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Article: Skin Care & Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary (A – D)

Skin Care & Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary (A – D)

skincare cosmetic ingredient dictionary botanicals k beauty world


Acai is a small berry, native to Central and South America which is known for its potent antioxidants that aid in skin regeneration and preventing early signs of aging.

This deep purple fruit is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids; all of which work together to protect the skin from environmental aggressors, neutralize free radicals, and support building blocks for collagen.

Korean skincare products containing acai berry include Huxley Secret of Sahara Grab Water Essence and Innisfree My Real Squeeze Mask Acai Berry.

* Syn: Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract


A neutral pH is 7, anything below that is considered acidic. Our skin maintains its barrier best at a value of 5.5 - slightly acidic - which is due to our acid mantle.

The acid mantle is the protective film on the surface of the skin, made up of natural oils and amino acids, that helps protect the skin from bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants.

(Related post: How To Restore pH Balance in Skin?)


Adenosine, found in skin care products, is derived from yeast and has been shown to have anti-aging, soothing and skin renewing properties. It increases the production of collagen, smoothes the skin and decreases the appearance of crow's feet.


Allantoin is a non-irritating ingredient that functions as moisturizing, protecting, and healing agents. It is extracted from the root of comfrey, sugar beet, chamomile, it helps the skin keep in more water and promote cell proliferation.

It also works in a way similar to an exfoliator that removes dead skin cells, making the skin soft and smooth. If you want to try a product with allantoin, check out Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel.


Benzyl alcohol is used as a preservative to protect organic and natural skin care products from bacteria; however, it can cause dryness, irritation, and breakouts.

Fatty alcohols, on the other hand, serve as emulsifiers that help emulsify cosmetics and create a creamy texture. They can even soften hair and dry skin. Common representatives include cetearyl, stearyl, cetyl and behenyl alcohol.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a wonder plant that soothes and hydrates the skin while providing antioxidant benefits. Aloe is rich in enzymes, vitamin A and C that can treat sunburned or irritated skin, acne and dry skin, and can also be used on sensitive skin.

Here are products with aloe vera; Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel and Aromatica 95% Organic Aloe Vera Gel.

* Syn: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract

Algae Extract 

Algae and seaweed are real powerhouses of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that support natural collagen and cell regeneration and reduce visible fine lines and wrinkles.

* Syn: Pullulan, Pepha Tight, Sea Kelp


A pH of 7 is neutral, anything above that is alkaline. When it comes to skin care, more acidic cleansers can help combat acne once the pH is below 6.

On the other hand, if you are struggling with excessive oil production, you can use an alkaline cleanser as it will completely remove oils and waste. Just remember to use a mildly acidic toner to keep your skin's pH in an optimal state.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

These chemicals are a group of natural and synthetic ingredients that slough off the top layers of skin by dissolving the "glue" that binds dead skin cells to the skin's surface.

The most common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. These exfoliating acids are best for surface-level skin problems such as acne scars, dark spots, uneven skin tone, rough texture and a dull complexion.

(Related Post: What is AHA, BHA, or PHA?)

Here are face care products containing AHAs; Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid and Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Full Set.

* Syn: Sodium Lactate, Lauryl Lactate, Cetyl Lactate, Myristyl Lactate, Gluconolactone, Fruit Acid

Apple Fruit Extract

Apple extract is packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants that provide anti-aging, smoothing, and skin restoring benefits.

It’s also a natural chemical exfoliator loaded with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that slough off the dead skin cells and make skin look brighter and younger.

* Syn: Pyrus Malus fruit extract

Amino Acids

Amino acids are important building blocks that help maintain hydration, resilience and overall skin’s health. They are essential for skin, hair and nails, as amino acid chains can be combined to form peptides. 

* Syn: Arginine, Lysine, Glutaminic Acid, Proline, Valine, Tyrosine, Leucine, Glycine, Phenylalanine, Alanine, Glutamine, Cysteine. 


Antioxidants protect the skin by fighting environmental stressors like free radicals, which can damage skin cells and cause oxidative stress that can lead to wrinkles and fine lines. Some studies show that they help reduce inflammation, which means they can help keep acne at bay.

These compounds can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, mangoes, avocados, chia seeds, lean protein, and green tea.


