Glossary

Arginine

Arginine

Arginine (also known as l-arginine) — an amino acid that has been shown to significantly increase urea in the stratum corneum and continually increase cell moisture, improving the clinical symptoms of dry skin.

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Anti-Oxidant

Anti-oxidant

Anti-oxidant —refers to the ability of an ingredient to slow down, prevent, or block oxidation caused by the damaging effects of free radical activity. Some of the most common anti-oxidants used in cosmetics are beta carotene, coenzyme Q10, glutathione, green tea, idebenone, superoxide dismutase, and vitamins C and E. It is well established that a mixture of anti-oxidants may enhance the photo-protective effects of a formulation. Antioxidants are key to age prevention and their daily use in cosmetic products helps reduce UV-induced skin damage. 

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Allantoin

Allantoin

Allantoin — a botanical extract derived from comfrey root, considered an effective moisturizing ingredient when used in skincare.  Known as a keratolytic, allantoin can increase the water content of cells while also aiding in the process of desquamation of the outer layers of skin.  Gentle and non-irritating, increases skin smoothness, aids in wound healing and promotes cell proliferation and longevity.

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Cosmeceutical

Cosmeceutical

Cosmeceutical — a combination of the words cosmetic and pharmaceutical. From a commercial standpoint, the term cosmeceutical is being used to indicate that a given product may have greater efficacy than whatever can be said under cosmetic claims. It is used to describe a range of products that promote attractiveness and affect the structure of the skin. These are positioned primarily as “correctors” that influence the biological function of the skin for anti-aging, antiwrinkle, and skin rejuvenation purposes. Some of the mechanisms of action attributed to cosmeceutical ingredients include activating cellular receptors (retinoids); enhancing barrier function (most moisturizers); increasing exfoliation...

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Ceramides

Ceramides

Ceramides —naturally occurring lipids in the skin’s uppermost layer that form a protective barrier and reducing natural trans-epidermal water loss. Ceramides repair the stratum corneum layer in cases of dry skin, improve skin hydration, and increase the feeling of softness. They are beneficial for stressed, sensitive, scaly, rough, dry, aged, and sun-damaged skin. Ceramides play an essential role in the structure of superficial epidermal layers and form an integral part of the intercellular membrane network. Ceramide production decreases with age, accentuating any tendency to dry skin. When incorporated into a skincare preparation, the topical application of ceramides could benefit the...

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Carnosine

Carnosine

Carnosine (dipeptide - a small, two amino acid (β-Ala-His) one) — the one used in cosmetic products is synthetically produced in a lab to copy the natural thing.  Carnosine targets the interaction of proteins and sugar molecules which create pro-aging Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs (associated with skin aging). Inhibition of glycation of proteins of extracellular matrix may help skin texture and appearance. Topically applied carnosine has been shown to prevent AGE formations and reduce levels of AGEs in both epidermis and reticular dermis in human skin explants. A 2017 review paper on topical carnosine writes that it is a...

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Caffeine

Caffeine

Caffeine — used for skin firming and tightening. It is often incorporated into body product formulations targeting cellulite and slimming, as well as in eye creams that claim to reduce puffiness.

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Borage seed oil

Borage seed oil

Borage seed oil — contains some of the highest amounts of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) of all seed oils. Because GLA is converted to precursors of a variety of prostaglandins and leukotrienes, it may have potential as an anti-inflammatory in cosmetic formulations. Borage Oil protects the skin's natural lipid barrier and provides essential lipids to the epidermis, smoothing rough, dry skin.

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Bone marrow derived stem cells

Bone marrow derived stem cells

Bone marrow derived stem cells — mesenchymal stem cells originating from bone marrow are the most powerful and versatile population in your body, able to transform into a myriad of cell types to fight injury and inflammation. Stem cells act as command and control centers, directing the process of healing to minimize overall damage. Sourced from the bone marrow of young, healthy, pre-screened adult donors, stem cell cytokines contain none of the original cell parts themselves, only the beneficial growth factors they produce.

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Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide — an antibacterial ingredient commonly used in acne treatments. It functions by forcing an oxidant (peroxide in this case) into the philosebaceous orifice where it releases oxygen, thereby diminishing the P. acnes population.  Why I prefer substitutes to benzoyl peroxide… Benzoyl peroxide is VERY drying may cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. In some people, it can cause oil glands to kick into over-drive to produce more sebum so you end up in a vicious dry/oily cycle. When oily skin becomes dehydrated, the surface layers of cells harden up and block oil secretion. The result is...

