-Hydroxy Acids AHAs include lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, and pyruvic acid. Found in sugar cane and citrus fruit, AHAs loosen and remove cells from the stratum corneum (skin surface). In doing so they reduce the visibility of wrinkles and cause the skin to look and feel smoother. They also assist your skin in retaining moisture. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure of the AHAs and can thus most easily penetrate into the stratum corneum.

Amino Acids Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins. They are mild on the skin and strengthen connective tissue and stimulate collagen to keep the skin smooth and elastic. They have also been noted to improve skin tone and increase hydration.

Antimicrobial An element that slows and restricts the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Antioxidants Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and enzymes (proteins) that repair cellular damage. They do so by counteracting Free Radicals damage, binding to the Free Radicals and transforming them into non-damaging compounds. They also stimulate new collagen growth for smooth, firm, youthful skin.

Astringent Astringents constrict cellular tissues, reducing pore size and minimizing oil production. They remove dirt and oil from the skin and are often used after a cleansing product to remove residue. Astringents help to keep the skin clean, clear, and properly functioning.

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. UVA radiation causes aging while UVB radiation causes burning. It is important to protect against both forms of sun radiation to prevent premature aging of the skin.

Cell Renewal The process by which skin produces new cells that travel from the lowest level of your skin to the topmost layer. After some time they shed and allow new cells beneath them to emerge. These cells form a paper thin barrier on the surface of the skin to guard against moisture loss and environmental damage.

Cellular Regeneration The process of cell renewal, cell restoration, and cell growth.

Collagen A natural protein found in the dermis (middle layer of the skin). Collagen makes up 75% of the skin. It provides strength to the skin and gives it its form, shape, and firmness.

Comedogenic A product applied to the skin that contains an ingredient which increases the accumulation of dead cells within skin follicles. Comedogenic products lead to acne and blackhead formation, it is important to look for “Non-Comedogenic” skin care products.

Dermatologically Tested Clinical tests performed under the supervision of an independent third party dermatologist.

Dermis The middle layer of the skin comprised of blood vessels, hair follicles, and oil glands. Here is where collagen and elastin live, two proteins that offer the skin support and elasticity.

Elastin A natural protein found in the dermis. Elastin gives the skin strength, giving it its form, shape, and elasticity.

Emollient A mixture of agents designed to make the external layers of the skin (epidermis) softer and more elastic. They help the skin retain moisture by reducing evaporation.

Emulsifiers A substance that allows oils and liquids to mix (creating an Emulsion). Emulsifiers help to keep products in tact and help to remove oils from the skin.

Epidermis The Epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin and is in charge of Cell Renewal. It is composed of 5 layers; the topmost layer is made up of flat, dead skin cells (the stratum corneum) that shed about every two weeks. The bottom layer is made up of column-shaped cells that push already made cells from the Dermis to the surface. Although the Epidermis the thinnest layer of the skin it is responsible for producing pigment and protecting the skin from the environment.

Exfoliants Substances that break down and remove dead, dull skin cells that naturally build up on the skin’s surface. Exfoliants smooth and brighten as they help the skin achieve and maintain optimal performance. Suggested use is usually 2-3 times a week to keep the skin looking fresh and young.

Flavonoids Flavonoids are natural substances found in fruits, vegetables, pine bark and green tea. They are loaded with antioxidants and work actively to strengthen blood vessels and stabilize elastin and collagen to keep the skin young and vibrant.

Free Radicals Free Radicals are atoms or molecules with an odd number of electrons. Normally, when a chemical bond splits it doesn’t leave an odd, unpaired electron. However, when weak bonds splits a Free Radical is formed. The subsequent lone electron will steal a proton from another molecule to complete itself, causing a chain reaction of damage that can eventually disrupt a cell.

Humectant A Humectant is a substance that promotes the preservation and retention of the skins natural moisture.

Hygroscopic Hygroscopic is the ability of a substance to readily take up and retain moisture from its surrounding environment.

Hypodermis The Hypodermis is the deepest layer of the skin. It is composed of fatty tissue and is attached to the dermis via collagen and elastin fibres. The Hypodermis is responsible for conserving the body’s heat and protecting vital inner organs.

Keratin Keratin is a key structural protein that makes up hair, nails, and the surface layer of the skin. Keratin determines the skins rigidity.

Lipids Naturally occurring compounds that protect the skins natural barrier. Topically applied, Lipids help the skin to retain its natural moisture to keep it soft, supple, and protected.

Melanin Melanin is pigment that gives the skin its color. The more melanin you have the darker your skin will be. The amount of melanin you naturally have is based on your genetic makeup, sun exposure, and your hormone levels. Melanin is produced at the base of the epidermis.

Moisture Barrier A function of the epidermis that protects the skin from excessive moisture loss.

Non-acnegenic Non-acnegenic products are products that do not cause acne, versus non-comedogenic products that do not cause clogged skin pores.

Peptides Amino acid chains that create a protein that maintains the health of hair, nails, and skin.

pH The measure of acidity in a substance. Neutral pH is 7.0 (the pH of pure water). Substance with a pH of less than 7.0 are acids and with a pH of above 7.0 a base. The lower the pH the stronger the acid, and higher the pH the stronger the base. Very high or low pHs are irritating to the skin.

Salicylic Acid Salicylic acid works as an exfoliant and fights acne. It penetrates the follicle and encourages the shedding of dead skin cells to keep the pores clear of buildup.

Sebum The skins natural oil produced in the dermis.

Surfactant An active agent that promotes the foaming, dispersing, and spreading properties of a product. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants. They help products get their job done.

T-zone The area of the face that produces the most sebum. Located on the forehead, nose, and chin.

Toner Skin care products used after a cleanser and before a moisturizer. Toners remove any traces of cleansing product, dirt, and makeup.

Toxins Irritating substances that cause the skin to break out.

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