Ingredient Dictionary

Good

Alaria esculenta

See algae

Categories: Emollients, Plant Extracts, Antioxidants, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Poor

albumin

Found in egg white, and can leave a film over skin. It can constrict skin temporarily, which can... Read More »

Categories: Film-Forming/Holding Agents

Poor

Alchemilla vulgaris

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

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Plant Extracts

Poor

alcloxa

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

Categories: Miscellaneous

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

Best

Aleurites moluccana seed oil

See kukui nut oil

Categories: Antibacterial/Anti-Acne, Plant Extracts

Best

alfalfa extract

Can be an antioxidant in skin-care products (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry,... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Antioxidants

Good

algae

Algae are very simple, chlorophyll-containing organisms in a family that includes more than 20,000... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts, Antioxidants, Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Emollients

Good

algae extract

See algae

Categories: Emollients, Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Plant Extracts, Antioxidants

Good

algin

Brown algae. Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Emollients, Plant Extracts, Antioxidants

Good

aliphatic hydrocarbon

Hydrocarbon contained in natural gas and mineral oils. It is a synthetic fluid with varying... Read More »

Categories: Slip Agents

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

Average

alkyloamides

Identified on skin-care product labels as DEA, triethanolamine (TEA), and monoethanolamine (MEA),... Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Best

all-trans retinoic acid

Active ingredient in Retin-A and Renova. Read More »

Categories: Cell-Communicating Ingredients, Prescription Drugs

Best

allantoin

By-product of uric acid extracted from urea and considered an effective anti-irritant. Read More »

Categories: Anti-Irritants

Good

allyl methacrylates crosspolymer

A synthetic, non-aqueous polymer whose chief function is film-forming agent. Read More »

Categories: Film-Forming/Holding Agents

Best

almond oil

Non-volatile oil extracted from the seeds of almonds and used as an emollient. Read More »

Categories: Emollients

Good

Aloe barbadensis

See aloe vera

Categories: Plant Extracts, Anti-Irritants

Good

aloe barbadensis leaf juice extract

See aloe vera

Categories: Plant Extracts, Anti-Irritants

Good

aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder

This form of aloe is the powder form of the aloe barbadensis leaf plant... Read More »

Categories: Plant Extracts

Good

aloe extract

See aloe vera

Categories: Anti-Irritants, Plant Extracts

Good

aloe juice

See aloe vera

Categories: Plant Extracts, Anti-Irritants

Good

aloe vera

There is no real evidence that aloe vera (Aloe barbadenis) helps the skin in any significant way.... Read More »

Categories: Anti-Irritants, Plant Extracts

Best

alpha bisabolol

See bisabolol

Categories: Anti-Irritants, Plant Extracts

Best

alpha glucan oligosaccharide

Emollient used in cosmetics that also has water-binding properties. Read More »

Categories: Emollients

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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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