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Baobab seed oil

Baobab seed oil

Baobab seed oil — contains high amounts of amino acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C and powerful protective antioxidants. Also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fats, including palmitic acid, oleic acid, linolenic acid and linoleic acid. Clinical research shows benefits in skin moisture, softness, texture, elasticity, skin barrier function and reduced inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acids in this oil may also help heal or soothe an eczema rash. 

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Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol — is a botanical ingredient that mimics the effects of retinol but also boosts overall antioxidant activity.

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Arbutin

Arbutin

Arbutin — used primarily for its anti-oxidant and bleaching properties. It acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor by converting to hydroquinone, and thus can prevent melanin formation.

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Glycine

Glycine

Glycine — an amino acid that is primarily used in anti-aging skincare products because of its ability to improve moisture retention, increase collagen production, and promote skin repair and regeneration. Glycine helps prevent tissue breakdown and is a key amino acid in collagen (collagen is composed of about one-third glycine). Data support the findings for glycine playing an important role in epidermal differentiation and epidermal barrier formation.

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Glycerin

Glycerin

Glycerin (glycerol; propanetriol) — a humectant used in moisturizers. It is water-binding and able to draw and absorb water from the air, thus helping the skin retain moisture. Glycerin has been studied extensively for its hydrating abilities. Based on the data available, glycerin has been established as a good skin-moisturizing agent. At least part of its activity is attributed to its facilitating enzymatic reactions in the skin, thereby promoting corneocyte desquamation. Glycerin also improves the spreading qualities of creams and lotions. It is a clear, syrupy liquid made by chemically combining water and fat that is usually derived from vegetable...

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Glutathione

Glutathione

Glutathione — a peptide composed of cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. It is believed to enhance the skin’s cellular metabolism and oxygen utilization. It has been found to protect the fibroblast against free radical-induced oxidation and act as a powerful antioxidant. Studies indicate that it can inactivate the tyrosinase enzyme and quench free radicals that contribute to tyrosinase and melanin formation, thereby serving as a skin-lightening or depigmenting agent. Glutathione is a component of plant and animal tissue, naturally occurring in the body and essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.

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Free radical scavenger

Free radical scavenger

Free radical scavenger — (see anti-oxidant) Compounds such as vitamin E (the different tocopherol forms), vitamin C (ascorbic acid form), and flavonoids are examples of ingredients that counteract the destructive effect of free radical activity and are considered free radical scavengers. They can be topically incorporated to help decompose the free radicals into compounds against which the body can defend itself.

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Free radicals

Free radicals

Free radicals (reactive oxygen species) — electrically charged, highly unstable, and very reactive oxygen atoms or molecules. Free radicals are formed when an oxygen atom loses an electron. To regain stability, free radicals capture electrons from other substances in order to neutralize. This reaction can give rise to two different processes: (a) the neutralization effect of one free radical can cause the formation of another, causing a chain reaction of free radical formation where innumerable free radical reactions occur within seconds of the initial reaction; or (b) it can attach itself to the cellular membrane, damaging the DNA and cellular...

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Ferulic acid

Ferulic acid

Ferulic acid — a plant-derived anti-oxidant and free-radical scavenger, it protects the skin against UVB-induced redness. When incorporated into formulas with ascorbic acid and tocopherol, ferulic acid can improve their stability and double the photoprotection capacities offered by the formulation. In clinical studies, ferulic acid exhibits good permeation capacities through the stratum corneum, which can be attributed to its lipophilic properties. The combination of vitamin C, E and ferulic acid appears to have clear advantages over vitamin C alone.

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Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM)

Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM)

Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) — described as a mixture of bioactive substances including collagen, glycosaminoglycans, heparan sulfate, dermatan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and the glycoproteins laminin and fibronectin. It has the ability to stimulate the cells to actually help repair the skin. In general, it is believed to improve cellular function.

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Dimethyl MEA (DMAE)

Dimethyl MEA (DMAE)

Dimethyl MEA (DMAE) — also known as dimethylaminoethanol. Studies indicate skin-firming properties, and an ability to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as dark circles under the eyes. It is considered anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory, and has exhibited free-radical scavenging activity.

