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Ingredient
Skin-Restoring,  Skin-Soothing, 

Adenosine Triphosphate

Best

Organic compound from adenosine, which is formed by the hydrolysis of yeast nucleic acids.

Texture Enhancer,  Viscosity Control, 

Behenyl Alcohol

Good

A synthetic or plant-derived thickening agent and emulsifier used in cosmetics. ItŠ—Ès considered a fatty alcohol, and is not related to sensitizing forms of alcohol.

Preservative, 

Benzoic Acid

Good

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

Texture Enhancer,  Moisturizer,  Solvent, 

Butylene Glycol

Good

Commonly-used ingredient that has multiple functions in cosmetics, including as a texture enhancer. It’s similar to propylene glycol, but has a lighter texture.

Emollient,  Emulsifier,  Texture Enhancer, 

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate

Good

Synthetic ingredient used as an emollient and texture enhancing agent in cosmetics. This common ingredient is soluble in oil and oil-like ingredients, and can impart a lightly conditioning, silky finish to products. Its excellent solubility is one of the main reasons its used in so many sunscreens, as it helps keep the active ingredients dispersed throughout the formula.

Antioxidant,  Emollient,  Plant Extract,  Astringent,  Solvent, 

Camellia Oleifera

Best

Emollient,  Plant Extract,  Texture Enhancer,  Fragrance, 

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride

Best

Derived from coconut oil and glycerin, itŠ—Ès considered an excellent emollient and skin-replenishing ingredient. ItŠ—Ès included in cosmetics due to its mix of fatty acids that skin can use to replenish its surface and resist moisture loss. Caprylic/capric triglyceride can also function as a thickener, but its chief job is to moisturize and replenish skin. This ingredientŠ—Ès value for skin is made greater by the fact that itŠ—Ès considered gentle.Reference for this information:Food and Chemical Toxicology, January 2000, issue 1, pages 79-98

Plant Extract,  Skin-Replenishing, 

Ceramide Ng

Best

Emollient,  Emulsifier,  Texture Enhancer,  Viscosity Control,  Surfactant, 

Cetearyl Alcohol

Good

Fatty alcohol that is a mixture of gentle cetyl and stearyl alcohols. ItŠ—Ès used as an emollient, texture enhancer, foam stabilizer, and carrying agent for other ingredients. Can be derived naturally, as in coconut fatty alcohol, or made synthetically. It is almost always combined with similar-feeling ingredients to create a productŠ—Ès texture and influence its slip when applied to skin.Cosmetic products labeled "alcohol free" are allowed to contain cetearyl alcohol, whose effects are quite different from skin-aggravating forms of alcohol. We repeat: fatty alcohols like cetearyl alcohol do not pose a risk of sensitizing skin.Reference for this information:FDA Labeling Claims, 2014http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/cetyl-alcohol

Emulsifier,  Texture Enhancer,  Moisturizer,  Viscosity Control, 

Cetearyl Glucoside

Good

A blend of cetearyl alcohol and glucose that functions as an emulsifier.

Preservative, 

Chlorphenesin

Good

Type of alcohol used as a preservative in cosmetics.

Antioxidant,  Vitamin, 

D-Alpha-Tocopherol

Best

Antioxidant that's considered the most effective form of vitamin E.

Emollient,  Silicone, 

Dimethicone

Good

A type of silicone, dimethicone is one of the most frequently used emollient ingredients in moisturizers due to its gentleness and effectiveness. Dimethicone is considered a synthetic ingredient, even though itŠ—Ès derived from natural silicon.

Emollient,  Emulsifier,  Texture Enhancer,  Viscosity Control, 

Dipentaerythrityl Hexacaprylate/Hexacaprate

Good

Mixture of fatty acids used as an emollient, emulsifier, and thickening agent.

