Ingredient #9: Parabens. A common preservative molecule with four ester (*sigh* chemistry, ester = acid + alcohol) variations -- methlyparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben butylparaben.
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Ingredients, Decoded

Each week, we tackle a ingredient that is popular in skincare products. The element cards below are those that we have already covered.

Yogurt Powder

What it is: The lactic-acid producing bacteria found in yogurt. All bacteria, no actual yogurt.

What it does: Lactic acid is thought to remove dead skin cells. As a gram-positive bacteria (aka a “probiotic”), it may be a quick and dirty way to balance your skin’s microbiome. With more balance, your skin will be less Wrecking Ball and more Flawless Bey. 

Hyaluronic Acid

What it is: Chemically speaking, it is a polysaccharide (a.k.a. sugar) that attracts water. It’s a natural component of the bone fluid that your body makes — the lubricant that allows you to bend your elbows and do squats on leg day.

What it does:
Topical Hyaluronic acid creates layer above your skin that allows it to trap moisture. Research shows that it has the ability to protect against oxygen-free radicals (think UVs), giving it anti-aging properties. It is also good for treating burns, healing wounds, treating osteoarthritis and more. 

Rosehip Oil

What it is: Rosehip oil is developed from the seeds and shells of the Rosa canina plant. It can also be found in powder form.

What it does:
Use it for 8 weeks and you could see real improvements in skin moisture and elasticity, improving wrinkles and crow’s feet. It even has antioxidant benefits (thanks to its vitamin A).

Avocado Oil

What it is: Avocado oil is the oil extracted from the fatty parts of the avocado fruit.

What it does:
Avocado oil contains fatty acids that help make your skin more permeable, soft, and hydrated. It has also been shown to help wound healing and treat acne in those who do not have excessively oily skin.

Water

What it is: The Stratum Corneum (SC) (outer skin layer) and its moisture permeability are the basis of dewy skin. It contains Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF), which is made by your body and contains mixture of proteins and fats that promote moisture retention. Its job is to retain water and protect you from your external environment. 

What it does:
Keep your skin hydrated by drinking 8 glasses everyday. Water is great for priming your face before and after a skin routine, giving your face a clean slate. Your skin was designed to absorb water, so be generous.

Bentonite

What it is: Bentonite is the residue from weathered Volcanic ash that meets water. It is naturally enriched with minerals including: calcium, magnesium, iron sodium and potassium. Dirt + H20 → Clay

What it does:
That drying effect you’re looking for-- this is it. The effect is different from alcohols because bentonite brings some much needed minerals to the table. Some people also use it to detox, reclaim their pores, and get that smooth-snuggle-season skin.

Grapeseed Oil

What it is: An extract from the seeds of grapes (writing this while sipping a glass of grapes)

What it does: Plenty of good fats (MUFAs and PUFAs) provide the omega-3,6, and 9’s that your skin needs. Grapeseed oil has high Vitamin E content (more than olive oil) as well as antioxidant properties which work against sun damage and signs of aging.

Argan Oil

What it is: Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) that is endemic to Morocco.

Tips:
- To test if a product is 100% pure argan oil -- rub it into your skin, and if it FULLY absorbs within 3-5 seconds, it is pure.
- When you are purchasing, make sure that you are buying cosmetic argan oil, not cooking argan oil!

Parabens

What it is: A common preservative molecule with four ester (*sigh* chemistry, ester = acid + alcohol) variations -- methlyparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben butylparaben

What does it do: 
Extend the shelflife of various lifestyle, medical, and perishable products

Astaxanthin

What it is: A carotenoid (organic pigment) found in algae, yeast, seafood and even some bird feathers. It makes salmon pink and crabs red. It’s in the same chemical family (terpenes) as the main ingredients in essential oils.

What it does:
It has a strong antioxidant effect that reduces signs of aging to due sun exposure. Its anti-inflammatory properties counteract damage brought on by powerful UVB rays. Studies in mice also show that it may be a powerful wound healing agent.

Lactobacillus

What it is: A commensal (hey girlfriend!) group of rod-shaped bacteria that naturally occur in the gut and on the skin.

What it does:
Reduces the appearance of acne lesions, as well as sebum production which leads to acne eruptions. 

Glycerin

What it is: An alcohol-based compound (I know what you’re thinking, but hear us out). It can be extracted from plants like soy, or animal elements. Sometimes it is harvested as a byproduct of soap production. In other cases, it is synthetically derived from propylene glycol.

What it does:
A popular mostly non-irritable substitute for alcohol in skincare formulations. Glycerin helps improve moisture levels by attracting and sealing in water. It promotes a healthy glow by making your skin more supple and hydrated.

Isoretinoin

What it is: A vitamin A derivative

What it does:
Reduces sebum production to “cure” severe acne

Where to find it:
Prescription-grade retinoids. You’ll need an M.D. for this one, folks.

Slug Slime

What it is: The bodily secretions produced by land snails and slugs. Snails use is it to lubricate rough surfaces and make gliding easier (protecting them from cuts, bacteria, and UV rays).

What it does:
The antioxidant properties of snail mucus help mitigate the effect of photoaging (premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation). Snail mucus also speeds up the rate of new cell creation and slows down cell death. The mucus can exist as a combination of elastin, proteins, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid.

CBD Oil

What it is: Cannabidiol comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. You can’t get high off of this oil as it comes from the non-psychoactive part of the plant. 

What it does:
It reduces the creation of new sebum-producing cells and reduces the rate at which sebum is produced in these cells. A 2014 study also reported some anti-inflammatory effects resulting from CBD oil.

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