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Skincare 101: The terms you need to know

The skincare industry is full of overwhelming beauty jargon. Product labels can sometimes seem like they’re written in another language entirely. So if you’ve ever shopped for skincare products, you know that figuring out what’s in them and getting what you really need can be difficult. That’s because so much of beauty and skincare comes down to intricate science, which isn’t exactly common knowledge. Luckily, we’re experts in intricate science. 

To help you better understand your skin’s needs and how to care for it, we took the liberty of defining some frequently used scientific skincare terms for you. Once you’re  familiar with these terms, it will be a lot easier to determine exactly what kind of skin issues you face, what causes them, and how to combat them. 

Active ingredients are the ingredients in skincare products that deliver the benefits promised. Some common active ingredients in skincare include antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, amino acids, willow bark, glutathione, and marine omega-3. 

Antioxidants are substances that inhibit the oxidation of other materials. Oxidation is a destructive process that breaks down substances — you can see it in action when iron rusts and turns green or apple slices turn brown. Antioxidants, as the name suggests, minimize skin damage caused by oxidation from the sun and pollution. 

To effectively smooth, strengthen, and even your skin tone, antioxidants must be absorbed into the skin, present in an active form, and available for sufficient time to perform their intended function. To meet these three requirements, antioxidants need to be stabilized and protected.  

Collagen is the main structural protein in our bodies. Our bodies are nearly 20% protein, and 30% of that protein is made up of collagen. Collagen is found in our bones, skin, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and digestive organs. In the skin, it provides support and structure, allowing the skin to restore its shape after deformation. 

As part of the natural aging process, collagen starts to reduce by about 1% per year from as early as the age of 21. This results in fine lines, which become wrinkles as collagen further decreases. Menopause hastens collagen reduction, with up to 30% of collagen reduced in the first 5 years. Using products that encourage collagen production promotes long term skin health and diminished wrinkles. 

Elastin is a highly elastic protein that helps your skin retain its shape. As with collagen, your skin slows its production in your early 20s, but there are ways to limit this process, such as including antioxidants in your skincare.

Free radicals are unstable molecules whose paired electrons have been split, causing them to search for — and steal — another electron from a healthy cell for stability. This damages the healthy cell, wreaking havoc on your skin. Free radicals can develop naturally in our bodies or through exposure to UV rays, pollution, and smoke. 

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition where an area of skin is significantly darker than your natural pigmentation. It can be caused by UV light exposure, hormonal changes, or acne scars.

Irritants are stimuli that cause discomfort to your skin. Common skin irritants are fragrances, heat, and air pollution.            

Orthosilicic acid (OSA) is the bioavailable form of silicon, which means it’s the type of silicon your body can absorb. OSA stimulates the production of collagen, which contributes to the appearance of healthy, youthful looking skin.

Peptides are compounds made up of amino acids. They encourage your skin to produce collagen and minimize wrinkles. Without peptides, your skin isn’t as firm and won’t bounce back like younger skin. 

pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is, with a scale of 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most basic). Healthy skin’s natural pH level is usually between 4.5 to 5.5. Its slightly acidic pH level protects it from allergens and pollutants, and helps it retain moisture. When your pH level is off, your skin is vulnerable to irritation.

Positive and negative charges in the skin follow a concept you’re likely already familiar with: similar charges repel and opposite charges attract, like magnets. Certain skincare ingredients are negatively charged and others are positively charged. The skin has a natural negative charge, so it attracts products with positively charged ingredients.

Silicon is the second most abundant element on Earth, the third most abundant trace element in human body, and the key component of Good SIlicon+™, our patented carrier technology.  When it comes to skincare, silicon is important for optimal collagen synthesis, improving skin strength and elasticity.

Stratum Corneum is the outermost layer of the skin. This layer of skin, made up of dead skin cells, helps to form the skin’s natural barrier against injury and infection.

Xerosis is the medical term for dry skin. It can be caused by environmental factors, improper skincare, aging, and medical conditions.

Want more skincare definitions? Tweet us at @GSBLaboratories.