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Beauty Glossary
 
 
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A

ABS Plastic: An artificial nail tip plastic. The "virgin" variety is the least likely to crack.

Accelerator: A product that works under the surface of the skin and provides the necessary ingredients for melanin production, which will accelerate the rate at which the skin tans. An accelerator is most effective when used after a shower or at least four hours before tanning.

Acetamide MEA: A water-soluble conditioning agent that is compatible with anionic and nonanionic systems as opposed to quaternary surfactants compatible only with cationics. This agent's primary purpose is to add shine.

Acetic Acid: This acid is present in vinegar and is sometimes used to remove oil from the skin.

Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol: Acetylated lanolin is an agent that forms a protective coating on the skin's surface and helps prevent moisture loss. It is a hypoallergenic agent that smoothes and softens the skin.

Acetone: Acetone is a strong solvent that is used in nail polish removers. It is appropriate for natural nails only. It can be found in some astringents/toners/fresheners.

Acid: Acids are used in skin care products to stabilize formulas that have an unwanted alkaline level. Its purpose is to change the pH level of a substance.

Acid Balance: The acid balance refers to natural pH level of the skin's moisture.

Acidic Soil: A pH content of less than 6.5.

Acid Mantle: A protective oily layer on the skin's surface which functions as a protectorate against environmental impurities and helps regulate moisture loss and water retention.

Acidophilus: Helps prevent fungus, acne, and bad breathe.

Acid Perm: An acid perm produces permanent hair waves with curls that are actually softer than an alkaline perm. It also has a pH from 6.5 to 8.0.

Acini: The secretor portion of the sebaceous gland.

Acne: Acne is a common inflammatory disease of the facial skin seen most frequently between the ages of 10 and 25 years and characterized by blackheads, whiteheads and blemishes composed of papules and pustules. Acne is an inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands, the glands that produce sebum. Acne usually affects the face, back, and chest. In severe cases it can develop into cysts and nodules that can result in scarring. While its cause is unknown, it is most often associated with hormonal activity within teenagers. In severe cases a person should consult with a dermatologist.

Acne Conglobata: This is the severest form of acne, and is composed of painful, large inflammatory nodules and cysts. It often leads to sever scarring, and is usually associated with male gender.

Acne excoriee des jeunes filles: Scratch marks that look like acne but are due to friction and irritation caused by wearing helmets, shoulder pads, orthopedic casts, bra straps and sweaters.

Acne Kelidalis Nuchae: This acne is often painful, and is caused by inflamed papules and pustules. The end result is often thick scarring around the nape of the neck in African-American men.

Actinic Keratosis: This form of acne looks like a rough, scaly looking lesion; small, solid, elevated skin lesion less than 0.5 cm in diameter or a flat skin lesion that has a different color than the surrounding normal skin. It is a direct cause of cumulative sun exposure.

Acne Vulgaris: This disease is the most common skin disease in the United States. It is a disease of the pilosebaceous unit (the sebaceous follicle, sebaceous glands and sebaceous ducts) and is characterized by comedones, pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts. It usually erupts during adolescence, but may continue to erupt even after adolescence.

Acrylic: Acrylic is a material used for sculptured nails. The material is made up of a combination of a liquid and powder that is mixed to form the artificial nail. It has a moisture barrier that repels water (waterproof).

Active: The active ingredient, or substance in a pharmaceutical product that does the "work". The other ingredients are usually just filler, fragrance, or a carrier medium.

Active Ingredients: See Active.

Acupressure: A technique that uses pressure to relieve pain. Benefits can result from this therapeutic technique when pressure is applied to specific body parts.

Acupuncture: A therapeutic technique to treat pain or other malady by inserting special needles into particular parts of the body.

Acute: Acute means a condition or disease with serious symptoms that acts with immediacy (acts very fast and has a short course).

Adapalene: Adapalene is a new retinoid molecule that has been specifically engineered for the treatment of acne vulgaris (a common acne disease effecting the pilosebaceous unit).

Adenosine Triphosphate: A synthetic riboflavin (Vitamin B2) that functions as a catalyst in the tanning process.

Adrenal Glands: A pair of small ductless glands located just above the kidneys that secrete the adrenocortical hormones (corticosteroids).

Adrenal Suppression: A condition resulting from the suppression of cortisol secretion by the adrenal glands. It is a condition that can lead to electrolyte imbalance, suppression of the immune system, and Cushing's syndrome.

Adrenaline: Adrenaline is a "fight or flight" hormone released by the adrenal glands when the body is experiencing physical or emotional distress.

Adjunctive: In medicine an adjunctive is used to describe a treatment or preparation that supports the main therapy (a treatment or preparation that acts in a subordinate or secondary capacity).

