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Skincare info
Skincare info

Welcome to the DHC Glossary! Read on to learn more about some of the terms used frequently in skincare and about some of the benefits of the ingredients we use in our products and how they can help you achieve radiant skin. Just click on the first letter of the ingredient or term you would like to know more about to get started.

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This Glossary contains common ingredients and terms. If you cannot find the term or ingredient you are looking for, e-mail us your question by clicking here or call 1.800.342.2273 to speak to one of our skincare specialists. The benefits listed in our Glossary are intended to be a general guide. Some ingredients have multiple functions and benefits, which can vary based upon concentration and formulations.


Acerola (Malpighia glabra): This Caribbean berry is one of the world's richest natural sources of vitamin C and helps brighten uneven skin tone.

Acne: An inflammatory disorder of the skin resulting from overactive sebaceous glands.

Activated charcoal: Possesses unique absorption properties to function as a natural detoxifier.

Aesculus hippocastanum: See horse chestnut.

Age spots: Darkly pigmented areas on the skin that occur with age and sun exposure.

Alanine: An amino acid that occurs in proteins and is used as a skin conditioner.

Alcloxa: A derivative of allantoin, and an astringent used as a pH adjuster.

Alcohol: Helps visibly tighten pores and control excess oil.

Algin: Obtained from brown seaweed and used as a stabilizer.

Allantoin: Used as an anti-irritant and skin conditioner.

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis): Extracted from the leaves of the aloe plant. Used as a skin soother and moisture replenisher.

Alpha-arbutin: Technologically advanced brightener used to reduce visible discoloration caused by sun and age and promote more radiant skin tone.

Alphahydroxy acid (AHA): An exfoliator that helps increase the natural cell turnover rate on the surface of the skin to reveal the younger-looking skin underneath.

Amino acids: Building blocks of protein that enhance moisture-retention and absorption. Examples include: arginine, serine, glutamic acid, glycine, and lysine.

Antioxidant: A substance that helps protect the skin against damage caused by free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules). Free radicals can lead to premature signs of aging by causing cellular damage and disrupting the structure of other molecules. Examples of antioxidants: coenzyme Q10 and vitamins A, C, and E.

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca): Finely milled apricot seeds are used to exfoliate and soften skin.

Arctium lappa: See burdock.

Arctostaphylus uva ursi: See bearberry.

Arginine: An amino acid with water binding and skin softening properties.

Arnica (Arnica montana): Derived from the dried flowers of the arnica plant. Used as an astringent.

Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (vitamin C): A stabilized form of Vitamin C. Used as an antioxidant, a collagen builder, and skin brightener.

Astringent: A solution that removes oil from the skin and visibly tightens pores.

Avena sativa: See oat.

Avocado Oil: A skin softener and conditioner. Rich in protein, vitamins, and amino acids.


Bamboo (Sasa Veitchii): Used for its moisture-binding properties.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylus uva ursi): Leaves from this plant are used for their toning and soothing properties.

Bentonite: A high-quality white volcanic clay. Used for its absorption and purifying properties.

Biosaccharide Gum-1: A skin-conditioning agent and humectant derived from sorbitol.

Biotin: A member of the B: complex family of vitamins. Promotes metabolism and circulation.

Bitter Orange Peel Extract: Derived from the fruit. Used for its stimulating, healing, and conditioning properties.

Blackheads: Pores clogged by natural oils and impurities resulting in hardened sebum.

Boosters: Products that feature concentrated ingredients and target specific skincare issues.

Botanical: An ingredient or product derived from plants.

Brighteners: Products that help combat visible dark spots and discoloration. Botanicals, including licorice and mulberry are brighteners as is lab-developed alpha-arbutin.

Broad-spectrum: A sunscreen that blocks out both aging UVA rays and burning UVB rays that can lead to skin cancer.

Broken capillaries: Broken blood vessels, red or bluish in color, appearing as small lines or blotches.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) root: A mineral-rich plant ingredient used to soothe skin and help balance excess oil.


