In the skincare industry, advertisements and commercials are vital in interacting with and luring consumers. As a result of that, new terms and phrases pop up daily. Some are complete nonsense, and some claims make no scientific sense, data, or research to back them up. Though it can be hard to keep on top of what all buzzwords mean, there are a few terms and phrases to watch out for if you want to be a smart consumer.

  • Antioxidants & Free Radicals: Two unavoidable scientific terms used throughout the health and beauty industry. Free radicals are unstable molecules and byproducts of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body. They damage healthy skin cells in their quest to become stable when skin is constantly exposed to the UV rays, environmental pollutants, or other mechanical and chemical insults. This damage can be visible in the skin as fine lines & wrinkles, a dull, uneven skin tone, an increase in pigmented spots, & hyperpigmentation. Antioxidants are the foil opposites of free radicals. These substances nullify oxidative damage caused by free radicals and help protect and soothe the skin.

  • Anti-aging, Age-Reversing: These may not be new terms. Term anti-aging refers to treatments exclusively that slow the aging process and target underlying causes, including loss of elasticity & firmness, fine lines & wrinkles, and uneven texture & tone. Sometimes these terms are misleading because they convey the perception of an unrealistic turning back of the clock.

  • Barrier Repair: This phrase you have probably heard before, yet the science behind this claim is still lacking. The skin barrier is the outermost layer of skin protection against environmental aggressors such as stress, harsh weather, and pollution. When this barrier is thrown off balance, it results in dry, itchy skin with flare-ups. Thankfully, products containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and lipids help replenish moisture and form a protective film over the skin while creating a shield between the skin and other potential irritants. 

  • Cruelty-Free and Vegan: Cruelty-free and vegan merchandise are on the forefront. Animal cruelty-free means neither the product nor its ingredients were tested on animals. Products with Leaping Bunny and Peta logos signify that no product testing has been done in any laboratories. The term vegan refers to products that do not contain animal or animal-derived ingredients. These products may still be tested on animals. When a product claims to be both ‘cruelty-free and vegan,’ it is not tested on animals and does not contain animal products.

  • Dermatologically Tested: This means dermatologists have reviewed a product to ensure it is effective for the skin. It also reveals that the formula is generally safe when applied to the skin without severe reactions.

  • Non-Comedogenic: While non-comedogenic products are water-based formula and oil-free, they are less likely to cause clogged pores and breakouts. Most well-formulated facial products are non-comedogenic, but only a few states specifically it. 

  • Paraben-Free: This phrase has become a buzzword for the past few yearsHowever, parabens are not often reviewed well by the consumers making the product unsafe to use. Parabens have become controversial despite no science-backed studies with any adverse findings. As a result, more product recalls were seen recently due to insufficient preservatives.

  • Peptides: Peptides are short chains of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Collagen, elastin, and keratin are the most abundant proteins in the skin and are responsible for the skin’s structure, texture, and tone. Different peptides have various benefits to the skin, from smoothing wrinkles to increasing firmness and hydration.

  • Plant-Based: This term can be entirely misleading. When any product is made only with ingredients that are derived from plants, it can call itself ‘plant-based.’ However, the product can still contain chemically modified plant ingredients, synthetic preservatives, and polymers/resins. When we see ‘plant-based’ on labels, we naturally connect to the term ‘sustainable’ or as a measure of naturalness. If you are concerned, look for third-party certifications such as ECOCERT, COSMOS, or NATRUE that help reinforce the claim you are reading. They are sourced from the ‘green’ processes when it comes to raw materials, but also the manufacturing, packaging, and more.

  • Probiotics & Prebiotics: They have gained a lot more attention recently. Probiotics are the live organisms that live in our body, mostly in our gut, that are good for our health. On the other hand, prebiotics is dietary fibers that serve as food for these probiotics or “good bacteria.” Probiotics are believed to balance microflora that naturally occurs on the skin and prevent inflammation. Probiotic skincare helps increase beneficial microbial diversity and gently delivers intense hydration to most skin types.