Skincare Glossary

Hälsa Botanicals Skincare Glossary

There are so many terms, ingredients and products in the skincare world that it is almost impossible to keep track. That’s why we made this skincare glossary to help you learn about what certain terms mean and what to look for. Once you master this list, you will be a skincare master!

Skincare glossary expert


  • The skin on your face is slightly acidic with a pH between 4.5 to 5.5. When it is out of this range, skin can become irritated and even have more breakouts. 


  • Red pimples occur when sebaceous glands are infected or inflamed.


  • When alcohol is used in skincare, it is an undrinkable form called ethyl alcohol. It is used in some toners or other acne treating products to help remove oil and tighten pores. 


  • Algae is a kelp or seaweed that has tremendous moisturizing powers. When applied to the skin it hydrates to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and helps to eliminate acne and uneven skin tone. 

Aloe Vera 

  • Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant that is composed of a gel with active compounds. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes that work to soothe skin, reduce dark spots, moisturize and even help prevent acne. 

Aloe vera skincare

Amino Acids

  • These are the main proteins found in collagen and elastin. They help your skin stay firm and fresh. As you get older, external factors such as free radicals reduce the level of amino acids that  give your face structural support. It is important to have creams or serums that contain these acids to help restore them.. 


  • Anti-inflammatory activity usually refers to reducing redness, swelling and/or pain. When anti-inflammatory ingredients are put into skincare, anti-inflammatory agents block substances that cause inflammation and work to reduce any sign of it. 


  • They are ingredients  that help to protect the skin’s surface from free-radical damage to the skin. They also have anti-aging benefits such as reducing fine lines and evening-out skin tone. 


  • Arnica is a herb that blooms bright yellow flowers that look similar to daisies. People use this substance for a variety of conditions, such as helping with muscle pain or even treating insect bites. When applied topically the main benefits of this ingredient includes reducing inflammation, relieving pain and helping to heal bruises. 

Beta Carotene

  • This is the red colored pigment, called carotenoid, found in bright colored foods such as carrots and beets.  It’s an antioxidant that as food, turns into Vitamin A when consumed. When used in skincare products, it protects against AVA-light damage, neutralizes free radicals and helps to even out skin tone.

Broad Spectrum

  • This is a term used to describe sunscreen that protects against harmful UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) radiation. Usually it’s used in combination with the SPF rating - which stands for Sun Protection Factor - the level of sun protection. SPF 15 or higher is proven to work against these free radicals.


  • This ingredient is prominent in eye creams because it reduces redness and puffiness while constricting blood vessels. It comes from the leaves and seeds in various plants such as coffee and cacao beans.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

  • These are the compounds extracted from the cannabis plant. When the oil is used in skincare it has many advantages from moisturizing properties and anti-inflammatory powers.

CBD skincare


  • Is a daisy-like flower that is commonly used in traditional medicine and in herbal teas. Also known as Matricaria Recutita, it contains high levels of antioxidants that help reduce the appearance of fine lines, dark spots, and acne scars.

Citric Acid

  • This is found in many fruits and is used in many skin care products such as masks and exfoliators. When used, it brightens the skin and helps new collagen form. 

Clean Beauty

  • This term is used to describe skin care products that are safe, formulated without toxic ingredients and with transparent labeling. While there is no standard definition, often clean beauty products may also be plant-based or vegan, sustainably sourced and/or cruelty free. 


  • A skincare product that works to remove dead skin cells, oil, dirt and even makeup. This product is known to be the first step in every skincare regime. 


  • Collagen is a protein that plays an essential role throughout the human body. It makes up 80% of skin, and works to give it strength and firmness. Aging - both chronological and environmental- reduces collagen production. Skincare products containing collagen, peptides or hyaluronic acid can help build and support collagen production.

Coenzyme 10 (CoQ10) also known as Ubiquinone 

  • CoQ10 is antioxidant in the skin but levels decline with age and UV exposure. CoQ10 is used in anti-aging skincare products to reduce the appearance of fine lines, preserve skin cell function and improve skin texture.


  • This is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchy skin, rashes, scaly patches and infections. 


  • This is also known as a moisturizer. It is used to increase hydration into the skin and lock essential nutrients into the skin. 


  • These are different kinds of chemicals, such as cetyl alcohol, that work to bind ingredients together for skincare products. 

Essential Fatty Acids

  • These are polyunsaturated fats found in many ingredients, such as olive oil. They are building blocks for healthy cell membranes and help provide a healthy skin oil barrier. which helps skin maintain hydration and appear plumper and healthier. As a moisturizing ingredient, they do not clog pores or irritate the skin.

Essential Oils

  • Plant based extracts that are made by pressing various parts of a plant to capture compounds that produce fragrance. They can range from flowers to bark to leaves and fruit. 


  • Eucalyptus is a fast-growing evergreen plant. Historically it has been known to be used as an antiseptic, insect repellent, aromatherapy and much more. When put into skincare, it is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory powers, along with its distinctive smell. 



  • Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant phytochemicals that are found in very pigmented fruits and vegetables, seeds and even coffee. They work to not only repair your skin but also protect it from free radicals. 


  • Fragrance-free products do not contain any synthetic compounds used to scent products. Skincare products that are considered fragrance-free can still have natural fragrances from essential oils and floral extracts. These products work best for all types of skin, especially sensitive skin. 

Free Radicals

  • Free radicals damage skin cells that create an uneven skin tone, wrinkles and sagging. They come from unstable molecules caused by sunlight’s UV rays, pollution and even cigarette smoke. 


  • This antioxidant is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. It is found naturally throughout the body. When applying it to your skin it can help your skin produce more hyaluronic acid and can have anti-aging effects. 


  • Glycerin is a sugar alcohol derived from animal products, plants or petroleum. Glycerin’s primary benefits are hydrating your skin and holding in the moisture. It helps defend against free radicals and has anti-aging benefits.

Hemp Seed Oil

  • Hemp seed oil is made by pressing seeds from a hemp plant. It has great moisturizing powers because it includes vitamins and essential fatty acids. 

Hyaluronic Acid

  • Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule naturally found in skin that helps retain its moisture content. Although produced naturally, that production declines as we age. Hyaluronic acid is often included in anti-aging skincare serums and creams to help plump the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.


  • Hyperpigmentation describes uneven skin tone, melasma (patches of discoloration, or scarring that differs from the rest of your skin. It can be caused by too much sun exposure, UV light exposure, hormones or illness. 


  • These are substances that you take orally such as drinks, pills and powders that work to help different parts of your body from skin health to digestion. 

Lactic Acid

  • Lactic acid is made from fermented milk, also known as alpha hydroxy acid. It works to gently exfoliate skin and is great for people with sensitive skin. 


  • Lavender is a beautiful purple plant that is not only great to look at, but also to smell. It is known to be used in aromatherapy and popular for essential oils. However, it also has many skin benefits from soothing irritated skin, fighting acne, reducing fine lines, and evening out skin tone. 


Marula Oil

  • This is derived from the fruit on the African Marula Tree. The oil is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids which helps the oil quickly absorb into the skin. 


  • Menthol is derived from the mint plant, it has a cooling agent that can be found in many topical products. When put into salves or gels, it can work to relieve aches, pains and sore muscles. 


  • This is usually a lotion or cream that works to hydrate your skin and prevent dryness. 


  • Non-comedogenic substances do not have the potential to block or clog pores. Non-comedogenic oils are used in products to help keep the skin dry and oil free, particularly for those who need to avoid acne. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids are important fats that one must obtain in their diet. The three main types are: ALA, EPA and DHA. They  are great for pretty much everything. They help preserve skin cells, guide nutrients into the skin, hold on to moisture and get rid of bacteria. It is found in olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and even salmon.


  • Parabens are a group of chemicals used in skincare products and cosmetics to help preserve the product and protect against growth in bacteria.


  • These are the building blocks of protein and they work to produce collagen and repair skin.


  • Used to measure acidity or alkalinity in a substance. When used in skincare products, it is usually neutral or slightly acidic on a PH scale of 7. 


  • Is an immune mediated disease that causes uncomfortable dry and scaly skin due to systemic inflammation. 


  • Retinol is a formulation of Vitamin A. The maximum amount allowed in skincare products is only 1%. It works to even out skin tone, reduce the signs of aging and acne.


  • This is a skin condition that causes blushing and visible red blood vessels in your face. It commonly affects middle-aged women with fair skin. 


  • Sebum is the main ingredient in your body's natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands. It is oily and works to moisturize and protect the skin. 


  • Face Serums are nutrient-rich oils or water-based liquids that you put on your skin before applying moisturizer. They are typically thinner than moisturizers and intended to quickly and deeply penetrate the skin.


Shea Butter

  • This is derived from the nut of the African shea butter tree. It is ivory colored with a creamy consistency and it is nourishing for the skin. Shea butter has high concentrations of fatty acids and palmitic acid that work to deeply hydrate the skin, prevent signs of aging, reduce inflammation, and has tremendous healing properties. 


  • Squalene is a compound naturally produced by the skin. When put into a skincare product it helps to retain moisture in the skin and diminish signs of aging. When put into skincare products, squalene is derived from olives, sugar or rice bran. As a skincare ingredient, squalene oxidizes quickly so it is typically modified though a hydrogenation process into a form called squalane.


  • A toner works to cleanse the skin of all bacteria and dead skin cells. It shrinks the appearance of pores and helps other nutrients come into the skin after it is applied. Toners are usually applied after cleansing the face to make sure all bacteria are cleared. 


Vitamin C

  • Also known as ascorbic acid, this antioxidant helps prevent sun damage, produces collagen, and works to get rid of fine lines and early aging.