Refine Beauty Skincare Glossary

Refine Beauty Skincare Glossary


Creating a skincare routine encompasses a lot of research into one’s skin type, texture, sensitivities and can lead to a lot of trial and error and a loss in money and time. Understanding some of the most common skincare terms will cut down on the amount of time and effort spent on our skincare regimen. This glossary was built to be used along with your decision making and will hopefully contribute to a smoother Skincare journey!

In Addition, please see our Skincare Q&A that incorporates some of our best sellers used to address common skin concerns.


Acne is a skin problem that starts when oil and dead skin cells clog up your pores.The root of all acne is a pore clogged with dirt, dead skin cells, and sebum.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

Alpha hydroxy acids are most commonly used for skin conditions such as dry skin, aging skin, or acne. Alpha hydroxy acids seem to work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells and they can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness. Glycolic acid and lactic acid are two popular types of AHAs.


Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals which can play a role in skincare issues. When the balance of free radicals and antioxidants in the skin is out of whack, free radicals can cause damage, possibly resulting in premature aging of the skin.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is essential for producing collagen and other important compounds in the body. And, when it’s applied topically, it can function as an antioxidant thus preventing UV-related damage. It can also inhibit the production of melanin (pigment) in the skin, making it a good option for lightening dark spots due to photoaging or other kinds of damage.

Ascorbic acid

Vitamin C


Jojoba is a shrub that is grows in dry regions of northern Mexico and the southwestern US. Jojoba oil and wax are produced from the seeds and used for medicine and is applied directly to the skin for acne, psoriasis, sunburn, and chapped skin. It is also used topically to encourage the regrowth of hair in people who are balding. Jojoba oil can be an effective skin care product to add to your everyday routine as it is moisturizing, antibacterial, and oil controlling.


Avocados are filled with natural oils that moisturize your skin and contribute to moisture which helps to prevent blemishes, acne, and wrinkles.


Grapeseed oil can moisturize dull, dehydrated skin, even out your skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Shea Butter

High concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins make shea butter an ideal cosmetic ingredient for softening skin. Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Using shea butter on your body, especially your face, can condition, tone, and soothe your skin

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may be effective at reducing UV damage in skin. And vitamin E applied topically may help nourish and protect your skin.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is perhaps one of the most widely used herbal remedies for topical skin conditions. This is because the gel-like components of the plant are known to heal the skin from a variety of minor ailments. In fact, you might have even used aloe in the past for sunburn, minor cuts, or small abrasions.


Cucumber is 96 percent water, making it a hydrating addition to DIY skin treatments as well as being generally safe for sensitive skin due to its lack of harsh, potentially irritating ingredients.


Chamomile has long been a key ingredient in soothing skin care regimens. Even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians applied crushed chamomile flowers to their skin to treat weather-related redness and dryness. Add Chamomile to Your Skin Care Routine to Soothe Redness, Fight Acne, and Reduce Signs of Aging.

Japanese GreenTea

Green tea is a powerful antioxidant for anti-aging and excellent for acne-prone and oily skin types as it eliminates excess sebum and bacteria.

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf

Aloe barbadensis leaf extract may be able to protect your skin from the damage of free radicals. Aloe barbadensis leaf extract may be able to protect your skin from the damage of free radicals. Free radicals are produced when the skin experiences oxidative stress. The main cause of oxidative stress is exposure to UV rays. Free radicals damage the skin cells and have been linked with an increased rate of aging.

Lactobacillus Ferment

Non-living probiotic ingredient made by fermentation of the microorganism Lactobacillus. Applied to skin, it’s been shown to have a potent soothing effect that in turn strengthens skin’s ability to defend itself from aggressors.Research has also revealed that this ferment may play a role in helping skin’s microbiome to maintain a healthy mix of flora, a benefit that may reduce the risk or visible severity of several common, often uncomfortable skin conditions.

Bilberry Extract

Bilberry is one of the best sources of antioxidant compounds known as anthocyanins, polyphenolic chemicals that give bilberries their dark color. Bilberries are similar to blueberries. Applied to skin, bilberry is known to strengthen skin against signs of redness, likely due to its calming properties. Bilberry can also boost skin’s environmental defenses in the presence of UVA light.

Sugar Cane & Sugar Maple

The sugar cane extract & Sugar Maple Extract support skin function by gently exfoliating dead skin cells as you wash, revealing fresh, more even-toned skin.

Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)

A type of chemical exfoliant (see below), BHAs loosen the bind that hold skin cells together, allowing them to be easily swept away, revealing new skin cells underneath. Salicylic acid is a well-known type of BHA.

Broad spectrum

A label applied to sunscreens that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays, both of which contribute to your risk for skin cancer.

Chemical exfoliant

Chemical exfoliants are the gentler cousins of physical exfoliants. Where physical exfoliants manually scrub or brush off dead skin cells, chemical exfoliants (ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid) break the bonds between those dead skin cells so that they are easily washed away.


A protein found in many parts of the body, including your bones, muscles, and ligaments. In skin, it’s important for keeping the face looking firm and plump. But collagen production in our bodies slows down as we age, and exposure to UV radiation.


Clogged pores. They may be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads).

Contact dermatitis

A condition that causes stinging, redness, burning, flaking, or scaling after coming into contact with something, often a makeup or skin-care product which can be related to either an irritant or an allergy.


The concept of removing toxins from your body.


A skin condition that causes itchy, bumpy rashes in infants and children. In adults, eczema can also lead to patches of thickened and very dry skin. The term atopic dermatitis is often used interchangeably with eczema, but atopic dermatitis is actually just one form of eczema.

Free radicals

Molecules that have gained or lost an extra electron, which means they need to “steal” electrons from surrounding sources. Free radicals are sometimes created in the body in small amounts through totally normal and natural processes. But they can also be created by exposure to some kinds of radiation, including UV rays. And in high enough doses, free radicals can damage the skin. Antioxidants are thought to neutralize free radicals and prevent that damage.


Fragrances are another common irritant to those with sensitive skin, which is why it may be helpful to look for products that are fragrance-free, which means no scents have been added to the product.

Glycolic acid

A type of alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane. Glycolic acid is a commonly used chemical exfoliant.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the skin and acts as a humectant, meaning it can draw moisture into the skin; products with these molecules allow moisture to bind to the skin without feeling greasy or heavy.

Lactic acid

A type of alpha hydroxy acid; derived from milk, fruit, or vegetable sources.

Keratosis pilaris

Sometimes referred to as “chicken skin,” keratosis pilaris looks like tiny, often red, white, or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. It’s totally harmless and caused by a buildup of keratin around the hair follicle, which can clog pores and cause inflammation or redness in the area.


The pigment that gives skin its color, created by cells called melanocytes.


A skin condition that causes grayish or brown patches of skin, primarily on the face. It’s often triggered by hormonal changes, including pregnancy, which is why melasma is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy.”


This is a form of vitamin B3 (niacin) that can be applied to the skin. There is some research to suggest that niacinamide can be helpful for managing acne, rosacea, and signs of aging including hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.


A skin-care ingredient that’s comedogenic means that it can clog pores. So, if you have acne-prone skin, it’s important to seek out products that are non-comedogenic.


A type of preservative in skin-care products that can be irritating, especially for people who already have sensitive skin or a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis.


Chains of amino acids that make up part of a protein. In skin care, peptides are used because they’re thought to penetrate more deeply into the skin than large, full proteins, like collagen.


A skin condition in which the normal life cycle of skin cells is sped up, which most commonly results in a thick, scaly buildup of plaques on the surface of the skin. Other types of psoriasis cause different types of rashes and may also affect the nails or joints.


A common skin condition that causes excess facial redness, typically in the form of flushing, small red raised bumps, or broken blood vessels. It can be triggered by everything from the weather to exercise to skin-care ingredients to food.

Salicylic acid

A type of beta hydroxy acid derived from willow bark. Salicylic acid is oil soluble, which allows it to penetrate deeper into your oily pores. It’s a popular type of chemical exfoliant in products that treat acne.Sebum

The oil on the top of your skin composed of lipids, particularly wax esters, triglycerides, and squalene. Some people naturally produce more sebum than others, giving them oilier skin. Sebum can also contribute to the development of acne.

Sensitive skin

Skin that is easily irritated possibly due to a skin condition, such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, or if you have known allergies to skin-care products, you can be considered to have sensitive skin.


 A measure of the amount of added protection a particular product provides against the sun’s rays.


A type of skin-care product originally designed to help balance the skin’s pH. Today, toners are generally used to deliver active ingredients like chemical exfoliators or antioxidants.

Refine Beauty does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice

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