Skin Glossary

Let's get deep. Skin deep.

You don’t need a PhD to figure out what's good for your skin and what isn't. We've compiled common skincare lingo and ingredients you're likely to see on our product labels—and those you never will. We'll tell you what these ingredients are, where they come from, and what they can do for your skin. Pure and simple, just like our products.

  • A

    • Aloe Vera

      There is a reason this multi-talented gift from nature has been used for centuries in skincare. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and enzymes it helps to smooth, protect, and hydrate your skin. It is an effective anti inflammatory, and contains antibacterial properties making it very helpful in treating acne-prone skin.

    • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)

      Vegan AHA’s gently encourage skin to naturally exfoliate by weakening the “glue” that holds dead skin cells onto the surface of our skin. This helps promote a smoother surface, reduce signs of aging, and lessens the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

    • Alpine Rose

      A rose like no other. It is grown high in the Swiss Alps and is known for its ability to survive and thrive in spite of the harsh climate. These attributes are what make Alpine Rose beneficial to our skin. Not only does it protect the skin’s barrier from free radical damage but also helps restore the health of previously damaged skin. It also supports collagen in your skin, giving it excellent anti-aging abilities.

    • Artificial Fragrance

      Manmade chemicals, usually derived from petrochemicals, that are added to cosmetics to give a pleasant smell. Many artificial fragrances contain phthalates, a chemical known to disrupt hormone balance and harm the reproductive system. Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients of the chemicals that make up a fragrance, as this is deemed a "trade secret."

  • B

    • Bakuchiol

      Known as a natural alternative to retinol, it comes from the babchi plant which has long been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Just like retinol, it increases cell turnover. Why is this important? Young people don’t get wrinkles because their bodies constantly replace dead skin with fresh, healthy cells. As we get older, this process slows down, making our skin dry, dull, and wrinkled. Bakuchiol revs the process back up, naturally stimulating collagen production, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and in essence preserving the natural youthfulness of your skin.

  • C

    • Centella Asiatica (or Gotu Kola) Extract

      Derived from the pennywort plant, this ancient remedy has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. It contains a powerful mix of amino acids, beta carotene, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fatty acids - all of which work together to infuse into the skin what it needs to stay young and healthy-looking. This extract fights free radical damage and boosts collagen production to reverse the signs of aging and improves blood circulation to speed healing and reduce acne scarring.

    • Cetearyl Alcohol

      While it is a common thought that all alcohols are disruptive and harsh on skin, mild plant-based alcohols like cetearyl alcohol do not belong in that category. Cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol found in plant cells. It acts as an emulsifier, aiding in the product's rich and creamy feel. Contrary to its name, it actually encourages an even application, while softening and smoothing skin. See definition below for emulsifier.

    • Combination Skin

      Having combination skin means that some areas of your skin are oily and others are dry. Typically, those with combination skin will experience oiliness in the T-zone: your forehead, nose, and chin.

    • Cucumber Extract

      Yes, the same kind of cucumber you eat. When used in skincare, cucumber offers vitamin C and caffeic acid, both of which soothe inflamed and irritated skin. Plus, cucumber is packed with hydrationlike delivering a burst of cool water on a scorching day.

    • Cystic Acne

      A severe type of acne where a combination of bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells get trapped beneath the surface of the skin, producing bumps on the skin that are often painful. As hard as it is, avoid popping these as you’ll end up pushing the infection deeper into the skin.

  • D

    • Dehydrated Skin

      Skin that is lacking moisture which may appear dry, flaky, red, irritated, itchy, or dull. While dry skin is a natural skin type that stays relatively constant over a person's lifetime, dehydrated skin is a situation that can come and go due to lack of drinking water, use of certain makeup products, and other outside factors affecting your skin.

    • Double Cleanse

      Double cleansing is a two-step process that goes beyond your normal face-washing to produce a deep-down clean you can't get with a single wash. The first step is washing with an oil-based cleanser to remove dirt, makeup, and oil. The second step is specific to the needs of your skin type and individual skin concerns; your second step product will include ingredients to hydrate, exfoliate, smooth, reduce acne, or other concerns.

    • Dry Skin

      A natural skin type that may cause the skin to appear dry, flaky, red, irritated, itchy, or dull. This is due to a person's lack of naturally-occurring oil in their skin, which requires moisture replacement long-term.

    • Dullness

      Dull skin is exactly how it sounds—skin that has lost its natural glow and instead is flat and lackluster. It is caused by a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, but can be easily corrected. Instead of seeing dullness as a problem, look at dull skin as an opportunity because your youthful radiance can easily be restored to the glowing complexion you desire.

