Glossary of Terms & Ingredients

Glossary of Terms & Ingredients 

Here we have listed a glossary of skincare terms and the various ingredients we use to help you understand our products, their ingredients and uses. 

Acetyl hexapeptide-8

Also known as Argireline, it is a synthetic peptide that helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It works by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters that cause facial muscles to contract, which in turn reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Restores the skin's natural water barrier, and helps bind water to the skin, improving dry skin.


Acids occur naturally in various skincare ingredients and play an important role. Many acids are crucial for skincare, such as hyaluronic acid, which can be found in our face serum range. Salicylic acid is another beneficial acid that acts as a natural exfoliant. Different acids can be used to address outbreaks, age spots, blemishes, and wrinkles.


Acne occurs when a pore becomes clogged with dirt, dead skin cells, and sebum. It can manifest in different forms, including whiteheads (closed comedones), blackheads (open comedones), and cystic acne (deeper in the skin). Inflamed acne, characterised by redness, pain, and swelling, indicates the involvement of bacteria.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids (or AHAs) are animal- or plant-based acids which work as a natural exfoliant for the skin. AHAs remove dead skin and pave the way for new cells to form for a radiant complexion. They are often listed in skincare products as glycolic acid or citric acid.

Alcohol Denat

A type of denatured alcohol that is commonly used in skincare and cosmetic products as a solvent.  It helps to dissolve other ingredients and improve the texture and consistency of products.

Alkanna Tinctoria Root Extract

Also known as Alkanet extract, it is derived from the root of the Alkanna Tinctoria plant. It is used for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.


A natural formed ingredient that is derived from the comfrey plant. It is known for its moisturising & soothing properties. It can protect the skin barrier and help improve fine lines and your skin texture.

Aloe Barbadenis Leaf Juice

Aloe vera is a popular skincare ingredient that is known for its hydrating and soothing properties

Amino Acids

Amino Acids Are organic molecules that form the building blocks for proteins in the body.


Antimicrobials are substances that slow down the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.


Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, or other molecules that protect the skin and body from free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative stress, and antioxidants prevent this damage. They are particularly beneficial when used during the day to combat free radicals from environmental factors like UV rays and pollution. Popular antioxidants in skincare include vitamin C, vitamin E, and niacinamide.


This is simply another term for water

Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil

Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the Argania Spinosa tree. It is a rich source of fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin E, and is known for its moisturising and nourishing properties.

Arnica montana Flower Extract

Arnica extract is derived from the flowers of the Arnica montana plant.It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to soothe and calm your skin.

Ascorbic Acid

Also known as vitamin C, it is a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

It can also help to brighten and even out the skin tone, and can be especially beneficial for those with hyperpigmentation or sun damage.


Astringents tighten cellular tissues, reducing pore size and minimising oil production. The term "astringent" means "to bind fast."

Avena Sativa Meal Extract

Also known as oat extract, it is derived from the Avena sativa plant. It is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to calm and protect your skin.

Bamboo Extract Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Powder

Bamboo extract is derived from the leaves and stems of the bamboo plant.  It is a rich source of silica, which can help to strengthen and nourish the skin and hair.  It can also provide hydration and improve the skin's texture and appearance.

Benzyl Alcohol

Benzyl alcohol is a type of alcohol that is commonly used as a preservative in skincare and cosmetic products. It can also help to improve the texture and consistency of products. However, it can be drying and irritating to the skin in high concentrations.

Beta-Carotene / Betaine

Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid, which is a pigment found in plants. It is a precursor to vitamin A, and is known for its antioxidant properties.


BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. While it’s a similar ingredient to AHA, BHA is oil-soluble and works deeper into the skin’s pores. This makes it better suited to oily or blemished skin. BHAs are sometimes listed as salicylic acid in skincare products.

Boswellia Carterii Oil

Frankincense Oil is beneficial aromatically for perfuming with its gorgeously deep and resinous notes, as it is for its numerous aromatherapeutic properties.


Botanical refers to anything related to plants. It denotes a blend made from any part of a plant, the bark, root, or leaves.


A type of acne, blackheads are open pores that become filled with excess oil or sebum. They can be the bane of your skincare life!

Butylene Glycol

It helps to improve the texture and consistency of products.

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter

Shea butter is derived from the nuts of the shea tree.It is known for its moisturising and nourishing properties, and can help to hydrate and soften your skin.

Carrier Oils

Carrier oils, also known as base oils or vegetable oils, are derived from vegetables through cold pressing. They are used to dilute essential oils and aid in their penetration into the pores.

Chemical sunscreen

The vast majority of sunscreens are chemical, rather than mineral. Sunscreen with a high SPF is important for skincare. However, it’s important to try getting protection naturally, using mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen is causing problems to marine life. More studies need to be done, but some chemical sunscreen ingredients are being linked with endocrine disruption and other long term health concerns.



Collagen is a protein that supports the structure of the skin. It plays a vital role in supporting skin fibers, tendons, bones, cartilage, and connective tissues.

