Acne A chronic disorder of the hair follicles and sebaceous (oil) glands. There is non-inflammatory acne classified as blackheads and whiteheads. Inflammatory acne is characterized red and inflamed papules, pustules, cysts and nodules. Scarring of the skin can result from these breakouts.

Acne Rosacea Acne-like appearance characterized by redness, sensitivity, irritation and flushing centralized on the middle of the face, particularly on the nose and across the cheeks.

Actinic Keratosis Small, rough reddish patches on the skin. Often sharp to the touch. Most common in fair-skinned people, these may become skin cancer if not removed.

Alcohol SD-40: sometimes listed as SD Alcohol 40 and synonymous with alcohol SDA-40, it is a high grade purified cosmetic alcohol. Evaporates instantly, so it is used as a vehicle to transport important ingredients to the skin’s surface and then leave them there; gentler to the skin than ethyl (rubbing) alcohol. May help kill bacteria.

Algae/Seaweed Extract: an emollient, restoring moisture content to skin; consists of antioxidant properties.

Aloe Vera: A superb hydrator and soothing agent, very beneficial to damaged, dry, chapped or sun-exposed skin.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid: an active ingredient derived from fruit acids. Helps exfoliate the top layers of the epidermis: promotes moisture restoration and helps penetration of other ingredients; highly sought after for use in anti-aging and bleaching skin care products. May irritate the skin especially if overused. Buffering the pH helps make them less irritating to the skin, but also reduces exfoliating effect. AHA’s include: citric acid (citrus fruits), glycolic acid (sugar cane), lactic acid (milk), and the less common AHAs used in cosmetics malic acid (apples) and tartaric acid (wine). AHAs increase sun sensitivity due to their exfoliant behavior

Antioxidant A substance that helps create a barrier from free radial damage, the result of the decaying process of oxidation. Oxidation is what causes most of the visible signs of aging in the skin. Valuable skincare antioxidants include Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Green Tea Extract.

Ascorbic Acid: vitamin C; an antioxidant and stimulant of collagen synthesis by skin cells (fibroblasts). Can also have skin lightening effect in certain preparations. Only L-ascorbic acid (as opposed to D-ascorbic acid) is effective.

Avobenzone: Sunscreen agent.
Benzoyl Peroxide

An antibacterial agent used in acne treatments. Effective in treating acne but can dry the skin, causing more breakouts. Some develop high skin sensitivity to benzoyl peroxide. Available in both prescription and OTC forms ranging from 2.5 to 10%.

Beta Hydroxy Acid

Organic acids; the most common one is salicylic acid. It is lipophilic, or known for its abilities to dissolve oil. A long term ingredient used for exfoliation of dry skin as well as for acne and problematic skin therapy.


Also known as open comedones, look like small dark or grayish dots. Blackheads are caused by excess oil that is oxidized which causes them to turn black in color. Is considered non-inflammatory acne.


Used in topical creams to reduce puffiness.


Used for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known for its bactericidal, anti-itching, soothing, antiseptic and purifying capabilities.


The elastic fibers that provide skin with its structural support.


Small, yellowish-tan to skin colored, firm round masses just beneath the skin. These can enlarge slowly and when infected can result in scarring. Can be exacerbated by acne.


A form of silicone; skin protectant; moisture sealant, noncomedogenic; has been used in some scar therapies.

Dehydrated skin

Skin that lacks moisture.

Dry skin

Skin that lacks oil.


Cause unknown. In mild forms the skin is dry, hot and itchy, in more severe forms the skin can become broken, raw and bleeding.


A fiber within the dermis similar to collagen, gives support and “snap” to the skin.


Whether in the form papain (papaya) or bromelain (pineapple), enzymes have long been used in their pure form as exfoliants. They work by dissolving the dead skin cells on the top layer of skin.

Essential oils

Far from true oils because they are lighter than water and have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory


The chemical or mechanical removal of dead or non-functioning skin cells. This process also aids in improving circulation through stimulating blood flow.


An aromatic blend of natural essential oils and/or synthetic fragrance substances. Free Radical Scavengers: another term for antioxidants.


Support health by strengthening capillaries and other connective tissue, and some function as anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, and anti-viral agents.


Painful, cystic bump, when hair is trapped in the follicle. Also known as Psuedofolliculitas Barbae.

Free Radicals

Unstable molecules found naturally in the body and in the environment. To reduce their energy load, free radicals react with certain chemicals in the body, and in the process, interfere with the cells’ ability to function normally. Free radicals are a main cause of extrinsic aging.

Glycolic Acid

A member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids family, derived from sugar cane. It is one of the most effective AHAs because it works the quickest and penetrates skin the deepest for fast results.

