Which skin care ingredients should you be looking for and what do they actually do?

Even though I spend an awful lot of time researching and reading anything beauty, I still get flummoxed by the thousands of ingredients in skincare. I’ve put together a list of some of these to help you decide what you should be looking for and what the ingredients do:

Adenosine – An anti inflammatory, aids wound healing and regulates healthy cell function.

AHA (Alpha-HydroxyAcid – such as glycolic, lactic and malic) A chemical compound that acts as an exfoliant, promotes cell turnover and possesses humectant (moisture preserving) properties.

Aloe Vera – Has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and humectant properties.

Amino Acids/Peptides – Anti inflammatory, used to promote collagen and elastin production.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate – A stable form of vitamin C which provides antioxidant, brightening, anti-acne and anti-aging benefits.

Azelaic Acid – An anti-inflammatory, antibacterial compound used to treat acne and skin pigmentation issues.

Betaine Salicylate – A salicylic acid and betaine compound which performs as an exfoliator as well as anti-acne and antimicrobial agent. Gentle alternative to salicylic acid

BHA (Salicylic Acid) – Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial chemical exfoliant used to treat acne and hyperpigmentation. Can be naturally occurring or synthetic.

Caffeine – Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient which can temporarily reduce redness and under-eye puffiness by constricting blood vessels.

Ceramides – Lipids that help repair and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier system.

Charcoal – A highly absorbent carbon material which absorbs excess oil and impurities. Used in deep cleansing and acne treatments.

Clay – An absorbent mineral used to absorb excess oil and impurities. Often used in acne and pore refining treatments.

Cocoa Butter – An antioxidant rich, plant derived lipid which moisturises and prevents water loss.

Collagen – A protein with humectant properties which usually appears as a soluble form. Provides hydrating and temporary skin plumping effects.

EGF/Oligopeptides – Peptides composed of amino acids. Anti-inflammatory and promotes collagen and elastin production.

Green Tea – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant used in anti-ageing formulas as well as in treatments for sensitive skin.

Honey – Anti inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant rich humectant ingredient with emollient properties. Often used in formulas for treating dryness, acne and skin irritation.

Hyaluronic Acid – Highly effective humectant ingredient which provides hydration and temporary skin plumping effects.

L-ascorbic Acid – Common form of vitamin C which provides antioxidant, brightening, anti-acne and anti-ageing benefits.

Mango Seed Butter – Antioxidant plant derived lipid, which moisturises and prevents water loss.

Niacinamide – Vitamin B3, this maintains and improves skin elasticity, treats and prevents acne and redness.

Plant Based Oils eg argan, argan, olive, green tea seed, sunflower, camellia and marula. – These are plant derived fatty acid-rich lipids with emollient and antioxidant properties- some are also anti-inflammatory and/or anti-microbial.

Propolis – A resinous material produced by Bees: antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal. Used to treat acne or irritation.

Retinoids – A form of Vitamin A with the ability to regulate cell turnover as well as prevent and reduce fine lines, wrinkles and acne.

Shea Butter – Antioxidant rich, plant derived lipid that moisturises and prevents water loss.

Plant Derived Squalene/Squalane – A lipid derived from olives, wheat bran, rice or sugarcane with emollient and antioxidant properties. Squalane is a more stabilised form of squalene (so go for the Squalane). Make sure you look out for plant derived, as it can also be made from Shark’s liver.

Tea Tree oil – Antimicrobial and anti-fungal essential oil, effective for the treatment of mild to moderate acne.

Zinc Oxide – Anti-inflammatory mineral-derived material that can be used to soothe irritation and form a protective barrier over irritated or damaged skin. It also possesses UV protection properties.


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