We keep hearing our skincare products should be packed with all of these good things. But what are they really and why do we need to use them? Let’s get to the bottom of these skincare buzzwords.


What is it?
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative. It increases cell production in the top layer of skin and has a positive effect on collagen production.  The concentration of retinol in over-the-counter products is very low and the highest concentration can be found in prescription-strength retinoic acid which yields the best visible results.
Who needs it?
Anyone who is looking to combat fine lines and wrinkles.
Which products can you can find it in?

Retinol products


What are they?
Antioxidants help protect our skin from damage caused by free radicals. Those pesky little buggers are molecules with an unpaired electron, which cause oxidation that can damage cellular material. Vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, green tea, and grape seed extract are all highly effective antioxidants.
Who needs them?
Anyone and everyone! Free radical damage affects us all. A good moisturizer should always contain antioxidants.
Which products can you can find them in?

products with antioxidants
Stem Cells

What are they?
Stem cells are found throughout multicellular organisms and play a crucial role in tissue renewal.The stem cells that are popping up in beauty products usually come from from plants and fruits, especially apples. Extracts of these stem cells (not the live cells themselves) are added to various skin care products.
Who needs them?
Anyone who is lusting after youthful looking skin. Rumor has it Mrs. Beckham is a big fan of products which use plant stem cell material.
Which products can you find them in?

products with plant stem cells


What is it?
Collagen is a fibrous protein found in skin. When collagen levels in the skin are high, the skin appears firm and youthful. Levels of collagen decline as we age (by age 21 we are losing it at a steady rate). As the support provided by the collagen is reduced, wrinkles begin to form.
Collagen can also be found in skincare products. However it cannot be absorbed by the skin because it is a large protein molecule. It is more of a surface cosmetic, used to fill in lines until it is washed off at night.
Who needs it?
Anyone who wants to improve skin elasticity – but don’t expect any miracles.
Which products can you find it in?

Fruit Extracts

What are they?
Fruit extracts are gaining popularity as ingredients in skin care products because of their anti-aging and rejuvenating properties.  Fruit extracts that come from fruits such as apples, blackberry, grapes, blueberry, apricot, kiwi, papaya, raspberry and strawberry, are high in Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). AHAs are natural acids that are also antioxidants. When applied to the skin AHAs  loosen and dissolve dead cells from the skin’s surface, which leave behind smoother, softer skin. Fruit extracts also contain vitamins such as C, A and E which can be absorbed into the skin.
Who needs them?
Anyone who wants vibrant and luminous looking skin!
Which products can you find them in?
fruit extracts


What are they?
Peptides are two or more amino acids which have been bonded together to form a linear molecule.  One benefit of applying peptides to your skin within a lotion or serum, is that it makes your skin believe that it has lost collagen recently and needs to make more. Also, because peptides are small (unlike collagen), they can penetrate the skin’s protective barriers to get to its deeper layers. The molecules can transfer biologically active agents, such as copper, to cells renewing them. Copper peptides have been used for years to aid in wound healing.
Common peptides are called pentapeptides, which are made of five peptide units linked together (Matrixyl and Myristoyl). Pentapeptides stimulate the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, two natural components of skin that people lose as they age.
Another buzzword related to peptides is Argireline. Argireline is actually a neuropeptide that has been shown in the laboratory to block the release of neurotransmitters from nerves hence you have your “wrinkle relax” cream.
Who needs them?
Anyone who is wanting to reverse the signs of ageing.
Which products can you find them in?

Hyaluronic Acid

What is it?
Hyaluronic Acid, or sodium hyaluronate, is a fluid that surrounds the joints and is found in skin tissue. Aging slows the production of this acid, so it is often supplemented as an anti-aging treatment. It is used as an inject-able filler for wrinkles and can be applied to the skin or taken in pill form. The word “acid” often scares people as they imagine an acid is something that would strip the skin of something. However, it does the opposite. It is often added to moisturizers and works to hydrate skin. Almost half of the body’s hyaluronic acid is located in the collagen of skin and it helps to retain over a 1000 times its weight in water within the cells of skin, making it an ideal and efficient moisturizer.
Who needs it?
Anyone who wants softer, more hydrated skin.
Which products can you find it in?
hyaluronic acid

Stay tuned for Part 2 – coming soon!

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3 Comments on Beauty Buzzwords: What do they all mean?

  1. Elena
    October 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm (3 years ago)

    Just had a nice Sunday afternoon browse through beauty blogs I follow and saw this post. Now I’m curious if you plan to also post about particular products you’ve tried with some of these ingredients – that would be lovely.
    I’ve been a bit slow incorporating some of these in my skin care.
    I’m glad to have found out about Hada Labo’s Hyaluronic Acid Lotion – quite a few bloggers (among those I highly appreaciate anything posted by Kerry on the skinandtonics.com blog) have shared their satisfaction and after using it for two weeks already, I feel I am ready to join the hymns of praise.
    Retinol I’ve only had as a listed ingredient but not very early in the list of a couple of products, like Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule but am afraid of buying anything that might be too strong for my dry skin.
    As for antioxidants, I’m waiting for my parcel containing the much raved about OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 serum.

  2. Cassandra
    October 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm (3 years ago)

    Elena, it sounds as if you have some lovely products on the way to you! I would love to hear about them after you try them out.
    As for me blogging about products I’ve tried, I’m on it!

    • Elena
      October 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm (3 years ago)

      Right, I decided to wait and give the OST C20 serum time to work on my skin before replying. It’s been two weeks in which I’ve used it as part of my evening skin care routine. I’ve been applying a few drops after cleansing and followed with lotion to ease some stickiness the serum leaves. I have not experienced any visible peeling but I notice a nice brightening of skin tone. I think I’ll be repurchasing this product.


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