ever wonder what all the fuss is about collagenase? antioxidants? and what’s so radical about free radicals, anyways? we’re here to clarify both your skin and the surrounding confusion around the most commonly used terms in the industry. consider us the brains for your beauty.
we’ll be posting a new term every week. need us to give you the inside scoop on another item you don’t see here yet? reach out to us at email@example.com
acid mantle: the portion of skin that helps to slow bacterial growth
acne: acne is a skin disease that arises secondary to the combination of four factors: increased sebum production secondary to increased androgen production; abnormal keratinization within the follicles with resulting obstruction; proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes; and inflammation.
acute: a description for conditions with severe symptoms and rapid onset. acute reactions are usually short in duration.
adaptogen: adaptogens are substances that help the body to adapt to stress and normalize the bodily processes. some examples include ginseng, ashwagandha, tulsi (holy basil), astragalus, schisandra, and rhodiola.
alopecia: a disease that presents as a deficiency of hair or total baldness.
anti-inflammatory: an anti-inflammatory is a substance that reduces inflammation in the body.
antioxidant : an antioxidant is a compound that inhibits oxidation. free radicals create oxidative stress and an inflammatory response which in turn can damage DNA and result in injury to the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin. in the skin, this manifests as premature aging with decreased elasticity leading to increased wrinkling, age spots, and decreased skin tone. antioxidants stabilize free radicals, which in turn limits their ability to damage the body. some of our favorite ingredients are notable for their antioxidant effects, including elderberry, plum, and lychee.
anti-tyrosinase: an anti-tyrosinase blocks the enzyme tyrosinase, one of the key enzymes in the formation of melanin in the skin.
astringent : derived from the Latin word adstringere ("to bind tight"), an astringent is a substance that tightens the skin. in skincare, we use them to cleanse, help reduce the appearance of pores, and even reduce inflammation and acne. some commonly used astringents include alcohol and witch hazel, but these aren't our favorites because of their drying effects. we favor gentle botanical ingredients such as rosewater that can boost hydration while soothing and calming the skin. find this beauty in our lotus flower & rosewater toner.
atopic dermatitis: a type of eczema remarkable for red, flaky, itchy skin, typically affecting the inner elbows and behind the knees. it's often seen with allergic rhinitis, hay fever, and asthma.
ceramides: ceramides are lipids found in skin cells which comprise approximately 50% of the epidermis. they are essential for forming the skin's natural barrier to seal in moisture and preventing the entry of harmful elements. lower ceramide levels have been linked to skin diseases including acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.
chemokines: a chemokine is a cytokine which attracts white blood cells to sites of infection.
chronic: a condition with long duration; the opposite of acute.
collagen: a fibrous protein that forms part of the dermal matrix, connective tissue, cartilage, and bone.
comedogenic: a description of products or ingredients that tend to promote the formation of comedones (keep reading...)
comedone: a dilated hair follicle filled with keratin, bacteria and sebum, but free of inflammation.
corneocyte: a flattened, dead keratinocyte found in the stratum corneum
cutaneous: anything pertaining to the skin
cytokine: a cytokine is a substance which is secreted by cells of the immune system and which can affect other cells.
dehydrated: lacking hydration or water
dermabrasion: an invasive procedure in which the skin is treated abrasive materials such as wire brushes or sandpaper in order to treat acne scars or pits
dermatitis: inflammation of the skin
dermatosis: a term used to describe any abnormality of the skin
dermis: the dermis is the layer of tissue beneath the epidermis which contains blood vessels, nerve endings, sweat glands, and hair follicles.
dermo-epidermal junction: the junction between the epidermis and dermis provides adherence between the epidermis and dermis, mechanical support to the epidermis, and serves as a barrier to the exchange of cells and large molecules across the junction.
desquamation: shedding of the outer layer of the skin. this is a normal process in healthy skin, although some skin diseases will manifest with increased or decreased desquamation.
