A – Z of skincare lingo. Will be updated as much as possible.
ACID: Means a few things in this world, but we’re going down the skincare route ok? It’s chemical exfoliant which comes in many forms and strengths.
AHA: Alpha-hydroxy acid. They are a group of plant and animal-derived acids used in a variety of skincare products. These include daily anti-aging products, such as serums, toners, and creams, as well as occasional concentrated treatments via chemical peels.There are seven types of AHAs commonly used in products available throughout the skincare industry. These include: citric acid (from citrus fruits), glycolic acid (from sugar cane), hydroxycaproic acid (from royal jelly), hydroxycaprylic acid (from animals), lactic acid (from lactose or other carbohydrates), malic acid (from fruits), tartaric acid (from grapes) – healthline.com
BHA: Beta Hydroxy-Acid. Some include, salicylic acid (or related substances, such as salicylate, sodium salicylate, and willow extract), beta hydroxybutanoic acid, tropic acid, trethocanic acid. Currently, the BHA most commonly used in cosmetics is salicylic acid. On rare occasions, citric acid is also cited as a BHA in cosmetic formulations. More commonly, citric acid is referred to as an AHA. – fda.gov
BLACKHEADS: When too much sebum is produced and mixes with dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria, clogs the pores and forms a blackhead. I suggest getting a fully trained therapist to extract blackheads, don’t try and scoop them out yourself.
BUFFERING: Adding one product to another to balance out PH of the skin and lessen the likelihood of irritation. Most commonly associated with retinol, mixing with a moisturiser to avoid the typical dry, flaky skin that can happen while using it.
COLLAGEN: The most abundant protein in your body. Can’t be added to the skin topically. Best taken orally/injected.
COMBINATION SKIN: Skin type. Dry areas in some parts of the face, some parts oily. Usually the oiliness appears in the T-Zone, and dry on the cheeks/jaw. But all skins differ.
DEHYDRATED SKIN: Not to be confused with dry skin, more of a skin ‘type’ than ‘condition’. Even oily/combo skin can be dehydrated. This is where the skin barrier lacks moisture. Symptoms include itchiness, dullness, dark under eye circles, sunken eyes, shadows, increased appearance of fine lines. Lacks water.
DERMATOLOGIST: A qualified medical practitioner who diagnoses and treats skin disorders, hair and nails.
DOUBLE CLEANSE: Self explained. Cleansing twice to get your skin fully skin. Removes make up and SPF properly.
DRY SKIN: Skin type. Lacks moisture. Can be caused by medication, skin damage, low humidity and vitamin deficiency. Feels tight, rough, itchy, flaky, cracked, redness, lacks oil.
EPIDERMIS: Outer most layer of the skin.
ESTHETICIAN: Also spelled aesthetitian. Specialises in the beautification of the skin, Cosmetic, not medical doctors.
FITZPATRICK SCALE: Based on physical appearance, melanin production, UV sensitivity and risk to cancers. Goes from 1-6 (usually in Roman numerals, i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi).
FRAGRANCE: Ingredients added to skincare products which are designed to make the product smell nice, or like a specific thing. Some people are reactive to fragrance, but more people react to dairy in the world and there isn’t as much uproar than there is than fragrance in skincare. Do what works for you.
GLYCATION: Insulin does not metabolise sugars and destroys collagen in blood vessels. ”Glycation is a process where sugar molecules attach themselves to other molecules, for example proteins and fats,” – Dr Stefanie Williams.
GLYCERIN: A moisturising agent which pulls water into the outer layer of the skin. Commonly used with occlusives (another moisturising agent) and traps moisture.
HYALURONIC ACID: HA or Hyaluronan. Retains moisture and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. A molecule which is one of the chief components of connective tissue which surrounds the cells.
HYPER-PIGMENTATION: A common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in colour than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin colour, forms deposits in the skin. – aocd.org
LIPIDS: Important fats in the body. They are a family of organic compounds that are mostly soluble in water. These molecules yield high energy.
MASKNE: A new term created in the midst of Covid-19. It’s a break out of pimples, white heads and uneven texture around the chin, lower cheek and nose due to constant wear of face masks. A build up of moisture and irritation of the area is the reason for this.
