Glossary of Terms

Courtesy of Shan Albert
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Accutane: A trademark name for isotretinoin, a vitamin-A derivative, which is used to treat severe acne. It inhibits sebaceous gland secretion.

Acetylcholine: The first neurotransmitter ever identified.

Alphahydroxy acid: Various fruit acids that are capable of trapping moisture in the skin and initiating the formation of collagen.

Amphoteric AHA: A form of alphahydroxy acids which allows for slower penetration, decreasing irritation and making it more suited for sensitive skin.

Androgens: General term for any male hormone, like testosterone.

Antibiotic: A drug that kills bacteria and other germs.

Antioxidant: A chemical that inhibits oxidation.

Arginine: An amino acid found in proteins that is essential for nutrition.

Avobenzone (Parsol 1789): A sunscreen ingredient that blocks the entire spectrum of UVA radiation. Parsol 1789 is the trade name for avobenzone.

Azelaic Acid (Azelex): A naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid found in whole grain cereals that is commonly used to treat acne and as a skin lightener.

Benzophenone: Benzoic acid. Commonly used in sunscreens.

Benzoyl Peroxide: An antibacterial medication used to treat acne.

Betahydroxy acid: Includes salicylic acid. Penetrates deeply to exfoliate skin.

Blepharoplasty: Eyelid surgery to remove excess fat, skin, and muscle from lower and upper eyelids, improving the appearance of the eye area.

Broad spectrum: A sunscreen that protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Chirally correct: A product or ingredient which has the most beneficial effects with the fewest negative effects.

Coenzyme Q10: An antioxidant which inhibits the aging process on a cellular level.

Diuretic spironolactone: A potassium-sparing diuretic.

Emblica: Commonly known as the gooseberry, it is the richest known source of vitamin C.

Endermologie: A cellulite treatment using a computerized machine to massage tissues under suction.

Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF): A small protein that can help with normal cell growth and wound healing.

Essential oil: A concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aromatic compounds extracted from plants.

Fraxel laser: A laser therapy which reduces fine lines and wrinkles and improves skin texture and pigmentation.

Genestein: One of the isoflavone class of flavonoids.

Glycolic acid peel: A skin treatment using glycolic acid to superficial wrinkles, uneven skintone, enlarged pores, acne scars and age spots.

Home peel: A chemical peel that is designed for home use. It is generally milder than a professional peel.

Hydroquinone: A topical treatment designed to lighten darkened skin (from melasma, age spots, freckles, and cholasma) while decreasing the formation of melanin.

Hyperpigmentation: Darkening of the skin, commonly produced by ultraviolet radiation, which provokes melanocytes in the skin.

Hypopigmentation: A condition caused by a deficiency in melanin formation or a loss of preexisting melanin or melanocytes.

Intense Pulsed Light (Photofacial): A therapy that emits high intensity pulses of light generally used for skin rejuvenation and acne treatment.

Jessner peel (or Jessner’s peel): A peel consisting of lactic acid and salicylic acid used to lighten hyperpigmentation and to treat sun damage.

Kojic acid: A skin-lightening agent used to treat hyperpigmentation.

Lentigines: Also known as sun spots, age spots, and liver spots. Harmless flat brown discolorations on the skin of the face, neck and hands.

L-lactic acid: An AHA derived from milk, which helps skin be more flexible, smoother, and more even-toned.

Melasma: Dark brown symmetrical patches of pigment on the face. Occurs in almost half of all pregnant women.

Microdermabrasion: An exfoliating treatment in which the skin is “sandblasted” with ultra-fine crystals of aluminum-oxide or other ingredients to remove the top layer of skin.

Milia (milium): Benign, keratin-filled cysts that look like tiny hard white bumps. Most commonly found around the nose or eyes.

Nd: Yag laser: One of the most common types of lasers used to treat a variety of skin conditions.

Neti pot: Jala neti is a yoga technique, meaning “water cleansing.” Salted water is used to rinse out the nasal cavity. Also known as nasal irrigation.

Octyl methoxycinnamate (Parsol MCX): A common sunscreen which absorbs UVB rays

Parabens: A group of preservatives used in cosmetics to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in products.

Peptides: Short chains of amino acids that combine to form proteins.

Prevage: A topical antioxidant. Trade name for idebenone.

Pulsed dye laser: A laser therapy which can improve acne scarring and fine wrinkles by increasing collagen production.

Renova: A retinoid used to treat photo damage and hyperpigmentation.

Retin-A: A retinoid that is used as a topical prescription acne treatment.

Retinoid (Retin-A, Renova, Avage, and Differin): A vitamin A derivative which works to increase cell turnover and exfoliation by stimulating cell production underneath the skin

Retinol: An over-the-counter vitamin A derivative.

Rosacea: A skin condition characterized by inflamed, red, oily, acne-prone areas.

Salicylic acid: A drug that removes the outer layer of skin. Used to treat various skin conditions.

Stratum corneum: Outermost layer of dead cells in the epidermis.

Systemic Antibiotics: Target the bacteria P. acnes that are thought to be responsible for local infection in acne. Common antibiotics are tetracycline, erythromycin, doxycycline, and minocycline.

TCA peel: A trichloro acetic acid peel is a medium peel which improves superficial discoloration and eliminate fine wrinkles.

Telangiectasia: Dilated superficial blood vessels which may occur in rosacea.

Tetracycline: A systemic antibiotic used in the treatment of acne.

Titanium dioxide: A physical sunscreen that acts as a sun block. It will not break down in the heat.

Tretinoin/Retinoic Acid: A vitamin A derivative used to treat acne.

Triactive: A laser treatment which can temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite.

UVA (Ultraviolet A): Long wave solar rays responsible for wrinkles and photoaging, resulting in a leathery appearance.

UVB (Ultraviolet B): Short wave solar rays responsible for sunburn and skin cancer.

Vitamin K: A vitamin that acts to protect our body from bleeding problems. In skin care, it is used to treat bruises and spider veins.

Zinc oxide: A physical sunblock that soothes and protects against UVA/UVB rays.

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