Demystifying Skincare Ingredients

Some new research I came across this week rang really true! We are all a bit baffled by skincare ingredients. A survey by Label Insight said 79% of US women said they were confused about the ingredients listed on packaging.

So this is not UK research, but I am definitely in this camp. I am not sure confused is the right word, sometimes I can actually be a bit dazzled. This has this scientific intelligent sounding something –that must be good! Or that is full of vitamins – must be great, right?! When really I can’t explain what they all do!

This same research found that 88% weren’t familiar with tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. Not sure that’s a shock and can’t claim I knew the answer but it is in fact a form of vitamin C.

Really this illustrates that I don’t know what I am putting on my face! But I have discovered a ‘skincare beauty dictionary’ that does just the job and have had great fun searching what’s in all my everyday products.


It’s called Skin Matters, the app explains over 2000 of the more common skincare ingredients. This was developed by Joanne Evans who has over 25 years experience in skin, medical and beauty therapy, and is one of UK’s most respected facialists. So you know you are in safe hands! I’ve had it for a while but think it’s only a £1 to purchase.

Putting a few examples to the test, I’ve been learning more about what exactly is in some of my favourites  and what that means:

Superdrug, Vitamin E All Over Body Cream

This is my favourite body moisturiser. I immediately learnt vitamin E can also be known as alpha tocopherol. Well no wonder we are all getting confused?! One note for the app, some of the language is quite ‘dermatologist speak’ shall we say. But I can infer from the pros section easily that as you might expect, vitamin E is good for pigment, anti-ageing and improving dry or rough skin. You’ll often find in moisturisers and anti-ageing creams. Good news all round.

Alpha H, Liquid Gold Smoothing & Perfecting Mask


I am a true alphaholic, I just love this range. This being a glycolic treatment it comes with a whole list of ingredients that are hard to understand. Here’s a few translated:

Glycolic acid: can also be known as hydroxyacetic acid and is the simplest alpha hydroxyacid (AHA). This is often used for anti-ageing as its hydrating, moisturising and diminishes fine lines. It helps to keep pores clear, removes dead skin cells, treats acne prone skin and the results are a softer and smoother complexion. Drawbacks are it is mildly irritating and it does increase skin sensitivity to sunlight.

Glycerin: has water binding capabilities so it draws and absorbs water from the air. It’s good for ageing and helps skin retain moisture whilst enhancing exfoliation.

Lavender: is good for all skin types and can even be used to clean wounds but it also good for oily skin, treating acne, eczema and psoriasis. It’s very easily absorbed into the skin so results are quite immediate. I had no idea lavender had so many uses?!

Simple, Hydrating Cleansing Oil


I use this every day to take my make up off and it boasts on the front it has pure grapeseed oil. So what does that do? Well it’s not a straightforward answer:

Grapeseed oil: is nourishing and moisturising as it has high linoleic acid content. Which leads me to my next search.

Linoleic acid: in a nutshell, prevents dry skin. My cleanser also has vitamin E, listed as tocopherol acetate, an antioxidant that is skin moisturising and is easily converted into vitamin E by the body. It seems this helps prevent ingredients go rancid and is therefore more ‘stable’ than vitamin E.

So that all became a bit of a science lesson! If you are still reading, I salute you, my head hurts a bit after all that! Hopefully like me you learnt something. If you don’t want to be dazzled, have sensitive skin or allergies this can be a really useful way to learn more about what you are putting on your skin.




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