Skin Care & Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary (E – K)

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Elastin is a fibrous protein that is found in connective tissues throughout the body to allow skin to expand, stretch and bounce back and this is what makes skin tight and firm.


Emollients are substances that helps soften, soothe, and increase moisture levels. They also decrease itching, flaking by forming an oily or waxy layer on top of the skin to trap in moisture. Topical emollients are available in creams, lotions, ointments, and gels and they’re often used to help manage dry, scaly skin conditions like eczema, ichthyosis, and psoriasis.

Emollients can be used as natural or synthetic ingredients and common ones are plant oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, mineral oils, petrolatum, dimethicone and fatty acids such as lanolin or emu oil. They’re usually formulated with a humectant and occlusive, in order to achieve its ultimate outcomes.


Emulsifying agents, also known as surface active agents, are soluble in both water(hydrophilic) and oil(lipophilic) that are widely used throughout the cosmetics industry to stabilize formulas and textures of creams and lotions by preventing ingredients from separating. Some commonly used emulsifiers in skin care are Steric acid, Glyceryl Stearate, cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Xanthan gum, Cetearyl Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol.

* Syn: Emulgent, Surfactants

Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated and fragrant plant extracts from flowers, bark, leaves or fruits that have different therapeutic and skincare benefits due to their anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and soothing properties.

For topical use, these potent compounds should be combined with a fatty carrier oil like jojoba seed, castor, or coconut oils. Common examples of essential oils are lavender, rosehip, frankincense, and tea tree oils.


Derived from the oval-shaped leaves of evergreen trees, originally native to Australia. It is known for its antiseptic, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. 

Ellagic Acid                 

Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in numerous fruits and vegetables including strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, pomegranates, walnuts, and pecans. It has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties that protects skin from oxidative stress induced by UV rays and the natural aging process. 

Essential Fatty Acid (EFA)

EFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a critical role in maintaining good health including glowing skin, but our body cannot produce this itself. That means it must be obtained in our diet, such as fish oil, flax seed (linseed) oil, walnut oil, or chia seed.

The two primary essential fatty acids for our skin are alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). They help repair the barrier function and maintain overall skin health. 

Fatty Acid         

Fatty acids are commonly used in beauty products as an emulsifier, an emollient, or a skin replenishing agent. They are usually found in plant and animal fat(lipids) and common examples of natural fatty acids for skin include glycerides, sterols, and phospholipids.

Fermented Ingredients

The fermentation of skin care ingredients typically work to create amino acids, antioxidants and increase the nutrient density that can provide an amazing anti-aging benefit.

They can also maximize the goodness of the ingredients more effectively as microorganisms (bacteria) releases enzymes that break down and process the ingredients into active forms, allowing quicker and deeper absorption in the skin due to smaller molecules.

Popular fermented ingredients in cosmetics includes sea kelp, black soy, ginseng, fermented rice, and yeast(saccharomyces).

Galactomyces ferment filtrate (GFF) 

Galactomyces is a genus of fungi and a byproduct from aspergillus oryzae, a yeast that's added for fermentation when brewing sake. Rich in vitamins, amino acids, mineral, and nutrients, providing excellent anti-aging and nourishing benefits.

This yeast-derived ingredient is effective in enhancing the skin tone and brightening the tired dull skin, controlling sebum production, reducing the appearance of blackheads and enlarged pores. As GFF is of fungal origin, it may aggravate fungal acne although it’s known to help to improve acne.

The Kbeauty products containing Galactomyces included Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing EssenceBenton Fermentation Eye Cream.

* Syn: Pitera: you may know from SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

Gallic Acid (GA)

Gallic acid is an organic active, aka tannin, derived naturally in plant-based foods and herbs such as gallnuts, blueberries, sumac, flax seed, tea leaves, witch hazel, grapes, hops and oak bark.

GA is known for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral properties and help to protect cells against oxidative damage and photoaging caused by UV-B radiation.


Glycerin is a natural humectant(hygroscopic) found in plants or animal sources that pulls moisture from the deeper layers of the skin or air into the outer layer of the skin, keeping skin hydrated, soft, and supple.

Usually, it’s used in combination with emollients and/or occlusives to enhance the penetration of the potent ingredients, defend against dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin.

Syn: Glycerol, Glycyl alcohol 

Goji Berry Extract

Goji berries are a significant source of vitamins, amino acids, zinc, antioxidants, carotenoids — all of which have various skin benefits, ranging from promoting collagen and elastin production to reducing hyper pigmentation and oxidative stress.

This super fruit has been shown to regulate tyrosinase activity and melanin content, making it beneficial to anyone with uneven skin tone.                      

* Syn: Wolfberries, Lycium Barbarum, barbary boxthorn, Kukoshi, Gou Qi Zi

Glycolic Acid 

Glycolic Acid is the most commonly used Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) derived from sugarcane. It’s a powerful chemical exfoliant that dissolves the bonds between keratinocytes, aka skin cells, in the outer layers of skin – improving the skin's appearance of wrinkles, acne scars, enlarged pores, and discoloration.

Glycolic acid is considered by most to be bioavailable and best functioning amongst AHAs because it can get deeper into the skin due to its smallest molecular size. 

If you want to try a product with allantoin, check out Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power LiquidSome By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle SerumCosrx AC Collection Calming Liquid Intensive.

Grape Seed Oil & Extract 

Grape seed oil & extract is a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C and E, resveratrol, polyphenol, and proanthocyanidins – it has healing, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

It’s shown to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV-A and UV-B radiation damage to pollution and smoking, helping the skin stay elastic and healthy.

