Skincare Jargon

The Skincare Jargon we all need to know | Beauty

11th June 2019 by naffy

Skincare Jargon The world of skincare is full of jargon. Words we need to know yet have no idea what they mean. When I first started getting into skincare, it took me a while to wrap my head around them. So I did what any good millennial would do: research and the results were actually very interesting. Here is the skincare jargon we all need to know.

Ascorbic Acid 

Ascorbic Acid is also known as Vitamin C which you can find in food but also in skincare products predominantly in serums and powders. It is essential to repair tissue and enzymatic production. You can get specific dedicated products but it is also used in products to help brighten your skin.

Product Recommendation: The body shop Vitamin C Moisturiser. Una Brenan Vitamin C Face Scrub (Superdrug also have a vitamin c brightening range which I need to try)

Alpha Hydroxy Acids 

Otherwise known as AHA’s. It is used in skincare products to help tackle dry skin and improve the texture of the skin by removing the top layers of dead skin cells. You have to be aware of the concentration of AHA in the product.

Product Recommendation: I haven’t tried any products I can safely recommend with this in it BUT check out Caroline Hirrons and The Anna Edit who have recommendations you can trust.

Beta Carotene 

You know when you’re a child and get told to eat your carrots so you can see in the dark? That is because carrots are loaded with Beta Carotene or Vitamin A which improves eyesight, your vision, and your immune system. You can get this from food so this isn’t something I would really look for in skincare products but there are many skincare products which include it.

Beta Hydroxy Acids 

Also known as BHA’s or salicylic acid is used to treat many skin concerns. It exfoliates dead skin cells away and is known for reducing breakouts. People react differently to it. In some cases, it works more than it does others.

Product Recommendation: Again, I am lucky to have skin which doesn’t need this right now so I would suggest going to Caroline Hirrons who is qualified to share her thoughts on her products.


Collagen is the protein in your body making up connective tissues in your body. It improves the structure of your skin, the elasticity of your skin and strengthens your bones. Because of this, the products containing collagen are mainly linked to anti-aging (Usually moisturisers). You can also get this in the form of supplements in your local Holland & Barrets.


This is an ingredient you will find in pretty much most of your skincare products. Probably, because it is cheap. Dimethicone is essentially a silicone which helps your skin feel smooth. It can help used as a barrier to help protect the skin. It also helps fill in pores. In terms of beauty, it can be found in primers such as Benefit Porefessional and certain moisturisers) Personally, I stay away from heavy silicone based products as I don’t like the way they feel on the skin. (Particularly the face) Saying this, if you have eczema or dry skin this is one ingredient you will find in a lot of products which can help protect your skin.


This helps the skin to return to the original position when moved around hence, why it can be seen in anti-aging products.  Elastins are bundles of proteins.

As I am reaching thirty, I am looking into products containing this and collagen so I am sure I will have recommendations towards the end of the year but at the moment, this is not the case.


Emollients are creams which soothe and hydrate the skin. It helps protects it and is used to help keep skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis at bay. You can get it from your GP but there are also counter products which can help.

Product Recommendation: Diprobase is something I used when I suffered with Eczema as a child. At the time it needed to be prescribed by your GP but you can get it in store now. BUT it is not cruelty-free. (I am searching for CF alternatives and will update this when I can)


This is an ingredient which stems from Korean skincare. They are formulated with active ingredients so it penetrates deep into the skin, giving it a boost of hydration and should be used after you cleanse your skin. It is in between a toner and a serum. You can use it instead of a traditional toner but still keep a serum in your routine.

Product Recommendation: The Body Shop does a range of Essence products.

Fruit Enzyme 

This is pretty self-explanatory, Fruit enzymes are enzymes derived from fruit and can be used to help brighten the skin, giving it a good glow.

Product Recommendation: Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel. (my absolute fav cleanser. Use it as a second cleanse to reap all the rewards from the fruit enzymes.)


Glycerin is a humectant which means it attracts water to itself keeping you hydrated. It helps speed up skin production, giving you soft skin. You find it in cleansers and moisturisers.

Glycolic Acid 

Glycolic Acid is an AHA which helps exfoliate the skin. It is a chemical exfoliant.

I have to say this is one ingredient I noticed an incredible difference from once I added to my routine. It helps to retexturise your skin by breaking down the bonds which hold dead skin together.

It does come with a slight warning, look at the percentage in the product. It opens your skin allowing it to breathe. It is safe to use but does make your skin more susceptible to the sun rays so you need to amp up the SPF when using it.

Product Recommendation: The Pixi Glow Tonic (A skincare staple ever since I included it in my routine.)