dyschromia: abnormal pigmentation of the skin
eczema: also referred to as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a congenital inflammatory skin condition associated with dry, itchy skin.
edema: swelling which occurs as a result of the accumulation of fluid in cells or the extracellular space
elasticity: a description of the quantity and quality of elastin fibers in the dermis, which in turn determines how well the skin is able to stretch and return to its initial shape
elastin: elastin is a protein that forms the main component of elastic fibers in the skin. it provides stretch, recoil, and elasticity.
emollient: a substance that softens or soothes the skin
epidermal growth factor: topical agents used to stimulate healthy cell proliferation
erythema: redness of the skin which occurs secondary to dilation of the capillaries
erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: another name for rosacea subtype I, it is notable for flushing and redness of the central part of the face, broken capillaries, and discomfort.
extracellular matrix (ECM): the extracellular matrix (we’re not talking about a movie, here) is a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules and minerals, including collagen, enzymes, proteins, and hydroxyapatite that provide structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells.
exudate: an exudate is a fluid that has leaked out of the capillaries, secondary to injury, inflammation, or invasive procedures.
fibroblast: a fibroblast is a cell that contributes to the formation of connective tissue within the body. fibroblasts secrete collagen proteins which help to maintain the structural framework of the tissues.
fibronectin: fibronectin is a glycoprotein of the extracellular matrix that plays an important role during tissue repair. the plasma form of fibronectin circulates in the blood and upon tissue injury is incorporated into clots that affect platelet function to help stop bleeding.
flavonoids: flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals, or phytonutrients, found in almost all fruits and vegetables. like carotenoids, they help to give fruits and vegetables their vivid hues. flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation and help to support the immune system.
free radicals: a free radical is an unstable molecule created during normal cell metabolism. free radicals can accumulate in cells in cause damage to other structures, including DNA, lipids, and proteins.
glycosaminoglycan: glycosaminoglycans are long linear molecules consisting of repeating disaccharide (two-sugar) units. they attract water and are used as a lubricant in the body. hyaluronic acid is an example of a glycosaminoglycan.
glycolipids: glycolipids are lipids with a carbohydrate attached by a glycosidic bond. they maintain cell membrane stability and facilitate cellular recognition.
humectant: a humectant is a substance that attracts water from the dermis and environment.
inflammation: a reaction in the body as a result of internal or external irritation. it's characterized by redness of the skin, swelling, warmth, and pain.
intercellular junction complexes: cell junctions, or intercellular bridges, are a class of structures that provide contact between cells or between cells and the extracellular matrix. cell junctions also enable communication between cells through specialized protein complexes called gap junctions.
keratin: a group of structural fibrous proteins
keratinocytes: keratinocytes are the primary cell of the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin. they constitute 90% of epidermal skin cells. keratinocytes form a barrier against environmental damage and are shed every 40-56 days in human skin.
keloid: a keloid is a thickened scar which extends beyond the boundaries of the original wound or incision. they're often painful, and consist of irregularly distributed collagen fibrils.
keratolytic: keratolytics are compounds that break down the outer layers of the skin. they include salicylic acid, urea, and alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acids).
lesion: a structural tissue change caused by injury or disease
leukotrienes: leukotrienes are inflammatory mediators produced in leukocytes (white blood cells).
macule: a flat spot of discoloration level with the skin, such as a freckle
matrix metalloproteinases (MMP): matrix metalloproteinases are a member of a group of enzymes that can break proteins such as collagen or elastin. they can be over-stimulated by internal or external agents to break down healthy proteins.
melanin: melanin is a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye. it's responsible for tanning of skin.
melanocyte: pigment-producing cells located in the basal layer of the epidermis
melanogenesis : melanogenesis is the process for the production of melanin, the primary source of pigmentation in the skin.
melanosome: melanosomes are intracellular organelles made by pigment cells in the skin and eye, which synthesize and store melanin pigments.
microbiome: all of the genetic material of a microbial community sequenced together.