Aerosol: Aerosol is a gaseous suspension of fine solid or liquid particles and is sometimes used as a vehicle for dermatological drugs.

Aesthetician: An aesthetician is a professional who works to clean and perfect skin.

Age Spots: Age spots, which are also known as liver spots, are irregularly shaped brown spots most often seen on the hands and face. They are usually the result of over-exposure to the sun and may lead to skin cancer.

Alcohol: Alcohol is an organic chemical compound (organic ingredients). Alcohols differ substantially in their properties ranging from clear liquids to waxy solids. An alcohol can be a water soluble solvent like isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or ethyl alcohol (used to make drinking alcohol) or alcohol may contain the properties of a moisturizing agent like glycerin or propylene glycol or a fatty alcohol like cetyl alcohol. Alcohol may also contain the properties of a sugar (multi alcohol). Depending upon whether the parent substance (the alcohol compound) is drying or lubricating to the skin, the alcohol from which it is derived will be drying or lubricating. Alcohols are used as emollients, humectants, lubricants, emulsifiers, stabilizers, or tackiness reducers.

Alfalfa: Alfalfa contains essential digestive enzymes and amino acids. It has been known to help thin the blood, cleanse the kidney, prevent tooth decay (contains natural fluorides), and increase endurance and energy.

Algae: Algae is a seaweed full of trace elements, calcium, and magnesium. In skincare products, it helps the skin store moisture to improve elasticity.

Algae Extract: Algae Extract contains polysaccharides (sugars) that act as natural humectants (helps to promote the retention of moisture in the skin); alginates (components that provide moisture and elasticity to the skin); fucoidanes (sulfated polysaccharides that stimulate circulation); polyphenols (anti septic, anti-inflammatory agents and anti-oxidants); and fucosterol (an excellent emollient, blood stimulant, diuretic and moisturizing agent).

Algal Polysaccharides: This extract is known to help moisturize and lubricate. It is derived from red marine algae gathered off the Hawaiian coast.

Algisium Complex: A natural marine-derived complex that functions as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Alkaline: A substance with a pH greater than 7; non acidic.

Alkaline Perm: An alkaline perm produces permanent hair waves (tight curls). It also has a pH from 7.5 to 9.5.

Alkaline Soil: Soil with a pH content of more than 7.3.

Allantoin: Allantoin is an extract of the comfrey plant and is used for its healing, soothing, and anti-irritating properties. This extract can be found in anti-acne products, sun care products, and clarifying lotions because of its ability to help heal minor wounds and promote healthy skin.

Allergen: Allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis: A form of contact dermatitis that results in an inflamed lesion or water blister caused by a delayed allergic reaction to an allergen like poison ivy.

Allergy: An allergy is defined as a sensitivity to certain substances, such as pollen.

Allura Red AC: The common name for uncertified FD&C Red No. 40.

Almond Meal: An ingredient that acts act to smooth and soften the skin (an emollient), reduce inflammation and aids in the removal of dead skin cells (an exfoliant). Almond meal also has a slight bleaching effect.

Almond Milk: An ingredient with moisturizing properties.

Almond Oil: Oil derived from almonds with softening properties. Almond oil is known for its mildness and is often used as an emollient (smoothener and softener) in lotions and creams.

Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is one of the most widely recognized skin care ingredients. It helps the skin replenish lost moisture and when applied to skin injuries, minor wounds, burns, rashes, or lesions, it works immediately and effectively to heal and soothe.

Aloe Vera Extract: An extract of the aloe vera plant known for the hydrating and soothing properties.

Aloe Vera Gel: An oil extract of the aloe vera leaf that contains excellent hydrating, softening and soothing properties. This extract is also a source of allantoin.

Aloe Vera Oil: See Aloe Vera Gel.

Alpha Bisabolol: An effective anti-microbial-type gum resin with anti-irritant properties.

Alpha hydroxy: See Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs).

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): (AHAs include glycolic, citric, malic, and lactic acids-found naturally in fruit such as sugar cane, citrus fruits, and sour milk). AHAs are used to help exfoliate and renew cells, even skin tone, and can be effective against wrinkles. Glycolic acid is thought to be the most effective exfoliant of all the alpha hydroxy acids. It penetrates the skin very effectively because of its small molecules. Caution: Prolonged use can lead to sun sensitivity.

Alterative: An alterative means something that restores health.

Althea: Althea is a botanical root with softening and soothing properties (used as a skin emollient).

Althea Root: See Althea.

Aluminum Chlorohydrate: An aluminum salt that is the least irritating of all the aluminum salts. It is used mainly in the preparation of antiperspirants.

Amino Acids: Amino Acids are organic compounds (protein "building blocks") vitally essential to the body. They assist in body growth, maintenance and repair.

Aminomethyl Propanol: A thickener and gelling agent.

Aminomethyl Propanedial: An alkalizer / neutralizer used to adjust pH in cosmetic preparations.

Aminophenols: Aminophenols are phenol derivatives used in permanent (two-step) hair dyes.

Ammonia: An Alkaline ingredient used in some permanent hair color. Ammonia is an ingredient that results in a chemical action that decolorizes the hair.

Ammonium Hydroxide: An ingredient used to stabilize and adjust the acids in skin peels and hair waving and straightening.

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate: The primary active agent in shampoos that acts as a surfactant; an agent that allows oil to mix with water.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate: A mild anionic surfactant (an agent in which the active molecule bears a negative electric charge) that is widely used as a cleansing agent in relatively mild shampoos for oily or normal to oily hair. The ammonium salt of lauryl sulfate is derived from natural coconut alcohols.

Ammonium persulfate: A bleaching agent in some hair and skin care products. It is also used in deodorants and disinfectants.

AMP (Amino-ethyl Propanol): An organic pH adjuster used to maximize the effects of styling products.

Amphoteric: A mild nonirritating surfactant (an agent that allows oil to mix with water) often used in shampoos; leaves hair manageable and is gentle enough for chemically treated hair.

Amphoteric Surfactants: Those in which the active molecule bears both positive and negative charges. Their properties depend upon the pH of the system and they may behave like anionics (an agent in which the active molecule bears a negative electric charge) or cationics (an agent which possesses a positive electrical charge). Some of the finest amphoterics are used in shampoo systems formulated for dry or chemically treated hair due to their mildness and light conditioning properties.

Amplifier: An amplifier works on the skin's surface and is designed to increase the absorption of UV light by the skin.

Anaerobic: An organism that lives and grows in the absence of oxygen.

Anagen: One of the two phases of hair growth (the active growing phase; the other is the telogen phase, the resting phase of the hair growth cycle).

Analgesic: Pain Reliever. The two types of analgesic drugs are non narcotic and narcotic. Although most analgesics are synthetically made today, both types occur naturally in plants.

Anodyne: An agent that soothes and relieves pain. See Analgesic.

Anatide: A film-forming molecule that protects hair to prevent moisture loss.

Anatomy: The science that studies the shape and structure of organisms.

Androgen: An androgen is a hormone that stimulates the sebaceous glands to increase sebum production.

Angelica: An herb used as an expectorant (assists in removing mucus from the throat and lungs) for cough, bronchitis and pleurisy, especially when they are accompanied by fever, colds or influenza. Also used to ease rheumatic inflammation and stimulate appetite in anorexic individuals.

Anionic Surfactants: Those in which the active molecule bears a negative electric charge; primarily used as a cleansing agent in relatively mild shampoos for oily or normal to oily hair.

Anise: A volatile oil in Aniseed to ease griping, intestinal colic and flatulence. It also has an expectorant (assists in removing mucus from the throat and lungs) and anti-spasmodic action (eases, or stops muscle spasms) and may be used in bronchitis, tracheitis, and in whooping cough. It has middle estrogen effects, which may explain its use in folk medicine to increase milk secretion, facilitate birth and increase libido.

Anise Seed: Anise seeds are aromatic (smells of licorice) and may be used in facial saunas (to open/medicate pores) or hair rinses.

Annatto Extract: A food grade vegetable dye (colorant) that produces yellow-orange tones. It is derived from the flesh surrounding the seed of a shrub native to South America, bixa orellana.

Antacid: Antacid neutralizes excess acid in the stomach.

Antiaging: Substances and behavior that can prevent premature aging of the skin caused by environmental influences and nutritional deficiencies.

Antibacterial: Substances that can kill bacteria and treat infections.

Antibiotic: A chemical substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms. In cosmetics it is used to treat acne.

Antibody: A molecule produced by B cells that circulates in the bloodstream and neutralizes antigens (antigens are harmful invaders of the immune system).

Anticarcinogen: An agent that prevents the formation of carcinomas in the body or skin. It also includes substances that can arrest or heal skin cancers.

Anitcellulite: An agent that counteracts bacterial infection of skin tissues. It can also include substances that restore or strengthen the natural barrier of the skin to avoid bacterial infection.

Antidandruff: An agent that controls excessive formation of dandruff cells from the horny layer of the skin. It may also alleviate the itching and scaliness associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

Antifungal: An agent that reduces the growth of fungal infections.

Antigen: A harmful invader of the immune system. A substance that can trigger an immune response, resulting in the production of antibodies as part of the body's immune system.

Anti-infective: Reduces the growth of bacteria.

Anti-inflammatory: A substance or property that can soothe irritated skin and/or prevent irritation or toxins in cosmetic ingredients.

Anti-irritant: A substance or property that soothes inflamed skin.

Antimicrobial: A popular term for an agent that protects tissues from invasion by microorganisms or aids in the preservation of food and cosmetic products.

Antioxidants: A vitamin or substance that impedes oxidation or spoilage promoted by oxygen or peroxide. Like vitamin E or beta-carotene it helps protect the skin from environmental damage caused by free radicals.

Antiperspirant: A product used to prevent perspiration and the odor it causes; usually containing aluminum salt.

Antiprotozoal: An agent that kills protozoa (one of the simplest organisms in the animal kingdom.

Antipruritic: A substance/property that stops itching.

Antipyretic: A substance/property that reduces fever.

Antiseborrheic: A substance that controls the excessive secretion of sebum, and reduces oiliness of the face and greasy scalp, a condition that is most common in adolescents.

Antiseptic: A substance/property that stops the growth of bacteria.

Antispasmodic: A substance/property that eases or stops muscle spasms.

Antiwrinkle: A cosmetic that prevents the premature formation of wrinkles.

Apple Juice and Pectin: A clarifying agent (removes excess build-up of products or water chemicals from hair) and emulsifier (thickening agent/binder added to products to change their physical composition) in shampoo.

Apricot: A skin softener and toner, which also adds sheen without creating an oily film.

Apricot Kernel Oil: Similar to almond oil it is used as an emollient (a soothing herb that acts to smooth and soften skin and reduce inflammation) in lotions, creams, etc. The seeds can be ground-up and used in facial scrubs and masks.

Aprocrine sweat gland: The sweat gland responsible for body odor. These glands are located mainly in the armpits and the anogenital area.

Arachidonic acid: An unsaturated fatty acid

Arachidyl Propionate: A skin softener and humectant (an ingredient that promotes the retention of moisture in the skin) obtained from coal and limestone.

Arginine (Non-Essential Amino Acid): Studies have shown that is has improved immune responses to bacteria, viruses & tumor cells; promotes wound healing, causes the release of growth hormones; considered crucial for optimal muscle growth and tissue repair.

Arnica: A stimulant (increase circulation) that should only be applied to unbroken skin.

Arnica Extract: Herb used as an astringent (a solution that removes oil from the skin) and to treat skin disorders. The Herb has also been used externally to treat bruises and sprains. It has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

Aromatherapy: A treatment that uses the scents and aromas of floral and herbal extracts and essential oils to affect how we feel and act. Properties associated with aromatherapy ingredients include calming, soothing, invigorating and stimulating effects.

Aromatic: Herbs with a strong pleasant odor that can help contribute to a sense of comfort or well being.

Arrowroot: A very fine textured, high starch powder. May be included in skin applications as a paste (assisting in drying pimples) or in body powder (replacing talc).

Ascorbic Acid: (vitamin C) Found naturally in fruits and green vegetables and is essential for normal metabolism, wound healing, and tissue repair. Ascorbic Acid is often used as a preservative and as an anti-oxidant to help prevent free radical damage in the skin.

Ascorbyl Palmitate Vitamin C: See Ascorbic Acid.

Astragalus: Used in ancient times in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The polysaccharides in Astragalus have been shown to intensify phagocytosis of reticulo-endothelial system, stimulate pituitary-adrenal cortical activity and restore depleted red blood cell formation in bone marrow. Herbalists consider it an ideal remedy for any one who might be imuno-compromized in any way. This can range from someone who easily catches colds to someone with cancer.

Astringent: A solution that removes oil from the skin. It is usually used after a facial wash to remove any remaining traces of a cleanser. It is designed to dry and shrink superficial tissues by reducing water and oil content.

Atopic dermatitis: A skin disease characterized by intense itching. See Dermatitis.

Atrophy: A thinning condition of the epidermal and dermal skin layers. Atrophy may be caused by the application of topical corticosteroids.

Autonomic: Defined as an involuntary. Controlled by the autonomic nervous system.

Avobenzone: A revolutionary sunscreen technology approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 1998 that blocks UVA I, UVA II, and UVB wavelengths. Before Avobenzone most sunscreens could not adequately block UVA I rays, the rays responsible for the skin damage that results in wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, etc.

Avocado Oil: Also called the alligator pear. The oil from the seed and the pulp of an avocado can be used in creams, lotions, and hair preparations because of its nourishing and conditioning effects on dry skin and hair. It has been found to significantly increase the water-soluble collagen content in the dermis skin layer. The oil contains protein, vitamins A, D, and E, and some amino acids.

Awapuhi: Actiphyte of the Hawaiian white ginger root. A natural additive that comes from the whit ginger root.

Ayurveda: Ayurveda is a natural method of healing that was originated in India. It may include elements of meditation, yoga, nutritional foods, massage therapy and/or herbal treatments.

Azulene: Azulene is an anti-inflammatory and soothing agent derived from German chamomile.

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