Find out about the ingredients that make up our groundbreaking skincare products. Science-backed, naturally derived, vegan and clean according to the EWG.
The cosmetics industry – always at the forefront when it comes to innovation – constantly renews itself. Beauty products that garnered praise 10 years ago might now be criticized for their content, while new products are regularly appearing in the marketplace. With all the changes and new additions, it can be a difficult task to choose the skincare ingredients that best suit your needs.
The fact of the matter is that what works for some people might not necessarily work for others. The key is to establish your own needs and learn about the ingredients that make up various products. In this article, we’ll help demystify matters when it comes to what’s best to apply to your skin.
The origins of cosmetics
Our fascination with cosmetics is nothing new. On the contrary, the origins of beauty products date all the way back to ancient Egypt – 10,000 BC! Back then, men and women used scented oils, creams and ointments to soften their skin, mask odors and protect themselves from the sun’s rays. Olive oil, aloe, sesame oil, rosemary, lavender and almond oil were all among the most coveted ingredients. And then slightly later, makeup began to appear. Kohl (made from a mixture of burnt almonds, oxidized copper, lead, ashes and ochre) was applied around the eyes, while malachite paste was used to enhance complexions and a face’s contours.
Beeswax-based nail polish and lead whitening powder then started to appear in China, especially enabling the upper class to stand out from the crowd. The Romans adopted skin care, popularizing mud baths, and barley flour and butter to treat blemishes1.
An extraordinary number of ingredients have been used over the years to create cosmetics and skincare. While the primary objective was efficiency, the harm caused by certain substances (arsenic, mercury and lead, for example) has sometimes been grossly overlooked. Fortunately, there are many more standards and rules governing the beauty industry today, but it can still be difficult to know which product to choose.
What ingredients are most frequently used in cosmetics?
Here are the most frequently used ingredients found in daily skincare products, along with their origin and their function, to help you better understand what it is that you are using.
Origin: Retinol is a form of vitamin A, most often derived from animal sources.
Function: It is used as a skincare ingredient primarily because it helps stimulate collagen production and reduce dark spots, thereby reducing signs of aging. Retinol is also effective in eliminating dead cells and unclogging pores.
Uniqueness: It increases skin’s sensitivity to the sun2, therefore it is recommended to be used along with sunscreen to properly protect the skin.
Origin: Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta-hydroxy acid). A keratolytic agent belonging to the same family as aspirin(!), in the past it was extracted from willow bark. Today, it is predominantly a laboratory creation.
Function: This ingredient’s popularity is due to its astringent and antibacterial properties. It is known to improve the appearance of enlarged pores and above all else, to regulate overproduction of sebum to reduce imperfections.
Origin: Hyaluronic acid is an essential component of the dermis with collagen and elastin. Its use in skincare relies upon the biofermentation of bacteria that are generally derived from animal sources.
Function: It is a powerful humectant and retains a very large quantity of water, making it a key ingredient for moisturizing facial care.
How well do you know these vegan ingredients?
There are other ingredients that have the same properties and are also vegan. Find out more about these ingredients – some of which are used in the EWG VERIFIED™ formulas of our plastic-free skincare.
Origin: Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid: It’s one of those AHAs that we are hearing more and more about in the skincare world. It is a naturally derived skincare ingredient derived from sugar cane.
Function: It can remove the layer of dead cells on the skin’s surface, reducing the appearance of aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines and spots.
Origin: Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is generally extracted from yeast and cereals.
Function: Niacinamide is a nutrient used in cleansers and creams because of its ability to strengthen the skin's moisture barrier. Its antioxidant properties also make it a skincare ingredient known to reduce the appearance of aging signs and blemishes.
Peptides are the fundamental building blocks of many proteins in the human body, including collagen, elastin and keratin, which help the skin maintain its firmness and supple appearance. Peptides are particularly useful in caring for dry, delicate skin, as well as mature skin, as they help to rebuild the natural moisture barrier.
Stabilized and encapsulated vitamin C
Like niacinamide, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It is particularly effective in reducing the appearance of blemishes, reviving complexion, and evening out skin tone.
Bamboo powder has an exfoliating action, explaining its presence in gentle exfoliant formulas. This vegan ingredient refines the skin’s texture, maintaining it in good condition and brightening complexion.
Phytoglycogen is an all-purpose ingredient. It enhances the skin's radiance, helping to reduce aging signs and providing a feeling of comfort. Aaaah… bliss! It also stimulates production of hyaluronic acid and collagen. Incorporating phytoglycogen-based skincare into your routine is like throwing two strikes with one pitch.
Which skincare ingredients should not be mixed and matched?
Are you looking to brighten your complexion while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles? O.K., understood. However, avoid combining retinol and vitamin C. Using both at the same time reduces their effectiveness. If you are a proponent of these two skincare ingredients, then use vitamin C in the morning and retinol during your evening routine.
The world of cosmetics is in a constant state of evolution. Trends come. Trends go. It’s important to know the ingredients in skincare before deciding to use them. To enhance your knowledge on the subject and make smart choices based upon your skin type, please consult the following articles: