Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary

Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary by Dermatologists

This dictionary contains information about skincare ingredients based on my textbooks and monthly Dermatology News column called "Cosmeceutical Critique".  This glossary is constantly being updated to stay as current as possible. Get ready to learn all about skincare science and ingredients . We invite you to join us on social media to ask questions and participate in our Skin Type Talks on You Tube.

Click on the categories below to find a list of skincare ingredients and detailed information about each ingredient. My goal is to help you make educated choices about skincare and get the best skincare products for your Baumann Skin Type.


Anti-acne Ingredients

Retinoids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur and other anti-acne ingredients.

Anti-aging Ingredients

Many antiaging ingredients work by either stimulating the production of important skin components, such as collagen and hyaluronic acid, or by helping cells communicate better with each other.  Some of the most commonly used antiaging ingredients include ascorbic acid, retinoids, defensins, hyaluronic acid, heparan sulfate, peptides and growth factors.  Click here or on the ingredient name above to learn more about cosmeceutical antiaging ingredients in skincare products.

Antioxidant Ingredients

Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals. They can be used to prevent aging, calm inflammation, and prevent uneven skin pigmentation.  Antioxidants are naturally found in many plants. Examples include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, resveratrol, green tea and silymarin. Click here or on the ingredient name above to learn more about cosmeceutical antioxidant ingredients in skincare products.

Anti-inflammatory Ingredients

Anti-inflammatory ingredients can deactivate one or more of the many inflammatory pathways that lead to inflammation.  Inflammation always consists of dilated blood vessels and redness and may lead to hives, itching and rashes depending on which inflammatory pathways are turned on.

Clean Ingredients

There are many different standards of clean ingredients. Our dermatologists reviewed ingredients and set our own clean beauty standard. Learn details here.

Exfoliating Ingredients

The skin’s natural exfoliation process is called desquamation.  When natural desquamation is not enough, exfoliants can be used to increase exfoliation. There are two types of exfoliants: chemical and mechanical. Chemical exfoliants use a low pH or enzymes to dissolve and loosen proteins attachments between skin cells. Mechanical exfoliants use friction to rub dead skin cells off of the surface of the skin.

Chemical Exfoliants-

Chemical exfoliants such as glycolic and lactic acids have a low pH and work by loosening the “glue” attachments between skin cells. This allows dead skin cells to flake off of the skin’s surface in a process called exfoliation. 

Mechanical Exfoliants-

Loofas, scrubs, brushes, and microdermabrasion devices use friction to physically remove dead skin cells from the surface of the stratum corneum causing exfoliation.

Moisturizing Ingredients

Barrier Repair

When the skin barrier becomes damaged, it has trouble holding onto water and keeping allergens and irritants out. Barrier repair moisturizers mimic the skin’s natural 1:1:1 ratio of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol to strengthen and repair this barrier.

MLE Technology

Myristoyl/palmitoyl oxostearamide/arachamide MEA is a pseudoceramide known as MLE technology to mimic the natural multilamellar organization of lipids within healthy human skin. The lipids in MLE Technology lipids form a maltese cross structure in skin confirming that mimics the skin’s natural lipid structure and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier in the stratum corneum.

Fatty Acids in Moisturizers




Oils used in skincare have different benefits depending upon what fatty acids, polyphenols and other components that they have.


Retinoids are a family of vitamin-A-derived ingredients. Retinol, retinyl palmitate, tretinoin, isotretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene and trifarotene are all types of retinoids. These ingredients have many uses and are often used to treat acne, wrinkles, and dark spots on the skin. Retinyl esters such as retinyl palmitate are not as effective as retinol and tretinoin.  The strongest retinoids is tazarotene.

Skin Lightening Ingredients

Skin lighteners are a group of skincare ingredients that even skin tone. They may be called skin brighteners. They work by one or more of the following: block production of melanin, block transfer of melanosomes from the melanocyte to the keratinocyte, or increasing exfoliation.

PAR-2 blockers

Proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR-2) is located in the connection between keratinocytes and melanocytes.  It functions as a doorway to allow melanin laden melanosomes to enter into the keratinocyte after being produced by melanocytes. PAR-2 blockers prevent melanin from entering keratinocytes. Examples include niacinamide and proteins found in soy.

Tyrosinase inhibitors

Tyrosinase is the enzyme necessary to produce the pigment melanin. Tyrosinase inhibitors block this enzyme. There are many different tyrosinase inhibitors used to treat skin pigmentation problems, such as hydroquinone, resorcinol, hexylresorcinol, vitamin C, arbutin and kojic acid.

Sunscreen Ingredients

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