Caffeine: Helps to improve circulation and visibly tighten skin.

Calcium pantothenate: A member of the B-complex family of vitamins, found in royal jelly. Used as an emollient.

Camellia oleifera: See green tea.

Candelilla wax: Obtained from the candelilla plant and used to protect the skin against moisture loss.

Capsicum frutescens: Derived from the chili plant, it invigorates the scalp and skin.

Caramel: Derived from sugar. Used as a soothing agent.

Cell Renewal :If the body is stressed, ill, or simply getting older, the normal cell cycle can slow down, allowing duller, rougher skin to accumulate on the surface.

Cellulite: Deposits of fat and other material trapped in pockets beneath the skin.

Ceramides: Found naturally in the skin, ceramides form a protective barrier to help reduce moisture loss. Botanical ceramides from wheat and soy can help skin stay hydrated.

Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita): The extract from the flowers of the plant has calming and soothing properties. 

Chameleon leaf (Houttuynia cordata): Used for its purifying and revitalizing properties.

Charcoal: Helps purify and clarify skin.

Chiretta extract: Derived from the green gentian plant. Used for its toning properties.

Chitosan: A fiber derived from the shells of shellfish. Hydrates the skin and helps to prevents moisture loss.

Chlorella: Derived from green algae. Used as a skin conditioner and antioxidant. Chlorella firms and plumps skin and protects against moisture loss.

Chlorophyllin-copper complex: A stabilized form of chlorophyll. Used for its cleansing properties.

Cinnamon: Derived from dried cinnamon bark. Used as an astringent and stimulant.

Citric acid: An astringent with antioxidant properties. Used to help skin maintain its natural pH level.

Citrus medica limonum: See lemon.

Citrus unshiu: See satsuma mandarin orange.

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone): This antioxidant occurs naturally in skin, but levels of it decrease past the age of 30. It helps your skin defend itself against visible signs of aging, including fine lines, loss of elasticity, and firmness.

Collagen: Helps reduce water loss in the skin by forming a protective barrier, resulting in softer, smoother-looking skin.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): An herb derived from a wild ginger plant. Used as a skin soother.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale): A plant source of allantoin. Used as an anti-irritant and skin soother.

Cucumis sativus: See cucumber.

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus): Extracted from the pulp of a cucumber. Used for its soothing and moisture binding properties.

Cuttlefish Extract: Extracted from cuttlefish. A protein used for its moisturizing properties.

Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12): Used to revitalize and condition skin.


Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin.

Dermis: The layer of skin beneath the epidermis that is made up of connective tissue.

Disodium Ascorbyl Sulfate: Derived from Vitamin C. Used as an antioxidant and preservative.


Elastin: A protein found in the dermis that keeps skin from sagging and wrinkling. Helps maintain skin’s elasticity and firmness.

Emollient: Any substance that conditions, moisturizes, and helps to prevent water loss in the skin.

Emulsifier: Any substance used to assist in the production of an emulsion.

Emulsion: A substance formed when two or more non-mixable liquids become homogenized. Most oils form emulsions with water.

Epidermis: The outermost layer of skin.

Equisetum arvense: See horsetail.

Eucalyptus (Eucaluyptus globules): Derived from the leaves of the tree. Eucalyptus can help improve circulation and is known for its antibacterial, cooling, and skin-freshening properties.

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis): Rich in gamma-linoleic acid which facilitates skin’s barrier function, this oil helps hydrate and soothe complexions.

Exfoliate: To shed or slough off the outermost surface skin cells.


Flor de Aceite (The Flower of the Oil): Premier-quality olive oil that isn't pressed but drips from the crushed fruit naturally. It takes more than twice as many olives to produce Flor de Aceite than it does to produce the first cold press.

Free radicals: Unstable, scavenger cells that cause damage to healthy cells. They can come from the sun, pollution, stress, cigarettes, alcohol, and other outside factors.

Fucoidan: A nutrient-rich extract of Japanese brown seaweed that supports naturally-occurring levels of hyaluronic acid to increase suppleness.