Cocamide DEA

Cocamide DEA is a surfactant derived from healthy coconut oils. It contains synthetic diethanolamine, which can form carcinogenic compounds associated with various cancers and reproductive issues.

Comedogenic & Non-Comedogenic

If a product is described as comedogenic, it means it is likely to clog skin follicles and form pimples. Non-comedogenic products do not block pores and are light enough to allow the skin to breathe, reducing the risk of breakouts. Look for non-comedogenic wherever possible for blemish-free skin.


This term can mean the product or its ingredients have not been tested on animals. But a product can be cruelty-free and still contain animal ingredients. As a vegan brand, we do not use any animal ingredients or byproducts.

Dermatologically tested

Dermatologically tested means that a product has been tested on the skin to ensure its safety for use under the supervision of a scientifically qualified individual. It does not necessarily imply dermatologist approval.


Dermis refers to the second outermost layer of the skin, situated beneath the epidermis. It contains important structural components like collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, which contribute to the skin's firmness and elasticity.

Double cleanse

Double cleanse is a skincare method that involves washing the face twice in the evening. The first cleanse removes makeup, SPF, and daily grime, while the second cleanse provides a thorough clearing of pores and removes any residue from the first cleanse.


Emollients are lubricating and thickening agents that prevent moisture loss, soften the skin, and provide soothing effects.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are plant derivatives with therapeutic benefits when inhaled or applied topically. They possess antiseptic, antimicrobial, detoxifying, soothing, healing, and regenerative properties.


Epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, visible to the naked eye. It contains multiple layers and components that protect the skin from external factors and regulate moisture levels.

Fragrance-Free Skincare

Not everyone can tolerate fragranced products and many people prefer fragrance-free skincare products which are designed for those with easily irritated skin. Odorless skincare products do not contain any natural or synthetic fragrances. Alternatively, choose naturally fragranced products – like any in the UpCircle range.

Free Radicals

Free radicals are highly reactive, oxygenated chemicals that can damage healthy skin cells, including lipids. They are associated with premature aging and an increased risk of cancer. Free radicals result from exposure to pollution, UV rays, radiation, and other environmental stressors.


Gluten-free indicates that a product does not contain gluten or gluten byproducts. While gluten cannot enter the bloodstream when applied topically, gluten-free products are suitable for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.


Glycerin is an effective natural skin conditioner. It acts as a humectant, attracting moisture from the environment and allowing it to penetrate the skin.


Humectants are substances that attract and retain moisture from the environment, helping to preserve the skin's natural moisture.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is what gives the complexion its structure and a hydrated look. It’s best known for minimizing the signs of aging and is a common ingredient in night creams. Despite its strange-sounding name, it’s all-natural and a skincare wonder compound.

Microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, that exist on the skin's surface. Maintaining a healthy microbiome is important for skin health.


Hyperpigmentation is very common and more likely with age. It’s harmless, but many people don’t enjoy experiencing hyperpigmentation. It is when patches of the skin become darker compared to other areas. It’s a result of excess melanin. It can also be the term used to describe lingering redness from a spot. Hyperpigmentation has different causes including sun exposure, aging, inflammation, and hormonal changes. Skincare products like vitamin C and retinol can help combat hyperpigmentation.


Hypoallergenic refers to products that are less likely to cause allergic reactions. It indicates that products are formulated to minimise allergenic potential and are typically free of common allergens, toxic chemicals, nut oils, and other irritants.


Lipids refer to natural fats, waxes, and oils used for long-term energy storage, insulation, and rebuilding processes in the body.


Microbes are simple, single-celled life forms that can cause disease.


A small, hard cyst formed of a skin protein called keratin. Usually white, these harmless bumps form in clusters on the face. They are also known as ‘milk spots’ and are common in babies.

Mineral Oils

Mineral oils, also known as "white oils," are colourless, odourless, and tasteless oils used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They are free of nitrogen, sulphur, oxygen, and aromatic hydrocarbons. Mineral oils have anti-allergenic and moisturising properties, but they can interfere with the body's absorption of natural vitamins and minerals when ingested. Externally, they can cause acne and leave a thick residue on the skin and hair.


When a product claims to be "natural," it generally means that it is formulated with natural ingredients. However, it's important to note that the term "natural" is not strictly regulated in the UK and EU, and it doesn't guarantee that the entire formulation is derived from natural sources. Additionally, not all natural ingredients are sustainably sourced, so it's worth considering the overall environmental impact.


A Vitamin B3 that is found in skincare products, niacinamide is particularly effective in revitalizing the delicate skin around the eyes and reducing signs of hyperpigmentation.


Non-comedogenic products are designed not to clog pores. While there are no strict guidelines for this term, it can be a useful indication for consumers with oily or blemish-prone skin. Non-comedogenic products are typically free from or low in ingredients such as butters and oils, which are known to be comedogenic and can contribute to breakouts.


