definitions of skincare terms

If you’ve ever picked up a skincare product and felt a little stumped, you are not alone. Even the biggest beauty fanatics can have a hard time keeping up with the evolving dermatology-speak popping up on products left and right. To help us wade through the diction and learn why these key words matter to us, we reached out to Dr. Mona Gohara, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale and co‐founder of k&j sunprotective clothing.

AHA/BHA: Two types of acids that are very useful in the fight against acne, exfoliation, anti-aging, and overall skin maintenance.

Antioxidant: The antidote against free radicals, antioxidants protect cells from damage that causes aging and even cancer. They can come in the form of synthetic chemicals, vitamins, or foods. Some antioxidant-packed foods include kiwis, mulberries, blueberries blackberries, prunes, pomegranate, pink grapefruit, red grapes, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets and red bell pepper.

Barrier Function: The skin’s barrier (the epidermis) is the outermost layer. Its main function is to keep water in, so that the skin is well hydrated and moisturized.

Collagen: One of the most important structural proteins in the skin, it keeps us wrinkle free, and youthful.

Elastin: Collagen’s BFF, these two work together to keep the spring in skin’s step. Without elastin, sag would be a permanent status.

Enzyme: Proteins that speed up a chemical reaction without being consumed in the chemical reaction. For skin, they help with inflammation, aging, and cell turnover (exfoliation).

Free Radical: A tiny chemical particle that, when activated by UV light, wreaks cosmetic havoc on the skin, causing wrinkles and discoloration.

Peptide: The building block of proteins—they are small particles that can penetrate the skin easily and signal other cells to do things (such as rebuild collagen), making peptides a prime ingredient in cosmetics.

And now you’re armed with your dermatologist dictionary.

Have any other skincare questions you’d like us to handle? Leave them below in the comments!

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