Basic Skincare Terms You Need To Know

Basic Skincare Terms You Need To Know

Skincare terms might be tricky with no basic but once you know a few common skincare terms in the skincare community, you'll be able to guess most of the skincare terms in an instant.

Going through a skincare blog or a skincare review on Instagram but keep seeing terms you don't understand? Believe it or not, skincare nowadays also has its own dedicated terms which skincare enthusiast often use. Thanks to the wide variation and selection of skincare products we have nowadays, skincare terms are now a common form of language to those who study skincare or obsessed with them. You'll be surprised how big the skincare community is worldwide as influencers and bloggers play a major role in giving skincare hype! From there, if you want to fully understand what a skincare review means, make sure you start by knowing the basic terms.

Honestly, I'm not an expert yet in these terms anyway, but I do know a bit. Today's post is more likely as a reference post to be because sometimes I tend to be clueless too.

Common Short Form Terms / Acronyms in Skincare

ACV: Apple Cider Vinegar
AzA : Azelaic Acid

BHA: Beta hydroxy acid
BP: Benzoyl Peroxide

CCs: Closed comedones
CF: Cruelty Free

DC, DC’ED: Discontinued
DS: Drugstore

EO: Essential Oils
EVOO: Extra Virgin Olive Oil

FA: Fungal Acne

GA: Glycolic Acid

HA: Hyaluronic Acid
HE: High End
HG: Holy Grail

KP: Keratosis Pilaris

LE: Limited edition
LAA: L-Ascorbic Acid
LA: Lactic Acid

MAP: Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

OCM: Oil Cleansing Method
OTC: Over The Counter

PC: Paula's Choice
PIE: Post-Inflammatory Erythema
PIH: Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
PAO: Product After Opening

SPF: Sun protection factor
SAP: Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
SA: Salicylic acid
SD: Seborrheic Dermatitis
SDS: Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
SF: Sebaceous Filaments
SLES: Sodium Laureth Sulfate
SLS: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; cleansing ingredient and foaming agent. Known irritant.

TTO: Tea Tree Oil

Vit C: Vitamin C

YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary

Basic Skincare Terms

1. Active Ingredient
 The ingredient in a skincare product 'that is' the 'reason' for its main function.

2. Antioxidant
An ingredient that can neutralize highly reactive molecules in the environment (free radicals).

3. Alcohol (SD Alcohol)/Ethyl alcohol
It's undrinkable that's meant to deliver other ingredients to penetrate deeper down into the skin. 
It may cause a bad reaction to the skin.

4. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
An exfoliating agent that removes dead skin cells. AHA's that are potent helps easier skin renewal.
Should not be used every day as it may thin the outer layer of the skin that could cause more damage to the skin. 

5. Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
Another type of exfoliating agent that removes dead skin cells
Should not be used every day as it may thin the outer layer of the skin that could cause more damage to the skin. Read difference: AHA,BHA, PHA

6. Blackhead/Whiteheads/Pores
Type of skin blemish. It is formed when sebum (oil) from a pore is blocked by dead skin cells. 
Blackheads & whiteheads are usually together sticking out from the skin (especially the nose).

7. Broad-Spectrum
A term used for sunscreens to prove that the sunscreen is able to defend against both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) radiation. 

8. Benzoyl Peroxide (BP)
potent anti-bacterial agent.
High potential for irritation. 

9. Chemical Exfoliant
AHA's BHA's and PHA's. They break the bonds between dead skin cells which makes them easier to wash.
A gentler option for removing dead skin cells instead of physical exfoliants.

10. Collagen
In skincare, collagen is a term to show the importance of keeping the face looking firm and plump
We all have natural collagen produced in our bodies but it slows down as we age, and the exposure to UV radiation.

11. Comedone/Comedogenic
Term for skincare ingredients that block pore or hair follicle creating dead skin cells and sebum can't drain properly. Hence, the sebum's pigment darkens that forms a blackhead.