So Hydrafacials are something I have seen pop up across the Youtube scene recently so I did some digging. It is essentially a hydradermabrasion procedure which helps with cleansing, exfoliating, extracting and hydrating the skin. If you have some skin concerns, this is the one facial which should make a difference.

Of course this is not cheap so it isn’t something I will be hurrying to do anytime soon BUT if I did invest in a facial, this is one I would do. It also goes without saying this is more than a regular facial so make sure you go to a qualified facialist if you plan to have one. (Ask to look at credentials or visit the place beforehand)

Hyaluronic Acid 

Pretty simply, Hyaluronic Acid helps retain water on the skin, keeping your face hydrated and plump. Despite having the word acid in it, is very gentle to use. It is something our bodies produce less of as we get older. You find it in moisturisers and serums. (Personally, I love it in a serum) You can also find it in primers as an alternative to silicone primers.

I would make sure it is in your skincare routine regardless of your skin type BUT it is essential if you have dry or dehydrated skin. I have dehydrated skin and my face absolutely laps this up. Whenever I use this, my skin instantly looks better. I always feel better after slathering my face in the stuff.

Product Recommendation: My ultimate favourite is not cruelty-free so I am testing out some alternative which I will report back on. In the meantime, The Body Shop, Vitamin E moisture cream is a fav of mine and has Hyaluronic Acid as a key ingredient.


Hyperpigmentation is a skincare condition where patches of the skin are darker in some areas than surrounding areas. It takes places when there is an excess of melanin which I mention below. It is something many women and men of colour experience.

Lactic Acid 

Lactic Acid is an AHA which helps to improve the skins natural moisture and allowing the skin to keep itself hydrated. It prevents it from feeling dry. It can help exfoliate your skin reducing wrinkles and potentially acne. (I say potentially because I know no two people’s acne is necessarily the same)

Product Recommendation: Again, this is not an ingredient I ultimately seek out in my products but The Ordinary do a version of this you can research if you are looking for something affordable.


Often used when discussing skincare with women and men of colour Melanin is a brown skin pigment which makes hair, skin, and eyes appear darker. People have different levels of Melanin. In some cases, it has the potential to protect you from the sun. The more Melanin you produce the higher SPF you should use in order for it to be effective.


This is essentially a form of B3. It can be found in supplements and can be used in skincare to help with acne and rosacea.


If there is one skincare ingredient you will have heard of,  chances are, it will be parabens. Parabens are essentially a preservative placed in lotions and potions to prolong their shelf life. It has been linked to cancer and penetrating the skin affecting the bodies hormones (particularly Osterogen) I will say the research is surface level and for the most part the amount you use is generally harmless. I am not an expert on this so I will share this from a skincare expert who I feel confident will answer any questions you have.


Retinol is essentially an exfoliating ingredient aiding the production of collagen and fighting free radicals. It affects people in different ways and there are varying percentages of retinol from product to product. If you are thinking of adding it into your routine, this is one ingredient I would do a lot of research on before adding it into your routine. I am just going to leave this video here to get you started.

Sodium Laureth Sulphates 

Anyone who has used shampoo before will have experienced with SLS. It is essentially, the ingredient which helps your shampoo get that beautiful lather we all look for. Some people can react badly to it, others find it doesn’t work in their hair and you can get Sodium Laureth Sulphate free products. If you have coloured hair or keratin treatments it is advised you use sulphate free alternatives.

Product Recommendation:  Superdrug does good hair products as part of their own range.


Squalane is a fatty molecule which helps to maintain skins moisture and hydration. Your body stops retaining Squalane when you hit your twenties hence why we have products with it in to give our face a little boost.


UVA are rays from the sun which hit deep in the skin and can be the cause of premature skin aging and wrinkling. It can also affect your immune system which I didn’t know. When looking for skincare products protecting you from the skin you need to need to make sure it says protection from UVA rays.

Production Recommendation: Superdrugs face fluid protects you from UVA rays and has a SPF of 50.


Ultraviolet rays are essentially the reason we get sunburn. They go deep in to the skin. Like UVA rays, they play a great role in premature skin aging and changes.

Production Recommendation: Superdrugs face fluid protects you from UVA rays and has a SPF of 50.

Zinc Oxide 

Speaking of SPF and sunscreen. Zinc Oxide is often found in these products as it creates a protective barrier deflecting the rays off your skin which can only be a good thing.

I know skincare can be confusing so I hope this really helps. I also want to add you do not need a complex skincare routine which features millions of products. Everyone’s skin is different and we all have different budgets. I would make sure you have a cleanser, a good serum, and a moisturiser. Anything else it can be dependent on your skin type.

Image: Unsplash bycamille-kmile




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