skincare terms & ingredients you need to know skincare terms & ingredients you need to know

Skincare A-Z: Essential Terms & Ingredients You Need to Know

Build a skincare routine with ease. This guide will discuss the common ingredients found in brightening serum, facial toners, and other skincare essentials.

Everyone wants to achieve smooth and flawless skin. A face free from blemishes doesn’t only give you that radiant shine; it’s also a big confidence booster that will help you be your best self. If you want to glow like never before, you need to design a skincare routine for your specific concerns.

If this is your first time building a ritual, you may be wondering where to start. With all the terms and information available, looking at different kinds of facial wash, toners, and cleansers can be pretty confusing. This handy guide will help demystify common skincare terms and ingredients.



Skincare Ingredients from A to Z: The Only Glossary You’ll Ever Need


  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) – Commonly derived from plants, AHAs are acids that can exfoliate dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve skin texture. 

  • Aloe Vera Primarily used as a moisturizer or as a treatment to sunburn, aloe vera is a gel-like substance that soothes and hydrates the skin.  


  • Argan Oil An oil rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and other skin benefitting ingredients, it is extracted from the Argan tree native to Morocco.



  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) – Usually found in cleansers and creams, BHAs are gentle acids that combat irritation and breakouts. They penetrate deep into pores and are ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. 

  • Black Algae Extract – This natural ingredient is packed with protein, nutrients, and amino acids. It also has anti-aging properties and helps the skin store moisture and keeps fine lines at bay. It is also great at fading dark under-eye circles. 

Try Garnier’s Pure Charcoal Tissue Face Mask Black Algaeenriched with Black Algae extract, this mask will leave your skin deliciously hydrated.

  • Broad-Spectrum This term is used to indicate sunscreens that passed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) broad-spectrum requirements and are proven to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

  • Butylene Glycol A type of alcohol that acts as a moisturizing agent, it is found in makeup, cleansers, and makeup removers. 



  • Caffeine – A natural stimulant that is usually found in tea and coffee. Its ability to reduce puffiness makes it an essential ingredient for eye creams, serums, and more. 


  Grab Garnier Light Complete Eyeroll  to reduces eyebags or dark circles and brighten tired eyes.


  • Charcoal Charcoalmore specifically, activated charcoalis known for its deep cleansing ability. It can absorb oil from pores and draw out dirt and other impurities.

Shop Garnier Pure Charcoal Face Mask. It offers a double purifying and hydrating efficacy that clears skin without drying it out.

  • Coconut Water It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, enzymes, amino acids, and minerals. Coconut water promotes hydration by naturally moisturizing the skin without adding excess oil. 

Harnessing the moisturizing power of coconut water, the  Hydrabomb Eye Tissue Mask can visibly reduce eye bags and smoothen your undereye area.

  • Collagen The most abundant protein in the body, collagen is a fibrous substance that supports the blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons. In skincare, it is used to fend off dehydration and retain skin elasticity.


  • Dimethicone A primary ingredient in oil-free moisturizers, dimethicone is a polymer that lubricates and protects the skin. 

  • Diocic Acid An organic compound that counters hyperpigmentation and acne. Vegetable fats and oils are rich in this substance.


  • Emollient Also known as a moisturizer, this agent is a cream or gel-like substance that softens, protects, and hydrates your skin.

  • Essence – Water-based or serum-like substances that are applied to the face. This product helps the skin absorb the creams and toners you’ll use.

  • Essential Oils Highly-concentrated compounds extracted from plants. It is popularly used in aromatherapy but can be combined with certain skincare products for anti-aging effects. 


  • Ferulic Acid A compound in plants that protects the skin and boosts the effects of antioxidants. Paired with vitamin C serums, this will help you fight against harmful substances and aging.  



  • Glycerin Used in moisturizers and different types of makeup, Glycerin is a natural substance that helps the skin stay hydrated.

  • Glycolic Acid An AHA derived from sugar cane, it can improve the skin’s appearance by helping manage wrinkles and fading acne scars. 

  • Green Tea A powerful antioxidant that is extracted from green tea leaves, its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a common ingredient in skincare products.


  Experience the power of Green Tea on your skin with the Garnier Green Tea Serum Mask.



  • HerbaClear Blueberry Extract Loaded with Vitamins A, C, and E, blueberry extract promotes cell turnover and tightens and soothes the skin. It is also rich in resveratrol, which helps prevent acne, sun damage, and premature aging. 

Enjoy the benefits of HerbaClear blueberry extract in Garnier Pure Active Line, formulated to help you fight signs of acne and excess oil.

  • Hyaluronic Acid A type of compound that is naturally produced by the body. It is an organic ingredient used to retain skin moisture.


  • Isohexadecane A colorless and odorless substance with a creamy and thick texture that makes it a perfect emollient. 


  • Jojoba Oil Taken from the jojoba plant, this substance is filled with fatty acids and antioxidants that have skin-enhancing features. It’s usually in moisturizers for its ability to counter dryness.


  • Keratin A fibrous form of protein responsible for maintaining your nails, hair, and skin. It is used to accelerate growth, strengthen, or repair damage. 

  • Kojic Acid Popular in Japan, this compound is known for its ability to brighten your skin. A byproduct of rice wine fermentation, it blocks the production of melanin, which can help you manage pigmentation issues.


