A Complete Skincare Glossary: Often-Used Phrases Explained - MissLJBeauty

A Complete Skincare Glossary: Often-Used Phrases Explained



Skincare is a confusing world. On one hand, it feels like skincare should be simple-- after all,
we all have skin. It can’t be that hard to understand how it works. Yet somehow,
skin is so temperamental, so different from person to person, that it’s nearly impossible
to find consensus.


As a result, there are literally thousands of different treatments, products, and ingredients
used to try and produce the best skincare solutions for everyone-- but these just confuse
matters further. The terms tend to be thrown around in reviews, assuming that the reader
understands what the writer means, but if you don’t understand, then you will find yourself
more confused than ever.


So, let’s provide some clarity. Below, you will find a glossary of all of the most common
skincare terminology. Hopefully, this will help pull back the curtain on the confusing world
of skincare, and you will be in the best shape possible to find the products that will work for you.


Acne


Acne is a condition caused by blocked pores, which then swell and fill with pus.
Pores block for a variety of reasons, including poor skincare, excess oil production,
or hormonal changes during the monthly cycle.


Acne is best treated with BHAs (see below for explanation on what these are!),
benzoyl peroxide, or birth control pills if the problem is hormonal in nature.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)


AHAs are acids which have a dramatic impact on skin tone, texture, appearance,
pore size, and signs of aging. The most common AHAs include:


  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Mandelic acid


AHAs tend to be well-tolerated and can help to ease a variety of different skin complaints.


Antioxidants


Antioxidants limit the production of ‘free radicals’, naturally-produced atoms that can cause
skin damage if left unchecked. Antioxidants are a vital ingredient that help to stimulate skin
cell production, helping your skin to ‘glow’ and easing texture issues. They are incredibly
effective, as these Lifecell skin care cream reviews confirm. Adding antioxidants into your
skincare regime will hugely improve your skin texture and appearance, though it’s advisable
to use them continually and wait for at least four weeks to see the best results.


Astringent


An astringent is a product that increases blood flow. In skincare, this tends to result in
improved lymphatic drainage, a smoother complexion, and can help with acne.
The most commonly-known astringent is witch hazel, while most toners will have
some astringent properties.


Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)


As with AHAs, BHAs are a type of acid which helps increase cell regeneration.
Unlike AHAs, BHAs have been proven to be particularly effective at clearing
blocked pores and reducing acne as a result. The best BHA for skincare is salicylic
acid, though you should not use this if you are allergic to aspirin.


Cleanser


Cleansers are products designed to clean the skin. For best results, you should
cleanse twice: once to remove makeup, pollution, and oil from your face.
The second cleanse occurs after the first; allowing the cleansing product to
penetrate deeper into your pores, and helping to improve absorption of toners,
serums, and moisturisers. Unless specifically directed otherwise on the bottle,
cleanser should always be removed from the skin with water following use.


Comedogenic


If an ingredient is ‘comedogenic’, this means it has the potential to block pores.
Coconut oil, despite being frequently recommended for skincare, is actually rather
high on the comedogenic scale. If you have acneic skin, you should avoid any
ingredient that is higher than 3 on this scale.  


Eczema


Eczema is a skin condition that results in sore, itchy skin that can become inflamed.
If you have eczema, it is wise to consult with a dermatologist to assist with the formulation of your skincare regime. Some skincare products can trigger eczema, and sufferers should avoid any products that contain the use of artificial fragrances.


Humectant


A humectant is an ingredient that binds water, helping to moisturize the skin as a result.
Humectants are essential if you have dry skin, as they can help keep your skin feeling
comfortable throughout the day. The common common humectants are as follows:


  • All AHAs have humectant properties, with lactic acid being the best choice.
  • Beeswax
  • Glycerin
  • Hyaluronic acid, which is often used in moisturisers
  • Sorbitol
  • Honey




Microdermabrasion


Microdermabrasion is a dermatological procedure that aims to remove dead skin cells from the
surface of the skin, stimulating the regrowth of new, fresh, younger-looking skin. There are
microdermabrasion kits you can buy at home, but it’s inadvisable to use these; it’s incredibly
easy to go too far, resulting in damaged skin.