Ginkgo biloba: An herb used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-irritant.

Ginseng (Panax ginseng): The root extract is used for its soothing and softening properties.

Gloss: A smooth surface finish that creates shine.

Glycine soja: See soy.

Glycerin: Derived from vegetable oils. An emollient and humectant that helps prevent moisture loss.

Glycolic acid: An alphahydroxy acid (AHA) used to help control the pH of a product and to gently exfoliate surface skin cells.

Glycyrrhiza glabra: See licorice.

Grape seed: An antioxidant that helps fight damaging free radicals that can cause premature signs of aging.

Green tea (Camellia oleifera): Used for its antioxidant and anti-irritant properties. A free radical scavenger.


Hinoki: A type of Japanese cedar that is prized for its water resistant properties.

Honey: Helps skin attract and retain moisture.

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): Derived from the seeds of the plant. Used as an astringent and anti-inflammatory.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense): Derived from the plant. Used for its astringent, tightening, and firming properties.

Houttuynia cordata: See chameleon leaf.

Humectant: A substance that attracts and retains moisture to skin.

Hyaluronic acid: An acid that occurs naturally in the skin and binds and retains essential moisture in the skin layers and reduces the appearance of visible fine lines caused by dehydration.

Hydrate: To add moisture to skin.

Hydrogenated castor oil: Derived from the castor bean. Used to condition and soothe the skin.

Hydrogenated coconut oil: The solidified oil expressed from coconuts. Used as a foaming agent.


Iron Oxides: Natural oxides of iron (iron combined with oxygen) varying in color from red to brown, black to orange or yellow, depending on the degree of water added. Inorganic pigments approved for cosmetic use.

Isoflavones: Antioxidant-rich phytoestrogens (plant hormones), usually derived from soybeans. Used to promote absorption and help fight visible damage caused by free radicals.


Jojoba: Extracted from the desert shrub. Used as an emollient.


Kaolin: A fine white clay powder. Used to absorb excess oil secreted by the skin.

Kelp: Derived from the Pacific marine plant. Rich in minerals, it is used for its anti-inflammatory and revitalizing properties.

Keratin: A protein used to strengthen and condition the hair.

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata): An antioxidant-rich, plant-derived humectant which contains isoflavones to help visibly firm skin.


Lactic Acid: An Alphahydroxy Acid (AHA) derived from milk. Used to gently exfoliate by diminishing the cohesion of dead skin cells.

Lactoferrin: A protein derived from milk. Used for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Lanolin: Sheep derived ingredient used to condition the skin and boost moisture.

Lavandula augustifolia: See lavender.

Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia): Extracted from the flowers. Used for its soothing and aromatic properties.

Lemon (Citrus medica limonum): Used to invigorate and as an astringent.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Derived from the root of the plant. Used as a brightener and skin soother.

Limnanthes alba: See meadowfoam.


Macadamia (Macadamia ternifolia): Used as a skin conditioner.

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate: See vitamin C.

Magnesium sulfate: Salts of magnesium used to soothe, soften, and condition the skin.

Malpighia glabra: See acerola.

Magnolia (Magnolia obovata): Derived from the bark. Used to soothe skin.

Mannitol: Derived from seaweed. Used as a humectant, emulsifier, and antioxidant.

Matrixyl® 3000: A powerful wrinkle-fighter that uses messenger molecules to help promote elasticity and tone.

Matte: A non-shiny finish. A product that absorbs light.

Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba): The oil of this plant forms a barrier to help prevent moisture loss. Highly emollient without being greasy.

Melanin: Skin tone is determined by the amount and type of the pigment melanin in the skin.

Mentha piperita: See peppermint.

Menthol: A natural cooling agent and anti-inflammatory that imparts a cool, fresh, and clean feeling.

Methylparaben: Used as a preservative to help prevent bacterial growth in products.

Mica: A light-diffusing earth mineral. Used as a pigment in cosmetics.

