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 firstname.lastname@example.org
acid mantle: the term “acid mantle” is used to describe the inherently acidic nature of the stratum corneum.
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.
aging skin: aging skin is characterized by epidermal thinning; a reduction in melanocytes (pigment-containing cells); the appearance of pigmented age spots; decreased skin strength and elasticity; fragility of blood vessels in the dermis; decreased sebaceous gland oil production; decreased subcutaneous fat; decreased sweat gland function; and increased growths such as skin tags, warts, and pink or brown rough patches (actinic keratosis and seborrheic keratosis, respectively).
alopecia: a disease that presents as a deficiency of hair or total baldness.
alpha-hydroxy acids: alpha-hydroxy acids are a group of plant-derived acids. these include citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. they are used to promote collagen; increase blood flow; correct discoloration of the skin; improve the appearance of wrinkles; prevent acne breakouts; brighten the skin; and increase the absorption of other products.
alpha-lipoic acid: alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant which has been shown to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and skin roughness.
angiogenesis: the growth of new blood vessels
anti-inflammatory: 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: blocks the enzyme tyrosinase, one of the key enzymes in the formation of melanin in the skin.
arthralgias: painful, achy joints. also known as being in your 50’s.
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.
barrier function: the skin barrier protects against external agents including mechanical and chemical insults, heat, pathogens, water, and radiation.
basement membrane: also known as the basal lamina, the basement membrane is a thin but dense layer of the extracellular matrix that lines most human tissues to form the support for epithelial tissue.
beta-hydroxy acids: beta-hydroxy acids are oil-soluble acids which can unclog pores and exfoliate. salicylic acid is an example of a beta-hydroxy acid.
betaine: also known as trimethylglycine, betaine is a humectant found naturally within the human body. in facial products, it can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. at higher concentrations, it can also help to brighten skin.
carotenoids: carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red organic pigments produced by plants, algae, bacteria, and fungi. they are responsible for the color found in pumpkins, carrots, flamingos, and salmon.
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.
chemokine: a chemokine is a cytokine which attracts white blood cells to the site of an 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
collagenase: an enzyme that breaks the peptide bonds in collagen
comedogenic: a description of products or ingredients that tend to promote the formation of comedones...
comedone: a dilated hair follicle filled with keratin, bacteria, and sebum, but free of inflammation.
contact dermatitis: a skin rash caused by contact with a specific substance. avoiding the trigger typically allows the rash to clear in 2-4 weeks.
corneocyte: a flattened, dead keratinocyte found in the stratum corneum
cutaneous: anything referring to the skin
cyclooxygenase (COX): an enzyme that helps create the chemical prostaglandin and thromboxane. prostaglandins help to create inflammation and thromboxane assists in blood clot formation. there are two types of COX: COX-1 and COX-2.
cytokine: a substance secreted by cells of the immune system, which in turn affects 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: a congenital inflammatory skin condition associated with dry, itchy skin; also referred to as atopic dermatitis
edema: swelling which occurs as a result of the accumulation of fluid in cells or the space around them
elastase: a class of enzymes that cleaves peptides in elastin, among many other proteins
elasticity: a description of the quality and quantity of elastin fibers in the dermis, which in tun 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
endothelial cells: endothelial cells form the inner lining of blood vessels and provide a barrier between the wall of the vessel and blood. they also play a role in metabolism and synthesis of other substances.
epidermal growth factor: a protein that stimulates cell growth and differentiation
epidermis: the outer layer of the skin
epithelialization: the process of covering open wounds with migration of cells to the open surface
erythema: redness of the skin which occurs as a result of dilation of the capillaries
erythematotelangiectatic rosecea: a skin condition notable for flushing and redness of the central part of the face, broken blood vessels, and discomfort. also called rosacea subtype I.
exposome: the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health.
extracellular matrix (ECM): a three-dimensional network of macromolecules and minerals outside of the cells, including collagen, enzymes, proteins, and hydroxyapatite. the ECM provides structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells.
exudate: a fluid that has leaked out of the capillaries secondary to injury, inflammation, or an invasive procedure.
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.
filaggrin: a filament-aggregating protein which undergoes further processing in the stratum corneum to release free amino acids which assist in water retention.
