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A Glossary of Cosmetics Terms and Definitions Ė Put Your Face On

If youíve really delved into cosmetics and their makeup, their ingredients, and their properties, youíve probably found that they can be quite technical. But you donít need all that technicality Ė you just want to look good. So weíve compiled this glossary of cosmetics terms and definitions to help clear up the picture. Review it carefully, and your cosmetics will start to make more sense to you.

  • Acne
    Acne is an inflammatory skin disease thatís made evident by pimples that can appear on almost any part of the body, but are usually on the face.
  • Acrylic
  • Something thatís acrylic has the property of being able to repel water or moisture.
  • Allergen
    An allergen is something that produces an allergic reaction.
  • Allantoin
    Allantoin, extracted from a plant, is used in creams and skin preparations to heal and soothe.
  • Almond oil
    Almond oil is vegetable oil made with almonds. Itís used in cosmetic products that soften the skin.
  • Aloe Vera
    Aloe Vera is a plant that has wonderful healing and softening properties. Many people have an Aloe Vera houseplant, because you can break off a piece and use the extract from inside to soothe and heal cuts, burns and abrasions. Itís a very common ingredient in cosmetics because of itís softening properties.
  • Astringent
    An astringent, as part of the facial cleansing system, is commonly known as toner, and it controls oily skin and lowers the pH of the face after cleansing. Basically, it draws tissues together.
  • Beeswax
    Beeswax has been used in cosmetics for centuries, mostly for its emulsifying properties.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
    Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient found in acne treatments, used for its antibacterial properties.
  • Bergamot
    The Bergamot tree is grown predominantly in southern Italy. The Italians make an oil from the rind of the bergamot treeís citrus fruit, which is good as an antiseptic, a cleanser, and a deodorizer.
  • Blackhead
    A blackhead is a type of pimple that forms when the pores of the skin get clogged with oils and impurities.
  • Botanical
    Botanical products are those that are made from plants.
  • Botox
    Botox is simply the trade name for botulinum toxin A. Itís a product thatís becoming increasingly popular for getting rid of wrinkles in the face, which is performed by injections.
  • Bronzers
    Bronzers are products that darken the skin to make it look naturally tanned.
  • Buffer
    A buffer is a pH-balanced cleanser that makes the skin shinier and softer.
  • Butcherís Broom
    Butcherís Broom is a plant extract thatís used to ďsweep awayĒ redness in the face.
  • Callus
    A build-up of tough layers of skin is referred to as calluses. They can be removed with a pumice stone, or you can get them professionally removed by an esthetician.
  • Candela wax
    Candela wax is combined with oil to give more body to lipsticks.
  • Cellulite
    Cellulite is the word used to refer to the fatty deposits that cause a dimpled or uneven appearance of the skin, usually around the thighs and buttocks.
  • Ceramides
    Ceramides is a substance that protects the skin against moisture loss. Itís also synthetically-reproduced in skin care products.
  • Chamomile
    Weíve probably all heard of chamomile tea; itís made from a plant. Well, itís not only good for health by drinking, itís also a great anti-inflammatory when used in lotions.
  • Citric acid
    Citric acid has many uses. Itís used in skincare products as an astringent and an antioxidant.
  • Clarifying
    Clarifying lotion is the toner part of a cleansing system that balances the pH of the skin after cleansing.
  • Collagen
    Collagen is a natural part of the skin, but it can be increased in volume with injections to plump up a certain area. Those women who want that full pouty look can have collagen injected into their lips.
  • Cucumber juice
    Cucumber juice is used on the face to tighten the pores and stop the skin from drying out.
  • Depilation
    Depilation is the process of removing hair from the skin.
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)
    DHA is a cosmetic product that bronzes the skin to resemble a tan.
  • Echinacea
    Echinacea is a natural product thatís most commonly used to reduce flu or cold symptoms. But itís also used in some skin care products to stop itching and soothe the skin.
  • Eczema
    Eczema is an inflammatory condition that causes the skin to become red, scaly and itchy.
  • Elastin
    Elastin is used in cosmetics to protect the skin from getting dry.
  • Electrolysis
    Electrolysis is a process where an electric current is applied to hair roots to kill them.
  • Emollient
    An emollient is something that soothes and softens the skin.
  • Emulsifier
    An emulsifier is a substance added to a product to thicken it.
  • Epilation
    Epilation is the process of removing hair from beneath the surface of the skin.
  • Esthetician
    An esthetician is a professional trained to give beauty treatments like facials, manicures, and pedicures.
  • Evening primrose
    Evening primrose is a natural substance used as a toner or moisturizer.
  • Exfoliate
    When you exfoliate your skin you remove layers or scales.
  • Glycerin
    Glycerin can be found in moisturizers; it holds water particles together.
  • Glycolic peel
    A glycolic peel is a method used to exfoliate or remove dead layers of skin.
  • Humectant
    A humectant is a substance that helps retain moisture.
  • Hydrate
    When you hydrate skin, you add moisture to it.
  • Hydroquinone
    Hydroquinone is a white crystalline compound used in skincare products as a bleaching agent.
