Ingredient Dictionary


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


Bacillus subtilis

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

Categories: Miscellaneous



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

Categories: Plant Extracts, Antioxidants


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


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


Bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) leaf/stem extract

Extract from the common bamboo plant. Like many plant extracts, research has shown... Read More »


banana extract

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

Categories: Antioxidants, Plant Extracts



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

Categories: Anti-Irritants, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne


barium sulfate

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

Categories: Coloring Agents/Pigments, Irritants


barley extract

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

Categories: Plant Extracts


batyl alcohol

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

Categories: Emollients


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


bearberry extract

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

Categories: Antibacterial/Antioxidants


bee pollen

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

Categories: Miscellaneous



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

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Emollients


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


behenic acid

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

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents


behentrimonium chloride

Skin-conditioning agent and emulsifier. Read More »

Categories: Emollients, Thickeners/Emulsifiers


behenyl alcohol

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

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers


Bellis perennis

See daisy flower extract

Categories: Plant Extracts



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

Categories: Absorbent


benzalkonium chloride

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

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne



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

Categories: Sunscreen Actives



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

Categories: Miscellaneous


benzoic acid

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

Categories: Preservatives

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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 busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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