Ingredient Dictionary

Good

babassu oil

Plant oil that can have emollient properties for skin. There is no research showing it has special... Read More »

Categories: Emollients, Plant Extracts

Good

Bacillus subtilis

Naturally occurring bacterium that is widespread and can be used to control plant diseases, fungal... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

bakuchiol

An antioxidant found in the seeds and leaves of the plant Psoralea corylifolia... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Antioxidants

Poor

balm mint extract

Extract derived from a fragrant plant; it poses some risk of skin irritation. It also has some... Read More »

Categories: Fragrance: Synthetic and Fragrant Plant Extracts, Irritants, Plant Extracts

Poor

balsam peru

Fatty resin that when applied topically can cause allergic skin reactions and contact dermatitis.... Read More »

Categories: Fragrance: Synthetic and Fragrant Plant Extracts, Plant Extracts

Average

banana extract

Extract from banana fruit that has some weak antioxidant properties (Source: Free Radical Research,... Read More »

Categories: Antioxidants, Plant Extracts

Best

barberry

Plant whose primary component, berberine, is an alkaloid that can have antibacterial properties and... Read More »

Categories: Anti-Irritants, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Poor

barium sulfate

Mineral used as a whitening agent in cosmetics. It can be a skin irritant. Read More »

Categories: Coloring Agents/Pigments, Irritants

Average

barley extract

Extract from barley plants. Can have antioxidant properties when ingested, but there is no research... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts

Good

batyl alcohol

Derived from glycerin and used as a stabilizing ingredient and skin-conditioning agent. Read More »

Categories: Emollients

Poor

bay leaf oil

Can be a potent antioxidant (Source: Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, January 2002, pages... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Fragrance: Synthetic and Fragrant Plant Extracts, Antioxidants

Good

bearberry extract

Latin name Arctostaphylos uva ursi, there is research showing that this extract has antibacterial... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Antioxidants

Poor

bee pollen

Can have antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, April 2001, pages... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

beeswax

Substance made by bees to build the walls of their honeycomb. It is a thickening agent that has... Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Emollients

Good

beet root extract

Powdered base of the stem (root) of the Beta vulgaris plant. Used as a coloring agent. As with most... Read More »

Categories: Coloring Agents/Pigments, Plant Extracts, Antioxidants

Good

behenic acid

Fatty acid used as a thickening agent and surfactant. Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

behentrimonium chloride

Skin-conditioning agent and emulsifier. Read More »

Categories: Emollients, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

behenyl alcohol

Thickening agent used in cosmetics. It is not related to irritating forms of alcohol. Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Poor

Bellis perennis

See daisy flower extract

Categories: Plant Extracts

Good

bentonite

Type of clay that is used as an absorbent in cosmetics. It can be drying for skin, though its... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Average

benzalkonium chloride

Antimicrobial agent used as a preservative in skin-care products. There is no research showing it... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Good

benzephenone-3

Also called oxybenzone, a sunscreen agent that protects skin primarily from the sun’s UVB rays and... Read More »

Categories: Sunscreen Actives

Good

benzocaine

Topical anesthetic (Sources: Dermatol Surgery, December 2001, pages 1010–1018; and Pediatric... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

benzoic acid

Preservative used in skin-care products; it is considered less irritating than some other forms of... Read More »

Categories: Preservatives

Poor

benzoin extract

Balsam resin that has some disinfecting and fragrant properties; it may also be a skin irritant... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Fragrance: Synthetic and Fragrant Plant Extracts

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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