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Sustainability & Skincare - A Breakdown Of Beauty Jargon

As seen previously, a growing number of Australians are adopting a more natural lifestyle, while also becoming more aware of how our decisions affect the environment in which we live. From beauty to menstrual products, sustainability seems to pave the way ahead. Natural beauty products are preferred by around half of Australia’s female beauty consumers.

The beauty industry, however, is rife with jargon. So, to assist you in navigating some of it, here's a breakdown of the most regularly used terms:

Free radicals
Free radicals are ions or molecules that react chemically with our skin cells. They attach and bind to other molecules, causing the chemical structure to change, in turn damaging them. Thankfully, we've evolved vital defences such as antioxidants to safeguard our cells and, in particular, our DNA from free radicals.

Polyphenols can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, red wine, tea, and plant oils, to mention a few. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that protect cells from free radicals. They also offer additional biological benefits, such as decreasing inflammation.

A humectant is a molecule that draws water molecules to the skin's epidermis, or top layer. Thus, it prevents dryness and maintains the skin's suppleness. Glycerin, which is found naturally in our skin, is one of the most well-known humectants. The greatest moisturisers are made up of a combination of emollients and humectants. 

Emollients are waxy lubricating agents made up of a variety of chemicals that soften, smoothen, and moisturise the skin. They also have occlusive qualities.

Occlusive compounds help to hold moisture in the skin or hair by creating a physical barrier. They comprise of waxes, containing chemicals that on their own feel heavy and unpleasant on the skin. They're frequently used in combination with emollients. 

Emulsifiers are compounds that stabilise or prevent emulsions, such as the mixture of oil and water, from separating.

Animals and plant-based foods such as vegetables, tea, wine, and chocolate contain natural antioxidants. To resist oxidation, or chemical reactions that produce free radicals, our bodies naturally manufacture a complex system of antioxidants.

The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is a complex oily mixture. Except for our palms and soles, these glands can be found all over the body. Sebum is essential for the health of our skin. It adds a layer of protection against bacteria and fungi while also decreasing water loss.

Of course, there are many other categories of ingredients, but we have explained the ones most commonly encountered. In our next installment we will be looking at what a sustainable skincare routine looks like. So, stay tuned.

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