Ingredient Dictionary

Poor

acetone

Strong solvent that is used in Nail Polish removers. Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Best

acetyl glucosamine

Amino acid sugar and primary constituent of mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid. As such, it... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

acetyl tributyl citrate

Related to citric acid and used as a plasticizer, most commonly in nail polish and nail-hardening... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

acetyl tyrosine

An amino acid complex that functions as a skin-conditioning agent. There is no research proving it... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

acid

Anything with a pH lower than 7 is considered acidic—above 7 is considered alkaline. Water has a pH... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

active ingredient

The active ingredients list is the part of a cosmetic, drug, or pharmaceutical ingredient label... Read More »

Categories: Sunscreen Actives, Miscellaneous

Poor

advanced glycation endproduct

Advanced glycation endproducts, also known as AGEs, are caused by the body's major fuel source,... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Poor

AGE

See advanced glycation endproduct

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

age spots

Once referred to as liver spots, these brown skin discolorations are also not related to age, any... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Poor

alcloxa

More technically known as aluminum chlorhydroxy allantoinate, alcloxa has constricting properties... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Poor

alkaline

Anything with a pH higher than 7 is alkaline; a pH below 7 is acidic. Water has a pH of 7; skin has... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

aminomethyl propanediol

Used to adjust pH in cosmetics. Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

aminomethyl propanol

Used in cosmetics at concentrations of 1% or less to adjust pH. Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

ammonium hydroxide

Clear, colorless liquid used in cosmetics to adjust a product's pH level. Ammonium hydroxide is... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

amniotic extract or fluid

There is research showing that pure concentrations of amniotic fluid (human) have some benefit for... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

aroma/flavor

Seeing "aroma/flavor" on an ingredient list can be either good or bad. For example, if the aroma or flavor comes from mint.... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous, Fragrance: Synthetic and Fragrant Plant Extracts

Good

Bacillus subtilis

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

Categories: Miscellaneous

Poor

bee pollen

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

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

benzocaine

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

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

benzyl alcohol

See alcohol

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

bifida ferment lysate

Type of gram-positive bacteria found in the digestive system. It has no known effect on skin when... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Average

bifidus extract

Carbohydrate in human milk that stimulates the growth of Lactobacillus bifidus in the intestine. In... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

broad spectrum

Term that, when applied to sunscreen, refers to a sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from both... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

butyl acetate

Solvent used in nail polish and many other products. Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous

Good

butylene glycol

Commonly used slip agent that has multiple functions in cosmetics, depending on the formula.... Read More »

Categories: Miscellaneous, Slip Agents

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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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