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Dimethicone

Dimethicone

Dimethicone — a form of silicone used to give products lubricity, slip, and good feel. It is reported to protect the skin against moisture loss when used in larger quantities. It improves product flow and spread-ability. In combination with other ingredients, dimethicone becomes a good waterproofing material for sunscreen emulsions.

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Cytokines

Cytokines

Cytokines — a generic name used to describe a broad category of small water-soluble peptides and proteins important in cell signaling. Cytokines cannot cross the lipid bilayer of cells to enter the cytoplasm. They act as regulators modulate the functional activities of individual cells and tissues. 

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Kakadu Plum

Kakadu Plum

Kakadu Plum — very high in Vitamin C & powerful protective antioxidants and also has extraordinary amounts of immune defense gallic & ellagic acids.

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Jojoba

Jojoba

Jojoba — a liquid wax which is commonly referred to as an oil. Jojoba's chemical composition is very close to sebum, a natural fluid produced by human skin and a natural protective barrier. It also aids in regulating moisture by reducing trans-epidermal water loss. It contains a significant amount of myristic acid, a fatty acid that is known to act as an anti-inflammatory. Jojoba contains some of the longest-chain fatty acids of any of the carriers and absorbs better than most other carriers. Studies indicate that jojoba oil can penetrate rapidly by absorption via the pores and hair follicles. From...

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Interleukin-10 (IL-10)

Interleukin-10 (IL-10)

Interleukin-10 (IL-10) — An anti-inflammatory cytokine that is responsible for controlling the over expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines seen in abundance within acneic skin.

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Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) — (see also sh-Oligopeptide-2 or rh-Oligopeptide-2) may play an important role in prevention of facial aging. Because it is the primary growth factor in the ability of cells to grow and reproduce, it may be the most valuable for its anti-aging and regenerative effects. IGF-1 possesses the ability to stimulate both epithelial cells and fibroblasts to increase proliferation rates, promoting keratinocyte cellular repair and increasing collagen production. IGF-1 may have a role in delaying the accumulation of skin wrinkles by inhibition of collagenases (enzymes that break the peptide bonds in collagen), and reducing apoptosis (programmed...

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Idebenone

Idebenone

Idebenone — A synthetic antioxidant similar to coenzyme Q10, with a smaller molecular structure, which allows it to penetrate the skin and apparently the cellular membrane. Clinical studies demonstrate a visible improvement in photodamaged skin, reduced skin roughness and dryness, decreased fine lines and wrinkles, and increased skin hydration. In addition, idebenone helps improve hyperpigmentation because its molecular structure is similar to that of hydroquinone. Neither the best nor most potent antioxidant around. Noteworthy, nonetheless.

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Hyaluronic acid

hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid — A glycosaminoglycan component, Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a naturally occurring substance (in the dermis) and is found throughout the body. It plays an important role in tissue hydration, lubrication, cellular function, and the distribution of nutrients. Its water-absorption abilities and large molecular structure allow the epidermis to achieve greater suppleness, proper plasticity, and turgor.   When applied to the skin, HA forms a viscoelastic film in a manner similar to the way it holds water in the intercellular matrix of dermal connective tissues. This performance and behavior suggests that HA makes an ideal moisturizer base, allowing for the...

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Hinokitiol

Hinokitiol

Hinokitiol — (Beta-Thujaplicin), is an organic compound extracted from the oils of the western red cedar tree. It was discovered in the 1930s by First Nations people, and used for medicinal purposes. Hinokitiol is a superpower ingredient that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-melanogenic properties. Best of all, hinokitiol is as gentle as it is powerful. Hinokitiol’s properties allow it to target the inflammatory redness and blemishes seen in rosacea and acne. Hinokitiol is effective against P. acnes bacteria, and there is no known acquired resistance to it, unlike other prescription antibiotics.  Hinokitiol is also an excellent anti-aging ingredient....

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Glycosaminoglycans

Glycosaminoglycans hyaluronic acid

Glycosaminoglycans — polysaccharides that are major components of the extra cellular matrix (ECM) and connective tissues. They are used in cosmetics for their ability to increase hydration, elasticity and pliability of the skin. Glycosaminoglycans are credited with film-forming, moisturizing, and firming properties. They reportedly leave the skin smooth, velvety soft and minimize wrinkle appearance. They are easily accepted by the skin because of their high charge and affinity. This group of complex materials, formerly identified as mucopolysaccharides, includes such individual components as hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, chondroitin sulfate, chondroitin 6-sulfate, dermatan sulfate, heparin, and heparin sulfate. Glycosaminoglycans are derived from cartilaginous...