  • Hyperpigmentation
    Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition caused by ultraviolet light from the sun, which darkens the skin.
  • Jojoba
    Jojoba is a multi-purpose substance, used as a moisturizer, as well as to reduce wrinkles and stretch marks.
  • Karite
    Karite is a natural ingredient that keeps the skin healthy.
  • Keratin
    Keratin is the natural substance that gives nails and hair their resiliency.
  • Kojic acid
    Kojic acid is used to lighten the color of the skin.
  • Lactic acid
    Lactic acid is a natural ingredient in the body that moisturizes the skin.
  • Lanolin
    Lanolin is a fatty substance made from wool, that moisturizes and emulsifies, as well as absorbs water.
  • Licorice
    Licorice, in its natural form (not the kind we eat), is good for treating acne and soothing skin irritated by allergies.
  • Malic acid
    Malic acid comes from raw fruit, like apples, cherries and tomatoes, and is used as a glycolic agent.
  • Mallow
    Mallow is a softening agent made from plants, that helps reduce inflammation, age lines, and eye swelling.
  • Melanin
    Melanin is the dark pigment in hair and skin.
  • Moisturizer
    In cosmetics, a moisturizer; moisturizer is a cream that hydrates the skin.
  • Non-comedogenic
    Cosmetic products that are non-comedogenic (or they may be referred to as non-occlusive) donít plug the pores, so donít cause skin irritation or pimples.
  • PABA
    PABA stands for para-aminobenzoic acid. Itís a part of the vitamin B complex and is used in some sunscreen lotions.
  • Panthenol
    Panthenol, or vitamin B5, is used as a moisturizer.
  • Petrolatum
    Petrolatum is another word for petroleum jelly. Itís used in creams as a lubricant, to soften and soothe the skin. It also seals in moisture.
  • pH
    pH is an abbreviation for percentage of hydrogen. In cosmetics, it measures the level of acidity.
  • Photoaging
    Photoaging is damage to the skin caused by too much exposure to the sun.
  • Photosensitivity
    Photosensitivity is a skin condition, manifested in rashes or swelling, that results from applying or eating certain chemicals or foods, then exposing the skin to sunlight.
  • Phytocosmetics
    Phytocosmetics are cosmetics that are made with natural ingredients from plants.
  • Pore
    A pore is a tiny opening in the skin that serves as an outlet for sweat.
  • Psoriasis
    Psoriasis is a skin disease that produces dry, itchy red patches.
  • Retinol
    Deficiency in retinol, another name for vitamin A, results in a hardening and roughening of the skin. Retinol is the main ingredient in products like Retin-A and Renova, that help to reduce wrinkles and heal acne.
  • Rosacea
    Rosacea is a skin condition that produces red oily skin and acne.
  • Royal Jelly
    Royal jelly is a natural product thatís taken from bees. It has many medicinal purposes and creates generally good health, including healthy skin.
  • Sage
    Sage, a member of the ďparsley, sage, rosemary and thymeĒ group, is not just a herb for cooking. It also helps to disinfect and heal wounds.
  • Salicylic acid
    Salicylic acid dissolves layers of the skin and is used in the treatment of eczema.
  • Shea butter
    Shea butter is a fat made from the seeds of the shea tree. Itís used in creams and lotions to soothe, soften and moisturize the skin.
  • SPF
    SPF is an acronym for sun protection factor. Sunscreen products have an SPF; the higher the SPF, the more protection you get from sunburn.
  • Sunscreen
    Sunscreen is a product, usually a cream, thatís applied to the skin to protect it from getting sunburned. The amount of protection is governed by its SPF.
  • Sunblock
    Sunblock, as opposed to sunscreen, is a lotion that actually blocks the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Itís more effective than sunscreen.
  • Surfactant
  • A surfactant is an ingredient that promotes an efficient mixture of oil and water.
  • Tartaric acid
    Tartaric acid comes from apples and is used to promote the texture and tone of the skin.
  • Tea tree oil
    Tea tree oil is a natural preservative thatís used in soap, shampoo and skin care products to clean and disinfect.
  • Thyme
    Thyme, another herb primarily used for cooking, is also useful as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent. Youíll find it in some soaps.
  • Tocopherol
    Tocopherol is another name for the fat-soluble vitamin E, which aids in the skin reproduction process.
  • Toner
    The toner is a part of the facial cleansing system. Itís used after the cleanser, and cleans any last traces of dirt that may be left, as well as returning the skin to its natural pH.
  • Undertone
    Undertone is a term used to refer to the tone of the skin, like warm or cool.
  • Vitamin A
    Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. A deficiency in vitamin A can cause toughening and hardening of the skin.
  • Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Itís used in anti-aging creams because of itís preservative and antioxidant properties.
  • Vitamin D
    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It promotes strong bones and teeth, but can be detrimental if collected in the skin as a result of too much exposure to the sun.
  • Vitamin E
    Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. Its antioxidant properties make it useful for promoting healthy skin and hair.
  • Wheat germ oil
    Wheat germ oil, an ingredient found in natural cosmetics, aids in renewing skin cells. It also has a large quantity of vitamin E in it.
  • Zinc oxide
    Zinc oxide is a chemical compound that was originally used as a whitening face powder around the beginning of the 20th century. Itís quite often found in sun protection products because of its ability to protect. It also soothes and heals the skin.

