Ingredient Dictionary

Average

alcohol

A group of organic compounds that have a vast range of forms and uses in cosmetics. In some benign... Read More »

Categories: Emollients, Irritants, Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Absorbent

Good

alumina

Aluminum oxide, which is used as an abrasive, a thickening agent, and an absorbent in cosmetics. Read More »

Categories: Absorbent, Scrub Agents, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Average

aluminum chlorohydrate

Chemically a salt, and used in antiperspirants, it can be extremely irritating on abraded skin. In... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

Aluminum hydroxide

A synthetic ingredient that functions as an opacifying agent and skin protectant. Secondary uses... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

aluminum magnesium silicate

Salt that has absorbent properties. Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

aluminum silicate

Salt that has absorbent and abrasive properties. Read More »

Categories: Scrub Agents, Absorbent

Good

aluminum starch octenylsuccinate

Powdery thickening agent, absorbent, and anticaking agent used in cosmetics. Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Absorbent

Poor

aluminum sulfate

Topical disinfectant and typical ingredient in deodorants. It can be a skin irritant. Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Absorbent

Poor

ammonium chloride

Alkaline salt used as a pH balancer in skin-care products; it is not used in concentrations that... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

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

bismuth oxychloride

The standard primary ingredient included in most powders that are referred to as "mineral makeup."... Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Absorbent

Good

boron nitride

Synthetic, inorganic powder, which in cosmetics has absorbent properties similar to those of... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

calcium carbonate

Chalk; used as an absorbent in cosmetics. Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

carnauba wax

Natural, hard wax obtained from the leaves of palm trees. Used primarily as a thickening agent, but... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Absorbent, Film-Forming/Holding Agents, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

charcoal

Primarily carbon substance formed by charring organic material in absence of oxygen. One... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

China clay

See kaolin

Categories: Absorbent

Good

clay

See bentonite , kaolin

Categories: Absorbent

Good

Copernicia cerifera wax

See carnauba wax

Categories: Absorbent, Film-Forming/Holding Agents, Plant Extracts, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

cornstarch

Starch obtained from corn and sometimes used as an absorbent in cosmetics instead of talc. Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Absorbent

Good

fuller's earth

Mineral substance that is similar to kaolin (a clay). Composed mainly of alumina, silica, iron... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

hydrolyzed corn starch

A form of the natural absorbent corn starch that has been hydrolyzed, which means it has undergone... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Average

iron powder

Iron powder is, as the name states, a powdered versoin of the mineral iron. A natural ingredient, it's used as an opacifying agent in cosmetics. Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

kaolin

Naturally occurring clay mineral (silicate of aluminum) that is used in cosmetics for its absorbent... Read More »

Categories: Absorbent

Good

lithium magnesium sodium silicate

Synthetic silica-based clay composed of lithium, sodium, and magnesium. Used as a thickening agent... Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Absorbent

Good

magnesium

Earth mineral that has strong absorbent properties and some disinfecting properties. Magnesium... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Absorbent

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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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