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December 04, 2020

Hands up if you’ve ever felt confused over beauty terminology! You are not alone. Unless you are a science-type, or you’ve worked in skincare, chances are you’ve Googled a skincare ingredient checker before now.

And skincare formulations are a little tricky. It takes clever people who know exactly what they’re doing with different ingredients to create the right products. But wait! That doesn’t mean you have to be in the dark or have a full beauty glossary to hand. Armed with the right knowledge, you can pick the right skincare products to fit your skincare routine.


Hooray! Right now, you’re on the facetheory website. So, this skincare glossary is focused on the ingredients we talk about most. “A” among other things in our world, belongs to actives.

The headline is that “actives” refer to active ingredients. They change our skin on a cellular level, which helps to treat certain skin conditions, and they are backed up by laboratory research. Although this might sound a little scary, these actives are all naturally found in our skin already.

Some examples include glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, retinol and vitamin C. You can find out more about the products we have that use these ingredients in the “Actives” part of our website.


You’d be forgiven for feeling a little bit daunted by the idea of putting acid on your skin. But in skincare, acids are much the friendlier, naturally derived ingredients from sources like plants. And when we say “acid,” it is a nudge along the PH scale to define it as an acid and they’re among the top skincare ingredients used and recognised by dermatologists.

They work by exfoliating your skin, sloughing off dead cells, and giving you a fresh-faced appearance. Different acids work better for each skin type, so check out which one suits yours before building your skincare routine.


Unlike “acids,” the use of “botanicals” in skincare labels often leave us feeling reassured. It’s beauty jargon that sounds decidedly good-for-you, but what exactly does the phrase cover?

Botanicals are natural, plant extracts. There are so many kinds of botanicals, and they are produced in many ways, so it’s a confusingly sweeping statement when left out there on its own. For instance, some botanical ingredients are organic, others are not. If this matters to you, it’s worth finding out what the credentials are behind the botanical ingredient. Natural extracts such as green tea and dill have a range of skincare benefits, from increasingly the skin’s elasticity, to reducing redness.

Clean skincare

There’s a lot of noise around “clean” ingredients these days. From food to beauty products. And what does it mean?

In skincare and beauty terms, “clean,” “natural” and “green” all refer to products that contain non-toxic ingredients, with a transparent list detailing what’s inside the bottle. Examples of some ingredients to avoid are parabens, formaldehyde and refined petroleum.

Plenty of products over the years have contained things that are harmful to our health and bodies. Clean ingredients in skincare brands aim to eliminate this practice, and the confusion around ingredients so people can make a conscious choice.

Leaping Bunny approved

Part of the trouble with beauty and skincare products is that it’s not always easy to track back through the entire supply chain and production cycle to back up claims. But, if you’re serious about claiming that your beauty products are truly cruelty-free, that’s exactly what you need to prove.

The Leaping Bunny program is a stamp of approval that’s internationally recognised and shows customers that a product hasn’t conducted any animal testing, our sourced any ingredients that have been tested on animals.

Vegan skincare

Just like the food you can buy, vegan skincare and beauty products are not derived from animals. That makes perfect sense, right? But it often gets confused with “clean” and “cruelty-free” skincare, and there is a difference.

While “cruelty-free” talks about the way a product is sourced and made, and “clean” refers to the ingredients being non-toxic, vegan skincare ingredients mean the ingredients don’t originate from animals in any way. The fact that they also are not tested on animals comes hand-in-hand with this.


We all know vitamins are good for us! And while we think about nourishing our bodies from the inside out, we can also give it some goodness from the outside in.

Certain vitamins are big hitters in any skincare glossary. Vitamin C is a big one, along with vitamin E. This is because along with vitamins D and K, they are proven to help our skin in several ways. You can up your vitamin intake through oral pills or food groups, but you can also apply some topically.

A great example is vitamin C, which is widely used in skincare products. It’s a powerful ingredient for boosting hydration, evening skin tone, reducing dark circles under your eyes, and increasing your skin’s elasticity, among others.

And like any other ingredient or skincare claim, the important thing is focusing on your skincare concerns, finding the products that fit your ethical viewpoint, and referring to a recognised skincare ingredient checker if you’re in doubt.