  • E

    • Eczema

      Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a chronic skin problem that results in dry, itchy, flaky skin and often patches of thick, raised, cracked skin. The skin can become broken and irritated due to intense itching, and people generally experience flare-ups when exposed to harsh ingredients, fragrances, or other irritants. Although it cannot be cured, eczema can be treated with moisturizers and medicated creams or ointments.

    • Electrolytes

      These ingredients are no longer just for sports drinks. Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium aid in boosting skin’s hydration when applied to the skin ensuring that moisture is evenly distributed. Dry, dull, and dehydrated skin needs more than water to be hydrated. Electrolytes ensure that moisture is deeply absorbed and retained. They can also boost the effectiveness of other active ingredients like AHA’s. See above definition for AHA’s.

    • Emollient

      A cream, lotion, or ointment that softens and soothes the skin. It’s another name for moisturizer. Emollients are frequently used in the treatment of dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis.

    • Emulsifier

      A substance that holds two ingredients together in a mixture, when those two ingredients wouldn't normally stay together. For example, oil and water don’t mix. When you try to mix them, each remain separated into tiny droplets. When you add an egg to the oil and water combination, you make a creamy mixture we call mayonnaise. An egg is the emulsifier holding the oil and water mixture together. Cosmetics also use emulsifiers to hold oil and water together in one product.

    • Exfoliation

      This process removes dull, dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. What's left is healthy-looking skin that appears radiant and youthful.

  • F

    • Facial Oils

      Facial oils provide you with healthy-looking, hydrated skin. Oils usually have a thick, rich texture that stays on the exterior of the skin to lock in moisture. These are different than facial serums, which can often be water-based, and tend to be made of smaller molecules that sink deep into the skin to provide supplements below the surface. As a rule of thumb, facial oils should always be applied on top of your moisturizer.

    • Fragrance

      Ingredients that are often added to cosmetics to provide a pleasant smell. In many products, harsh man-made chemicals are added as fragrance.

    • Free Radicals

      Unstable atoms that are present in our environment that are known to cause damage to skin cells. While youthful skin can often protect against free radicals, aging skin is less and less capable of protecting against free radical damage. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C are the best defense against the damage caused by free radicals.

    • Fruit Enzymes

      These are naturally derived proteins that work to gently exfoliate the outer layer of skin. These enzymes, also known as fruit acids, break down the keratin protein that holds dead skin cells together. This process not only smooths and softens skin, but also aids in diminishing scarring and hyperpigmentation.

  • G

    • Glycerin

      A plant-derived moisturizer that soothes and softens skin. When placed on the skin, glycerin draws moisture to the outer layer of skin, making skin look soft, smooth, and hydrated.

    • Green Tea Extract

      A powerful natural antioxidant that can reduce fine lines and the signs of aging, soothe irritated skin, smooth unsightly blemishes, flush out dirt and impurities that lead to breakouts and blackheads, erase sun damage, and even out discoloration of the skin. It is nature's best-kept secret for nearly every skin concern.

    • Greenhouse Blend

      Our gentle but powerful proprietary blend of four botanical extracts and hyaluronic acid combine to help brighten, smooth, and hydrate skin. Chamomile and green tea are both antioxidants that help protect skin from free radical damage and contain anti-inflammatory properties to calm skin and aid in anti-aging. Elderflower is packed with vitamins A, B, C, and E that improve the skin’s overall condition while dandelion helps increase the generation of new skin cells as well as collagen production. Hyaluronic acid deeply moisturizes and retains hydration for supple and nourished skin. See below definition for hyaluronic acid.

  • H

    • Hemp Seed Oil

      An oil extracted from the hemp seed which is often confused with or marketed as a CBD product even though it does not contain CBD. CBD is found in the flowers and leaves of cannabis and hemp plants, not in the seeds. Many companies willfully muddy the waters between hemp seed oil and CBD hoping the consumer won’t know the difference. We use Hemp Seed Oil (in addition to CBD) for its skin-loving benefits. Hemp seed oil is very effective at soothing itchy, flaky, or irritated skin, as seen in conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

    • Humectants

      Humectants are a moisturizing agent that draw moisture to the outer layer of the skin and prevent hydration from being lost from the surface of the skin. Glycerin, aloe, and jojoba oil are powerful, plant-based humectants that lock in moisture for a radiant glow.