Arbutin is a plant antioxidant derived from berries such as bearberry, mulberry, blueberry, and cranberry and is known for its brightening properties and is effective against hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and age spots. 

* Syn: Alpha-Arbutin, Beta-Arbutin

Argan Oil

Argan oil is packed with omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and linoleic acids - all of which work to moisturize and  strengthen the natural protective barrier of the skin, and smoothen skin and hair. 

* Syn: Argan, Argania spinosa

Ascorbic Acid

It is one of the topical forms of the potent antioxidant vitamin C, known for its skin-lightening and anti-aging effects. It helps inhibit melanin production in the skin and improves the appearance of signs of aging.

(A related blog post: What Are Vitamin C Benefits in Skin Care? )

* Syn: L-ascorbic acid

Azelaic Acid 

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in human skin and is derived from yeast, wheat, barley and rye. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and brightening properties that help kill acne-causing bacteria, relieve redness, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.


Beeswax is a natural emollient and humectant that attracts moisture and forms a barrier to lock it in and soften the skin. It is a natural wax produced by honey bees and is a great alternative to mineral oil.

Beeswax is rich in vitamin A and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that are important in fighting dry skin, infections, eczema and stretch marks.

Bergamot Fruit Oil

Bergamot oil is extracted from the rind or peel of citrus fruits and has antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic qualities. It is commonly used in natural fragrances and colognes, skin and hair care products, and acne treatments.

* Syn: Citrus Aurantium Bergarmia Fruit Oil

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) is an FDA-approved ingredient that is antimicrobial, meaning it helps kill p.acnes - the bacteria that can contribute to acne breakouts. It is one of the very effective over-the-counter (OTC) topical acne treatments.

Beta Carotene  

Beta-carotene is one of the carotenoids found in plants, fruits, and colorful and green leafy vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, and spinach.

It is a red-orange pigment from the sources and is converted into vitamin A (retinol) in our bodies - which is needed for healthy skin and eyes. This skin-conditioning ingredient is also known for its skin-rejuvenating properties and good antioxidant activity. 


Beta-glucans can have skin-soothing, hydrating, antioxidant and anti-aging properties. It is a polysaccharide sugar derived from oats, yeasts, mushrooms, algae and plants. As a humectant, it helps attract moisture into the skin while improving redness and visible wrinkles.


Betaine is used in skin care products for its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and moisture-binding properties. Betaine can be naturally derived from sugar beets or synthetically produced. Betaine is also often used in hair care products to condition and strengthen hair. 

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) 

BHAs are better known as salicylic acid, an oil-soluble exfoliant that penetrates deep into the skin and helps unclog pores, control oil production and fight blackheads.

Willow bark extract has BHA-like functions due to salicin - it works the same way as aspirin by reducing inflammation. BHAs are beneficial for all skin types, but are generally preferred for oily, acne-prone skin with blocked pores or inflamed acne. 

Exfoliating products containing BHAs are Cosrx Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser and Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner.

* Syn:  Betaine salicylate

Bifida Ferment Lysate (BFL) 

Bifida ferment lysate is a type of probiotic obtained through the fermentation of Bifida bacteria. It is known to relieve inflammation and moisturize, protect and protect the skin from free radical damage.

Find out more about Benton Fermentation Eye Cream.


Bio-Cellulose is an ultra-fine natural fiber derived from the fermentation of coconut water that is environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Biocellulose masks are known for their better adhesion and strong affinity to water and are increasingly used in the global face mask market.

* Syn: Microbial Cellulose.


Bisabolol is a floral-scented oily liquid that is the main component of the essential oil extract from German chamomile. It’s commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products as a fragrance, but also has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, skin lightening properties.

This skin conditioning agent can also help enhance the absorption of other active ingredients more effectively.

Here are products containing bisabolol; Urang Brightening Blue Oil Serum and Huxley Essence Brightly Ever After

* Syn: α-(−)-bisabolol, levomenol, Alpha-Bisabolol

Butylene Glycol

Butylene glycol is an organic alcohol derived from petroleum that works as a humectant — which has the ability to draw moisture.