Emollient,  Texture Enhancer,  Thickeners/Emulsifier, 

Ethylhexyl Stearate

Good

Skin-Replenishing,  Skin-Restoring,  Moisturizer,  Solvent, 

Glycerin

Best

Also called glycerol or glycerine, glycerin is a humectant thatŠ—Ès present in all natural lipids (fats), whether animal or vegetable. It can be derived from natural substances by hydrolysis of fats and by fermentation of sugars; it also can be synthetically manufactured, which is usually the case with modern-day skincare products.Glycerin is a skin-replenishing and restoring ingredient, meaning it is a substance found naturally in skin, helping to establish normal balance and hydration. ItŠ—Ès one of the many substances in skin that helps maintain a healthy look and feel, defending against dryness and working to maintain skinŠ—Ès moisture level. Essentially, glycerin is a master at hydration, and works best when combined with other replenishing and emollient ingredients.Some people wonder whether using products with glycerin takes too much water from skin when there isnŠ—Èt enough humidity in the air. This can occur with pure glycerin (100% concentrationŠ—”an amount thatŠ—Ès never used in skincare products). Any humectant (including glycerin) used in pure form can increase water loss by attracting water from the lower layers of skin into the surface layers when the climate is too arid (low humidity). For this reason, glycerin and humectants are typically used in concentrations of 5% or less and always combined with other ingredients to soften skin. In fact, glycerin combined with other emollients and/or oils is a fundamental cornerstone of most moisturizers.References for this information:International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2016, ePublicationBritish Journal of Dermatology, July 2008, pages 23-34Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2007, pages 75-82Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 2003, pages 7,360-7,365

Emollient,  Plant Extract,  Viscosity Control, 

Glycine Soja Sterols

Best

Sterol derived from the Glycine soja (soy) plant. A sterol is a solid complex alcohol derived from animals and plants. Despite the alcohol origin, sterols are not drying on skin; rather, they serve to lubricate and have an emollient texture.

Emollient,  Plant Extract,  Skin-Soothing,  Fragrance,  Anti,  Whitening, 

Glycyrrhiza Glabra

Best

Antioxidant,  Plant Extract,  Skin-Softening, 

Lentil Fruit

Good

Extract from the plant Lens esculenta that functions as a skin-softening agent and likely has antioxidant benefit, too.

Antioxidant,  Vitamin,  Whitening, 

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Best

Form of vitamin C that is considered stable and is an effective antioxidant for skin. This form of vitamin C is also known to increase skinŠ—Ès hydration levels as well as being effective for calming factors in skin that can lead to excess oil and signs of sensitization.Like most forms of vitamin C, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (in amounts of 5% or greater) has been shown to improve the look of an uneven skin tone.References for this information:Annals of Dermatology, August 2015, pages 376-382Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 2013, issue 2, pages 143-146Skin Research and Technology, 2008, issue 3, pages 376-380International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2000, pages 169-179

Emollient,  Texture Enhancer,  Solvent, 

Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate

Good

Used as an emollient and texture enhancer.

Antioxidant,  Skin-Restoring,  Skin-Soothing,  Vitamin, 

Niacinamide

Best

Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid, niacinamide is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient that offers multiple benefits for aging skin. Among these benefits is the ability to visibly improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness, and a weakened skin surface. Niacinamide can also mitigate the damage environmental attack can cause, and is stable in the presence of heat and light.What about using vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and niacinamide in the same product or applied at the same time in separate products?ξYou might have read or heard that niacinamide and vitamin C shouldnŠ—Èt be used at the same time, whether found together in the same product or applied separately one after the other. Rest assured, this combination is fine and is in fact quite beneficial!ξThe research this misconception is based on was conducted in the 1960s; the forms of niacinamide and vitamin C used in this study were not stabilizedŠ—”although niacinamide itself is very stable. The base of the formula used in this study was also far different than todayŠ—Ès sophisticated skincare formulas. ξToday, cosmetic chemists know how to combine niacinamide and vitamin C in the ideal base formulas that enhance their compatibility.ξThe other common concern weŠ—Ève seen about combining these two ingredients has to do with the pH range. The concern is that the acidic environment ascorbic acid needs to be most effective will cause niacinamide will convert to nicotinic acid, a form that can be sensitizing, possibly inducing redness. Good news: This conversion process would only happen under conditions of the formula being exposed to very high heat for a long period of time. This would not apply to layering skincare products or to heat conditions that occur during manufacturing, transport, and storage of cosmetic products that contain niacinamide and ascorbic acid.