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Glycolic acid

Glycolic Acid hydroxyacetic acid

Glycolic acid (hydroxyacetic acid) — the most commonly used form of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and one of the most effective ingredients in today’s skin-rejuvenation business. It works on both the epidermis and dermis. Scientists and formulators believe glycolic acid has greater penetration potential largely due to its smaller molecular weight. Glycolic Acid dissolves the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together in the epidermis, reduces corneocyte cohesion, allowing these dead skin cells to be easily dissolved or exfoliated to reveal new skin underneath and eventually building the thickness of the epidermis. In the dermis, it increases ground substance (boosts collagen...

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Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Niacinamide

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) — (See also vitamin B) used as a skin stimulant and skin smoother; beneficial for increasing epidermal ceramide and fatty acid levels, reduction of trans-epidermal water loss, reduction in unwanted pigmentation, supporting collagen synthesis and decreasing inflammation.

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Mineral oil

Mineral oil

Mineral oil — derived from petroleum; comedogenic. Avoid.

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Microneedling

Microneedling

Microneedling — What began around 2000 (the first paper on skin needling was presented at the International Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Society (IPRAS) in San Francisco, in 1999), has taken off like a hot potato and continues to be a hot topic in skincare and anti-aging for good reason. It works!  Four to six (4-6) microneedlings performed with a 1.0-mm roller at 7 day intervals provide the most reliable results with the use of tGF-b3 and IL-10 on skin that sees regular use of topical Vitamins A and C. (summary of article written by Desmond Fernandes, Dept. of Plastic and Reconstructive...

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Microchanneling

Microchanneling

Microchanneling — a term more recently used to describe needling the skin at shallow depths, usually in the 0.25mm range. The question remains, does needling at shallow depths provide any benefit? These “cosmetic” depths do have value, since they will still pierce viable epidermal cells and allow them to release epidermal growth factors and cytokines. These will help in stimulating a mild repair and rejuvenation response. At the deeper “medical” depths, you will get a more robust portfolio of regenerative proteins getting produced, and this is important when you are doing more corrective work. Each level of penetration can provide...

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Malic acid

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) Malic Acid

Malic acid — (see also Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)) the third smallest AHA in terms of molecular size. Although it is used in numerous cosmetic products, particularly those indicating a “fruit acid” content and generally designed for anti-aging, unlike glycolic and lactic acids, its skin benefits have not been extensively studied. Some formulators consider it difficult to work with, particularly when compared to other AHAs, and it can be somewhat irritating. It is rarely used as the only AHA in a product. It is found naturally occurring in apples.

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Lipid

Lipid

Lipid — refers to fat or fat-like substances (oils, waxes), and encompasses diverse compounds, including triglycerides, phospholipids, and sterols such as cholesterol. Lipids are an important element for the corneum layer’s healthy structure and function. They account for a significant volume of the stratum corneum, constituting 6 - 10 % of the normal corneum layer by weight. Lipids incorporated into cosmetics help moisturize the skin by renewing its barrier function, either by replacing lipids that have been removed with washing, by allowing epidermal lipids to remain despite adverse environments, or by renewing the skin’s ability to bind moisture. The skin’s...

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Liposomes

Liposomes

Liposomes — extremely small, phospholipid membrane vesicles able to encapsulate and transport water-soluble (hydrophilic) and oil-soluble (lipophilic) substances. The delivery of active ingredients directly into the skin is one of the biggest challenges in skin care. This challenge has led to the development of liposomes in cosmetics. Their compatibility and affinity with cellular membranes allow them to be easily accepted and metabolized by the skin, and provide the skin with “actives” that would not be so readily accepted otherwise. Liposomes have brought to the cosmetic field widespread interest in the concepts of microencapsulation and targeted substance delivery.

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Licorice extract

Licorice extract

Licorice extract (glycyrrhiza glabra) — licorice extract has a depigmenting effect as well as an inhibitory effect on melanin synthesis given its ability to act as a tyrosinase inhibitor. As a depigmenting agent, licorice extract is described as more effective than kojic acid and 75 times more effective than ascorbic acid. The chief constituent of licorice root is glycyrrhizin, present in concentrations that range from 5 to 24 percent depending on the variety of licorice used.