Moisturiser


Moisturisers are used to... well, the clue is in the name: provide moisture to the skin!
Moisturisers are one of the most important facets of skincare, due to modern life’s
propensity to strip moisture from skin-- moisture that subsequently needs to be replaced.
Air conditioning, central heating, and even weather conditions can cause skin to dry out,
so a good moisturiser is an essential component of any skincare regime. Moisturiser
should be applied to skin as the last step of your facial skincare and left to sit on the skin,
providing lasting moisture throughout the day.


Oily Skin


Oily skin is characterised as skin that is, as you may have guessed, oilier than ‘normal’.
What constitutes ‘normal’ is difficult to ascertain. You likely have oily skin if you can rub
a paper towel over your face and then see oil deposits on the surface of the towel. Oily
skin has a tendency to be acneic, as natural oils clog the pores, but there is an upside:
those with oily skin don’t tend to develop as many wrinkles as other skin types.


Parabens


Parabens are preservatives that are used in skincare. Some women have allergic reactions
parabens, and more and more brands are abandoning the use of them as a result.


Retinol


Retinol is one of the best anti-aging ingredients in the skincare world. It is formed from Vitamin A
and can help prevent wrinkles from forming, and improve the appearance of existing wrinkles.
If you do wish to use retinol, you will need to ensure that you wear adequate SPF face protection
during the day; retinol will make your skin more photosensitive.


Rosacea


Rosacea is a skincare condition that causes excessive redness, and can cause swelling and/or
pustules to develop on the surface of the skin. While rosacea looks like an allergic reaction, it isn’t;
the general theory is that rosacea is actually autoimmune in nature. The condition is best managed
by learning to avoid ingredients that trigger rosacea, but this involves a long period of trial and error;
no two sufferers are triggered by the same things.


Sensitive


Sensitive skin is skin that is considered reactive. This reaction can be anything from feelings
of discomfort, such as prickling or burning, to a reddened appearance. Many people with
sensitive skin also experience excessive eye watering. Sensitive skin should be treated very
carefully, avoiding harsh products or physical exfoliators.


Serums


There are thousands of different skincare serums on the market, which aim to address a
variety of different skincare needs. Serums are problem-solvers, so you can select a product
based on the issues you wish to ease. The most popular serums are anti-aging serums,
while moisturising serums are also popular. Serums should be applied after cleansing but
prior to moisturising.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


Sodium lauryl sulfate (better known as SLS) is a foaming agent that is included in a variety
of different toiletry products, including shampoos, toothpaste, and facial washes. SLS is a
known irritant to certain skin types. Signs of a reaction to SLS include a feeling of tightness,
rashes, or itching. If you suspect you are reacting to SLS, there are a wide variety of SLS-free products
that you can try, or you can experiment with the oil cleansing method (OCM) rather than face washes.


Toner


Toners are products that are designed to restore the skin to its normal pH levels after cleansing.
You may not see any direct results from toners, as they do not directly improve your skin, but they
will make other products more effective and keep your skin happier.


Wrinkles


Wrinkles are lines in the face, caused by the constant usage of facial muscles and a decrease
in collagen production as we age. Surgery is required to completely remove wrinkles,
but the appearance and depth can be diminished using products containing retinol and AHAs.


Zinc Oxide


Zinc oxide is an essential ingredient for sunscreen; it forms a physical barrier between
the skin and harmful UV rays. If applied regularly, it is very effective at preventing burning,
and is an essential for everyday use during the hottest months of the year.




In Conclusion


Of course, with a subject as broad as skincare, the above only scrapes the surface
of all of the terminology you may encounter during your quest for perfect skin. However,
it has hopefully proved a good starting point, and perhaps given you a few ideas of
ingredients or treatments that you may want to try.


Skincare can seem obtuse and difficult to understand, but armed with the above and a
willingness to learn more, you can achieve the skin of your dreams.