MOISTURISER: Used to hydrate and protect the skin. Comes in many forms and consistencies.
OILY SKIN: Skin type. More acne prone, (but other skin types can have acne too). Visible pores and shiny appearance. Excessive oil production, can have clogged pores and blackheads.
PH: OR ‘PH level’. This is a measure of acid-alkaline of the thin, protective layer on the surface of the skin called the ‘acid mantle’. PH level is measured between 1 (acid) – 14 (alkaline), 7 being completely neutral. The PH level of the face usually lies between 4.7-5.75.
PILLING: When products have not absorbed into the skin. Reasons for this vary, too much product, ingredients or compatibility to other products. Regular exfoliation helps. Commonly occurs with silicone based products
PORES: I’m going to start with this, THEY DO NOT OPEN OR CLOSE. Right, not that’s out the way, they are the opening of hair follicles. Each pore contains a sebaceous gland. Over production of sebum can make the pores appear ‘bigger’, but they’re simply not muscles.
PURGING: Increased cell turnover rate which is usually caused by an active ingredient. Sheds dead skin cells faster than normal. Seen as breakouts, lumps and blackheads. Then dry, flaky and irritated. Should only really happen with prescription/highly active products.
RETINOL: A form of Vitamin A, an ingredient that promotes skin renewal and enhances collagen production (which starts to decline in your 30s). As well as lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, retinol can also reverse some of the side effects of sun damage. – cosmopolitan.com
SEBACEOUS FILAMENTS: Live in the lining of your pores. Primary function is to channel the flow of sebum into the skin to moisturise it. They’re NOT blackheads.
SEBACEOUS GLANDS: Glands which release sebum.
SEBUM: Comes from the secretion of sebaceous glands. Feels oily/waxy. Also contains sweat, dead skin cells and free radicals.
SERUM: Designed to treat specific skin concerns with a high concentration of ingredients. Apply before moisturiser.
SKIN BARRIER: Outer most layer of skin cells, (stratum corneum) and lipid matrix composed of ceramides, cholesterols and fatty acids. Holds skin cells together. If damaged, feels dry/rough. Needs moisture.
SPF: ‘Sun protection factor’. A measure of how long a sunscreen will protect from UVB rays. Basically the amount of time before your skin burns, factor : time spent in the sun.
SQUALANE: Hydrogenation of sqalene. Not subject to auto oxidation. Traditionally from livers of sharks, but now mostly used with olive oil, rice and sugar cane. Similar to sebum.
SQUALENE: An oily liquid hydrocarbon which occurs in shark liver and human sebum. Precursor of sterols. Lubricates and protects.
TRANS EPIDERMAL WATER LOSS: Or TEWL/TWL. The loss of water that passes from inside a body through the epidermis, to the surrounding atmosphere via diffusion and evaporation processes. -Wiki
UVA: Ultraviolet A-rays. Think of this as the ‘ageing‘ part of UVA/UVB. A long wavelength from the sun. The gradual tanning/ageing process.
UVB: The ‘middle energy’ between UVA and UVC rays. This is the ‘burning‘ one. A shorter wavelength so reaches the skin quicker.
VITAMIN A: Known better as Retinol. Fat soluble vitamin important for normal vision, tissue growth, and healthy skin.
VITAMIN B: Or ‘B complex vitamins’. An antioxidant that helps to treat signs of ageing and alleviate sensitive skin. Most used as B3 (Niacinamide) B5 (pantothenic acid) B12 (cobalamin)
VITAMIN C: Powerful antioxidant. Protects from UV damage, stimulates collagen production. Fades dark spots and brightens. Commonly used as ‘ascorbic acid’
VITAMIN E: Protects the skin from various deleterious effects due to solar radiation by acting as a free-radical scavenger – NCBI
VITAMIN K: Frequently used on patients who have just had surgery to help reduce swelling and bruising.
WRINKLES: Or ‘rhytides’. A natural occurrence to the skin as you age due to various reasons, expressions, sun damage, age, smoking and many more. UV rays break down the skin’s connective tissue.