Ingredient Dictionary

Best

AHA

Acronym for alpha hydroxy acid. AHAs are derived from various plant sources or from milk. However,... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

alpha hydroxy acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

ammonium glycolate

Synthetic form of glycolic acid used as a pH adjuster and exfoliant. It is sometimes paired with... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Good

amygdalic acid

See mandelic acid

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

Average

Ananas sativus fruit extract

See pineapple extract

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, 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

Good

bromelain

Bromelain is a crude extract from the pineapple that contains, among other components, various... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Leave-On Exfoliant

Good

enzymes

Vast group of protein molecules, produced by all living things, that act as catalysts in chemical... Read More »

Categories: Cell-Communicating Ingredients, Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

gluconolactone

See polyhydroxy acid

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

glycolic acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

lactic acid

Alpha hydroxy acid extracted from milk, although most forms used in cosmetics are synthetic. It... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

lactobionic acid

See polyhydroxy acid

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Good

malic acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Average

mandelic acid

Alpha hydroxy acid, also known as amygdalic acid. There is scant research showing this to be an... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Poor

papain

Enzyme extracted from papaya. Applied topically, papain can cause severe irritation, itching, and... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Plant Extracts, Irritants

Average

papaya extract

Extract that is the source of papain, which theoretically can have exfoliating properties on skin,... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Irritants, Plant Extracts

Average

pawpaw extract

See papaya extract

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Irritants, Plant Extracts

Best

PHA

See polyhydroxy acid

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Average

pineapple extract

Contains the enzyme bromelain, which can break down the connecting layers between skin cells to... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

polyhydroxy acid

Ingredients such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are types of polyhydroxy acid (PHA). They... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

salicylic acid

Referred to as beta hydroxy acid (BHA), it is a multifunctional ingredient that addresses many of... Read More »

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

Good

tartaric acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Good

urea

Component of urine, although synthetic versions are used in cosmetics. In small amounts urea has... Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Skin-Identical/Repairing Ingredients

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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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