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Ingredient Aliases: All the Different Names for Popular Skin Care Ingredients

Ingredient Aliases: All the Different Names for Popular Skin Care Ingredients

Ever notice how there are different names for skin care ingredients? The fact that there are four variations of “green tea extract” was reason enough for us to create this guide to the “aliases” of some of your favorite skin care ingredients. Enjoy this guide next time you can’t figure out what “ascorbyl glucosamine” is.

The most important thing about being a consumer of any product is actually knowing what you are using, asking all the right questions, and doing the proper research. Now, not everybody has time to go through a list of long, scientific names and try to decode them (at least I know I don’t), and with “naturals” being a hot word in the beauty industry these days (and considering the many varying definitions of that term), it can be hard to know what ingredients you can trust and if what it says on the front of the packaging even matches the back.

So, here is a list of some of the most common skin care ingredients that have more than one name on packaging and ingredient lists:

Oleic Acid

This fatty acid is the best for moisturizing oily skin without giving it an unhealthy shine. But did you know that safflower oil is considered an oleic acid?

Safflower oil

Vitamin C

Who doesn’t love some of this amazing, brightening anti-ager? The Good (Skin) Days C’s the Day Serum is my personal favorite go-to right after I cleanse to really smooth and brighten my skin. Since vitamin C does—in fact—make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, it’s important to be able to identify which products contain it. Here are some other names for vitamin C:

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbyl Palmitate

Sodium Ascorbate

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THDA) (also denoted Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate)

Ascorbyl Glucoside

Ascorbyl Glucosamine

Glycolic Acid

This acid is a go-to hydrator and exfoliator. You really can’t go wrong with it. Saturday Skin’s Pore Clarifying Toner 10% Glycolic Acid is a great option for those looking to explore all of this AHAs benefits! However not all products contain the same forms of it, so make sure you also look out for these aliases:


Dicarbonous acid

hydroxy-acetic acid


a-Hydroxyacetic acid

2-hydroxy acetic acid

Birch Juice

These days, birch juice is almost a more popular K-beauty ingredient than water. It’s so hydrating and gentle that it has become a staple in skin care. When looking out for birch juice or birch sap extract, be sure to also keep your eyes peeled for:


Betula alba

Salicylic acid

While it isn’t the most mysterious ingredient out there, a lot of people don’t realize that in some products salicylic acid can simply be listed as BHA, when it is in fact a type of BHA.

Beta-hydroxy acid (BHA)

Hibiscus extract

The “botox plant” is also known as roselle in some skin care and fragrance formulas. It’s a rare find but also super amazing for anti-aging and giving yourself a more plump and youthful complexion.



This Japanese citrus will brighten your skin like no other. Here are some of its aliases out in the skin care world:



Citrus junos

Green Tea Extract

Who doesn’t love the calming and rejuvenating effects of green tea, both on your skin and in your cup? As green tea becomes the IT girl of skin care, be sure to watch out for its other names:

Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract

Tea Leaf Absolute

Thea Chinensis Extract

Camellia Sinensis (Tea Plant) Leaf Extract

Licorice Extract

It’s not just a spooky Halloween candy. Licorice is a great way to fix age spots and even out your skin. Here are some of its “undercover” ingredient names:

Dipotassium glycyrrhizate

Sweet root

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid, or HA, is one of the OG hydrating acids naturally produced in the body that provides immediate results. For a hit of instant moisturization and nourishment slather your skin in SUR.MEDIC+ Super Hyaluronic 100TM Aqua Skin, a super rejuvenating toner. This ingredient can come in many forms:


Sodium Hyaluronate




Hyaluronate Sodium


Sodium Hyaluronate

Vitamin A

This is everyone’s anti-aging BFF. Vitamin A can be great for combatting aging and even acne. Here are some of the most common variations:

Retin A


Atralin Renova


Last but not least: niacinamide. This form of vitamin B3 will keep your skin refreshed and brightened. It also will help your other skin care ingredients be more effective! Check out two of its other names:

Vitamin B3

Nicotinic acid

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