Skin-Restoring, 

Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12

Best

Blend of the fatty acid palmitic acid with several amino acids, including glycine, histidine, and lysine, Also known as pal-KTTKS and formerly under the catchall term palmitoyl oligopeptide. Theoretically, many peptides have skin-restoring ability and this is one of the newer synthetic options that is believed to help skin look and act younger.

Skin-Restoring, 

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7

Best

Synthetic peptide that's part of Matrixyl 3000, which also contains palmitoyl oligopeptide, and is believed to work as a skin-restoring ingredient with anti-aging benefits.

Skin-Restoring,  Moisturizer, 

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1

Best

One of a number of synthetic peptides, which are chained amino acids that can have restorative benefits for skin. For more on the benefits of peptides, see our article Peptides for Skin.

Cleansing Agent,  Emulsifier,  Moisturizer,  Surfactant,  Solvent, 

PEG-10 Phytosterol

Good

A synthetic or soy-derived (PaulaŠ—Ès Choice Skincare uses the latter) ingredient used in cosmetics as a cleansing agent and emulsifier. As a class of ingredients, soy-based phytosterols are generally recognized as safe for use in cosmetic products.

Emollient,  Skin-Soothing,  Antistatic, 

Petrolatum

Good

Vaseline is pure petrolatum, and petrolatum is a rich emollient and FDA-approved skin protectant. It is one of the best ingredients for dry to very dry skin, including around the eyes. Although derived from crude oil (thus making petrolatum a natural ingredient), it is highly purified prior to being used in cosmetics, so thereŠ—Ès no risk of exposure to unwanted chemicals.

Preservative, 

Phenoxyethanol

Good

Common cosmetics preservative that's considered one of the least sensitizing for use in formulations. It does not release formaldehyde. Phenoxyethanol is approved worldwide (including in Japan and in the EU) for use in all types of water-based cosmetics, up to a 1% concentration.

Cleansing Agent,  Emulsifier,  Surfactant, 

Polysorbate 20

Good

Antioxidant,  Emollient,  Plant Extract,  Skin-Restoring,  Texture Enhancer,  Astringent, 

Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit

Good

General name for various types of apples, all of which have potent antioxidant ability that, at least in theory, can benefit skin when applied topically. There is more research concerning the health benefits of eating apples rather than applying them topically via skincare products, but we know that apples have many valuable components that could benefit skin (Sources: Plant Physiology & Biochemistry, September 2014, pages 169-188;ξand Journal of Medicinal Food, November 2012, pages 1,024-1,031).

Antioxidant,  Skin-Restoring,  Vitamin, 

Retinol

Best

Name for the entire vitamin A molecule. Retinol is a powerhouse ingredient that has value for skin on several fronts: ItŠ—Ès a skin-restoring, wrinkle-smoothing, firming ingredient and an antioxidant, allowing it to improve a variety of skin concerns, most related to visible signs of aging.Packaging is a key issue, so any container that lets in air (like jar packaging) or sunlight (clear containers) just wonŠ—Èt cut it. Lots of retinol products come in unacceptable packaging; these should be avoided because the retinol will most likely be (or quickly become) ineffective. Look for opaque, airless, or air-restrictive packaging.Many consumers are concerned about the percentage of retinol in anti-aging products such as serums or moisturizers. Although the percentage can make a difference (especially if itŠ—Ès too low), itŠ—Ès not helpful in understanding how a retinol product will benefit your skin. Far more important is the delivery system, packaging, and the other ingredients present with the retinol.ξUsing a product with a range of anti-aging ingredients plus retinol is far more valuable for skin than using a product with only a supposedly high percentage of retinol. Skin needs far more than any one ingredient can provide, however great that one ingredient may be. See our article on this topic for detailed information.There are several myths about using retinol with other anti-aging ingredients or products, such as those with vitamin C or exfoliants like glycolic acid. See our article on this topic to learn what the research has shown to be true.References for this information:Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, March 2015, pages 271-280Dermatology, May 2014, pages 314-325Dermatoendocrinology, July 2012, issue 3, pages 308-319Toxicological Research, March 2010, pages 61-66Archives of Dermatology, May 2007, pages 606-612The Journal of Pathology, January 2007, issue 2, pages 241-251Clinical Interventions in Aging, December 2006, pages 327-348

