Skin Care & Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary (E – K)
Elastin is a fibrous protein found in connective tissues throughout the body that allows the skin to expand, stretch and bounce back, making the skin tight and firm.
Emollients are substances that soften, soothe and increase the moisture content of the skin. They also relieve itching and flaking by forming an oily or waxy layer on top of the skin that locks in moisture.
Topical emollients are available in the form of creams, lotions, ointments, and gels and are commonly used to treat dry, scaly skin conditions such as eczema, ichthyosis, and psoriasis.
Emollients can be used as natural or synthetic ingredients. Commonly used are vegetable oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, mineral oils, petrolatum, dimethicone, and fatty acids such as lanolin or emu oil. They are usually formulated with a humectant and an 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.
Essential oils are concentrated and fragrant plant extracts from flowers, barks, leaves or fruits that have various therapeutic and skin care 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 such as jojoba, castor or coconut oil. Common examples of essential oils include lavender, rosehip, frankincense, and tea tree oil.
Eucalyptus is obtained 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 is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in numerous fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, pomegranates, walnuts, and pecans.
It has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties that protect the skin from oxidative stress caused 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 bodies can't produce them on their own. This means they must be obtained from food, such as fish oil, flaxseed (linseed) oil, walnut oil, or chia seeds.
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 barrier function and maintain overall skin health.
Fatty acids are commonly used in beauty products as emulsifiers, emollients or skin replenishing agents. They are usually found in plant and animal fats (lipids). Common examples of natural fatty acids for skin include glycerides, sterols, and phospholipids.
The fermentation of skin care ingredients usually creates amino acids and antioxidants and increases nutrient density, which can provide amazing anti-aging effects.
They can also maximize the goodness of ingredients more effectively, as microorganisms (bacteria) release enzymes that break down ingredients and convert them into active forms, which allows for faster and deeper absorption into the skin due to smaller molecules.
Popular fermented ingredients in cosmetics include sea kelp, black soy, ginseng, fermented rice and yeast (Saccharomyces).
Galactomyces ferment filtrate (GFF)
Galactomyces is a genus of fungi and a byproduct of Aspergillus oryzae, a yeast added for fermentation when brewing sake. GFF is rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals and nutrients and provides 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, and reducing the appearance of blackheads and enlarged pores.
As GFF is fungal in origin, it may aggravate fungal acne, although it is known to improve acne. Korean beauty products that contain Galactomyces include Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence, Benton Fermentation Eye Cream.
* Synonym: Pitera: you may know from SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
Gallic Acid (GA)
Gallic acid is an organic compound, also called tannin, that occurs naturally in plant-based foods and herbs such as gall nuts, blueberries, sumac, flaxseed, tea leaves, witch hazel, grapes, hops and oak bark.
GA is known for its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral properties, and helps protect cells from oxidative damage and photoaging caused by UV-B radiation.
Glycerin is a natural humectant (hygroscopic) found in plants or animal sources that draws moisture from the deeper layers of the skin or the air into the outer layer of the skin, keeping the skin hydrated, soft and supple.
It is usually used in combination with emollients and/or occlusives to enhance penetration of the active ingredients and combat against dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin.
* Synonym: Glycerol, Glycyl alcohol
Goji Berry Extract
Goji berries are a significant source of vitamins, amino acids, zinc, antioxidants and carotenoids, all of which have various benefits for the skin, from promoting collagen and elastin production to reducing hyperpigmentation and oxidative stress.
This superfruit has been shown to regulate tyrosinase activity and melanin levels, making it beneficial for anyone with uneven skin tone.
* Synonym: Wolfberries, Lycium Barbarum, barbary boxthorn, Kukoshi, Gou Qi Zi
Glycolic acid is the most commonly used alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugar cane. It is a powerful chemical exfoliant that breaks down the bonds between keratinocytes, also known as skin cells, in the outer layers of the skin, improving the appearance of wrinkles, acne scars, enlarged pores, and discoloration.
Glycolic acid is considered by most to be bioavailable and the best performing of the AHAs due to its ability to penetrate deeper into the skin due to its smallest molecule size.
Grape Seed Oil and Extract
Grape seed oil and extract is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins C and E, resveratrol, polyphenol and proanthocyanidins - it has healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
It has been shown to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV-A and UV-B radiation, pollution, and smoking, helping the skin to remain elastic and healthy.
