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.

The Kbeauty products containing acai included 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 and anything lower is considered acidic. Our skin maintains its barrier best around 5.5—slightly acidic due to our acid mantle.

Acid mantle is the protective film on the skin's surface composed of natural oils and amino acids that helps protect the skin against bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants. (Related post: How To Restore pH Balance in Skin?)


Adenosine found in skincare products is derived from yeast and it has been shown to have anti-aging, soothing and skin restoration properties. It increases in the production of collagen, skin smoothness, and decreases the appearance of crow’s feet.


Allantoin is a non-irritating ingredient that functions as moisturizing, protecting, and healing agents. 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.


There are few different types of alcohol used in cosmetics. SD alcohol, ethanol, and denatured alcohol are used to help penetrate the skin. Benzyl Alcohol works as a preservative to keep organic and natural skincare products safe from bacteria; however, they can cause dryness, irritation, and breakouts.

On the other hand, fatty alcohols work as emollients that help emulsify cosmetics and create a creamy texture. They even can soften hair and dry skin. Common ones are 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 which can treat sunburned or irritated skin, acne and dry skin and it can be applied for sensitive skin as well.

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 powerhouses of antioxidants, vitamins, 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, so anything higher is alkaline. For skin care, more acidic cleansers may help combat acne once your pH levels reach below 6.

In contrast, if you’re concerned with excessive oil production, an alkaline cleanser can be used as it completely removes oils and wastes. Just remember to use a slightly acidic toner to keep your skin’s pH level to more optimal condition.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

These chemicals are a group of natural and synthetic ingredients that exfoliate the top layers of the skin by loosening the “glue” that binds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin.

The common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid. Theses exfoliating acids are best for surface-level skin concerns like acne scars, dark spots, uneven skin tone, rough texture, and dull complexion. (Related Post: What is AHA, BHA, or PHA?)

Here are 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 for brighter and younger looking skin.

* Syn: Pyrus Malus fruit extract

Amino Acids

Amino acids are essential building blocks that help maintain hydration, resilience, and overall skin’s health. They are essential to the skin, hair, and nails as strings of amino acids can be joined to form peptides.                

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


Antioxidants protect skin by combating environmental stressors like free radicals, which can damage skin cells and create oxidative stress which can result in wrinkles and fine lines.

Some studies are proving that they help reduce inflammation, meaning 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.


It’s a plant-derived antioxidant extracted from the berries such as bearberries, mulberry, blueberries, and cranberries.

Arbutin is well-known for its lightening benefits and it’s effective in treating hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, and aging 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, smoothen skin and hair. 

* Syn: Argan, Argania spinosa

Ascorbic Acid

It’s one of the topical forms of the potent antioxidant vitamin C, which known for its skin brightening and anti-aging agents.

It helps inhibit melanin production in skin and improves the appearance of signs of aging. (Related Post: What Are Vitamin C Benefits in Skin Care? )

* Syn: L-ascorbic acid

Azelaic Acid 

Azelaic acid is a naturally-occurring acid that is found in human skin and derived from yeast, wheat, barley, and rye.

It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and brightening properties which help kill acne-causing bacteria, soothe redness, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.


Beeswax is a natural emollient and humectant that attracts moisture and forms a barrier to lock it in and soften skin. It’s 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, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties that are essential 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 it has antibacterial, antiseptic, and analgesic qualities. It’s often 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 an antimicrobial, which means it helps kill p.acnes — the bacteria that can contribute to acne breakouts. It’s one of the very effective over-the-counter(OTC) topical acne treatments.

Beta Carotene          

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

It’s a red-orange pigment from the sources and in our body it gets converted into vitamin A (retinol) — which is needed for healthy skin and eyes. This skin conditioning ingredient is also known for skin rejuvenating properties and good antioxidant action. 


Beta Glucans can provide skin soothing, hydrating, antioxidant, anti-aging properties. It’s a polysaccharide sugar that is derived from oats, yeasts, mushrooms, algae, and plants. As a humectant, it helps bind moisture to the skin while improving redness and visible wrinkles.


Betaine is used in skin care products due to its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and humectant benefits. Betaine can be naturally derived from sugar beets or derived synthetically. Betaine is also often used in hair care products for hair conditioning and strengthening. 

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) 

BHAs are more commonly known as salicylic acid, an oil-soluble exfoliant that deeply penetrates into the skin to help unclog pores, control oil production, and target blackheads.

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

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 by the fermentation of Bifida bacteria. It’s known to help soothe inflammation and hydrate, protect, and repair skin against damage caused by free radicals. Check out Benton Fermentation Eye Cream.


Bio cellulose is an ultra-fine natural fiber that is made from the fermentation of coconut water and it’s eco-friendly and biodegradable. Bio-cellulose masks are known for its better adhesion and strong affinity to water and it’s increasingly used in the global sheet 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 it has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, 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 has a thinner consistency than propylene glycol – making them 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

Derived from coconut oil and glycerin, caprylic and capric fatty acids help to create a barrier on the skin’s surface, which helps to resist moisture loss. It’s used in soaps and cosmetics due to its emollients, replenishing and texture enhancing capabilities.

Cannabidiol (CBD) 

CBD is one of the naturally-occurring compounds, aka cannabinoids, extracted from the cannabis sativa plants, like marijuana and hemp. In the beauty industry, the oil is used as an active ingredient for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant agents. It may help sop up excess oil secretions on the skin that leads 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 products containing ceramides; Urang Rose Ceramide Cream and Cosrx Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream.

Citric Acid 

Citric acid is a member of the AHAs family that is naturally found in citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes. It’s often used in skin care products to help brighten skin tone, soothe acne, adjust the pH balance, or lift off dead skin cells with its antioxidants, antimicrobial, and peeling effects.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is over 90% natural saturated fats, like linoleic acid and lauric acid, which act as emollients and occlusive agents that help to trap moisture and soften the skin. 

* Syn: Cocos Nucifera Oil


Collagen is a protein that contains amino acids which help mainly with the skin’s health, elasticity, resilience and hydration. Naturally found in the human body and it makes up about a third of all the proteins within the body. As we get older, our body produces less collagen, contributing to skin wrinkling and sagging.

* Syn: Atelocollagen, Marine Collagen, Hydrolyzed Collagen

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

A powerful antioxidant and nutrient that occurs naturally in the body, but our body produces less CoQ10 with age. This substance can be also sourced from foods, like meat, fish, or avocado. It helps reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals, like UV rays, promote collagen and elastin production.

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

Cranberry Seed Oil

Rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, E, and K that help boost collagen production and fight free radicals that may cause wrinkles. The acid in cranberries acts as an exfoliant and it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that relieves inflamed and irritated skin. 

* Syn: Vaccinium Macrocarpon


Clays are known for its detoxifying, purifying, cleansing, and exfoliating abilities and works well to absorb excess oils and impurities from congested pores — which in return, it helps control shine, soothe blemishes, and blackheads. A few common types are kaolin, rose, bentonite, French green, and red.

Products 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 its anti-inflammatory properties. A peptide naturally found in the body combined with copper (Cu), it creates a peptide complex — which provide excellent benefits to mature skin by restoring elasticity and collagen - the “bouncy” skin texture.

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

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Derived from sugar, DHA is a color additive used in self-tanning and sunless tanning products. It interacts with the amino acids in the skin’s outermost layers to turn the skin a darker shade of brown within a few hours.

* Syn: Glycerone


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