Antioxidant,  Skin-Restoring,  Vitamin, 

Retinyl Palmitate

Best

Combination of retinol (pure vitamin A) and the fatty acid palmitic acid. Research has shown it to be an effective antioxidant when applied to skin. You may be surprised to learn that retinyl palmitate is found naturally in our skin, where it works as an antioxidant, particularly in regard to helping protect skin from UV light exposureŠ—”though it does not replace the need for sunscreen. Reports that retinyl palmitate is not a safe ingredient are false. TheyŠ—Ère based on a study from nearly 20 years ago that has never been reproduced or tested under real-life conditions such as how people use sunscreens that contain this ingredient. In addition, to date, there is no scientific evidence that retinyl palmitate is a carcinogen in humans. The safety of retinyl palmitate is supported by several accredited organizations and their opinions are widely available online. If you still have concerns, we encourage you to research the topic further.References for this information: Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, February 2016, pages 394-403 Acta Biochimica Polonica, 2015, pages 201-206 Clinical Interventions in Aging, December 2006, pages 327-348 Journal of Investigative Dermatology, November 2003, pages 1163-1167

Thickeners/Emulsifier,  Viscosity Control, 

Sclerotium Gum

Good

Used as a thickening agent in cosmetics.

Emollient,  Plant Extract,  Skin-Replenishing,  Moisturizer, 

Simmondsia Chinensis

Best

Antioxidant,  Skin-Replenishing,  Skin-Restoring,  Moisturizer, 

Sodium Hyaluronate

Best

Salt form of skin-replenishing ingredient hyaluronic acid; considered more effective for skin than pure hyaluronic acid due to its greater compatibility. References for this information:

Cleansing Agent,  Sensitizing,  Ph Adjusters, 

Sodium Hydroxide

Average

Also known as lye, sodium hydroxide is a highly alkaline ingredient used in small amounts in cosmetics to establish and hold the pH of a product.

Preservative, 

Sorbic Acid

Good

Preservative derived from mountain ash berries or manufactured synthetically. Sorbic acid is used in many products, including several foods and even in contact lens solutions.

Emollient,  Skin-Replenishing,  Thickeners/Emulsifier, 

Tribehenin

Good

Skin-softening agent thatŠ—Ès a mixture of glycerin and behenic acid. Also known as glyceryl tribehenate. May be synthetic or naturally-derived.

Emollient,  Thickeners/Emulsifier, 

Tridecyl Stearate

Good

Used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient; may be synthetic or animal-derived.

Emollient,  Hydration,  Skin-Softening,  Texture Enhancer,  Thickeners/Emulsifier, 

Tridecyl Trimellitate

Good

Synthetic ingredient used as a skin-softening agent and texture enhancer.

Solvent,  Miscellaneous, 

Water

Good

Most widely used cosmetic ingredient; water is almost always listed first on an ingredient label because it is usually the ingredient with the highest concentration in the formula. Despite claims of skinŠ—Ès need for hydration and claims regarding special types of water, it turns out that water may not be an important ingredient for skin. Only a 10% concentration of water in the outer layer of skin is necessary for softness and pliability in this part of the epidermis. Studies that have compared the water content of dry skin with that of normal or oily skin do not find a statistically significant difference in moisture levels between them.

Emulsifier,  Viscosity Control,  Solvent, 

Glyceryl Stearate & PEG-100 Stearate

Viscosity Control, 

Potassium Carbomer

Antioxidant,  Emollient,  Emulsifier,  Moisturizer, 

Soy Lecithin

A concentrated anti-aging moisturizing cream infused with skin-restoring ingredients to significantly improve skin’s texture, smoothness, and hydration, renewing a beautifully youthful and healthy glow.
Promotes a firmer-looking, younger complexion
Retinol is an anti-aging superstar ingredient
Rich ultra-creamy formula
Use as the last step in your PM skincare routine
SKIN TYPES: Dry/Very Dry Skin
CONCERNS: Wrinkles, Anti-Aging

Allergic ingredients not found