Skin Care Glossary: The ABCs of Skin Care

By August 25, 2016

To help you navigate through the world of skin care, we’re launching a new series called The ABCs of Skincare. Here we’ll drill it down to the basics by talking about all the skin care ingredients you need to know to be a true skin care whiz. We’ll cover what each ingredient is, what it does for your skin, and a few product recommendations for those of you who want to put your newfound knowledge to the test! 


AHA: AHA is a chemical exfoliant derived from various plants that gently removes dead skin cells. Common AHAs found in skincare include glycolic and lactic acid. When using AHAs, there is increased sun sensitivity, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen.
Product recommendations: Neogen Bio Peel Gauze Peeling WineCosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, CosRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner.

Aloe Vera: Aloe/Aloe Vera helps reduce inflammation and increase hydration by binding moisture to the skin. This is a natural ingredient that is derived from the thick broad leaves of aloe plants. Consider it a mild soothing agent that works any time and for many skin types, especially for the sensitive.
Product recommendations: Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel, CosRX Soothing Aloe Sun Cream SPF 50+/PA+++, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner.

Arbutin: This is a natural skin brightener derived from bearberries that inhibits cells from producing skin darkening pigments. Many studies suggest that arbutin is a natural, effective way to brighten the skin and it’s widely considered to be a gentler version of hydroquinone.
Product recommendations: Goodal Double Bright Intense Serum, Missha Cell Renew Snail Cream, Missha Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A, or better known as retinol, is a powerful antioxidant that helps generate better, healthier skin cells, and provide protection from free radicals. With continued use, it’s known to promote more youthful looking skin by stimulating collagen production and lightening brown spots. Use with other antioxidants to maximize its benefits.
Product recommendations: Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule, Neogen Cold 9 Gold Black Caviar Essence & Gold Tox Tightening Kit.



BHA: BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) are chemical exfoliants that can clear blackheads, minimize large pores and calm the skin. Salicylic acid and betaine salicylate are popular BHAs used to treat acne because they are anti-inflammatory and oil-loving. BHA’s are effective because they do more than just clean your pores of dead skin cells and excess oil—they can help minimize wrinkles and brighten skin. BHAs are recommended for those who have sensitive skin to exfoliate, rather than using physical scrubs.
Product recommendations: CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Cream, CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner.

Bamboo Extract: Used in Asia for centuries to heal skin, bamboo extract has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also contains antioxidants and is known to act as a humectant, by drawing moisture to the skin.
Product recommendations: Erborian Bamboo Waterlock Mask, Erborian Seve de Bamboo Matte, SU:m37 Water-full Rebalancing Gel Lotion.

Bee Venom: Also known as Apitoxin, bee venom is a combination of enzymes, peptides, and amino acids that can diminish visibility of fine lines and smooth skin texture. No honeybees are harmed in the process!
Product recommendations: Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack, Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream.

Birch Extract: High in nutrients like amino acids and enzymes, Birch extract has powerful anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effects that help the skin stay protected and hydrated. Birch juice not only intensely hydrates the skin, but it also protects skin cells from oxidative stress, including UV rays and environmental pollution.
Product recommendations: E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack, E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Mist.



Ceramides: Ceramides are lipids that help hold skin cells together. When your skin is damaged or irritated, ceramides decrease, leaving the skin susceptible to skin ailments. Add ceramides to your skin care regiment to protect and nurture your skin.
Product recommendations: Sally’s Box Delight Ceramide Hydrogel MaskDr. Jart+ Ceramidin Day Tint SPF 15.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is one of the strongest antioxidants and vitamins for the skin. Multiple studies show vitamin C has a powerful effect on skin, by brightening skin tone and protecting it from pigmentation and premature aging.
Product recommendations: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C SerumNeogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling LemonTonyMoly Tangerine Hand Cream.

Calendula: Calendula, also known as calendula officinalis, is derived from the plant pot marigold and is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and saponins. Calendula is shown to not only promote skin healing and repairing, but also reduce inflammation, making this a perfect skincare ingredient for sensitive skin types.
Product recommendations: RE:P Bio Fresh Mask With Real Calming HerbNeogen Real Flower Cleansing Water in Calendula.

Collagen: Collagen is a protein that makes skin elastic and have a healthy, wrinkle-free appearance. In skin care, collagen can be applied topically, which acts as a film former to moisturize and make the skin look plumper and healthier. That being said, collagen cannot fully penetrate into the dermis or create fibers, so the effect is temporary.
Product recommendations: Etude House Moistfull Collagen EmulsionManefit Bling Bling Hydro Gel Mask – Soothing Aqua CollagenGoodal Moisture Barrier Eye Cream.


Dipotassium glycyrrhizate: Don’t be intimidated by this 24 letter ingredient, embrace it! Dipotassium glycyrrhizate, also known as licorice root extract, is commonly found in anti-aging treatments because of it’s ability to brighten up skin tone and lighten hyperpigmentation.
Product recommendations: Erborian Perfect Morning BB Mask, Missha Time Revolution Immortal Youth Cream, CosRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA+++.


Vitamin E: Vitamin E (also known as tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant that prevents collagen breakdown and other signs of premature aging such as wrinkles and dryness. Your body can’t produce this vitamin naturally, so your skin will benefit if you apply it topically.
Product recommendations: Erborian Solid Cleansing Oil,  Neogen Code 9 Lemon Green Caviar Essence & Tox Tightening Pack Kit, Banila Co. White Wedding Dream Cream.

Egg Whites: Say goodbye to large pores with egg whites! Egg extracts are commonly found in K-beauty products because they contain protein and are a film former, which helps to control excess oil and reduce the appearance of pores.
Product recommendations: Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam , Skinfood Egg White Pack.

Evening Primrose Oil: Evening Primrose Oil is a natural treatment for eczema, redness, and acne. Packed with fatty acids and vitamin E, evening primrose is a rockstar ingredient for soothing and moisturizing the skin.
Product recommendations: Banila Co. Clean It Zero PurityCosRX Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser, E Nature Moringa Cleansing Balm

+ Every month we’ll update this series with a new letter and a new ingredient, so stay tuned!