    • Hyaluronic Acid

      A beauty buzzword if there ever was one, hyaluronic acid is famous for good reason. A naturally-occurring humectant in your skin that holds moisture and collagen and becomes depleted with age, hyaluronic acid is known for its ability to reduce fine lines,  relieve dry skin, and speed up wound healing for areas of skin that have experienced damage or inflammation.

    • Hyperpigmentation

      A skin condition where some areas of skin appear darker than surrounding areas. Areas of discoloration could be due to sun damage, hormonal changes, scarring from inflammation due to acne, or skin damage resulting from cuts, scrapes, or burns. Niacinamide is known to be a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that improves hyperpigmentation.

  • I

    • Inflammation

      The body's reaction to injury, irritation, or infection that produces various physical symptoms. Skin inflammation often results in redness, warmth, swelling, or pain. Some natural remedies that work to quell the inflammatory process include green tea extract, wild oats, and hyaluronic acid.

  • J

    • Jojoba Oil

      Found in the seeds of the jojoba plant, jojoba oil is a waxy liquid humectant that infuses the skin with moisture. Jojoba is effective in treating dry skin, sunburn, eczema, psoriasis, acne, and chapped skin. It is also thought to unclog pores while protecting and soothing the skin and hair follicles. Jojoba oil promotes wound healing and heals blemishes and lesions due to a variety of skin conditions.

  • L

    • Lactic Acid

      Lactic acid is a naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acid found in many foods. It helps keep your skin hydrated, reduces fine lines and signs of aging, stimulates collagen production, and improves hyperpigmentation.

  • M

    • Mineral Oil

      Mineral oil, an example of a petrochemical, is found in many skincare products; it is used as an effective, inexpensive, and non-comedogenic moisturizer. However, there are concerns about the safety of products obtained from petroleum and natural gas due to contamination with cancer-causing chemicals. Furthermore, synthetic chemicals do not nourish the skin, and for this reason botanical oils such as jojoba oil which infuse antioxidants and fatty acids into the skin are preferred.

  • N

    • Niacinamide

      Niacinamide is one form of Vitamin B3 that is essential in the body and holds a host of benefits. It helps form a natural ceramide barrier to keep skin moisturized, helps form keratin to keep skin firm, fights inflammation to combat conditions such as eczema and acne, protects against sun damage and treats hyperpigmentation, minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, and protects against the oxidative stress that leads to signs of aging.

    • Non-Comedogenic

      Simply put, non-comedogenic describes products that do not clog pores. Since we know that clogged pores can lead to acne, non-comedogenic products are desirable for those who are prone to acne breakouts.

  • O

    • Oily Skin

      A skin type characterized by the skin producing excess sebum, which is the waxy, oily substance that protects and hydrates the skin. When there's too much of this on the skin, pores become blocked and acne may develop. Oily skin usually requires a specific skincare routine to address this underlying issue.

  • P

    • Parabens

      A group of synthetic chemicals, also classified as petrochemicals, that are often used as preservatives in skincare products. You might find them on the ingredient list as methylparaben, butylparaben, or propylparaben (among others). While they are excellent at preserving a product to make it shelf stable for a very long time, there is concern that these chemicals seep into the skin and cause harm by upsetting the natural hormonal balance.

    • Peony Extract

      This ingredient has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Known for its moisturizing and soothing properties, it is also an antioxidant with similar effects of vitamin E, combating free radicals as well as reducing UV damage. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that aid in soothing and calming skin.

    • Petrochemicals

      Chemical compounds that are derived synthetically from petroleum and natural gas. Some petrochemicals commonly found in skincare products include petroleum jelly, mineral oil, parabens, paraffin wax, benzene, polyethylene glycol (PEG), diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), formaldehyde, phthalates, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), and artificial fragrances. Various petrochemicals may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals or are themselves known to be human carcinogens. These synthetic chemicals can affect hormones, cause endocrine disruption, and can alter human reproduction systems.

    • Provitamin B5

      Also known as panthenol, provitamin B5 is a powerful humectant that attracts and retains water on the skin's surface. In addition to moisturizing, provitamin B5 protects the skin, builds up the skin barrier, and softens and improves the elasticity of the skin while offering relief from redness, itchiness, and pain associated with dry, scaly skin.

    • Psoriasis

      A skin disorder that causes red, scaly patches of skin that can be itchy and painful. Symptoms may come and go over time and flare-ups often are associated with stress and other lifestyle factors. Treatment for psoriasis often includes moisturizing dry and scaly areas as well as decreasing inflammation.

  • R

    • Rosacea

      A skin condition that causes redness and small, visible blood vessels on the face. Rosacea may also include small, pus-filled bumps and can be confused with acne. Common in middle-aged women with fair skin, symptoms may come and go but can often worsen over time. 