Organic products contain natural ingredients that have been grown on organic farms without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers. However, the term "organic" is not strictly regulated in the EU and UK, so it can be challenging to guarantee unless a product has been externally certified. The term has stricter regulations in the US, and a product doesn't have to be 100% organic to use the label "organic."


Occlusives are key ingredients for compromised skin that struggles to retain moisture. They create a protective barrier on the skin's surface, sealing in moisture. Some occlusives may feel heavy in texture, which contributes to their effectiveness as moisture barriers. Examples of occlusive ingredients include lanolin, petroleum, and silicones.


Parabens are preservatives commonly used in skincare products. They act as antibacterial and anti-fungal agents, preventing product contamination and prolonging the shelf life of cosmetics.


A patented product or ingredient has legal protection, granting exclusive rights to the brand that holds the patent. It prevents other companies from using or selling the patented invention for a specific period.


Peptides are combinations of amino acids that form protein molecules essential for maintaining the health of hair, nails, and skin.


Prebiotics are substances that nourish probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria. They create a supportive environment for probiotics to thrive and enhance their activity. Prebiotics can be consumed through food or supplements and applied topically in skincare products.


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that provide health benefits. While commonly known for their presence in natural yogurt, probiotics are also used in skincare. Maintaining a balance of friendly bacteria on the skin and in the gut is important for overall skin health, and probiotics help restore this balance.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a substance used as a thinner in skincare products. It increases the spreadability of the product but is not suitable for acne-prone skin.


Often described as a ‘skincare hero,’ products containing retinol (or retinoids) can help to address a host of complexion issues from acne to fine lines. It stimulates the production of elastin and collagen to smooth the surface of the skin. It can be quite harsh, so many people seek out pro-retinol instead.

Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil is excellent at hydrating and moisturizing skin, locking in moisture without blocking pores. Our Coffee Face Scrub contains rosehip oil, which also acts as an anti-inflammatory for sensitive skin.

Salicylic Acid

A popular type of BHA, salicylic acid is often used to calm acne-prone skin. It works by exfoliating the skin to help keep pores clear of dirt.


Sebum is an oily substance naturally produced to protect and moisturise the skin. Hormone imbalances can cause excess sebum production, which can lead to breakouts and acne.



Silicones are synthetic molecules developed to enhance the sensory experience of cosmetic products. They provide a smooth, spreadable, and silky texture, commonly found in makeup primers and hair conditioners.

Skin barrier

The skin barrier refers to the protective function of the skin. Contrary to a common misconception, the skin barrier extends beyond the outermost layer of the skin. It regulates the interaction between the internal body and the external environment, including controlling water loss through lipid layers, hosting immune cells for protection, and supporting beneficial microorganisms on the skin's surface.


Sulphates are artificial liquids derived from sulphated oils. They are harmful to marine life and the environment. Sulphites reach natural water supplies when washed down drains, contributing to issues like acid rain, global dimming, and global warming.


Surfactants, also known as tensides or wetting agents, amplify the foaming, dispersing, and spreading properties of a product. They lower the surface tension of a liquid, making it easier to spread. Surfactants are typically not easily soluble.


Toner is the step in a beauty routine between cleansing and moisturising. Toners help to close pores so bacteria and dirt can’t get into them, rejuvenate the skin, and act as a base for the application of moisturiser.


UVA rays are a type of ultraviolet (UV) ray emitted by the sun. They have a longer wavelength, allowing them to penetrate deeply into the skin. UVA rays maintain consistent strength throughout daylight hours all year round. While they don't cause sunburn, they are the primary cause


UVA and UVB rays are the rays your skin is exposed to by the sun through daylight. As with lots of things in skincare, it’s a fine balance. Some UV exposure is essential for well-being and healthy skin. However, too much is damaging and causes aging. Keep an eye out for our sunscreen which is launching soon!


As we’ve just alluded to, UVB rays are also a type of ray emitted by the sun. They are shorter than UVA rays but have higher energy levels. UVB rays are most prominent during the summer months and the number one cause of sunburn. Ouch.


The term vegan means the products contain no animal-derived ingredients. This is not the same as cruelty-free.


Lots of different vitamins can be found in skincare. Important skincare vitamins include vitamins A, C, E, and B3.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is retinol and is excellent for its ability to address the signs of aging. It helps to stimulate new skin cells.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps your skin to produce collagen naturally, and it’s a powerful antioxidant that mops up free radicals to prevent skin damage. It helps give a bright complexion.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is excellent for moisturising and protecting your skin

If you find you have any questions regarding our skincare or ingredients then we are always happy to chat via our socials.


1,2-Hexanediol is one of the most multi-functional ingredients in the cosmetic industry. It is used in skin care, hair care as well as beauty products. It is a great emollient as well as a humectant, that is, it preserves hydration on the skin while also softening it.

3-0-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid

It is a great emollient as well as a humectant, that is, it preserves hydration on the skin while also softening it.