So there you have it. And with your newfound knowledge, you can buy your cosmetics with the confidence that you know what youíre getting. Whether youíre buying foundation, mascara, lipstick, nail polish, lotion, or any one of the many skin care products available on the market today, youíll always be able to get just the right ones to enhance your natural beauty.

And check out all the makeup websites on the Internet. Thatís the best place to shop for your cosmetics and skin care products. Youíll get the best selection, and youíll also find many discount cosmetics sites. Youíll find some of the most popular brand names there, too, like Mac Cosmetics, or Mary Kay Cosmetics, or Avon, Or Estee Lauder, or Clinique, and many, many more.

So now youíre in tune with cosmetics terms and definitions, go and ďput your face onĒ. And when youíre done, go and show off that natural beauty. If we could whistle, we would. Because ďyou look maaarvelous, dahling!Ē

About the Author:

Arden Mellor is a successful home based freelance writer, one of experience and diversity. The knowledge brought to you through Arden's articles has been designed for simplicity. The world is much too complicated, and Ardenís contribution to the world is to bring the complexities of life into a simpler arena, one that anyone and everyone can understand and use. Arden writes many informative articles on such topics as cosmetics, beauty & make-up, skin care & hand creams and cosmetic tools & supplies, and our wishes are that you benefit from the wisdom presented in these articles in making life simple.

This "Glossary of Cosmetics Terms & Definitions" reprinted with permission.

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