M Is For…Mandelic
Similar to lactic, this is again another effective exfoliant, though it’s worth noting that its larger molecule size (it’s twice as big as glycolic acid) means slower penetration into the skin. While this might sound undesirable, it actually makes it more tolerable for very sensitive skin types and works on everything from discolouration to post-acne marks – just expect the results to appear over time, rather than instantly.
Find it in: Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel
N Is For…Niacinamide
A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide helps to strengthen the skin’s outer layers, improve elasticity and curb redness and irritation. Those with acne-prone skin should seek it out, as well as those concerned with anti-ageing, as it has been shown to boost levels of plumping fatty acids in the skin.
Find it in: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
O Is For…Olaplex
Relatively new to the market, Olaplex is a treatment that works to permanently rebuild the damaged bonds in your hair that are often broken during the chemical process of colouring your strands. But its benefits don’t stop there – all hair types can use it to hydrate, boost shine and reduce frizz while keeping strands in peak condition in between salon visits.
Find it in: Olaplex No4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo & No 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
P Is For…Paraben-Free
Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in beauty products. The idea is they prolong the shelf life in many health and beauty buys by preventing the growth of mould and bacteria within them. However, these parabens can also enter the body through the skin, and studies have linked them several times to cancer – hence why new formulas are now slowly becoming paraben free. When it comes to studying labels look out for (and avoid) butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben – all strong types of paraben. It is however important to note that in general, the percentage of preservative in formulations is very small.
Find paraben-free formulas in: e.l.f. cosmetics; Evolve skincare; Davines haircare; Burt’s Bees
Q Is For…Quercetin
R Is For…Retinol
Also known as vitamin A, retinol isn’t actually an acid. It works to promote skin renewal and enhance collagen production (which starts to decline in your 30s). As well as blurring fine lines and softening wrinkles, it can also reverse UV damage – but be cautious, retinol is one of the most potent ingredients to hit skincare, so make sure you’re opting for a low percentage, especially if you’re on the sensitive side. Look to 0.3% for minimal irritation, this will still have a significant impact on your skin.
Find it in: Pixi Overnight Retinol Oil
S Is For…Sulphate-Free
Sulphates are frequently found in shampoos, body washes, face cleansers and toothpastes but also in household cleaners, too. While powerful, they are known for washing away the natural anti-microbial peptides and proteins that sit in our hair and scalp, stripping them of vital moisturiser. They can also cause major irritation and follicle stress, so it’s good to look out for brands that use sulphate-free formulas. Generally speaking, try to avoid the following on bottles where possible: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS); Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES); Sodium Lauryl Sufoacetate and Sodium Lauroyl Taurate.
Find sulphate-free formulas in: Kerastase; Pureology; Kiehl’s; John Masters and Virtue haircare
T Is For…Topical
This is usually a term used when dermatologists are referring to applying product to a certain area of the skin. For example, when you apply spot treatment or exfoliator topically, it means you’re focusing on one area only.
U Is For…UVA/UVB
The two ultraviolet rays that reach from the sun to the earth’s surface, UVA and UVB rays are bad news for your skin. Over exposure can cause photo-damage and sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer. At the same time, UV radiation can trigger a loss of skin elasticity, thinner skin, wrinkles, dry skin, broken capillaries, freckles and liver spots.
Take action: It’s nothing new, but wear an SPF daily to safeguard your skin.
V Is For…Vegan-Friendly
If a beauty product claims to be vegan friendly, this means that it doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients. This includes – but isn’t limited to – beeswax, lanolin, collagen, gelatin, carmine and albumen. You should also look out for the leaping bunny logo as this means it’s free from any animal testing, too.
Find vegan-friendly formulas in: Inika; Nailberry; Clarins; Tropic; Neal’s Yard; Yope; BareMinerals
W Is For…Water-Free
When you look at your skincare (or beauty products) ingredient list, chance are you’ll find aqua at the top, which is essentially, a fancy word for water. Due to the conscious-beauty trend continuing to grow, more and more brands are formulating products with zero, or very little, water in order to up their environmental credentials. Set to be a huge trend for 2020 and beyond, you can expect to see a slew of water-free products hitting the shelves. The key benefits for skin? Botanicals and oils are used as water replacement, which are not only more potent, but aid in producing plumper, smoother skin.
Find water-free formulas in: de Mamiel; Farmacy; The Inkey List; Pinch of Colour; Evo
Z Is For…Zinc Oxide
In its most natural state, zinc oxide is a white, powdery mineral and one of the key ingredients in your sun cream. It’s often compared against chemical SPF formulas as it has a reputation for being chalky, however it’s worth making the switch if you can. Not only are they lighter in texture, zinc oxide formulas create a protective barrier and deflect UV rays more effectively – they’re also proven to reduce acne with dermatologists regularly recommending it for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Find it in: REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30