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Rating Ingredient
Best

lactic acid

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

Categories: Exfoliant
Good

lactobionate

Polysaccharide that has water-binding properties for skin.

Categories: Skin-Replenishing
Best

lactobionic acid

Categories: Exfoliant
Best

lactoperoxidase

Enzyme derived from milk; it has purifying benefits for skin and may be helpful for...

Categories: Miscellaneous
Poor

lady's mantle extract

Best

lady's thistle (milk thistle) extract

Extract for which there is a great deal of research showing it has many applications...

Average

Lagerstroemia indica extract

No research shows this plant as having any benefit for skin...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

Laminaria digitata

Good

Laminaria longicruris

Good

Laminaria ochroleuca extract

The Latin name for a species of kelp, also known as brown seaweed. Applied topically, it helps...

Good

Laminaria sacharrina

Best

Lamium album flower extract

A species of the nettle plant that is used topically as as a soothing ingredient...

Good

lanolin

Emollient, very thick substance derived from sheep. Lanolin has long been...

Good

lanolin alcohol

Emollient derived from lanolin.

Good

lappa extract

Good

Larrea divaricata extract

Good

Larrea tridentata

Best

L-ascorbic acid

Form of vitamin C that is a potent antioxidant and skin-soothing agent...

Good

lauramphocarboxyglycinate

Mild detergent cleansing agent.

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

laurdimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein

Categories: Miscellaneous
Good

laurdimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein

Categories: Miscellaneous
Good

laureth-23

Derived from lauryl alcohol and used either as a surfactant or emulsifier (or, in many cases, as...

Good

laureth-4

Derived from lauryl alcohol and used either as a surfactant or emulsifier (or, in many cases, as...

Good

laureth-7

A form of lauryl alcohol (a non-irritating fatty alcohol derived from coconut oil) that can...

Good

laureths

Substances that in various combinations create a wide range of mild detergent cleansing agents...

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Best

lauric acid

One of several fatty acids found in coconut oil and other natural fats.

Good

lauroyl lysine

Amino acid derivative that functions as a skin- and hair-conditioning agent. It also contributes to...

Categories: Miscellaneous
Poor

Laurus nobilis

Good

lauryl alcohol

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

lauryl glucoside

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

lauryl lactate

Mixture of lauryl alcohol and lactic acid that functions as a skin-conditioning agent and...

Best

lauryl laurate

An ester of lauryl alcohol and lauric acid...

Good

lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone

A silicone polymer that has multiple functions in cosmetic products, including skin/hair...

Poor

lavandin oil

Essential oil of the hybrid lavender plant Lavandula hybrida and used in cosmetics as a fragrance...

Poor

Lavandula angustifolia

Poor

Lavandula officinalis

Poor

lavender extract and oil

In-vitro research indicates that components of lavender oil, specifically linalool and linalyl acetate, can have...

Good

L-cysteine

Categories: Antioxidants
Best

lecithin

Phospholipid found in egg yolks and may be plant or animal derived. It is widely used in...

Poor

lemon

Potent skin sensitizer. Though it can have beneficial properties...

Poor

lemon balm

Poor

lemongrass extract

Extract that can have beneficial properties...

Poor

lemongrass oil

Also known as Oil of Verbena; can be effective as a mosquito repellent...

Poor

lemon juice

The juice from the citrus fruit lemon, often touted in the world of skin care as being a natural option for brightening skin.

Categories: Antioxidants, Sensitizing
Poor

lemon oil

Commonly used citrus oil that can be a skin sensitizer, especially on abraded skin.

Good

lentil fruit extract

Extract that functions as a skin-conditioning agent and likely has antioxidant benefit, too.

Average

Lentinus edodes extract

Extract from the shiitake mushroom that may have antioxidant properties...

Best

Leontopodium alpinum extract

Plant extract whose constituents are capable of provding antioxidant and soothing benefit...

Good

Leptospermum scoparium oil

Good

leucine

Amino acid.

Categories: Skin-Replenishing
Poor

Levisticum officinale root extract

Best

licorice extract

Plant extract that has skin-soothing properties. In addition, licorice root may be effective in...

Best

licorice root

Average

Lilium candidum bulb extract

Extract derived from the white lily bulb. There is no research showing this has any benefit for...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Poor

lime oil and extract

Citrus fruit whose volatile compounds are sensitizing...

Good

Limnanthes alba

Plant commonly known as meadowfoam; its seed oil is a non-volatile plant oil used as a...

Good

Limnanthes alba seed oil

Categories: Plant Extracts
Poor

limonene

Chemical constituent of many natural fragrant ingredients, notably citrus oils such as lemon (d-limonene) and...

Poor

linalool

Fragrant component of lavender and coriander that can be a skin sensitizer, or...

Best

linden flower extract

Major constituents in linden are flavonoids and glycosides. Flavonoids are potent...

Best

linoleic acid

Unsaturated fatty acid used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. There is some...

Best

linolenic acid

Linolenic acid is a naturally-occurring, colorless polyunsaturated fatty acid liquid...

Best

linseed oil

Non-volatile plant oil. Linoleic acid is a component of linseed oil. 

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

Linum usitatissimum extract

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

lipid

Wide range of ingredients found in plants, animals, and human skin. Lipids include fatty acids,...

Good

liposomes

Delivery system (not an ingredient) capable of holding other ingredients and releasing them after...

Categories: Miscellaneous
Good

lithium magnesium sodium silicate

Synthetic silica-based clay composed of lithium, sodium, and magnesium. Used as a thickening agent...

Best

Lithospermum erythrorhizon

Also known as gromwell, the root of this plant is believed to have antioxidant and...

Poor

Litsea cubeba

Good

locust bean

Best

Lonicera caprifolium flower extract

Best

Lonicera japonica

Honeysuckle extract. A plant with soothing properties for skin.

Best

Lonicera japonica flower extract

Best

loquat extract

Extract derived from a subtropical flower that has antioxidant properties similar to...

Best

lotus seed extract

Extract that can have soothing and antioxidant properties...

Poor

lovage root extract

In cosmetics, it is used as a fragrance....

Good

lupine

Legume that is a source of isoflavones with antioxidant properties...

Average

lupine oil

Extract of Lupinus albus, a legume; it has emollient and antioxidant properties, though it may also...

Good

Lupinus albus extract

Species of legume.

Best

lutein

Carotenoid that has antioxidant properties…

Categories: Antioxidants
Good

Lycium barbarum fruit extract

The extract of the fruit commonly known as goji, goji berry, or wolfberry. This fruit extract is an antioxidant...

Best

lycopene

Carotenoid pigment that has potent antioxidant properties…

Categories: Antioxidants
Poor

lye

Good

lysine

Amino acid.

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!