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Rating Ingredient
Good

babassu oil

Plant oil that can have emollient properties for skin. There is no research showing it has special...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Emollients
Good

bakuchiol

An antioxidant found in the seeds and leaves of the plant Psoralea corylifolia...

Poor

balm mint extract

Extract derived from a fragrant plant; it poses some risk of causing skin sensitivity…

Poor

balsam peru

Fatty resin that when applied topically can cause skin sensitivity…

Best

Bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) leaf/stem extract

Extract from the common bamboo plant. Like many plant extracts, research has shown...

Categories: Uncategorized
Average

banana extract

Extract from banana fruit that has some weak antioxidant properties (Source: Free Radical Research,...

Best

barberry

Plant whose primary component, berberine, is an alkaloid that can have soothing properties and...

Categories: Skin-Soothing
Poor

barium sulfate

Mineral used as a whitening agent in cosmetics. It can be sensitizing.

Average

barley extract

Extract from barley plants. Can have antioxidant properties when ingested, but there is no research...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

batyl alcohol

Derived from glycerin and used as a stabilizing ingredient and skin-conditioning agent.

Categories: Emollients
Poor

bay leaf oil

Has the potential to provide antioxidant benefits for skin…

Good

bearberry extract

Latin name Arctostaphylos uva ursi, there is research showing that this extract has soothing...

Categories: Antioxidants
Poor

bee pollen

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

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

beeswax

Substance made by bees to build the walls of their honeycomb. It is a thickening agent that has...

Good

beet root extract

Powdered base of the stem (root) of the Beta vulgaris plant. Used as a coloring agent. As with most...

Good

beheneth-5

A synthetic or plant-derived derivative of polyethylene glycol and behenyl alcohol that functions as an emulsifier and can also be a surfactant.

Good

behenic acid

Fatty acid used as a thickening agent and surfactant.

Good

behentrimonium chloride

Skin-conditioning agent and emulsifier.

Good

behenyl alcohol

Thickening agent used in cosmetics. It is not related to irritating forms of alcohol.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Poor

Bellis perennis

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

bentonite

Type of clay that is used as an absorbent in cosmetics. It can be drying for skin, though its...

Categories: Absorbent
Average

benzalkonium chloride

Used as a preservative in skincare products. There is no research showing it...

Categories: Antioxidants
Good

benzephenone-3

Also called oxybenzone, a sunscreen agent that protects skin primarily from the sun’s UVB rays and...

Categories: Sunscreen Actives
Good

benzoic acid

Preservative used in skincare products; it is considered less sensitizing than some other forms of...

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

benzoin extract

Balsam resin that has some fragrant properties; it may also be sensitizing to skin…

Good

benzophenone

Group of compounds used in cosmetics as sunscreen agents to protect mostly from UVB radiation and...

Categories: Sunscreen Actives
Good

benzothonium chloride

Compound used as a preservative in cosmetics. It is generally considered less sensitizing…

Categories: Preservatives
Best

benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is considered the most effective over-the-counter topical acne treatment. Learn more.

Categories: Anti-Acne
Good

benzyl alcohol

An organic alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits (apricots, cranberries) and teas.

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

benzyl salicylate

A volatile fragrance chemical with a sweet, floral odor used to impart scent to cosmetic products and perfumes.

Best

Berberis aristata

Poor

bergamot oil

A volatile citrus oil that, when used topically, is a photosensitizer...

Good

Bertholletia excelsa extract

Good

beta-carotene

Member of the carotenoid family. There are hundreds of carotenoids, including lycopene and lutein....

Categories: Antioxidants
Best

beta-glucan

Polysaccharide sugar derived from yeast or oats. It has some antioxidant properties and is a skin-soothing agent.

Best

beta hydroxy acid

Good

betaine salicylate

Plant extract, similar to cholesterol, that can have antioxidant properties...

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

beta-sitosterol

Plant extract, similar to cholesterol, that can have antimicrobial properties (Source: Journal of...

Good

Beta vulgaris root extract

Good

Betula alba

Best

BHA (beta hydroxy acid)

BHA, or beta hydroxy acid, is more commonly known as salicylic acid.

Average

BHT

Butylated hydroxytoluene, a potent synthetic antioxidant that also has negative properties when...

Categories: Antioxidants
Good

bifida ferment lysate

Categories: Miscellaneous
Good

bilberry extract

Some research shows bilberry (vaccinium myrtillis) to be effective as an antioxidant when ingested...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

bioflavonoid

Diverse range of substances that are components of many fruits and vegetables. Many have been shown...