Butylene glycol is commonly used as a solvent in cosmetics, hair and body care products, similar to propylene glycol. However Butylene glycol has a thinner consistency than propylene glycol, which makes it feel less greasy and easier to apply.


Caffeine is often known to be used in cellulite cream and eye cream for helping puffy eyes; however, there are mixed studies for its effectiveness. Yet caffeine contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride

Caprylic and capric fatty acids, derived from coconut oil and glycerin, help form a barrier on the skin's surface to counteract moisture loss. They are used in soaps and cosmetics because they have emollient, thickening and texture-enhancing properties.

It also binds other ingredients together, and can work as a preservative of sorts to make the active ingredients in cosmetics last longer.

Cannabidiol (CBD) 

CBD is one of the naturally occurring compounds, also called cannabinoids, extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, such as marijuana and hemp.

In the cosmetics industry, the oil is used as an active ingredient because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help sop up excess oil secretions on the skin that lead to acne breakouts.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is a nutrient-rich vegetable oil pressed from castor beans that acts as a natural emollient and viscosity controller. It contains ricinoleic acid and fatty acids that help in the skin’s natural moisture balance and smoothening dry, flaky skin.    

* Syn: Ricinus communis

Cellulose Gum 

Cellulose is a natural compound derived from the plant cell walls and typically made from non-toxic wood pulp or cotton.

It’s often used as a thickener and/or film-forming agent in skincare, bath, haircare, eye and facial makeup, and shaving products.


Ceramides are a class of fatty acids, aka lipids(fats), that hold together the cells of the epidermis to help the skin retain moisture and improve the protective barrier function of the skin.

They’re found naturally in skin and make up about 50% of the skin’s uppermost layers of skin. Here are beauty products containing ceramides;Urang Rose Ceramide Cream and Cosrx Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream.

Citric Acid 

Citric acid is a member of the AHA family that occurs naturally in citrus fruits such as lemons and limes. It is commonly used in skin care products to lighten skin tone, relieve acne, adjust the pH balance, or lift off dead skin cells with its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and exfoliating effects.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is composed of more than 90% natural saturated fats such as linoleic acid and lauric acid, which act as emollients and occlusives, helping to seal moisture and soften the skin. 

* Syn: Cocos Nucifera Oil


Collagen is a protein containing amino acids that mainly contribute to the health, elasticity, resilience and hydration of the skin.

It occurs naturally in the human body and accounts for about one-third of all proteins in the body. As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen, which contributes to wrinkling and sagging of the skin.

* Syn: Atelocollagen, Marine Collagen, Hydrolyzed Collagen

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant and nutrient that occurs naturally in the body, but our bodies produce less CoQ10 as we age. This substance can also be absorbed through foods such as meat, fish or avocado.

It helps reduce oxidative damage from free radicals, such as UV rays, and promotes collagen and elastin production.

* Syn: Ubiquinone, CoQ10, Co-Q10, Ubiquinone-Q10, Ubidecarenone, Vitamin Q10

Cranberry Seed Oil

Rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E and K, which boost collagen production and fight free radicals that may cause wrinkles.

The acid found in cranberries acts as an exfoliant and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that soothe inflamed and irritated skin. 

* Syn: Vaccinium Macrocarpon


Clays are known for their detoxifying, purifying, cleansing and exfoliating properties, absorbing excess oils and impurities from clogged pores - in turn, helping to control shine, soothe blemishes and blackheads.

A few common types of clays are kaolin, rose, bentonite, French green and red. Cosmetics containing clay are Heimish All Clean White Clay Foam and Klavuu Special Care Pearl Glow Mask.

Copper Peptides 

Copper peptides are an antioxidant and rejuvenating powerhouse with anti-inflammatory properties. A peptide found naturally in the body, when combined with copper (Cu), forms a peptide complex that provides superior benefits to mature skin by restoring elasticity and collagen - the skin's "bouncy" texture.

* Syn: GHK-Cu, Copper Tripeptide-1, Matrixyl 3000, Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, Carrier peptides

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Dihydroxyacetone is derived from sugar and is a color additive used in self-tanners and sunless tanning products. DHA interacts with amino acids in the outermost layers of the skin to turn the skin a darker shade of brown in a matter of hours.

* Syn: Glycerone 

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