milia: a small subepidermal keratinous cyst that usually occurs on the face
mitochondria: the mitochondria is an organelle found in most cells in which respiration and energy production occur.
natural moisturizing factor (NMF): a complex mixture of low molecular weight, water-soluble compounds formed within the corneocytes by degradation of the protein filaggrin. NMF is critical for hydration of the stratum corneum, homeostasis of the skin barrier, desquamation (turnover of dead skin cells), and skin plasticity.
nevus: a circumscribed skin abnormality which is often hyperpigmented, such as a mole or birthmark
occlusive: an occlusive ingredient provides a protective seal over the skin which prevents the loss of hydration into the environment. occlusives also help to keep irritants from entering the skin.
ocular rosacea: also termed subtype IV rosacea, it produces a watery or bloodshot appearance with stinging, dryness, itching, frequent styes, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision.
oxidation: a reaction that occurs by combining oxygen with another substance
papulopustular rosacea: also termed subtype II rosacea, or acne rosacea, it's notable for persistent facial erythema with papules and pustules.
pH: indicates the "potential of hydrogen" concentration which indicates the relative degree of acidity or alkalinity of a substance
phymatous rosacea: also termed subtype III rosacea, typically presents with thickening, surface nodules, and enlargement on the nose (as rhinophyma), but may affect the forehead, chin, cheeks, and ears.
polyphenols: polyphenols are a large family of naturally occurring organic compounds characterized by multiples of phenol units. they are abundant in plants and include flavonoids.
phospholipids: phospholipids are a class of lipids with a hydrophilic (“water-loving”) head and two hydrophobic (“water-hating”) tail. they are major constituents of cell membranes and intracellular organelles and vesicles.
pigmentation: the deposition of pigment in the skin or tissues
pore: small opening of the sweat glands or hair follicles of the skin
post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): a type of hyperpigmentation which occurs as a result of an inflammatory incident in the skin, with the deposition of protective melanin and dark spots of pigmentation
prostaglandins: prostaglandins are a group of lipids made at sites of tissue injury and infection. they play a key role in the inflammatory response by controlling inflammation, blood flow, and blood clot formation.
psoriasis: psoriasis is a skin disease characterized by a rash with itchy and scaly patches, typically found on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp.
quercetin: quercetin is a plant pigment found in many plants and foods, including red wine, green tea, and berries.
reactive oxygen species (ROS): reactive oxygen species are a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen and which can easily react with other molecules in a cell. they can cause damage to DNA, RNA, proteins, and even cell death.
rhytid: our fancy medical way of saying "skin wrinkle"
saponin: saponins are plant-derived organic chemicals which can foam when agitated in water.
sebaceous cyst: a sac or cyst found beneath the surface of the skin which is filled with sebum and keratin
sebaceous glands: oil-producing glands of the skin
seborrhea: an oily skin condition which occurs secondary to over-activity of the sebaceous glands
seborrheic dermatitis: also known as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory, hyperproliferative skin condition marked by red, flaky skin on the sebaceous areas of the face, scalp, and trunk.
sebum: the oily, lipid-filled substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of the skin, which protects and provides an emollient to the skin and hair.
squame: an enucleated (no nucleus), dead, squamous keratinocyte that is shed from the top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum
steatoma: a fatty tumor or cyst of the sebaceous glands
sterols: sterols are steroid-based alcohols which regulate biological processes and sustain cell membrane structure. they are also known as second messengers, as they pass on messages from outside the cell to facilitate changes within the cell. a "famous" sterol is cholesterol, which is found only in foods of animal origin.
terpenoid: terpenoids are a large class of organic chemicals. plants use terpenoid metabolites for basic functions of growth and development, as well as specialized interactions and protection within the environment.
triterpene/triterpenoids: triterpenes are a class of chemical compounds produced by animals, plants, and fungi.
transepidermal water loss (TEWL): “transepidermal water loss”, or TEWL, is the normal movement of water from the stratum corneum to the atmosphere.
verruca: a wart or flesh-colored growth of the papillae and epidermis