BEAUTY BUZZWORDS: separating fact from fiction

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Beauty, like many industries is constantly evolving and developing. There are an abundance of new ingredients and products on the market now that were not widely known or available a couple of years ago. Foundations have become smarter, primers have evolved and colours have improved enormously with rich pigments and tougher staying power. We've seen Serums and BB/CC Creams hit the mainstream market with huge success as well as the power of 'natural' and 'organic' labelling.

With all this new, exciting beauty comes more expert language, especially when it comes to ingredients. Any quick Google search will result in a wealth of information, peppered with those beauty buzzwords that you hear so often. To simplify these terms and get clued up like an industry expert, read on as our Editorial Director and 25 year beauty expert, Kate Shapland defines the most common beauty buzzwords.

*MyShowcase Stylists can log into their account for a more comprehensive list of buzzwords.



Here are just a few of the most commonly used beauty buzzwords:

Allergy Screened (also Hypo Allergic)
This means that the individual ingredients in a product have gone through exacting tests to ensure that they're safe to use, and that there is just the minimum risk of causing allergy.

These are ingredients which have a neutralising effect on free radicals, the reactive molecules inside your skin which age it when they are activated by external influences like cigarette smoke and UV rays. Antioxidants absorb free radicals. Good antioxidants are the ACE vitamins - that is, A, C and E, which you find in lots of skin care products, and food like green, leafy vegetables and dark fruits.

Collagen is an elastic substance in the underlying tissues of your skin that provides support and springiness. Old collagen fibres are less elastic than new, which is one of the main reasons why skin can become less springy as it ages. Collagen is a popular ingredient in skincare products, although there is some controversy over whether it can actually be absorbed by the skin.

Dermatologically Tested
This means a product has been patch tested on a panel of human volunteers to monitor it for any tendency to cause irritation. This means it's usually suitable for sensitive skin.

Fruit Acids
Also known as AHAs or alphahydroxy acids. They have a natural exfoliative effect on skin and increase cell renewal and are often found in natural products like fruit, sour milk and wine. That's why Cleopatra bathed in milk and the Romans bathed in wine.

These products are usually fragrance-free, contain the minimum of colouring agents and no known irritants or sensitisers. This is not a total guarantee that the user wont have an allergic reaction to a product, but it can help to reduce the risk. It's worth remembering that some people are even allergic to water.

This means a product doesn't contain the ingredient lanolin, the emollient fat stripped from sheep's wool. Lanolin went through a stage of being beauty's enemy number one, for no proper reason, and thankfully medical grade lanolin has now been restored in high performance beauty products, like this.

pH Balanced
The pH scale measures the acidity of alkalinity of a solution. Seven is neutral and any number measured above or below that is acidic or alkaline. Healthy skin has a slightly acidic reading, so pH balanced skin care products are slightly acidic to maintain this natural optimum level.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
An SPF tells you how long a sun cream or moisturiser will protect you from the sun's burning UV rays. The higher the number, the more protection it gives you.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays
These damage and age your skin. UVB rays will burn your skin. UVA rays are present all year round and cause ageing.

Vitamin E
This is often used in moisturisers because it can help combat dryness and the signs of ageing. It's also useful for helping to heal scars and burns.

Not tested on animals
This can be interpreted in many different ways in beauty. For most products which carry this label, it means the final product, in its complete state (ie as you buy it in the jar or bottle) has not been tested on animals. However, it is also worth remembering that every single ingredient, including water, has at some stage been tested on an animal. So each of the ingredients in the product you are using will at some point have been tested on animal, if not by the company that made the product, by an independent lab.

Natural and Organic
These are wide to interpretation, for example an 'organic' product only needs 0.01 per cent of organic ingredients to be class as such. See my blog post on this for further explanation of both.

A serum tends to be lighter and more fluid than a cream, and opaque in colour, so not a gel or oil.