Listed below please find some of the common terminology used in today's skin care industry.
Acne - Skin condition characterized by plugging and inflammation that involves the hair follicles and sebaceous glands. It can take many forms including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, and nodules.
Acne vulgaris - Medical term used to describe acne.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) - Fruit acids found in plants, constituents of many over the counter acne and cosmetic products, such as moisturizers and sunscreens. Also used in chemical peels.
Antioxidants - Chemicals that neutralize free radicals that cause damage to the body and skin. These come from eating fruits and vegetables and also can be applied topically to help heal the surface of the skin.
Basal Layer - The lowermost layer of the epidermis. This layer provides replacement cells that travel upward and replenish the skin with new cells.
Benzoyl peroxide - Topical antibacterial agent used to treat acne. Found in more over the counter and prescription products than any other topical agent.
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) - A class of acids, including salicylic acid, that are used as exfoliants. They're found in many over the counter acne and cosmetic products, such as moisturizers and sunscreens. They're also used in chemical peels.
Blackhead - An open comedo. The dark acne lesion that consists of a plug of keratin and sebum. The dark color is due to a buildup of melanin.
Chemical peel - Application of chemicals to the face in order to exfoliate the outer layer of skin cells.
Collagen - A protein that forms the chief constituent of the connective tissue and bones. It gives skin strength and durability. Age related declines in collagen production cause thinning of the skin, wrinkles, and sagging. Cosmeceuticals such as vitamin C and eating foods rich in amino acids stimulate collagen production.
Comedo - Plug of keratin and sebum within a hair follicle. It can appear as a blackhead or a whitehead.
Corticosteroid - Natural hormones produced in the adrenal glands. When used therapeutically, they are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat many types of inflammation.
Dermatitis - Irritation or inflammation of the skin. A general term that refers to an itchy red rash. It is sometimes called eczma.
Dermis - Layer of the skin just beneath the epidermis. Contains blood and lymphatic vessels, hair follicles, nerves, and glands. Also called cutis.
DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) - Occurs naturally in fish. It's used for treatment of autism, dementia, mood disorders, and to improve vision. DMAE is proving beneficial in reversing the effects of skin aging, such as wrinkles and sagging. DMAE is used both topically and internally.
Elastin - A protein component of skin that helps maintain skin resilience and elasticity. When elastin is abundant and undamaged, the skin regains its shape after being folded or stretched.
Electrolytes - Mineral salts that, in solution, conduct a current of electricity. Electrolytes are required by cells to regulate the flow of water molecules across cell membranes. Major electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate.
Emollient - Topical applications that are used to correct dryness and scaling of the skin.
Exfoliants - Skin care products that break down and remove keratinized cells that naturally build up on the skin's surface. Even skin functioning at peak performance and normal skin can benefit from an exfoliant. Exfoliants help restore that healthy, translucent glow we all strive for.
Free Radicals - Highly active chemicals in the body. They're created from many metabolic processes and also from inflammation and sun damage. They contain one or more unpaired electrons and scavenge, or steal, electrons from other molecules, thus damaging those molecules. In terms of your skin, free radicals can damage collagen and elastin.
Hydroquinone - An antioxidant and skin lightener that in high concentrations is a prescription-only topical medication. Hydroquinone in low concentrations is used as an ingredient in skin care products.
Hyperpigmentation - Abnormal darkening of the skin that can follow inflammation, caused by higher amounts of melanin in a particular spot. It can also result from hormones and sun exposure.
Inflammation - A reaction of the skin to disease or injury.
Keratin - Tough, fibrous protein that is inside the cells of the epidermis. It's also a constituent of hair and nails.
Laser - Lasers produce single (concentrated) bands of light that can penetrate into the dermis without injuring the epidermis. They're used to treat acne and its scars. When used to treat acne, the beams are adjusted to penetrate below the epidermis and travel into the dermis where they can zero in on hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and the p.acnes bacteria.
Melanin - Substance that gives the skin and hair its color and protects against UV radiation.
Microdermabrasion - Technique that uses aluminum oxide crystals passing through a vacuum tube to exfoliate surface skin.
Nodule - A large lumpy, pus filled, frequently reddish bump that is lodged more deeply in the skin. They are inflammatory lesions that are sometimes referred to as cysts.
Perioral dermatitis - Also known as periorificial dermatitis, this condition is a rosacea like skin eruption seen almost exclusively in young women.
Photoaging - A term that refers to skin damage from the sun.
Rosacea - Acne like condition characterized by redness, papules, and sometimes pustules in the center one third of the face in certain fair-complexioned adults. It's often mistaken for acne.
Salicylic acid - Ingredient found in many over the counter acne products. Helps to exfoliate the outer layers of the skin.
Silicone derivatives - Ingredients in moisturizers that sit on the surface of the skin and lock in moisture without clogging pores and causing breakouts. They also give the skin a soft and smooth texture.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) - All sunscreens are currently labeled with an SPF that lets you know how long you can stay in the sun before burning. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more to get adequate sun protection.
Topical therapy - Something that's applied onto the skin, such as a cream, gel, or ointment.