Skin Care Terms You Need to Know
Sometimes skin care seems like it’s all fun and games, like when you’re coating your face with clay masks and playing mix-master with your facial oil. Other times, though, it can make you feel like you’ve been transported back to Chemistry 101. In reality, it’s a bit of both. When you’re reading beauty articles, there’s fun to be had for sure, but it’s also easy to become lost as you see term after term that you don’t know, or only vaguely remember from science class. Luckily, we’ve come up with six terms you’ve probably heard before but may not remember the definitions. Keep reading, and soon enough you’ll (basically) be your own skin care glossary.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Applying acids to your face may sound scary, but certain ones can provide real beauty benefits, especially AHAs or alpha hydroxyl acids. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), AHAs can reduce rough skin texture and may improve the look of fine lines caused by poor cell turnover. The AHAs you’re most likely to find in chemical peels AND the skin care aisle of your favorite drugstore are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. Ready to put products formulated with AHA’s to the test? We recommend starting with a peel pad like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Peel Pads, which are formulated with glycolic acid.
Editor’s note: The use of AHAs could cause skin sensitivity to sunlight. As such, be sure to pair your applications with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 or higher each and every day.
Beta Hydroxy Acid
You may be more likely to recognize another name for Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA): salicylic acid. If you’ve ever used a skincare product designed to help address acne, you are probably already familiar with this ingredient. The AAD recommends using products formulated with salicylic acid to help reduce the number of acne blemishes.
Note: When using products formulated with salicylic acid, skin irritation and dryness is more likely to occur if you use another topical acne medication at the same time. If irritation occurs, only use one topical acne medication at a time.
When your skin is feeling dry, you surely know to slather it with a moisturizing cream or lotion. Some moisturizers contain ceramides, but what exactly are they? Ceramides are actually long chains of skin lipids that are part of the skin’s outermost layers. When ceramide levels drop due to natural aging or environmental factors, you could potentially have a complexion catastrophe on your hands, and that’s where moisturizing products can come into play. We recommend trying SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 to help moisturize your skin.
Not to be confused with brushing your hair when it’s dry, dry brushing refers to the act of gently massaging the skin with a soft, natural-bristle brush. A popular spa service that’s totally DIY-able, dry brushing helps exfoliate your skin’s surface and slough away dead skin cells for a more radiant-looking appearance. A massage that can result in noticeable skin luminosity? Sign us up!
Free radicals may sound sort of rebellious and fun to your teenage-at-heart self, but that’s far from the case. Free radicals are actually a reactive group of atoms that have one or more unpaired electrons. They can be introduced to skin through environmental sources—such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, and UV rays among them—and according to the AAD they can contribute to visible skin damage and noticeable signs of skin aging. No thanks! One of our best lines of defense against free radicals is wearing a Broad Spectrum sunscreen, which you’re hopefully already applying religiously. Just in case you need a refresher—let us remind you to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher as directed, like the La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily SPF 50 Sunscreen, each and every day with reapplications at least every two hours in addition to taking other sun protection measures.
Here’s another term acne-sufferers and oily skin types will definitely want to be in-the-know about. Non-comedogenic products are formulated so that they won’t clog pores, and are recommended for those with acne-prone and oily skin types If you’re on the hunt for a foundation that fits the bill, you should notice “non-comedogenic” marked loud and proud on the packaging, or you can get your hands on our product pick—the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation. Help cover up the appearance of acne, without the added worry of clogging your pores (just remember it’s always important to cleanse skin).
You may be familiar with oil and sebum, from the experience of getting greasy throughout the day, but what’s really responsible when your skin looks like a straight up oil slick? That would be sebaceous glands, which are small glands that secrete sebum or oil to help keep the skin lubricated. Of course, sometimes they go overboard—which is when you may look overly oily.