Mineral Oil: Derived from petroleum. Used as a slip agent, binder, and skin protectant.

Moisturizer: A substance able to hydrate and protect the skin and prevent dryness.

Morus alba extract: See mulberry.

Mulberry (Morus alba extract): Extracted from the roots of the plant. Aids in reducing the appearance of discoloration.

Myristic Acid: An organic acid that occurs naturally in butter acids, coconut oil, and in most vegetable fats. Used as a foaming agent.

Myristyl Lactate: Used as a skin conditioner.


Nanotechnology: Works on a molecular scale to improve the delivery and performance of ingredients. One nanometre is one-millionth of a millimeter.

Nasturtium officinale: See watercress.


Oat (Avena sativa): Extracted from the seeds. Used as a skin soother.

Octyl methoxycinnamate (also known as Octinoxate): Used as a sunscreen agent to absorb ultraviolet light.

Oenothera biennis: See evening primrose.

Olive (Olea Europaea) leaf: Rich in antioxidants and naturally-occurring coenzyme Q10, this extract helps protect, firm, nourish, and revitalize sun-damaged skin.

Olive (Olea Europaea) oil: This antioxidant-rich oil helps fight damage caused by free radicals and helps protect, condition, and seal moisture into the skin without clogging pores.

Oryza sativa: See rice germ.


Paeonia albiflora; Peonia suffruticosa: See peony.

Palmitic acid: Obtained from palm oil. Used as a cleansing agent.

Palm kernel (Sodium palm kernelate): Derived from the seeds of palm trees and used as a surfactant.

Panax ginseng: See ginseng.

Panthenol (vitamin B5):A humectant and emollient.

Papain: An enzyme from papaya fruit. Gently exfoliates and sloughs off dead skin cells on surface of the complexion.

Peony (Paeonia albiflora; Peonia suffruticosa): Derived from the root of the plant. Used as a skin brightener and conditioning agent.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Used for its cooling, refreshing, and antiseptic properties.

Peptides: A compound consisting of two or more amino acids—the building blocks of protein. They help support elasticity to encourage younger-looking skin.

Perilla (Perilla ocymoides): Derived from the seeds of the plant. Used as an anti-inflammatory agent.

pH: The scale used to measure the acidity and alkalinity of a solution.

Photoaging: Premature breakdown of the skin's cells caused by damage from the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

Placental extract: Derived from animal placentas. A rich source of nutrients, amino acids, and proteins, it conditions and softens skin.

Polyglutamic acid: An amino acid polymer (gamma-polyglutamic acid) used to promote smoothness and elasticity.

Pore: A small opening of the sweat glands of the skin.

Potassium DNA: The potassium salt of DNA. Used as a protein to condition the skin.

Prunus armeniaca: See apricot.

Pueraria lobata: See kudzu.

Pyrodoxine HCI (Vitamin B6): Used for its antioxidant properties.

Pyros cydonia: See quince.


Quince (Pyros cydonia): Derived from the seed of the plant. Used as a thickener and emulsifier.


Resorcinol: Used as an antiseptic and disinfectant.

Retinyl palmitate(Vitamin A): Vitamin A derivative and essential skin nutrient necessary for healthy skin maintenance and repair. Moisturizes dry skin and reduces excess oil.

Rice germ (Oryza sativa): An excellent skin conditioner and antioxidant.

Rose (Rosa): Helps hydrate, soften, and nurture dry and irritated skin.

Rosemary: Extracted from the leaves of the plant. Used for its antiseptic properties and refreshing fragrance.

Royal Jelly Extract: A highly nutritive substance secreted by worker bees to feed the queen bee. Used for its moisturizing and revitalizing properties.

Rutin: A bioflavonoid used for its antioxidant and stimulating properties.


Sage (Salvia officinalis): Extracted from the leaves of the plant. Used for its antibacterial and fragrant properties.

Salicylic acid: An excellent acne fighter, this beta-hydroxy acid helps reduce sebaceous follicle blockage and has antimicrobial properties.

