Beauty A to Z: The Only Skin-Care Glossary You Need

We are a multi-organ body, the largest being our skin. Hence comes skin care for every healthy human. So let’s dive straight in to unlock the terminologies related to skin care.


Predominantly found in the face is a pore jammed with impurities, dirt, and dead skin cells. It appears in various forms, such as whiteheads, blackheads, and cystic acne. Acne can be of many forms, from swollen to painful, inflamed, and red.


These are must-use in your skincare routine. It helps heal free radical damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, sunburn, smoking, pollution, and other wear and tear issues. Manufacturers add vitamins C, A & E as antioxidants to their skincare products. Other antioxidants include ferulic acid and resveratrol.


It is a compound of plants that soothes your skin because of its healing property. Products use it as an ingredient for calming complexions and reducing skin irritation.


A water-soluble ingredient naturally found within our skin with anti-aging properties. It soothes and repairs skin. It has anti-inflammatory anti-wrinkle properties.

Ascorbic Acid

Another name for vitamin C is a repairing antioxidant that helps promote anti-aging and protect and restore skin. It works by reducing discoloration and wrinkles.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)

A chemical exfoliant helps loosen the bonds helping the skin cells to stay together. It helps skin cells to sweep away, revealing new skin cells underneath. Two popular AHAs are glycolic and lactic acid.

Benzoyl Peroxide

It is an ingredient in acne washes and creams. It lowers inflammation and blemishes by releasing oxygen and killing bacteria. Benzoyl Peroxide works as an antiseptic. The skin pores directly absorb it. It helps remove acne bacteria and prevents breakouts and redness.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)

It is oil soluble. BHA works by exfoliating dead skin cells from the skin surface like AHAs. Unlike AHA, it penetrates deeper below the lining of the pores to exfoliate dead skin from deep inside. A common BHA is salicylic acid.


It is a protein in various body parts, like skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It binds cells together and is used widely in skincare products to make your skin feel and look firm, plump, and younger. The body produces fewer as we age. We source it from the skin care products as manufacturers add it.


It is the act of removing toxins from the body. But products in the market claiming to detox typically remove dead skin cells and excess oil from the skin.


Manufacturers of beauty and skin care products use it to combine the skincare ingredients that would separate, like oil and water. The emulsifier can penetrate vitamins and antioxidants deeper under the layer of the skin.


Moisturizers use it as one of their active ingredients. It is a hydrating treatment that has no fragrance. We can use it as cream, ointment, and lotion. It helps hold the water content of the skin. Hence, it is helpful for dry skin conditions, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.

Ethyl Alcohol

Manufacturers of skin care products widely use it as an ingredient to work as an astringent, antifoaming, and antimicrobial agent. It can change the finished product quality, including texture and thickness.

Free Radicals

Factors responsible for creating unstable molecules called free radicals in our body are sunlight, smoking, pollution, exposure to chemical hazards, and an unhealthy diet. Free radicals cause cell damage, leading to roughness, sagging, and wrinkles.


A chemical from the licorice root extract is a skin-brightening antioxidant. It inhibits pigmentation in the skin.

Ferulic Acid

Acquired from rice bran, manufacturers use this antioxidant in anti-aging creams, serums, and moisturizers, to promote youth-boosting skincare treatments.

Glycolic Acid

Fount in plants like sugarcane and beetroot, this chemical exfoliant helps remove oil and dead skin gently, with no abrasion that otherwise can come from using scrubs or any external exfoliant.


The third most used moisturizer worldwide. It attracts moisture from the surroundings and puts it back into your skin. It is a sugar alcohol added to personal skincare products after water and fragrance.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA)

It is a humectant, which means it holds moisture. The body naturally creates it from within but reduces it with age. Lack of humectant can cause an absence of plumpness, vitality, hydration, and naturally glowing skin. HA is a smaller molecule that can easily seep into the skin and penetrate deeper to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated from within.


This synthetic compound works as an antioxidant and helps reduce inflammation and UV damage, causing wrinkles and hyperpigmentation in the skin.

Jojoba oil

It is a lightweight oil that dissolves quickly into the skin. It has the same structure as the natural oil found in the skin. The oil penetrates and hydrates the skin without causing clogging in the pores.

Kojic Acid

We derive it from nature from various fungi used in skin care products to treat age spots, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation.

Lactic Acid

It belongs to AHA, the alpha hydroxy acid. We derive it from the fermentation of milk. The acid gently exfoliates the uppermost layer of sensitive skin types. It hydrates the skin by drawing water into it. It is best when used at bedtime.

Mandelic Acid

Produced from bitter almonds, the oils-soluble AHA penetrates deep into the skiing to clear clogged pores. It has large molecules that slow the penetration too fast, preventing skin irritation.

Micellar Water

It contains water and suspended surfactant molecules just enough to pull the oil and dirt. Micelle is a cluster of many surfactants suspended in water. Pour some on a cotton pad and gently apply to the face. It pulls makeup and dirt gently, keeping the skin hydrated.


It is a Vitamin B form of an antioxidant. Manufacturers of skin care products use it in supplements, food, and beauty products. This element is crucial in treating acne, rosacea, and many inflammatory skin problems.


It is a toxic element. If manufacturers add it to any beauty product, one should avoid applying it. Many products put “Paraben Free” on their labels of the skin and hair care products. Manufacturers use parabens, synthetic preservatives, to extend the shelf life of their beauty products.


It is a derivation of vitamin A. It is available in over-the-counter serum forms, creams, and topical treatments. It helps prevent wrinkles, fine lines, texture change, and turnover of cells. You start slowly with retinol to see if it suits your skin. Use it with a moisturizer and SPF.

Zinc Oxide

Users of beauty products widely apply it to acne treatment. Zinc serves as an antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agent. It treats rosacea, eczema, and melasma.


The skin protects us from being exposed to the harsh outer world. We must take good care of it so it can take good care of our body. Try some mentioned to soothe your skin and look younger and brighter with glowing skin.

Updated on: 20-Apr-2023


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