Ingredient Dictionary

Poor

acne soap

Soaps that often contain anti-bacterial ingredients, and they are often overly drying and... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Poor

Alchemilla vulgaris

Plant with antimicrobial properties. Its high tannin content can cause skin irritation (Source:... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Plant Extracts

Best

Aleurites moluccana seed oil

See kukui nut oil

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Plant Extracts

Poor

aluminum sulfate

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

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Absorbent

Good

amygdalic acid

See mandelic acid

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Leave-On Exfoliant

Poor

anise

Also known as aniseed, it can have potent antioxidant and antibacterial properties (Source:... Read More »

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

Best

Anthemis nobilis flower extract

See chamomile

Categories: Antioxidants, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Anti-Irritants

Good

antibacterial

Any ingredient that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria; in the case of skin-care products,... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Best

Arctostaphylos uva ursi leaf

See bearberry extract

Categories: Plant Extracts, Antioxidants, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Poor

Azadirachta indica

See neem extract or oil

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, 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

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

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

Best

benzoyl peroxide

Considered the most effective over-the-counter choice for a topical antibacterial agent in the... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Poor

Berberis aristata

See barberry

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Plant Extracts

Best

beta hydroxy acid

See salicylic acid

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Anti-Irritants, Antioxidants, Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

BHA (beta hydroxy acid)

See salicylic acid

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Anti-Irritants, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Poor

borate

Group of compounds used in cosmetics in small quantities primarily as pH adjusters (they have a pH... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Irritants

Good

boric acid

May have wound-healing benefits (Source: Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, October... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Good

calendula extract

Extract derived from the plant commonly known as pot marigold, there is little research showing... Read More »

Categories: Antioxidants, Plant Extracts, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Anti-Irritants

Best

Centella asiatica

Extract of herb that may be listed on labels as asiatic acid, hydrocotyl, or gotu kola. It has... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Best

chamomile

Plant species include Matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita, and Matricaria chamomilla.... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Antioxidants, Plant Extracts

Best

Chamomilla recutita flower extract

See chamomile

Categories: Antioxidants, Plant Extracts, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne

Good

chaparral extract

There is conflicting research about its efficacy as an anticancer agent, though it does contain a... Read More »

Categories: Antioxidants, Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Plant Extracts

Poor

chaulmoogra oil

Once the treatment for leprosy worldwide due to its antimicrobial properties (Source: Proceedings... Read More »

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, 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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