we’re getting down and geeky, beauty. 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 weekend. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
cytokine: a cytokine is a substance which is secreted by cells of the immune system and which can affect other cells.
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.
extracellular matrix: the extracellular matrix (we’re not talking about a movie, here) is a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromeolecules and minerals, including collagen, enzymes, proteins, and hydroxyapatite that provide structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells.
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.
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.
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.
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).
leukotrienes: leukotrienes are inflammatory mediators produced in leukocytes (white blood cells).
matrix metalloprotein (MMP): matrix metalloproteinase is a member of a group of enzymes that can break proteins such as collagen. it requires zinc or calcium to work properly and is critical for wound healing. it has been implicated in premature photoaging and the development of skin cancer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
transepidermal water loss (TEWL): “transepidermal water loss”, or TEWL, is the normal movement of water from the stratum corneum to the atmosphere.