Categories: Antioxidants
Good

biotin

A water-soluble substance produced in the body by certain types of...

Categories: Vitamins
Good

birch bark extract

Extract derived from the plant Betula alba (common name white birch). It can have potent...

Good

birch leaf extract

Best

bisabolol

Can be extracted from chamomile or derived synthetically. It is an anti-irritant.

Good

bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate

Can be extracted from chamomile or derived synthetically. It is an skin-soothing ingredient.

Average

bismuth oxychloride

Also known as synthetic pearl, it’s the primary ingredient included in most powders that are referred to as...

Good

bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane

A synthetic skin conditioning agent and surfactant belonging to the chemical class of siloxanes and...

Good

bis-phenylpropyl dimethicone

A synthetic, colorless, silicone-based polymer that...

Poor

bitter orange flower

Best

blackberry

Berries that have antioxidant properties...

Average

black cohosh

There is no research showing that black cohosh can have this or any effect…

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

black currant oil

Non-volatile plant oil.

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

black elderberry

When taken orally, this has antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food...

Poor

black locust extract

Extract that can have antioxidant properties, although it also may have harmful...

Good

black mulberry

Due to its arbutin content, this extract can have some value in improving the look of discolorations....

Categories: Plant Extracts
Poor

black pepper extract and oil

It can cause significant skin sensitivity...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

black raspberry

Fruit that has antioxidant properties...

Best

black tea

Best

bladderwrack extract

Extract derived from seaweed; it can be an effective antioxidant and has water-binding properties...

Poor

bloodwort

Also known as yarrow.

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

blue 1

Good

blue 1 lake

Best

Boerhavia diffusa root extract

Extract from a flowering plant. Animal studies have shown that this plant has strong...

Poor

bois de rose oil

Poor

bois oil

Fragrant oil that has no research showing it has benefit for skin (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com).

Best

borage seed extract

Extract of the plant Borago officinalis, it can have skni-soothing properties...

Best

borage seed oil

Non-fragrant plant oil that contains gamma linolenic acid and other essential fatty acids for skin.

Best

Borago officinalis extract

Best

Borago officinalis seed oil

Poor

borate

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

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

borax

Also known as sodium borate decahydrate, borax is a mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

boric acid

May have skin soothing and restoring benefits…

Categories: Preservatives
Good

boron nitride

Synthetic, inorganic powder, which in cosmetics has absorbent properties similar to those of...

Categories: Absorbent
Poor

Boswellia carterii

Average

Boswellia serrata extract

An extract from the gum resin of a tree and also a source of Indian frankincense, this plant extract has both positive and negative qualities for skin.

Average

botanicals

General term for a large group of natural ingredients. Botanicals may or may not be organic, and...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

boysenberry

Berry that can have potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry,...

Best

Brassica campestris

Categories: Antioxidants, Emollients
Good

Brazil nut extract

Extract for which there is a small amount of research showing it can have antioxidant properties...

Good

broad spectrum

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

Categories: Sunscreen Actives
Good

bromelain

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

Categories: Plant Extracts, Exfoliant
Poor

bronopol

Technical name 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (Source:...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

bronze powder

Mineral coloring agent derived from copper. Permanently listed (since 1977) by the FDA as a safe...

Best

Buddleja davidii extract

Plant also known as summer lilac or butterfly bush (because the flowers are a food source for...

Good

bumetrizole

Sunscreen ingredient that absorbs primarily UVB light.

Categories: Sunscreen Actives
Average

Bupleurum falcatum extract

A plant used in Chinese medicine for a varitety of ailments ranging from the common cold to liver...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

burdock root

Plant extract whose active constituents are skin soothing and antioxidant…

Good

butyl acetate

Solvent used in nail polish and many other products.

Good

butylene glycol

Commonly-used ingredient that has multiple functions in cosmetics, including....

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Best

butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane

Categories: Sunscreen Actives
Good

butylparaben

Parabens are a group of controversial preservatives that include butylparaben...

Categories: Preservatives
Poor

butylphenyl methylpropional

Synthetic fragrance ingredient with a strong floral scent.

Best

Butyrospermum fruit

Fruit from the karite tree, scientific name Butyrospermum parkii, from which the fat is obtained to...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Emollients
Best

Butyrospermum parkii

Best

Buxus chinensis

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!