The language of cosmetics
A glossary of beautyspeak
: family name for a variety of acids with exfoliating properties, used in anti-ageing products. AHAs include citric acid (found in citrus fruits), glycolic acid (from sugar cane), lactic acid (from sour milk), malic acid (from apples) and tartaric acid (from old wine).
Benzoyl Peroxide: Strong antibacterial and cleansing agent used in the treatment of acne. Only to be used on the recommendation of your GP.
Blepharophasty: The technical term for an eye job, performed on either the lower of upper eyelid. Fat is removed through tiny incisions made inside the lash line to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Botox: Natural toxin used by plastic surgeons to reduce fine lines. Botox is injected into the forehead, freezing the muscles that cause frowning.
Calamine: Mineral solution of zinc and ferric oxide with astringent properties. Useful for sunburnt or irritated skin and stinging nettle rash.
Decyl Oleate: Natural emollient found in sebum and produced synthetically from olive oil. It is often included in skin creams.
Echinacea: Natural antiseptic found in plants and used in the treatment of skin lesions to aid healing. It's also used in skincare produces for the soothing and anti-itching properties.
Elastin: Protein and protective agent used in cosmetics to reduce dryness and improve the texture of skin. Particularly good for mature skin.
Folic Acid: Part of the Vitamin B complex. It's widely recommended in the early stages of pregnancy.
Glycerin: ~Syrupy liquid obtained from oils and fats and used as an emollient in skin cosmetics. Softens and soothes skin.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Bleaching agent and antiseptic used in cosmetics as a hair and skin ligfhtener. If used undiluted can cause burns to the skin.
Isosteric Acid: Fatty acid similar to wax used in moisturisers.
Juniper Oil: Obtained from the juniper plant, it works as an antiseptic and astringent, and is helpful in testing acne, dermatitis and eczema.
: Protective agent with moisturising properties used in cosmetics and hair products.
Laserbrasion: Laser treatment for acne scars and ageing skin. The laser burns away the top layer of the dermis, exposing the tight, new skin beneath.
Liposomes: Spherical 'carriers' with the ability to absorb water-soluble substances and penetrate the epidermis with these emollients - hence their use in skincare products.
Liposuction: The removal of fat deposits by suction through a device which resembles a hosepipe, usually carried out under general anaesthetic.
Melanin: Tanning agent found in the skin. According to certain research, when used as a sunscreen, it provides excellent UVA protection.
Melatonin: aka the 'hibernation hormone' as high levels of it causes drowsiness. Produced by the pineal gland, it controls the sleeping/waking cycle and helps relieve stress. Often used to combat jet lag.
Micro Peels: surgical treatment in which a fine top layer of the dermis is removed with a scalpel, so reducing facial lines. Can be performed in an hour, hence the term 'lunchtime peel'.
Nylon: One of the ingredients used to eyelash lengtheners and mascaras.
Pectin: thickening agent extracted from apple and citrus fruit rinds and used in cosmetic preparations.
Quince Seed: Emollient emulsifier and thickening agent derived from dried plant seeds.
Resin: Brittle substance - which is usually translucent or transparent - that can either be synthetically obtained or found naturally in plants. Used to give gloss and water resistance to cosmetics. Can cause allergic reactions.
Retinol A (Vitamin A): Found naturally in the skin. Retinol A disappears over time. Marketed in pill form, it counteracts UV damage, reduces lines and wrinkles, decreases spotty discolouration and enhances the skin's smoothness.
Rhinoplasty: aka the nose job. Small incisions are made inside the nose, and bone and cartilage are then removed to change its appearance.
Selenium: used for years for its anti-fungal properties, it has now been shown to repair DNA and suppress gene mutations. Decreases UV damage, inflammation, blistering and pigmentation.
Tocopherol: also known at Vitamin E, this antioxidant is used in anti-ageing creams for its emollient effect on the skin.
Urea: crystalline substance found in blood and tissue fluids and used in moisturisers to relieve itchiness and soften the skin.
Wheat Protein: protein whose elastic and binding properties are used in body creams and moisturisers.
Xanthan Gum: carrier and gelling agent used in cosmetic preparations. It thickens and stabilises compounds.