12. Double Cleanse
The Korean skincare practice of using a cleansing oil in tandem with a water-based face wash.

13. Dark Spots
Inflammation of the skin, that resulted from acne, that triggered melanin overproduction which leaves dark pigmentation behind.

13. Eczema
Itchy, red, scaly patches that are non-contagious.
May flare with exposure to harsh soaps, fragrances.

14. Emollient
Ingredient that increases water levels in the epidermis (moisturizer).

15. Emulsifier
Chemicals that bind ingredients together in skin-care

16. Essence
Concentrated formulas with a water or serum-like consistency meant like a booster and prepare the skin to absorb subsequent products

17. Essential Oils (EO)
Cold-pressed oils known in aromatherapy.
In skincare, can be irritating, and should only be used when heavily diluted or in small concentrations.

18. Flavonoids
Antioxidant phytochemicals found in plants.

19. Fragrance
Term for natural and/or synthetic compounds used to scent products. 
Source of allergic reactions in skin-care products.

20. Free Radicals
Highly unstable molecules created in the body by sunlight, cigarette smoke, and pollution that latch onto and damaged cells in ways that can lead to damage the skin. 

21. Hyperpigmentation
Darkening of the skin may be caused by UV light exposure, wound, illness, hormonal changes, or certain drugs.

22. Humectant
type of hydrating ingredient found in moisturizers that draws water into the skin.

23. Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
skincare ingredient that keeps moisture trapped within the skin. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water which makes HA known as a moisture booster. 

24. Holy Grail (HG)
The best of the best, the product, treatment, or routine.

25. Keratosis Pilaris (KP)
Skin disorder, small bumps and sandpapery rough patches that's created when the skin produces too much keratin, which causes blocked hair follicles.

26. Melanin
Pigment that gives skin its colour, created by cells called melanocytes.

27. Melasma
Skin condition triggered by hormonal changes that cause greyish or brown patches of skin, primarily on the face. 

28. Non-comedogenic
A skin-care ingredient that does not clog pores.

29. Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)
Using oil as a solvent to remove makeup and impurities without stripping skin of its natural moisture balance.

30. Over The Counter (OTC)
Often referred to OTC products found in drugstores.

31. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
AKA.. 'Dark Spots'. The cause of the purplish spots that remain after a breakout has healed. 

31. Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)
Similar to PIH, PIE is redder while PIH tends to be darker. It's damage done to the blood vessels, or capillaries, closer to the surface of the skin due to inflammation.

32. Retin-A
The brand name for the prescription vitamin A derivative tretinoin. First approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne.

33. Retinoids / Retinol
Vitamin A derivatives used in skincare.

35. Sebum
The oil on the top of the skin composed of lipids which creates oilier skin. 

36. Sensitive skin
If the skin is easily irritated or allergic to skin-care products.

37. SPF
measure of the amount of added protection (sunscreen ingredient) a particular product provides (sunscreen) against the sun’s rays. 

38. Stratum corneum
The outermost layer of the skin is composed of skin cells held together by lipids and a layer of dead skin cells on top. It locks hydration and protects from potential irritants and allergens.

39. Sulfates
Ingredients commonly found in cleansers that help the product lather and remove dirt and oil

40. Serum
A skincare product that contains high concentrations of active ingredients.

41. Sulfur
Natural element used in acne products to kills bacteria, soothe inflammation and clear pores.

42. Surfactants
Used as oil-dissolving detergents, emollients, and foaming agents in cleansing products. 

43. Sebaceous Filaments (SF)
Normal, healthy hair follicles that can develop a greyish appearance frequently mistaken for blackheads. 

44. Toner
A type of skin-care product originally designed to help balance the skin’s pH. 

45. UVA Rays
The wavelength of ultraviolet light from the sun causes signs of ageing by destroying existing collagen and elastin within the skin. 

46. UVB Rays
Ultraviolet light from the sun that leads to tanning the skin. 

47. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)
The golden rule of SkincareAddiction — Just because a product or routine works well for another person (or many people) does not necessarily mean it'll work for you, too.

That's all for now, I'll probably add more from time to time. There are still a lot of skincare terms that I haven't covered in this post.