Green Tea

A very powerful natural anti-oxidant (20 times stronger than Vitamin E) that reduces inflammation when used topically, revitalizes the skin and prevents damage from environment, sun, and free-radicals.


Hydrates and provides a skin barrier against loss of moisture;. Used for its water-binding abilities, allowing it to draw and absorb water from the air. allows topical agents to go on very smoothly.

Grape Seed Extract

Derived from the small seeds of red grapes, grape seed extract is rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties.

Hibiscus Extract

A peptide that acts as a neurotransmitter, reducing muscle movement to aid in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.


Acts as a natural sealant, holding moisture in the skin.


An herb that gives the skin a firmer, youthful and smoother look. Horsetail improves elasticity, giving skin the ability to spring back into shape.


A substance used to preserve the moisture content of materials.

Hormonal Aging

Part of intrinsic aging specifically associated with the natural change in hormone levels. Includes peri-menopausal and menopausal concerns.

Hyaluronic Acid

An effective humectant/moisturizing agent. Can bind up to a 1,000 times its own weight in moisture.


Ingredients that add moisture to the skin to help strengthen the barrier.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Used for its antibacterial properties. Also effective in killing P-Acnes bacteria that is associated with inflammatory acne.


Skin pigmentation lightening agent used to lighten age spots and acne scars; a maximum of 2% is sold over the counter; higher concentrations available by prescription.

Hydroxy Acids

A group including alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid known for its exfoliating properties.


Excess production of melanin pigment, resulting in darkening of the skin.


Lack production of melanin, causing ‘white spots’ on skin.

Ingrown hair

See folliculitis.

Intrinsic Aging

The normal process of aging without the influence of external factors. Largely controlled by genetic.

Jojoba Beads

Natural exfoliating beads extracted from the seeds of the desert shrub Simondsia Chinesis. Is an effective gentle, yet effective mechanical exfoliator to remove excess dead skin cells.

Kaolin (China Clay)

Used in oil-absorbing powders and masques; highly absorbent; great for oilier skin types, or for skin firming effects

Lactic Acid

An alpha hydroxy acid used for its exfoliation properties. hydrates and smoothes dry, flaking skin. May occasionally be used in high concentrations as a chemical peel.

Licorice Extract

Anti-inflammatory and skin lightener; believed to be more potent than kojic acid.


The chemical cousin of vitamin B, lecithin is an essential building block of the lipid layer surrounding the cells and forms the foundation of the cell membrane. Derived from soybeans, Lecithin is an emulsifying, dispersing, antioxidant, penetrating agent. It is a great skin conditioner.


A mark, symptom or abnormality on the skin

Medical Esthetician

Skin care specialist who works in a medical environment along with a physician in either a pre-operative or post-operative situation.


A substance responsible for giving skin color.

Menopausal skin

Caused by a shift in hormones, sometimes resulting in facial hair, breakouts, dilated blood vessels, and increasingly sensitive skin.


Used for its stimulating and cooling properties.


Little white cysts or bumps under the skin. Unlike whiteheads, these have no pore opening and cannot be squeezed out.

Night Cream

A moisturizer in which there is a greater concentration of hydrating ingredients than typically used in day creams. There are two reasons why a night cream is important 1) TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) is greatest at night. A night cream can prevent that kind of dehydration. 2) the body’s cell are replenished with nutrients and are being regenerated at night, so this is the time to optimize the delivery of the raw materials the skin needs.


Also called non-occlusive. Refers to products that do not cause skin breakouts because they do not plug the pores of the skin.

Normal/combination skin

Partially oily and partially dehydrated skin. Most often t-zone is oily and the outside of the checks and jaw are dehydrated.

Propylene Glycol

excellent for hydrating dry skin.


Also known as propinibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.

Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-

3Skin conditioning peptide; helps towards reconstruction of the matrix structure of the dermis to reduce deep and medium wrinkles. Great anti-aging ingredient.


Anti-inflammatory agent known for its healing and moisturizing benefits.

Papaya Enzyme

A source of proteolytic (protein dissolving) plant enzymes. Papain is a highly potent plant enzyme isolated from papaya when the fruit is unripe & green. Exfoliates dead skin cells for a healthier complexion


A raised lesion characterized by red bumps.


Used in creams, it softens and soothes skin. Forms a film to prevent moisture loss.

Ph Percentage of hydrogen. Used to measure acidity or alkalinity in cosmetic preparations.

Pharmaceutical Grade Ingredients- (or prescription grade)

Means ingredients found normally in the highest quality products.


Used for its essential fatty acid properties. Used in moisturizers because they bind water and hold it in place.


Damage to the skin caused by the sun or ultraviolet rays.