  • Lactic Acid A water-soluble AHA produced during the fermentation of milk, it is a popular ingredient found in cleansers and peels that exfoliate dead skin cells. 

  • Lavender Essential Oil Derived from the lavender plant, this essential oil boasts the ability to minimize acne, brighten skin, reduce fine lines, moisturize, and soothe the skin. 

Looking for a hydrating and soothing mask? Add the Garnier Lavender Face Mask to your cart!


  • Malic Acid An AHA naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and the body. It is a common ingredient in toners and anti-aging products for its ability to improve skin texture.

  • Micellar Water –Sensitive, skin-friendly, no-rinse cleanser that effectively removes makeup, oil, and dirt from the skin. 

Grab a bottle (or two) of  Garnier’s Micellar Water to add to your routine!

  • Mineral Oil A byproduct of petroleum distillation, it is a colorless and odorless substance usually found in moisturizers. One of its primary uses is to close down pores after cleaning.


  • Niacinamide A water-based form of vitamin B3. It’s skin-strengthening, damage repairing, and irritation fighting properties make it an essential component of many skincare products.


  • Olive Oil Apart from being a staple in food, olive oil is also widely used in skincare since it’s filled with many antioxidants. 

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids Commonly found in nuts and fish, Omega 3 fatty acids help the body form a variety of functions. When it comes to skincare, Omega 3 helps the skin stay smooth and hydrated.


  • Peptides Amino acids that aid in the production of collagen. Products with peptides can help you manage aging and other forms of skin impairment. 

  • Pomegranate Extract This naturally-derived ingredient is rich in antioxidants. It also boasts anti-aging properties and is known for protecting the skin from environmental damage.

Shop the Garnier Pomegranate Face Mask for plump, younger-looking skin.

  • Plant Stem Cells Plant cells that are grown in specific conditions and rich in amino acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

  • Quercetin A flavonoid that can be found in wine, fruits, and vegetables. It’s filled with antioxidants and is a skin-soothing agent. 

  • Quinoa Oil Extracted from the Quinoa grain, the oil is commonly used for moisturizers and emollients.


  • Resveratrol An antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Usually found in grapes and red wine, it’s a popular ingredient for anti-aging products.  

  • Retinol Usually consumed as a dietary supplement, retinol is a form of Vitamin A that also acts as an antioxidant and is used to treat acne. 


  • Salicylic Acid Acid extracted from willow bark that’s known to eliminate bacteria, cleanse pores, and accelerate cell renewal.

  • Sakura Extract Sakura extract helps promotes collagen production, brighten your skin, and achieve even skin tone. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the skin.

Soak up the benefits of Sakura extract with Garnier's Sakura White Limited Edition Line.

  • Soy Yoghurt Probiotic This probiotic can brighten skin, help reduce dullness, get rid of dead cells, and diminish black spots.

Slather on Garnier Light Complete Yoghurt Sleeping Mask to fade dark spots and acne marks while you sleep.


  • Tea Tree Oil Oil derived from the distillation of tea leaves. It’s used as a remedy for acne because of its anti-inflammatory benefits.

  • Titanium Dioxide It is the main ingredient in sunscreens. Titanium dioxide is a chemical best known for its protective properties against harmful UV rays.

  • Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) Synthetically-produced acid derived from vinegar or acetic acid, TCA promotes the shedding of dead skin cells and is a common ingredient for peels.


  • Ubiquinone A fat-soluble vitamin naturally produced by the body. When applied to the skin, it’s antioxidants can slow down aging and repair damage


  • Vitamin A A fat-soluble vitamin known for its restorative benefits. It naturally promotes cell growth. 

  • Vitamin C Often found in serums, Vitamin C is a popular antioxidant that eliminates harmful free radicals and fades dark spots. Derived from Lemon essence or Orange extracts, Vitamin C can help you achieve brighter skin.

Combat dull and uneven skin with Garnier Light Complete Line.

  • Vitamin E An essential ingredient in lotions, gels, and cream, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can strengthen and repair skin. 


  • Willow Bark Extract A vital source of salicylic acid, willow bark extract is a solution to acne-prone skin. 

  • Witch Hazel An antioxidant extracted from the witch hazel shrub, it’s a widely-used ingredient in toners and cleansers for its ability to clear out pores.


  • Xanthan Gum An organic ingredient derived from the fermentation of sugar, it is used as a thickening agent in food, cosmetics, and skincare products. 


  • Yogurt Filtrate Produced from milk lactic fermentation, yogurt filtrate is commonly used in hair and skin care. It boasts excellent skin conditioning properties thanks to its proteins, carbohydrate, and vitamin content.


  • Zinc Gluconate A naturally occurring mineral that supports the growth and development of tissues. It’s mainly used for wound cleaning but can also be used as a solution to acne.

  • Zinc Oxide A non-soluble mineral with sun protection capabilities. It is refined into a white powder and is mixed in with lotions and creams.

Everything You Need from A to Z


There are many skincare products you can choose from, but the key to an effective skincare routine is focusing on the specific needs of your skin. 

Remember, skincare is highly personal. With this guide at your disposal, it will be easier for you to understand what’s on the label of a product and whether or not it addresses your skin concerns. 

If you’re currently shopping for products, we’ve got you covered! Whether you want an excellent brightening serum or a trusty bottle of micellar water, visit our website to find everything you’ll need and more.