Grape seed oil contains linoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acid that helps strengthen skin’s barrier function and it also has astringent and polyphenols, which help to tone, tighten skin and fight premature aging. It’s commonly used in a moisturizer, a hair product, and an eye wrinkle cream.          

Korean skincare products included grape seed are Olivarrier Cream All Barrier Relief Moisturizer, Urang Natural Cleansing Oil

* Syn: Vitis Vinifera

Green Tea

Green tea is made of leaves and buds from the same plant as black tea called camellia sinensis and its shown to soothe the skin, reduce sebum, and have anti-aging effects on skin.

The polyphenols and Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, also known as catechins) in green tea possess antioxidants, soothing properties and it may be beneficial in treatment of acne.

If you wan to try the green tea skincare products, here are few options — Isntree  Green Tea Fresh Toner, The Saem Natural Green Tea Mask Sheet, and Cosrx One Step Green Hero Calming Pad 

* Syn: Camellia Sinensis

Hemp Seed Oil 

Harvested by cold pressing the hemp seed and usually it doesn’t contain THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). It’s commonly confused with hemp oil, which includes CBD (Cannabidiol) oil that are made from the flowers, leaves, or stem of the cannabis plant (and sometimes made of seeds too).

Hemp seed oil is high in vitamins, essential fatty acids that support and repair the skin barrier function, regulate skin oil production, and soothe inflamed skin. It’s non-comedogenic, which means it won’t block pores, making it suitable for people with acne prone or oily, combination skin.

* Syn: Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil


Humectants are common moisturizing agents known for their ability to attract water molecules from the environment into the stratum corneum, the top layer of skin, retaining the skin’s natural moisture. Widely found in creams, cleansers, lotions, shampoos, and face, body, and hair products.

These water-loving substances can be man-made or derived from nature and include ingredients such as honey, aloe vera, glycerin, lactic acid, baobab, hydrolyzed wheat, sorbitol (derived from sugar cane), hyalouronic acid, propylene glycol, sodium PCA, allatoin, butylene glycol, or sodium hyaluronate.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA)

HA is a natural substance that occurs in our body and well known for its moisture-retaining benefits — it can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water, keeping skin plump and supple.

Hyaluronic acid is beneficial to all skin types and can be found in many beauty staples including high-end anti-aging products.

For products with hyaluronic acid, you'll love The Plant Base Waterfall Moist Balanced Hyaluronic Acid 100 and Olivarrier PH 5.5 Dual Moist Hyaluron Essence.

* Syn: Acide Hyaluronique, Ácido Hialurónico, Glycoaminoglycan, Hyaluronate Sodium, Sodium Hyaluronate


Hydrogel is a gel that consists of over 90 percent of liquid thanks to their water-binding capabilities of holding 500 times its weight. It also has the ability to adhere into the skin allowing it to soak up hydration and/or nourishment from the hydrogel base.

This polymer material gel is extensively used in the medical field for wound dressing and for the skin care market, it can be found in an under eye patch, a hydrogel face mask.

You should try Heimish Bulgarian Rose Water Hydrogel Eye Patch and Petitfee Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patch.

Hydrolyzed Collagen

Derived often from fish or bovine sources, Hydrolyzed collagen is a broken-down form of “regular” collagen that are more easily dissolvable; however, it’s technically not really collagen but a mixture of peptides, so it’s also known as collagen peptides.

Hydrolyzed collagen helps moisturize dry skin and hair and it may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and crow’s feet.    


Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent that blanches areas of darkened skin such as age spots, freckles, liver spots, melisma, sun spots, chloasma, as well as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme necessary for melanin biosynthesis.          

Despite the fact hydroquinone is one of the most effective skincare ingredients for de-pigmentation for a long time, it’s still a controversial ingredient as it’s been banned in several countries including Europe, Japan due to the case of ochronosis which occurred in South Africa.

Ochronosis means where skin becomes tough and dark in areas where the product was applied; however, as it turns out, the product in question were found to contain toxic illegal ingredients, like mercury and other harmful containments. So in the USA, the FDA allows a maximum of 2 percent hydroquinone in over-the-counter and 4 percent in prescription formulas.

Jojoba Oil

Similar to skin’s natural sebum, jojoba is easily absorbed to balance, moisturize, and nourish skin without clogging pores. Jojoba oil is an oil-like wax ester extracted from the seed of the jojoba plant.

Rich in vitamin A, E, and D, antioxidants, fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to repair damaged skin and reduce redness caused by dryness, rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis.

For jojoba products, you might want to check out Pyunkang Yul Balancing GelPyunkang Yul Moisture Cream, and Urang Vitamin Oil Serum.

* Syn: Isopropyl Jojobate, Simmondsia Chinensis 


Kaolin is clay-like mineral, aka silicate of aluminum, found in nature and can be made in a laboratory environment. Typically used for pottery and medicine in China but Kaolin has some excellent absorbent, detoxifying, exfoliating, and abrasive properties that can be beneficial for cosmetics and skincare use.

Common examples include a gentle cleanser, a clay mask and as a clay, it absorbs excess oil and gunk from the skin and tamps down shine. Check out Heimish All Clean White Clay Foam and Klavuu Special Care Pearl Glow Mask.

* Syn: White Clay, China Clay 

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is a fungi-derived ingredient, from Aspergillus oryzae, which is called koji mold in Japanese. A critical component for the fermentation process in rice saccharification for sake brewing (Japanese rice wine).

Most commonly used in some soaps, creams, lotions, and serums due to its skin lightening and exfoliating abilities. It acts as a tyrosine suppressant, which combat excess melanin production and it can help lighten visible sun damage and scars.

* Syn: Kojic Acid Dipalmitate


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