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Ingredient Dictionary

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

Good

tartaric acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

salicylic acid

Salycilic Acid is a multifunctional ingredient that addresses many of the systemic causes of acne. Read More »

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

Best

polyhydroxy acid

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

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Good

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

PHA

See polyhydroxy acid

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Average

pawpaw extract

See papaya extract

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Irritants, Plant Extracts

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

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

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

Good

malic acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

lactobionic acid

See polyhydroxy acid

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

glycolic acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

gluconolactone

See polyhydroxy acid

Categories: 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

Good

bromelain

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

Categories: Plant Extracts, Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

BHA (beta hydroxy acid)

BHA, or beta hydroxy acid, is more commonly known as salicylic acid. Learn more. Read More »

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

Good

betaine salicylate

Derived from sugar beets, this ingredient is sometimes used as an alternative to the exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid... Read More »

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

Best

beta hydroxy acid

See salicylic acid

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

Good

Ananas sativus fruit extract

See pineapple extract

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant, Plant Extracts

Good

amygdalic acid

See mandelic acid

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, 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

Best

alpha hydroxy acid

See AHA

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

Best

AHA

AHA is the acronym for alpha hydroxy acid, which is derived from various plant sources or from milk. Read More »

Categories: Leave-On Exfoliant

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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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