Ingredients from A to Z

Again, not an expert here, but I’m sharing what I’ve found from researching several common ingredients. I got information from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and Paula’s Choice (PC).

Paula’s Choice is a great resource for all things skincare and their Ingredient Dictionary is super helpful. PC also gives each ingredient a rating of GOOD, BEST, POOR, or AVERAGE that I will include with each ingredient.


  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)
    • Improve signs of aging, dry skin, and uneven skintone
    • Can increase sun sensitivity, be sure to wear an SPF
    • BEST


  • Bentonite
    • Type of clay
    • Used as an absorbent
    • Good for oily skin
    • Can by drying
    • GOOD
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
    • Anti-acne
    • Can reach and kill bacteria that causes acne
    • Considered the most effective over the counter acne treatment
    • 2.5-10% concentration, start small
    • BEST
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
    • Exfoliates skin
    • Soothes skin
    • Used in acne products to improve breakouts and blackheads
    • BEST


  • Ceramides
    • Improves skin texture
    • Suppleness
    • Replenish and restore
    • BEST
  • Cica (Centella Asiatica)
    • Soothe and repair irritated skin
    • Treat acne
    • Calm sensitive skin
    • Brighten skin
    • Increase hydration
    • BEST


  • Dimethicone
    • A type of silicone
    • Emollient ingredient in moisturizers
    • Gentle & effective
    • Forms a permeable barrier that works to prevent moisture loss
    • Silky feel
    • Considered safe as used in cosmetics products
    • GOOD


  • Formaldehyde
    • Preservative, prevents mold and bacteria from growing in and spoiling your products
    • Skin irritation is a common side effect
    • CIR says it’s safe at levels that don’t exceed established limits


  • Glycerin
    • Skin-replenishing and skin-restoring
    • Defends against dryness
    • Maintain skin’s moisture level
    • BEST
  • Glycolic Acid
    • Shed dead skin cells and renew skin’s surface
    • One of the most effective forms of AHA
    • Softens the signs of aging
    • BEST


  • Hyaluronic Acid
    • Boosts skin moisture
    • Good for all skin types
    • Helps skin retain moisture
    • Skin feels softer, smoother
    • Improve appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
    • BEST


  • Kaolin
    • Clay mineral with absorbent properties
    • Good for oily skin
    • Can be drying if used too frequently in high amounts
    • GOOD


  • Mica
    • Mineral used to add shimmer and sparkle
    • GOOD


  • Niacinamide
    • Improve appearance of large pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, and dullness
    • Reduce the damage caused by environmental factors
    • BEST


  • Parabens
    • Used as preservatives in cosmetics
    • No FDA rules on preservatives in makeup
    • CIR says they’re safe in cosmetics
    • No info (at this time) showing that parabens, as used in makeup, have an effect on health
    • GOOD
  • Peptides
    • Skin-soothing and skin-restoring
    • Improve the appearance of wrinkles and smile lines
    • BEST
  • Phthalates
    • Group of chemicals used in different forms of personal care prodcuts
    • CIR says safe for us
    • No evidence to show phthalates, as used in cosmetics, pose a safety risk
    • FDA monitors phthalate levels in cosmetics


  • Retinol
    • Stimulate production of new skin cells
    • Wrinkle-smoothing
    • Firming
    • Antioxidant
    • BEST


  • Salicylic Acid
    • Exfoliant, help shed dead skin
    • Reduce breakouts
    • Calm aggravated skin
    • Minimize appearance of uneven skintone
    • BEST
  • Silica
    • Used as an absorbent powder and thickening agent in cosmetics
    • Certain forms prevent pigments from settling in makeup
    • GOOD
  • Squalene/Squalane
    • Natural emollient
    • Lock moisture into the skin, help prevent fine lines and ease dry patches
    • Squalene–more helpful for extra-dry and mature skin
    • Squalane–better for acne-prone and oily skin
    • BEST
  • Sulfates
    • Cleansing agents that remove dirt and oil and makes soaps and shampoos lather
    • Can irritate the eyes and skin and be drying to the hair
    • FDA says there’s not enough science to indicate harm
    • CIR found it to be safe for use in rinse off products
    • GOOD
  • Synthetic Colors
    • Dyes made from a variety of synthetic chemicals used to change the shade of a product
    • Risk skin sensitivity and irritation, can clog pores
    • Can contain carcinogens
    • A few have been banned by the FDA


  • Talc
    • Used to absorb moisture, prevent caking, make makeup opaque, or improve the feel of a product
    • FDA considers granted talc (GRAs) a safe ingredient
    • CIR deemed safe
    • Talc in cosmetics doesn’t present a health hazard
    • GOOD
  • Tea Tree Oil
    • Antioxidant
    • Skin soothing properties
    • Improve skin concerns such as breakouts
    • Potent
    • Concentrations of 2.5-10% recommended
    • GOOD
  • Titanium Dioxide 
    • Protects from UVA and UVB rays
    • Good in sunscreen for sensitive skin
    • Used as thickening, whitening, lubricating, and sunscreen ingredient
    • BEST
  • Tretinoin
    • Used to treat acne
    • Start with small percentage and build up
    • Prescription strength retinoid


  • Vitamin C
    • Brighten uneven skin tone
    • Skin-restoring and soothing
    • Improves signs of aging
    • Maintain healthy-looking and radiant skin
    • BEST
  • Vitamin E
    • Antioxidant
    • Occurs naturally in the skin
    • Moisturizing
    • BEST


  • Witch Hazel
    • Antioxidant
    • Can be drying and sensitizing
    • Short term solution, on-going use is likely to cause problems
    • POOR


  • Zinc Oxide
    • Protexts against UVB and UVA rays
    • Sometimes used in makeup to increase pigment/opacity
    • Used as a thickening, whitening, lubricating, and sunscreen ingredient in cosmetics
    • BEST



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