Decoding the Ingredients: What’s Really in Your Skin Care Products

Last Updated January 28, 2023

Are you tired of trying out different skin care products without knowing what really works? Look no further!

This guide is here to break down the most commonly used ingredients in skin care products, so you can make an informed decision about what to put on your skin. From A-Z, we'll explore the benefits, uses and potential side effects of each ingredient.

By the end of this guide, you'll have a better understanding of what ingredients are in your skin care products and how they can benefit your skin. Say goodbye to guessing games and hello to beautiful, healthy skin!

Active Ingredients

Allantoin: A soothing and moisturizing ingredient that helps to calm irritated skin

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): A group of exfoliating acids that help to brighten and even out skin tone. Examples include: glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid.

Aloe vera: A natural moisturizer and anti-inflammatory that can help to soothe irritated skin.

Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree, which is native to Morocco. It is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants that can help to protect and moisturize the skin. It can also help to improve the overall texture and tone of the skin, making it look and feel softer and smoother.

Arnica: A natural anti-inflammatory that can help to reduce redness and swelling

Ascorbic acid: A form of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to brighten and protect the skin from damage

Azelaic acid: An anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ingredient that can help to reduce redness and acne

Aloe Vera

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs): An exfoliating acid that helps to unclog pores and reduce acne. Examples include: salicylic acid

Butylene glycol: A humectant that helps to keep the skin hydrated

Caffeine: An ingredient that can help to reduce puffiness and dark circles around the eyes

Calendula: A natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that can help to soothe irritated skin

Centella asiatica: A natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that can help to promote healing

Ceramides: Ceramides are a type of lipid (fat) that are found naturally in the skin. They are a key component of the skin's barrier, which helps to keep moisture in and irritants and bacteria out. Ceramides can be found in moisturizers, serums and face creams. They are suitable for all skin types, but especially for dry, mature, and sensitive skin.

Collagen: A protein that helps to plump and firm the skin

Copper peptides: An ingredient that can help to promote collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone): An antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage and improve overall skin health.

Cucumber: A natural anti-inflammatory that can help to soothe irritated skin - and we thought it was just good for our eyes!  Read our article on the properties and awesome benefits of the humble cucumber here.

Woman lies on a couch with a sheet mask over her face and cucumber slices.

Dimethicone: A silicone-based ingredient that can help to smooth and moisturize the skin

DMAE: An ingredient that can help to firm and tone the skin

Elastin: A protein that helps to keep the skin elastic

Elixirs: A natural oil or extract that can be used to nourish and moisturize the skin

Enzymes: A natural exfoliant that can help to remove dead skin cells

Evening primrose oil: A natural oil that is high in linoleic acid and can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Ferulic acid: A natural antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage

Glycerin: A humectant that helps to keep the skin hydrated

Glycolic acid: An AHA that can help to exfoliate, brighten and improve the skin texture

Vitamin C Serum

Green tea: A natural antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage

Grapeseed oil: A natural oil that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Guarana: A natural ingredient that can help to reduce puffiness and dark circles around the eyes

Hyaluronic acid: A moisturizer that helps to plump the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Jojoba oil is derived from the seeds of the jojoba plant, which is native to the American Southwest. It is similar to the natural oils that our skin produces, making it easily absorbed by the skin. It is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins that can help to nourish and moisturize the skin. It's also known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.

Kaolin clay: A natural clay that can help to absorb excess oil and impurities from the skin

Lactic acid: An AHA that can help to exfoliate, brighten and improve the skin texture

Lecithin: A natural ingredient that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Licorice root: A natural ingredient that can help to brighten and even out skin tone

Linoleic acid: An essential fatty acid that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Matrixyl: A peptide that can help to promote collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Meadowfoam seed oil: A natural oil that can help to moisturize and protect the skin

Melatonin: An ingredient that can help to regulate the skin's natural sleep cycle and improve overall skin health

Ingredients in skin care products

Linoleic acid: An essential fatty acid that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Matrixyl: A peptide that can help to promote collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Meadowfoam seed oil: A natural oil that can help to moisturize and protect the skin

Melatonin: An ingredient that can help to regulate the skin's natural sleep cycle and improve overall skin health

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): A natural ingredient that can help to improve skin elasticity and reduce inflammation

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that helps to brighten and even out skin tone. It can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve the overall appearance of dry, dull skin.

N-Acetyl Glucosamine: An ingredient that can help to brighten and even out skin tone

Oat extract: A natural anti-inflammatory that can help to soothe irritated skin

Omega-3 fatty acids: Essential fatty acids that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Papaya: A natural exfoliant that can help to remove dead skin cells

Papain: An enzyme that can help to remove dead skin cells

Peptides: Short chains of amino acids that can help to promote collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles

Phenoxyethanol: A preservative that helps to keep the product fresh

Phytoceramides: Lipids that help to strengthen the skin barrier and keep the skin hydrated

Ingredients

Phytosterols: Natural compounds that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Pine bark extract: A natural antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage

Polyglutamic acid: An ingredient that can help to hydrate and plump the skin

Propylene glycol: A humectant that helps to keep the skin hydrated

Pro-vitamin B5: An ingredient that can help to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier

Retinol: A form of vitamin A that helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin texture


Rosehip oil is derived from the seeds of the rose bush. It is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins that can help to nourish and moisturize the skin. It is s high in linoleic acid that can strengthen the skin barrier. It's also known for its anti-aging properties, and can also improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and help to even out skin tone.

Rosemary: A natural antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage

Salicylic acid: A BHA that can help to unclog pores and reduce acne

Sodium hyaluronate: A form of hyaluronic acid that can help to hydrate and plump the skin

Squalane: A natural oil that can help to moisturize and protect the skin

Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is a natural oil derived from the leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). It is considered both an antiseptic and an antimicrobial that can help to reduce acne, and prevent future outbreaks. 

Tocopherol: A form of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage

Tranexamic acid: An ingredient that can help to reduce redness and hyperpigmentation

Turmeric: A natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help to brighten and even out skin tone

Ubiquinone: A form of Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help to brighten and even out the skin tone, it also can help to improve the texture and tone of skin.

Vitamin E: An antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from environmental stressors, educe the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin health 

Xylitol: A natural ingredient that can help to hydrate and plump the skin

Zinc oxide: A natural mineral that can provide sun protection and can help to soothe irritated skin

Zirconium: A natural mineral that can provide sun protection

Zinc PCA: An ingredient that helps to regulate oil production and can help to reduce acne.

Aloe Vera

Some of the ingredients listed above have multiple functions and may be beneficial for various skin concerns.

This list is not exhaustive and new research and discovery of new ingredients are being made.

It is important to also check the ingredient list of the product you are using and to be aware of any potential allergies or sensitivities you may have to certain ingredients.

About the Author

Sharon McKenzie

Sharon McKenzie is a 57-year-old woman who exudes the radiance of someone much younger. She has only recently discovered the benefits of thermal fillers and micro-needling for her skin and the results have been astounding. Despite dealing with chronic illness for nearly 20 years and facing additional skin issues in recent years, Sharon has managed to maintain a youthful glow. Her Celtic heritage may have presented challenges in the past, but she has found ways to take care of her skin and it shows.

Sharon McKenzie
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