Our cosmetic glossary is a comprehensive list of all the terminology you will find for cosmetic products. Ever wonder what the difference between a cream and a serum is. Click here for our full listing ingredients found in your cosmetics
Arm yourself with knowledge and be in the know:
Is a condition of the skin that is characterized by red pimples and blackheads for a period of time. Find out if you should pop the pimple.
Any active ingredients are FDA or Health Canada approved. Active ingredients in the true sense are said to have therapeutic benefits and in order for a cream to list "active ingredients" they must obtain a DIN number from Health Canada (for example). The term active ingredient has become a generic term when companies are communicating the ingredients that make the product work.
Found anywhere on the body. Is usually brown or darker than your skin, not a freckle as these are usually round, where age spots are not. Caused by sun damage or age (hence the term). Other terms used; liver spot, brown spot, hyperpigmentation, sun damage. Click here for a beauty routine for age spots
A term used to denote the type of dispenser a cosmetic product comes in. Airless pumps are just that, they do not let air into the product and therefore sensitive ingredients do not oxidize or degrade. They are also great in that they help keep bacteria out of the product.
Usually refers to an ingredient impedes the oxidization of the cells. Oxidation causes free radicals that in turn create chain reactions that damage cells. Anti-oxidants do this by breaking the chain by removing free radicals. Oxidation is crucial in life however sometimes it can kill or damage a cell. Anti-oxidants: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Polyphenols, Flavonoids and Tocopherols and vitamins A, and E
Dr. Christine Schrammek formulated the first BB cream to counteract the affects of laser skin surgery, reduce redness, rejuvenate the skin and provide UV coverage. Dr. Schrammek commercialized that cream and called it Blemish Balm ( blemish meaning spots or redness not acne ). BB creams soon caught on in Asia and have been among the top selling products - they are now making their way across the pond to North America. BB creams have been so successful, around the world, that companies are now formulating BB creams with whitening and anti-aging benefits along with a base for applying makeup. It is said to be an all-in-one cream that evens out skin tone, provides SPF protection, reduces redness, moisturizes and primes the skin for foundation.
Usually found on people with oily skin as they tend to have larger pores. The pores get plugged with dirt and skin cells and the black that you see is caused by oxidation not dirt.
An ingredient derived from a plant. This may not mean that the product is natural or organic.
This is a term used when exfoliation is completed by ingredients that are technically chemicals (that does not mean they are synthetic or bad). Usually Alpha or Beta Hydroxy Acids (glycolic acid, salicylic acid) or Retinol. These ingredients work over time or at an aestheticians office in minutes to dissolve away the glue that holds the dead cells in place. These ingredients in an cream form from the beauty counter work slower as they do not contain the same level of the ingredients. And lastly, these ingredients also speed up the renewal of new cells. One caution - they do expose the lipid barrier so wear sunscreen and they may cause some irritation.
Found in the flesh and connective tissue of animals (us). It is a natural occurring protein and is very abundant in our bodies making up 25-35% of the whole body protein. Collagen fibers are a major component of the extracellular matrix that supports most tissues and gives cells structure from the outside, but collagen is also found inside some cells. Collagen has great tensile strength, and is the main component of skin, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bone. It is responsible for skin strength and elasticity (along with keratin), and its degradation leads to wrinkles that accompany aging.
COMEDO or OPEN COMEDO
The medical term for a blackhead (plural is Comedones). The term widely know is non-comedogenic which means the product does not cause blackheads.
A term used to describe products that claim to have therapeutic affects. Health Canada and the FDA do not recognize this term as in order for a product to have a therapeutic affect then it would be classified as a drug and would have to be approved as a drug. For the moment, all skin care products sold at the beauty counter are classified as cosmetic products even though a company has called them a cosmeceutical.
A term used to describe the consistency of a cosmetic product. Creams are usually found in airless pumps, tubes or jars. A cream usually denotes a thicker consistency and are usually made for those with dry skin (not always true and you have to read the ingredient listing).
