Who really understands what their favorite beauty products are composed of? YouBeauty Cosmetic Chemistry Expert, Ni’Kita Wilson, breaks down the hows and whys of that long, confusing ingredient list.
1. Humectants: Ingredients that draw in water from their surroundings. Humectants promote hydration because they create a moisture barrier on the surface of the skin. In high humidity areas, humectants draw water from the atmosphere but when the humidity is low, the humectant can pull water from within the skin increasing water loss leading to drier skin.
*Common humectants: glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, butylene glycol
2. Occlusives: A term for ingredients that form a barrier (like a shield) on the surface of the skin to prevent moisture from escaping (the technical phrase is reducing transepidermal water loss, or TEWL). Essentially they trap water in the skin and work in tandem with humectants to increase improve skin moisturization.
*Common occlusives: petrolatum, dimethicone, cocoa butter, beeswax, mineral oil, lanolin, squalene
3. Antioxidants: A group of ingredients that reduce free radicals and their damage on the skin. These ingredients can be natural or synthetic and work well when used in combination. There are also antioxidants that help protect the ingredients in the product from degrading. These offer no true skin benefits.
*Common antioxidants for skin benefits: superoxide dismustase, tocopherol, glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, grapeseed extract, coenzyme Q10, green tea
4. Anti-inflammatory: Ingredients that reduce inflammation and mitigate the inflammatory responses (redness, swelling, pain, itching).
*Common anti-inflammatories: bisabolol, allantoin, sea whip extract, aloe, dipotassium glycyrrhizinate, Beta glucan, calendula
5. Peptides: Chains of amino acids (less than 50) that help regulate many biological functions by interacting with cells. Synthetic peptides can mimic those naturally occurring in the body to assist with various functions like cell communications and hormone activity.
*Common peptides: palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, hexapeptide-8, acteyl octapeptide-3
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Note: Information provided by PR.