Grape seed oil contains linoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acids that strengthen the skin's barrier function, as well as it has astringent and polyphenolic properties that firm the skin and counteract premature aging.
It is commonly used in moisturizers, hair care products and eye wrinkle creams. Korean skin care products containing grape seed are Olivarrier Cream All Barrier Relief Moisturizer, Urang Natural Cleansing Oil.
* Synonym:Vitis Vinifera
Green tea is made from the leaves and buds of the same plant as black tea, Camellia sinensis, and has been shown to have skin-soothing, sebum-regulating, and anti-aging effects on the skin.
The polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, also known as catechins) in green tea have antioxidant, calming properties and may be helpful in treating acne.
* Syn: Camellia Sinensis
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is extracted by cold pressing the hemp seed and typically do not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It is often confused with hemp oil, which also contains CBD (cannabidiol) oil, which is extracted from the flowers, leaves or stem of the cannabis plant (and sometimes from the seeds).
Hemp seed oil is rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids that support and repair skin barrier function, regulate skin lipid production, and soothe inflamed skin.
It is non-comedogenic, which means it will not clog pores, making it suitable for people with acne or oily, combination skin.
* Syn: Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil
Humectants are common moisturizing agents known to draw water molecules from the environment into the top layer of skin, the stratum corneum, thus preserving the skin's natural moisture. They are widely used in face and hand creams, facial cleansers, body lotions, shampoos, 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), hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, sodium PCA, allatoin, butylene glycol, or sodium hyaluronate.
(Related blog post: How to choose the best moisturizer for your skin type?)
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in our bodies and is known for its moisture-retaining properties - it can bind up to 1,000 times its weight in water, keeping skin plump and supple.
Hyaluronic acid is beneficial for all skin types and is found in many beauty products, including high-end anti-aging products. For cosmetics 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 that consists of over 90 percent of liquid and can absorb 500 times its weight thanks to its water-binding ability. It also has the ability to adhere to the skin, allowing it to soak up moisture and/or nutrients from the hydrogel base.
This polymer material gel is extensively used in the medical field for wound dressings, and in the skin care market it can be found in an eye patch and a hydrogel face mask.
Hydrolyzed collagen, often derived from fish or cattle, is a broken down form of "regular" collagen that is easier to dissolve; however, technically it is not true collagen, but a mixture of peptides, which is why it is also known as collagen peptides.
Hydrolized collagen helps moisturize dry skin and hair, and may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and crow's feet.
Hydroquinone is a skin lightening agent that blenches dark skin spots 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 that hydroquinone has long been one of the most effective skin care ingredients for de-pigmentation, it is still a controversial ingredient, having been banned in several countries, including Europe and Japan, due to the case of ochronosis that occurred in South Africa.
Ochronosis means that the skin becomes hard and dark in the areas where the product was applied. However, as it turned out, the product in question contained toxic illegal ingredients such as mercury and other harmful ingredients.
In the U.S., therefore, the FDA allows a maximum of 2 percent hydroquinone in over-the-counter products and 4 percent in prescription products.
Jojoba oil resembles the skin's natural sebum and is easily absorbed to balance, moisturize and nourish the skin without clogging pores. Jojoba oil is an oil-like wax ester extracted from the seed of the jojoba plant.
Rich in vitamins A, E and D, antioxidants, fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps repair damaged skin and reduce redness caused by dryness, rosacea, eczema or psoriasis.
* Synonym: Isopropyl Jojobate, Simmondsia Chinensis
Kaolin is a clay-like mineral, also known as aluminum silicate, that occurs naturally and can be produced in a laboratory environment.
Typically used in China for pottery and medicine, kaolin also has excellent absorbent, detoxifying, exfoliating, and abrasive properties that can be beneficial for cosmetics and skincare.
Kaolin is easily found in some face and body care products, such as a gentle facial cleanser or clay mask. This is because clay absorbs excess oil and gunk from pores and dampens shine, leaving skin clear and smooth.
* Synonym: White Clay, China Clay
Kojic acid is a fungus-derived ingredient derived from Aspergillus oryzae, which is called koji mold in Japanese. It is an important ingredient in the fermentation process of saccharifying rice to make sake (Japanese rice wine).
Frequently used in some soaps, creams, lotions and serums due to its skin lightening and exfoliating properties. It acts as a tyrosine suppressor that fights excessive melanin production, and it can help lighten visible sun damage and scars.
* Synonym: Kojic Acid Dipalmitate