The outer layer of the skin. It acts as the body's defense against environmental assaults. The thinnest part of the epidermis is the eyelids and the thickest are the palms and soles. It can be composed of 4--5 layers depending on the region of skin. The entire epidermis is replaced by new cell growth over a period of roughly 48 days.
As new skin cells develop they are pushed up through the epidermis layers and the old skin cells are sloughed off. This process occurs naturally in the epidermis every 48 days but as we age it slows down. When this happens use chemical and manual exfoliation to help speed up the process.
Are atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons. Radicals (or free radicals) are believed to be involved in cancers and degenerative diseases. Not all free radical activity are damaging, some are necessary to life (intracellular killing of bacteria). It is the result of reactions between these free radicals and DNA resulting in mutation that can adversely affect the cell and potentially lead to cell death.
A term that refers to the darkening of an areas of the skin by the abnormal access production of melanin pigmentation (colour) found in the skin. The excess melanin is caused by sun damage, acne vulgaris. A well, as the body ages, melanocytes (how melanin is produced) distribution is less controlled by the body. The sun stimulated melanocyte activity and where concentrations of cells are denser it creates symptoms such as freckles, age spots, liver spots or brown spots. Click here for a beauty routine to reduce the look of hyperpigmentation
A melanocyte or melanin depletion or decrease in tyrosine (used by melanocytes to make melanin) causing light patches on the skin.
A term used to describe the consistency of a cosmetic product. This term usually means the texture of the product will be lighter and more fluid. Lotions are generally used for oily skin products.
A term used for the type of exfoliation. Manual exfoliation usually refers to a product used with your hands to exfoliate the skin. The product usually contains beads that help loose the dead skin cells. NOTE: always look for products that describe their beads as round as other types will scratch your face.
A term used to describe a cosmetic product that covers the face. Masks with kaolin clay are made for oily skin and masks that speak to intense moisturize are made for dry skin.
A pigment that is found in all organisms. Derived from the amino acid tyrosine. The increased production of melanin is called melanogenesis. Melanin production is stimulated by UVB radiation which is DNA damage, it leads to a delayed development of a tan. It absorbs harmful UV-radiation and transforms it into energy into harmless heat.
A term use to describe a cosmetic product that is used to prep or prime the skin for the next step. Generally, a primer is a thick, silicone based product that is applied to the face prior to foundation. It is said to fill in lines and wrinkles to provide a smooth finish for the foundation. Find out more makeup tips. Makeup, Beauty, Fashion Tips, Trends, How to
The gland that is responsible for oil secretion. The are spread throughout the body, except for soles and palms, and are found in abundance on the scalp and face. Those with over-active glands have oily skin.
The oily substances that is secreted from the sebaceous gland. It is made up of fat, wax, and the debris of dead fat producing cells.
A term used to describe the consistency of a cosmetic product and the percentage of ingredients. Serums generally purport to have higher percentage of skin care ingredients than creams and lotions - they are the extra-strength products. With the introduction of cosmeceuticals and doctor brands, which claim to have high percentage of therapeutic ingredients, serums may have lost their meaning.
A surfactant used as a cleaning agent to remove oil and stains. Sulfates are harmful to marine life. And they can cause allergic reactions, dry skin and hair and can irritate eyes. Most companies are removing sulfates from their formulation. Find out if you are allergic to Sulfates
A physical block of the sun. You can block the sun by clothing or with ingredients that deflect the UV rays - these are not absorbed by the skin. Zinc Oxide is a common block.
Filters out some of the rays - determined by the SPF factor. Most sun protection products are now usually made with both sunblock and sunscreen ingredients.
A delivery method for ingredients. Ingredients are said to be reduce to a nano size format (usually 1/1000 the diameter of a human hair). The idea behind nanotechnology is that the smaller the particle the better the product can be absorbed by the skin and get to the lower levels of the skin where it is needed and can provide benefits.
A term used for a product that lightens the look of hyperpigmentation (which can be freckles, age or brown spots, sun damage). These products will not make your skin white but will attack those darker areas and lighten them.