Compounds that act as free radical scavengers to help eliminate the highly charged oxygen molecules that are by-products of metabolized oxygen. Phytochemicals are known for their anti-oxidant properties.


Discoloration of the skin.


Plant derived chemicals with superb antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and skin rejuvenating capabilities.


Used for its intensive antioxidant properties, considered a super-antioxidant and contains 5% ellagic acid.

Purging Process

A reaction in skin when you begin using a new skin care line. This occurs because the product is actively cleansing and bringing all the trapped oil & impurities to the surface of your skin, which can initially cause more breakouts.


An infected papule with a white or yellow center of pus.


Known to help inhibit hair growth in women.


Form of vitamin A; fat-soluble; helps normalize skin cell production. Most commonly found in anti-aging and acne products.


A skin condition characterized by redness, pimples, and broken blood vessels in the central region of the face.


Known to help inhibit hair growth in women.

Sea Algae Extract

A purified and recombined fractionation of Hawaiian sea plants. It is an excellent moisturizer that is extracted without the use of harsh chemicals. Leaves the skin feeling smoother, silkier. Studies show that sea algae extract demonstrated a significant thickening of the epidermis. Seborrhea- Severe oiliness in the skin.


Natural occurring oil in the skin.

Sensitive Skin

Very often dry, can become irritated on contact with various substances.

Shea Butter

Derived from the Karite Nut a fruit of an African tree. It is a rich and potent skin-softening treatment. A tiny amount makes a big difference in skin tone, moistness, softness and strength.


A mushroom that is a natural antioxidant and rejuvenator. Like many other medicinal mushrooms, Shitakes are being studied for their use in preventing cancer.

Sodium PCA

A naturally occurring component of human skin that is believed to be in part responsible for its moisture-binding capacity. It is a highly water absorbing humectant.


Highly oil absorbant.


Sun Protection Factor

Stratum Corneum

Also known as the horny layer, the outermost layer of the skin.


Sed as an exfoliant to help slough dead skin. Mild sugars help rid the pores of dirt and toxins without stripping the skin.


Helps kill some species of bacteria on the skin improving acne, seborrhea and psoriasis. Typically found in soaps, shampoos and some topical acne medications. Normalizes keratinization, prevents the exfoliated keratinocytes from sticking together, thus helping to eradicate existing comedones and preventing the formation of new ones.


A method to physically deflect UV rays. Common mineral derived sunblocks are Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide.

Sunflower Oil

Used for its smoothing properties, very high in essential fatty acids.


A cream or lotion that is SPF rated. It reacts with the skin to create an invisible barrier against the sun. The strength of the barrier is determined by the SPF number. The lower the number the less protection. Using a sunscreen will not prevent you from tanning but it will lower your risk of getting burned. Sunscreens chemically absorb UV rays while sunblocks physically deflect them.

Titanium Dioxide

Broad spectrum physical UV blocker, helps block both UVA and UVB wavelengths of light.


An amino acid that may potentiate the effect of vitamin C on collagen synthesis by fibroblasts; plays a role in melanin formation.


Commonly known as ‘spider veins’, small purple, blue or red veins. These often occur in clusters or branch-like formations, most frequently on the nose and across the cheeks. Often associated with acne rosacea.


Also known as Vitamin E, primarily serves the body as an antioxidant.


Product used after cleansing to help return skin to its natural ph. Removes any remaining trace of dirt or debris.

Vitamin A

Important for skin renewal; may improve skin texture and fine lines; may improve acne. Also used to increase collagen production, a wrinkle fighter and an exfoliant.

Vitamin B

Increases blood circulation and tissue repair.

Vitamin C

(L-ascorbic acid) boosts collagen synthesis by fibroblasts; vital water soluble antioxidant both systemically as and topically. Unstable in solution when exposed to air.

Vitamin D

regulates cell turn over.

Vitamin E

(Tocopherol) an oil soluble antioxidant widely used in skin care; also an emollient.


Most frequently listed main ingredient in skin care products, used in its purest form, void of minerals and other chemicals, hence the various names like distilled, deionized, purified, etc. Witch Hazel- Botanical with astringent properties, helps remove excess surface skin oils.

White head

Also known as a closed comedone caused by trapped dead skin cells, oil buildup, bacteria and impurities. Whiteheads appear as small white bumps.

Xanthan Gum Thickening agent.

A trace mineral used to protect the skin from UV light, infection, bacteria and fungi. It also promotes collagen building, enhances the effects of vitamin A and E, and soothes irritation.

Zinc Oxide

A compound of zinc and oxygen, zinc oxide is a mild antiseptic and anti-irritant. When added to sunscreens, it physically reflects UV light from the skin. It is also the key active ingredients in diaper rash creams.

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