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Lavender oil

Lavender oil

Lavender oil — credited with many therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-bacterial, calming and relaxing qualities. The oil’s main component is linalool acetate. Lavender oil works well on all skin types and produces excellent results when used for oily skin as well as in the treatment of acne, superficial burns, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. It soothes skin irritation and helps skin recover quickly. Lavender oil is said to normalize any skin type and to stimulate cellular growth and regeneration. 

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Lanolin

Lanolin

Lanolin — Potential comedogenic. Avoid.

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Lactic Acid

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid (sodium lactate) — (see also Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)) an alpha hydroxy acid, an exfoliating agent. It can help normalize epidermal structure, and stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin. Lactic acid is a  component of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor, and has better water intake than glycerin. Studies indicate an ability to increase the water-retention capacity of the stratum corneum. They also show that the pliability of the stratum corneum layer is closely related to the absorption of lactic acid; the greater the amount of absorbed lactic acid, the more pliable the stratum corneum layer....

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Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 — peptide complex used in anti-aging products for its ability to help improve the skin’s visible elasticity. This peptide is believed to stimulate the regeneration of collagen in the dermis and improve the epidermal barrier.  Synthesizes extra cellular matrix and improves the visible appearance of wrinkles.

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Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 — a relatively new addition to the list of peptides that are used in skincare. Studies suggest that the chains of amino acids communicate with the skin’s collagen production systems and boost its production, which is a significant factor in achieving smooth, wrinkle-free skin.

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Palmitoyl Oligopeptide

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide — (trade-named Matrixyl™ 3000), an anti-aging peptide clinically proven to reduce wrinkle depth by stimulating the synthesis of collagen, elastin, glucosaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid in the deep layers of the skin. Has been shown to duplicate the effects of retinoids without the irritation. 

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Oligopeptide-34

Oligopeptide-34

Oligopeptide-34 — a synthetically manufactured peptide containing 13 amino acids (including arginine). Oligopeptide-34 decreases melanin synthesis and tyrosinase enzyme activity in melanocytes, decreasing the transfer of melanosomes to new keratinoycte cells. Studies in the laboratory using human melanocytes and Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone (MSH, the hormone that signals the melanocyte to start melanin production) show expected production of melanin in 72 hours. In test tubes where Oligopeptide-34 was added, the amount of melanin production was significantly reduced by about 33%. Additional studies indicated a reduction in tyrosinase enzyme activity by 65%. Studies comparing Oligopeptide-34 to Vitamin C and Arbutin showed Oligopeptide-34 to be...

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Retinoids

Retinoids

Retinoids — refers to a family of ingredients derived from vitamin A, including retinol, retinyl esters, and retinyl palmitate. Retinoids play an important role in repairing damaged and photodamaged skin. Retinoid treatment can result in the regeneration of the dermal collagen tissue by inhibiting excessive formation of the collagenase enzyme responsible for the breakdown of dermal collagen and by also promoting collagen synthesis. The ability of retinoids to increase collagen types I and II makes them helpful in the prevention of bruising, tearing, and ulceration in mature skin. Retinol has become the preferred retinoid for cosmetic use.

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Retinol

Retinol

Retinol — (See Vitamin A) A retinoid considered to be a skin revitalizer. It is reported to enhance skin radiance and treat conditions associated with chronological aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, as well as dermatological disorders, including acne, follicular and lesion papules, actinic keratosis, oily skin, and rosacea. According to clinical dermatologists, retinol is one of the few substances with a demonstrated ability to reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. It is able to alter the behavior of aged cells so they act in a more youthful manner. It is considered necessary for normal epidermal cell growth...

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Retinoic acid (tretinoin)

Retinoic acid tretinoin

Retinoic acid (tretinoin) — (See Active Ingredients, see Vitamin A) A vitamin A derivative that is prescription strength. At the end of the day, it’s only RA (retinoic acid) that modulates gene expression and influences cellular processes in both the epidermis and the dermis, and the path to get there is either indirect via retinol (the Vitamin A derivative, not to be confused with Vitamin A) or retinaldehyde, or directly with tretinoin (retinoic acid). And now that we’ve cleared that up let’s forge right ahead. RA has demonstrated an ability to alter collagen synthesis, increase dermal hyaluronic acid levels, and...

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