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    Skincare glossary

    Getting into the world of skincare, creating your own skincare routine and choosing any treatments can be intimidating – there are so many new words and phrases! To help you out, we’ve put together this glossary of some of the main products and ingredients you’ll come across, along with explanations of what they do and why they’re important.

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You can browse our alphabetical skincare glossary if you need help understanding any ingredients mentioned in products or treatments, but if you’re still stuck, you can also submit a question to us.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)PlusMinus

Despite the scary sounding official title, AHAs are derived from fruit acids. AHAs generally work on the skin’s surface but, as they’re small molecules, they can also penetrate deeper to help to initiate collagen production, which helps with signs of ageing. Glycolic acid and mandelic acid are all AHAs. We generally recommend AHAs for normal to dry skin types, but they can be used in different strengths on all skin types.


A bit of a buzz word, you might have seen the term antioxidant before in reference to food, but antioxidants have their part to play in skincare too. Antioxidants are molecules that protect your cells from the effects of free radicals, which are another type of molecule found in pollution and chemicals that can cause the skin to age prematurely or appear dull. Vitamins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, minerals and enzymes are all sources of antioxidants, as are some meats, poultry and fish. Antioxidant substances include Vitamins A, C and E and are often found in brightening and anti-ageing skin treatments.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)PlusMinus

BHAs penetrate the skin’s pores and follicles to help clear and decongest oil formation, also helping in breaking down the dead skin cells present inside the pores and follicles – they can work wonders for oily skin. Salicylic acid is a BHA and is commonly used when treating oily to acne prone skin types, so you’ll see it mentioned in some of our treatments for those skin types. BHAs also have natural skin calming properties, so they are gentle enough to act as a cleanser for sensitive skin types prone to redness and/or rosacea.

An interesting extra fact about BHAs: BHAs are derived from willow bark, which is also where we get aspirin from.


Botanicals are powerful plant extracts and oils derived from flowers, herbs, nuts, seeds, roots and berries. When harnessed in the right way, they can provide beneficial and effective results, helping to improve the visible signs of ageing and providing the skin with hydration.


Cleansers are a must-have in any skincare routine. Facial cleansers remove impurities from your skin, such as oil and dead skin cells, keeping your skin clean and unclogging pores. We recommend you use an acid-based cleanser, which might include an AHA or a BHA depending on your skin type.


Collagen is a protein found naturally in the  connective tissues of your body. A healthy amount of collagen can help keep your skin looking young and fresh, so several of our treatments aim to stimulate the production of this key protein.


The act of exfoliating removes dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. Exfoliators can be found amongst all the other skincare products on the shelves and in many of our treatments. If you have oily skin, then you need to be careful not to over-exfoliate.

Free radicalsPlusMinus

This is going to get quite scientific: A free radical is any atom or molecule that is missing an electron in its outer shell. Free radicals, found in pollution, cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals and more, will attack and destroy other healthy atoms to get the electron it is missing. Exposure to free radicals can cause your skin to age quickly and appear dull, which is why we offer treatments with antioxidants to reduce the damage done.

Glycolic acidPlusMinus

Glycolic acid, found in sugarcane extract, is considered to be the most effective AHA. Glycolic acid not only acts as an exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and increasing cell turnover for a more even skin tone, it also stimulates collagen which reduces wrinkles and signs of ageing.

Hyaluronic acid/ Sodium HyaluronatePlusMinus

Hyaluronic acid (which sometimes appears on labels as sodium hyaluronate) occurs naturally in the human body as a substance within your connective tissues. Using a product that contains additional hyaluronic acid will lock more moisture into your skin, plumping up your skin’s volume to create a youthful appearance.

Mandelic acidPlusMinus

Mandelic acid is an AHA that is found naturally in almonds. Mandelic acid has a number of benefits for the skin, and may be chosen over other AHAs such as glycolic or lactic acid for its ability to treat irregular pigmentation. Mandelic acid also has anti-ageing properties.


As you might expect, moisturisers help keep your skin hydrated and prevent it from drying out. Applying moisturiser daily keeps your skin healthy, though you should make sure to find one with the right effect for your skin type – even oily skin needs a good moisturiser!


Peptides are another type of molecule. They are included in products that look to stimulate the production of collagen for anti-ageing, but they can be effective for other skin concerns.


A pure form of Vitamin A, retinol aids in resurfacing and rejuvenating your skin, helping to provide a clearer, more vibrant complexion – you’ll often find it in anti-ageing products. Retinol penetrates deep and has been shown to stimulate collagen production. Retinol increases your body’s ability to synthesise hyaluronic acid, increases cellular turnover and encourages an even skin tone. Retinol can cause sun sensitivity, so it’s best applied before bed.

Salicylic acidPlusMinus

Salicylic acid is a BHA and it’s a derivative of aspirin. It differs from glycolic acid because of its antibacterial properties, which makes it ideal for those with oily/acne-prone skin as salicylic acid helps to dissolve the type of skin debris that clogs pores and causes acne. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties and is excellent at clearing surface oil.

UVA/UVB SunscreenPlusMinus

Exposure to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin ageing, including wrinkles. These rays break down collagen and inhibit the natural repair mechanisms within your skin. As such, a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens, which acts as a filter of UV light, should be included in your skincare routine to prevent early ageing (put it on even when it doesn’t look sunny, the UVA/ UVB rays are still present!).

Vitamin APlusMinus

Vitamin A is considered a very important vitamin for the appearance of the skin. Vitamin A used topically comes in many forms – it can be very effective for improving the overall tone and texture of your skin, but overuse can lead to skin becoming red, irritable, dry and flaky.

Vitamin CPlusMinus

Also known as Ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is necessary for the synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C can make your skin appear brighter and healthier, particularly if your skin has been dulled by the effects of living in a city.

Vitamin EPlusMinus

Vitamin E is another great antioxidant; it protects body tissue from damage by free radicals. Vitamin E can help diminish the appearance of marks and scarring, and can also help soften your skin.

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