    • Rosehip Seed Oil

      Obtained from the seeds of the rose bush, this botanical oil is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that moisturize, exfoliate, brighten, and even out skin tone. Rosehip seed oil infuses skin with vitamins A and C, stimulates collagen production, reduces the appearance of scars and blemishes, and prevents lines and wrinkles.

  • S

    • SPF

      Short for Sun Protection Factor, SPF is a measure of how well a product protects from the sun's harmful UV rays. The higher the SPF, the more protection provided against sunburn, sun damage, and skin cancer.

    • Safflower Oleosomes

      A product of evolution, oleosomes protect the seed’s oil, A.K.A. its energy source by encapsulating them. When applied topically, safflower oleosomes release their encapsulated oil and vitamin E, providing lasting moisture to skin. They are also a natural emulsifier. 

    • Sea Buckthorn Oil

      Although not derived from the sea, this oil comes from the sea buckthorn shrub and is an excellent ingredient for sensitive skin. It promotes cell regeneration and elasticity to keep skin youthful. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it excellent for gently soothing skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. As well as being a source of antioxidants, it contains essential amino acids, vitamin E, and omega 7.

    • Sensitive Skin

      Skin that is prone to burning, stinging, tightness, redness, irritation, or discomfort when exposed to certain products or environmental exposures. Having sensitive skin in the simplest terms means that your skin gets irritated easily.

    • Serums

      Serums contain active ingredients that will penetrate deep into the skin to provide much-needed nourishment. As opposed to an oil that is made of larger molecules, a serum is made with smaller particles that are able to sink deeper into the skin. Serums can be tailored to provide the active ingredients specific to your individual skin concerns. As a rule of thumb, serums should always be applied before a moisturizer. 

    • Shea Butter

      An excellent moisturizer that is derived from the fatty substance found in shea tree nuts. It contains plenty of vitamins and essential fatty acids that offer anti-inflammatory and healing properties as well as anti-aging benefits.

    • Sodium Hyaluronate

      An alternate form of hyaluronic acid considered by some to be more effective than hyaluronic acid due to its ease of absorption into the skin. For skincare purposes, sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid are nearly interchangeable. See the above definition for hyaluronic acid.

    • Squalane

      The alternate form of your body’s natural squalene that can be incorporated into your skincare routine. Naturally derived from olives, squalane keeps your skin ultra-hydrated, delivers potent antioxidants to fight free radicals, has anti-inflammatory effects that are useful in fighting acne, serves as an excellent detoxifier, and boosts collagen production for anti-aging benefits.

    • Sulfates

      A group of petrochemicals often used in skincare cleansers to provide the foaming texture or lather when exposed to water. This broad category includes specific chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). There is concern for long-term safety of these chemicals as well as their effect on the environment.

    • Surfactants

      Substances added to soaps and other cleaning agents that help the soap mix with water to improve cleaning ability. They are also used as lubricants in some skincare products, but can sometimes be drying to irritated or sensitive skin. We use newer alternatives to harsh surfactants that utilize mild, plant-based surfactants and offer a safer, healthier option.

  • T

    • T-Zone

      The area of your face that includes your forehead, nose, and chin. This area is known to contain the most oil of any area of the face, and often is the focus for acne and blackhead treatments.

  • U

    • UVA Rays/ UVB Rays

      A form of ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun's rays and can lead to sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer.

  • V

    • Vitamin C

      A potent antioxidant that fights free radicals, helps your skin repair damaged cells, prevents and reverses UV radiation damage to skin, stimulates collagen formation to keep skin looking youthful, and brightens darkened skin areas. An all-around win for your skin.

    • Vitamin E

      Like vitamin C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can prevent and reverse UV radiation damage to skin. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties along with the ability to treat hyperpigmentation and acne scarring.

  • W

    • Wild Oats

      Oats have long been known to provide skincare benefits such as soaking up excess oils, cleansing and removing dirt and debris, and treating acne. Oats are known to soothe dry, irritated, and itchy skin.

    • Wintergreen Extract

      An excellent natural pain reliever that helps reduce irritation and inflammation when applied topically to skin. It absorbs quickly into skin to provide cooling relief and clearing to acne prone skin.

  • Z

    • Zinc

      As an essential mineral, zinc can be active inside and out of the body. When used in skincare, it can be used to treat acne and acne scarring due to its antioxidant activity. Zinc has also been used for other inflammatory skin issues such as rosacea and eczema.