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the glossary

anokha skincare jasmine serum


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 



absorbent: a substance or item that soaks up liquid easily

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 the bacteria 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).

allergic contact dermatitis: an inflammatory reaction that follows absorption of antigen applied to the skin and activation of previously sensitized, antigen-specific T cells to the skin.

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 functionthe 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.

chelation: bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions. the use of chelators in skincare has been shown to decrease signs of aging.

chemokine: a chemokine is a cytokine which attracts white blood cells to the site of an infection.

cholesterol: a natural component of intracellular lipids

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. closed comedones are termed "whiteheads", while open comedones are called "blackheads".

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 chemicals 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: cytokines are small proteins that are required to control the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. cytokines affect the growth of blood cells and other cells crucial to the body’s immune and inflammation responses.



dehydrated: lacking hydration or water

dermabrasion: an invasive procedure in which the skin is treated with 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; it 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.

elastosis: elastosis occurs as a result sever damage and is marked by the deposition in the upper dermis of abnormal material that cannot form functional elastic fibers.

emollient: a substance that softens or soothes the skin

emulsifier: an ingredient used to help combine oil and water-soluble ingredients

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.

exfoliant: an object or ingredient that removes dead skin cells. mechanical exfoliation uses a tool such as a scrub or sponge to physically remove cells, while chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, to dissolve skin cells.

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.



fatty acids: fatty acids are the building blocks in our skin's cells. they strengthen the skin's layers for smoother and healthier skin. the three types of fatty acids include saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. omega fatty acids offer significant benefits for skin. 

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.



glabridin: the primary ingredient of licorice extract, it offers 50% inhibition of tyrosinase activity to help decrease skin pigmentation.

gluconolactone: a type of polyhydroxy acid (PHA) with fewer sensitizing effects that glycolic acid.

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.

hydrophilic: "water loving", or water soluble.

hydroquinone: a phenolic compound which is used for skin lightening. it is associated with dermatitis and ochronosis, and is not used in any of anokha's products.

hyperpigmentation: the deposition of abnormal pigment in the skin, which can occur secondary to trauma, sun exposure, or hormones.

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.

kojic acid: a tyrosinase inhibitor used for skin lightening. it is derived from various fungal species and has been associated with sensitization and contact dermatitis.



lactic acid: an alpha hydroxy acid which exfoliates, hydrates, strengthens the skin's barrier, and positively influences the skin's microbiome.

lactones: lactones are exponents of secondary metabolites with significant biological activities. they are produced by plants, bacteria, fungi, marine sponges, and other organisms.

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

leukodermaa localized area of white depigmented skin due to total loss of epidermal melanin

leukotrienes: inflammatory mediators produced in white blood cells

linoleic acid: an unsaturated fatty acid which acts as an emollient.

lipophilic: technically, “fat loving”. this lovely term also indicates that an ingredient is oil-soluble.



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.

melanogenic: capable of inducing pigmentation

melanosis: a form of hyperpigmentation associated with increased melanin.

melanosome: melanosomes are intracellular organelles made by pigment cells in the skin and eye, which synthesize and store melanin pigments.

melasma: a symmetric brown hyperpigmentation of the face and neck, typically seen in women.

microbiome: all of the genetic material of a microbial community sequenced together. 

microdermabrasion: controlled wounding of the skin from superficial to light-medium depths.

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

niacinamide: also known as nicotinamide or vitamin B3, it helps to reduce the appearance of large pores, improves skin tone, boosts the skin's barrier, increases hydration, and decreases the negative effects of environmental stressors. wow.

nitric oxide: nitric oxide is a colorless gas which is one of the principal oxides of nitrogen. it is a free radical.

non-comedogenican ingredient which does not promote the formation of comedones. closed comedones are termed "whiteheads", while open comedones are called "blackheads".

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.

oleic acid: an omega-9 fatty acid which helps to calm and repair skin

oxidation: a reaction that occurs by combining oxygen with another substance



panthenol: also known as pro-vitamin B5, it is a hydrating ingredient that attracts moisture and reduces redness in sensitive skin. 

papulopustular rosacea: also termed subtype II rosacea, or acne rosacea, it's notable for persistent facial erythema with papules and pustules.

parabens: a group of highly effective but controversial preservatives, while the data is conflicting, we have opted not to use them in any anokha products. 

peptides: a portion of amino acids which in turn form proteins.

petrolatum: also known as petroleum jelly, petrolatum is derived from crude oil and purified prior to being used in cosmetic products. it is not used in any anokha products.

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 acids: phenolic acids are a key class of polyphenols which are natural antioxidants. 

phenolic compounds: phenolic compounds are a group of metabolites derived from the secondary pathways of plants.

photoaging: premature aging of the skin by the sun

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”) tails. they are major constituents of cell membranes and intracellular organelles and vesicles.

photodamage: damage to the skin as a result of excessive sun exposure, resulting in DNA changes at the cellular level.

phytosterols: plant-derived compounds that are structurally related to cholesterol

pigmentation: the deposition of pigment in the skin or tissues

polyhydroxy acids (PHA): acids including gluconolactone and lactobionic acid which are believed to be less irritating than glycolic acids.

polyphenols: a large family of naturally-occurring phenols which are abundant in plants. they include flavonoids and phenolic acids. they are known for their antioxidant properties.

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.

retinaldehyde: a vitamin A derivative which is converted to retinoic acid. 

retinoic acid: the most potent vitamin A derivative. it is available in prescription form as treretinoin or Retin-A.

rhytid: our fancy medical way of saying "skin wrinkle"

rosacea: a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin associated with redness and a rash, typically on the nose and cheeks.




salicylic acid: also known as beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), it has exfoliating and anti-acne properties

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.

silica: silicon dioxide, or silica, is an oxide of silicon. it is most commonly found in nature as quartz.

skin barrier: the skin barrier protects against external agents including mechanical and chemical insults, heat, pathogens, water, and radiation.

solar elastosis: a disorder in which skin appears yellow and thickened secondary to abnormal elastic tissue accumulation, which has occurred as a result of chronic sun damage.

sphingolipids: phospholipids that maintain structural integrity within cell membranes.

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.

superoxide dismutase (SOD): an antioxidant protein which catalyzes the conversion of superoxide anion to hydrogen peroxide, which is then detoxified to oxygen and water.



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.

transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta): a multifunctional cytokine that regulates diverse cellular processes.

tumor necrosis factor (TNF): a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine.

tyrosinase: tyrosinase is an enzyme which is the rate-limiting step for controlling the production of melanin



ubiquinone: also known as coenzyme Q10, it is found naturally within the body and acts an anti-oxidant



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.