Fitzpatrick scale: The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical classification schema for skin color.
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.
follicular epithelium: cells within the hair follicles
free radicals: an unstable molecule created during normal cell metabolism. free radicals can accumulate in cells, causing 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.
granulation tissue: new connective tissue and blood vessels that form on the surface of a wound during the healing process.
granulocyte: a granulocyte is a type of white blood cell that contains granules with enzymes which released during infections and allergic reactions. examples of granulocytes include neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils. also known as a polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN).
growth factors: naturally occurring substances that stimulate cell proliferation, wound healing, and cellular differentiation.
hemostasis: the mechanism that leads to the cessation of bleeding from a vessel
humectant: a humectant is a substance that attracts water from the dermis and environment.
hyaluronic acid: hyaluronic acid plays an important role in the human body and is involved in hydration and joint lubrication. its synthesis increases during tissue injury and wound healing, and it regulates specific aspects of tissue repair.
hypertrophic scar: a thickened, raised scar which remains within the borders of the initial wound
icthyosis: ichthyosis is a group of skin disorders characterized by dry, scaly, or thickened skin.
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 complex: a class of structures which provides contact between cells or between cells and the extracellular matrix.
interleukin: an interleukin is a class of glycoproteins produced by leukocytes for regulating immune responses.
keloid: a thickened scar which extends beyond the boundaries of the original wound or incision. they consist of irregularly distributed collagen fibrils, and are often painful or itchy.
keratin: a protein found in hair, skin, and nails
keratinization: keratinization is the acquisition of a horn-like character by the epithelial tissue
keratinocyte: the primary cell of the epidermis, which constitutes 90% of epidermal skin cells. keratinocytes form a barrier against environmental damage and are shed every 45-60 days.
keratolysis: the periodic exfoliation of the epidermis
keratolytics: compounds that break down the outer layers of the skin.
leprosy: also known as Hansen's disease, leprosy is an infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. it can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and nasal mucosa, but can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment.
lesion: a structural tissue change caused by injury or illness
leukoderma: a localized area of white depigmented skin due to total loss of epidermal melanin
leukotrienes: inflammatory mediators produced in white blood cells
macrophage: a type of white blood cell that surrounds and kills micro-organisms, removes dead cells, and stimulates the action of other cells in the immune system.
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: 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: 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.
neutrophil: a type of white blood cell that helps the body to fight infection
nevus: a circumscribed skin abnormality which is often hyperpigmented, such as a mole or birthmark
nitric oxide: nitric oxide is a colorless gas which is one of the principal oxides of nitrogen. it is a free radical.
nuclear factor kappaB: a transcriptional factor which is associated with the induction of pain and inflammation
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
phagocytosis: the process by which a cell engulfs a large particle
phenolic compounds: phenolic compounds are a group of metabolites derived from the secondary pathways of plants.
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.
phytosterols: plant-derived compounds that are structurally related to cholesterol
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: a plant pigment found in many plants and foods, including red wine, green tea, and berries.
reactive oxygen species (ROS): a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen, and which can react with other molecules in a cell. they can damage DNA, RNA, proteins, and even cause cell death. also referred to as free radicals.
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.
senescence: the process of deterioration with age.
sesquiterpene: a terpene who molecules contain 1.5 times as many atoms as a normal terpene. sesquiterpenes disrupt a microbe’s phospholipid membrane to help reduce harm from a microbial attack.
skin barrier: the skin barrier protects against external agents including mechanical and chemical insults, heat, pathogens, water, and radiation.
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.
stratum corneum: the outermost layer of the epidermis and marks the final stage of keratinocyte maturation and development.
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.
thromboxane: thromboxane is a hormone released from platelets which induces platelet aggregation and constriction of arteries.
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.
tumor necrosis factor (TNF): a potent proinflammatory cytokine.
tyrosinase: tyrosinase is an enzyme which is the rate-limiting step for controlling the production of melanin
verruca: a wart or flesh-colored growth of the papillae and epidermis
5-lipoxygenase: the key enzyme responsible for the synthesis of leukotrienes.
5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT): also known as serotonin, 5-HT is a neurotransmitter with multiple functions, including modulating mood and cognition, memory, vomiting, and vasoconstriction.