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Skin Anatomy and Physiology Acne Ingredients Cosmetics
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This acute or chronic inflammation of the skin is characterized by red, scaling, itching and oozing lesions; it’s usually non-contagious. Most treatments for eczema—steroid creams, for example—are synthetic and irritating to the skin. One natural treatment found to help eczema is evening primrose oil, taken internally and applied externally.


Abnormal accumulation of clear, watery fluid in the lymph spaces of the connective tissue.


This is an acronym for ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid, a synthetic chemical that’s used as an an antioxidant and as a "complexing" agent in shampoos—which means that it binds metallic ions so that the surfactants can work more effectively. Similar compounds are disodium EDTA and trisodium EDTA. All are toxic and should be avoided.


An abbreviation for essential fatty acids.

essential fatty acids.


Alight, stroking movement used in massage.


This toxic, coal tar chemical is used (in the form of potassium hydroxyquinoline sulfate) as a topical antiseptic in skin creams and lotions, in concentrations between 0.05% and 0.5%. It’s phototoxic and may cause cancer (some coal tar colors have been found to be carcinogenic in animal tests). It must bear a warning on the label that reads: Not for sun protection products, and it isn’t allowed at all in products for children under three years old. Quinoline is obtained by the oxidation of aniline and glycerine (the same process used to make artificial colors). It’s supplied as a yellow (sulfate) or white (sulfate-free) crystalline powder. Trade Names are Bioquin, Chinosol and Quinosol. Also see colors.


This dermal protein, similar to collagen and reticulin, is used as an emollient in some natural cosmetic formulas. It’s typically an animal byproduct (usually bovine), but there are herbal (vegetarian) alternatives.


This term describes a clear hvdroalcoholic liquid used orally in homeopathic medicine(sweeteners are often added).


A substance that causes vomiting and is usually used to detoxify.


A substance that promotes menstrual flow.


These substances, used topically, prevent water loss, and thus have a softening and soothing effect on the skin. They can be natural, like almond oil, or synthetic, like mineral oil.


Also known as emuls~ying agents, these substances promote the formation of, and stabilize, emulsions. Emulsifiers can be natural or synthetic.


A homogeneous mixture in which small globules of one liquid are suspended in another liquid with which it won’t mix. Salad dressings, for example, are emulsions of oil in vinegar or lemonjuice.

endocrine glands

These organs secrete hormones directly into our bloodstreams. Examples are the thyroid, adrenals and pituitary.


The outer, protective layer of the skin, which covers the dermis. Also called the cuticle.



An abbreviation for evening primrose oil.

essential amino acids

Amino acids that can’t be manufactured by the body.

essential fatty acids

Sometimes known as vitamin F (and often abbreviated EE4s,), these substances can’t be manufactured by the body and must be consumed in the diet. There are three types—linole ic, linolenic and arachidonic.

The essential fatty acids fulfill many functions in our bodies. They lubricate, aid in the transportation of oxygen to the cells, help coagulate the blood, combine with vitamin D to make calcium available to the tissues, regulate glandular activity, break up cholesterol deposits on arterial walls, maintain healthy mucous membranes and nerves, assist in the assimilation of phosphorus and help convert carotenoids to vitamin A.

The more saturated fats we consume, the more important it is to increase our intake of EFAs. The National Research Council recommends at least 1% of the daily caloric intake, and this figure should probably be higher. Excellent sources for unsaturated fatty acids are raw wheat germ, raw sunflower seeds, butter and cold-pressed vegetable oils.

Essential fatty acids are used in the production of sebum, your skin’s own natural oil, so including these substances in skin care products makes good sense. The essential fatty acids tend to be bacteriostatic.

essential oils

The odor-bearing constituents of plants, essential oils are complex mixtures of alcohols, ketones, phenols, acids, ethers, aldehvcles, esters, oxides and sulfur compounds (among others). They’re also called volatile oils, ethereal oils, essences or absolutes.


An organic compound formed from an acid and an alcohol, an ester is the organic equivalent of a salt.


See aesthetician.


This female sex hormone is usually synthesized for drug use. The use of hormones externally or internally is dangerous. Also see hormone.

ethanol (or ethyl alcohol)

This colorless, volatile liquid with a burning taste is well-known to most of us as the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages; in fact, ethanol is commonly called simply "alcohol," although there are many other kinds of alcohols.

Ethanol is widely used in cosmetics as a solvent and as an antibacterial agent. As a preservative, it’s effective at concentrations of 15% to 20%. It’s a disinfectant in concentrations of 6000 to 70%, with a bactericidal effect within 45 seconds. It’s also used in acne treatments and in rinses for oily hair.

Ethanol absorbs water and thus can be very drying to the skin, hair and scalp. It’s used in astringents and in fast-drying skin lotions (at concentrations of 15%); the lotions need to include glycerols and vegetable oils to reduce the drying effect.

A 50% alcohol solution provokes a delayed allergic reaction in some people when used topically. Taken orally, ethanol is toxic in doses above SOg.

Ethanol is often deliberately made poisonous by the addition of methanol and it is then known as SDA (specially denatured alcohol). Its sa]e is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Department of the federal government. Specially denatured alcohol is given numbers based on the amount of denaturants used (i.e. SDA 40).

Ethanol is miscible with water, acetone and glycerol. glycerol. It’s produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch or by the hydration of ethylene, which is an acrylate copolymer. (Acrylics are very toxic synthetic plastic resins.) It’s difficult to know by reading a label whether an alcohol is natural or synthetic.


This toxic solvent, used in nail polishes and lacquer thinner, can be a skin irritant.


This is a synthetic alcohol plus ethoxy, which is a hydrocarbon and a i~ypro duct of the natural gas industry. It’s used as a solvent. Absorption can cause kidney damage and depress the central nervous system.

ethyl acetate

This synthetic ester of ethyl alcohol and acetic acid may irritate the skin and depress the central nervous system. It’s used as a solvent in many industrial products, and is found in nail polishes and nail polish removers.

ethyl alcohol

See ethanol.

ethyl paraben

See parabens.


This thick, syrupy liquid is the chief component of eucalyptus oil; it’s also found in Levant wormseed and cajeput. Also known as cineole, it’s used for its antiseptic, flavoring and aromatic qualities. See the herb chart in Chapter 2.


This colorless, aromatic, liquid phenol is found in many essential oils, especially cinnamon-leaf and clove oils. Ifs used as a flavoring, in perfumes and as a disinfectant and pain reliever in dentistry.

evening primrose oil

This essential oil, often referred to by the abbreviation EPO, comes from the yellow evening primrose, Qenothera biennis (it’s called the evening primrose because its flowers only open at night). EPO is available in health food stores as a liquid, as a cream, in capsules and as an ingredient in cosmetics. It’s been extolled by herbalists as a treatment for:

· alcoholism

· arthritis

· brittle nails

· diaper rash (evening primrose cream works best)

· eczema (I’ve found it quite effective when EPO is applied first as an oil, and an evening primrose cream is put on top of that; for infants, just use the cream)

· hyperactivity in children (according to the Feingold Institute, even the small amount absorbed by using the cream topically is very helpful)

· multiple sclerosis

· premenstrual syndrome (I’ve been told by many women that it works)

· psoriasis (I’ve found it helpful in breaking up the large, crusty lesions)

· schizophrenia


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Skin Anatomy and Physiology Acne Ingredients Cosmetics
Dictionary of Skin Care Terms Skin Care Advice Skin Problems
The Sun & Your Skin Skin Care News  

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