Sick of reading beauty terms you don't understand? We've done the research for you, so that you don't have to. Read on to actually understand what is in your beauty bag!
FREE RADICALS and ANTIOXIDANTS:
Free radicals aren't radical political protestors, waving signs, let loose on your face! Although, that is totally what I imagine them to be! Really they are a chemically essential part of life. They are created when matter is oxidized to create energy and results in highly charged oxygen molecules. The problem is that they are harmful to the skin (but also the body in general). The common causes of free radicals are intense and prolonged sun exposure, smoking, stress and obesity. They can cause wrinkling on the skin and have been associated with pre-cancers. However, if they are combatted with antioxidants (like Vitamin C and E) they can be neutralised. The reason we need antioxidants more as we age (and when I say 'age' I mean right around the time we turn 20! Yes, this is when you should start to think about free radicals and antioxidants, rather than when it's too late) is because when we are young, our skin is loaded with antioxidants that naturally protect us from environmental factors. Ageing, the sun, illness and using harsh skin products all contribute to our skin's diminishing ability to produce its own antioxidants. Without incorporating them through a good diet and topically applying antioxidant rich products, free radicals will break down skin's collagen amongst other things, and contribute to all the signs of ageing that we try to avoid!
To topically help your skin, natural antioxidants in creams and lotions are the best way to go. Try emerginC Phytocell Detox Mask which fights free radicals with seaweed, grape stem cells, green and white teas, and a wide variety of active plant extracts. The emerginC Phytocell Cream contains these benefits too!
Cosmetics containing antioxidants? We love Luk Beautifood Lip Nourish which is rich in antioxidants thanks to its 100% natural (and even edible) food recipe.
Explaining this term is easier by starting with what comedogenic means! Comedogenic products are those that can block the skin's pores. Comedogens have a bad rap, for the primary reason that skin produces sebum. But even then, sebum isn't all bad either! Sebum is useful because it keeps the skin from going dry - but to do this, it has to be able to exit pores. When pores get clogged, this sebum can't escape and turns into blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. No fun! This is why non-comedogenic products are useful for keeping pores clear. The best thing is that non-comedogenic products are available for multiple skincare concerns. To remove makeup we love the Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Facial Towelettes. How about a serum that deters blockages? Try Be in Awe Clearing Serum which harnesses sandalwood, ginger and lemon essential oils. And looking for a great non-comedogenic moisturiser? Try Aveeno's Daily Moisturising Lotion.
What are active ingredients? No, they aren't the fittest bunnies at the gym! Actually, they are the ingredients that have some level of therapeutic activity on, or within the body. In other words, they are the ingredients that give the desired physiological effect to the skin - like the component of a clearing serum, that actually keeps the skin clear! Active ingredients work best when they are the major component of a product. A great example of skincare containing active ingredients is the Be in Awe Nirvaata Calming Serum which contains natural botanical active ingredients to calm stressed skin.
NATURAL & ORGANIC:
Natural and organic can be difficult to differentiate. Any plant, mineral, or animal by-product is 'natural'. Organic, on the other hand, points to how an ingredient was cultivated. Often organic ingredients are made without the use of chemical fertilisers, growth hormones, antibiotics or pesticides (similar to the organic foods we eat). However, it is important to remember that 'natural' doesn't always mean safe and that 'chemical' doesn't directly translate to dangerous. If you are looking to 'Go Green' more often in your beauty routine, reaching for products that contain natural or organic ingredients is a fantastic start. One of our favourite certified organic products at bb right now is the Wotnot Organic Facial Wipes which are made of 100% natural fibre (that is gentle to sensitive skin) and are also 100% biodegradable and compostable!
CRUELTY-FREE AND VEGAN:
'Cruelty-free' products are known as those that have not been tested on animals and 'vegan' products are also free of animal by-products, such as beeswax for instance. One of our fave brands who does not test on animals is Lush cosmetics. They believe that testing on animals to produce cosmetic products or ingredients is morally and scientifically unjustified and started a petition as an initiative to stop this kind of testing. Visit their site to learn more.
One Lush product we love is their award winning Ro's Argan Body Conditioner which is full of naturally-nourishing ingredients like Argan oil, Brazil nut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. Slather all over skin after showering, before rinsing off (just like a hair conditioner!) for smooth and soft skin.
Parabens are a type of preservative that is included in cosmetics and skincare products to maintain their shelf life. Often parabens (and preservatives in general) are seen as bad and unnatural but this isn't always the case. In fact parabens actually have a 'natural' origin. They are formed from an acid (p-hydroxy-benzoic acid) which is actually found in raspberries and blackberries! (Visit Paula's Choice for more info) However, if you are looking for a greener choice there are now plenty of cosmetics and skincare choices that use natural preservatives, such as fruit, sugar or milk enzymes instead. One of our top product picks that doesn't contain any parabens is the Nutri-Synergy NS-7 Dry Skin Moisturiser which is very kind to sensitive faces and increases the skin’s natural moisturising factor by reducing water loss through enhancing the skin's natural protective barrier function.
Sulphates in haircare are the foaming agent contained in shampoo that creates the lather. To find out if your shampoo contains sulphates, check the ingredient list for sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). There is much debate on the effects of sulphates in haircaire, as some believe it can be drying to the hair. If you want to find one that doesn't contain it, look for more natural shampoos. We love the Aurora Spa Rituals Rose Otto & Nettle Clarifying Shampoo which is sulphate-free and contains plant derived extracts, to add moisture, shine and balance to your hair.
Hopefully these definitions will have you a little less stumped next time you read a product description or the ingredients list on your beauty products!
Whilst it is awesome to know what you are using, gather information from multiple sources and remember to always choose the products that work best for you, your skin and your hair. These might not be the same ones as your mum, sister or best friend, so respect that everyone chooses differently. Take a measured approach to beauty too - after all it should be fun! - Lauren