Salix alba: See willow.

Salvia officinalis: See sage.

Sapindaceae: See soapberry.

Sapindus Mukurossi: See soap nut tree.

Sasa Albo-Marginata extract: Derived from the leaves of the bamboo plant. Used as a natural preservative.

Satsuma mandarin orange (Citrus unshiu): A variety of the mandarin orange that helps visibly tighten pores, brighten, and revitalize skin.

Sea salt: Used as a skin conditioner and softener.

Sericite: An earth mineral used as a pigment in cosmetics. Also known as mica.

Serine: An amino acid used as a skin conditioner.

Silica: An earth mineral used to condition and smooth skin. It fills in visible fine lines and wrinkles.

Soapberry (Sapindaceae): Extracted from the fruit. Used as a foaming agent.

Soap nut tree (Sapindus Mukurossi): Contains saponins, which deliver natural cleansing and foaming actions.

Sodium hyaluronate: The sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, which is a sugar compound found in the skin. An excellent skin conditioner and humectant, it helps prevent skin dehydration.

Sodium lactate: The salt of lactic acid. Used as a skin conditioner.

Sodium palm kernelate: See palm kernel.

Sodium PCA: A natural component of skin. It is one of the best moisture binders available, as well as a humectant and emollient.

Sophora: Derived from the root of the tree. Used for its revitalizing and stimulating properties.

Sorbitol: Helps skin feel smoother and less dry.

Soy (Glycine soja): Extracted from the bean. Contains botanical ceramides to help protect and moisturize skin.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor): The SPF number references a sunscreen’s ability to screen out the sun’s “burning” UVB rays. The SPF rating is determined by contrasting the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin.

Squalane: Derived from olive pits. Used as an emollient and antioxidant-rich skin protectant.

Sucrose (Sugar): Used as a skin conditioner and humectant.

Surfactant: Any substance that aids in emulsifying oils and suspending dirt on the skin, allowing them to be easily rinsed away.

Sweet almond oil: Extracted from the seeds of almonds. Used as an emollient.

Swertia Japonica: Extracted from the plant of the same name. Used to invigorate skin.

Symphytum officinale: See comfrey.


Talc: An earth mineral used as a pigment and texturizer in cosmetics.

Tannic acid: Occurs naturally in the bark and fruit of many plants and trees. Used for its moisture retaining properties.

Thiamine HCI (Vitamin B1): Promotes healthy skin tissue.

Titanium Dioxide: An earth mineral used in sunscreens. Capable of blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Also used as a pigment in cosmetics.

Tocopherol: See vitamin E.

Tocotrienols: A stable form of Vitamin E that, along with tocopherols, makes up the Vitamin E family. Used as an antioxidant and skin conditioner.

Toners: Solutions that complete the cleansing process. They help skin maintain its natural pH, tighten pores, remove excess oil, and prepare the skin for moisturizer.

Tourmaline: A precious gemstone that is used to energize skin and help remove surface impurities.

Trehalose: Used to protect skin against moisture loss.

Triclosan: An antibacterial ingredient used in soaps.

Tribehenin: A fatty acid used as an emollient and thickening agent.

Triticum vulgare: See wheat.

Tussilago farfara: See coltsfoot.


Ubiquinone: See coenzyme Q10.

Urea: Used for water binding, and moisturizing properties.

UVA rays (ultra-violet A radiation): UVA is a long wavelength ultraviolet ray from the sun. UVA rays are called "aging" rays and penetrate more deeply into skin than UVB rays.

UVB rays (ultra-violet B radiation): An ultraviolet ray that is shorter in length than a UVA ray. It is the primary cause of sunburn. UVB rays are the "burning" rays in the UV spectrum.


Vitamin C (Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate): A free radical–fighting antioxidant and collagen-builder used to help fight visible fine lines and even out skin tone.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol): Used as an antioxidant and skin conditioner.

Vitis vinifera: See grape seed.


Watercress (Nasturtium officinale): This botanical extract is used for its nourishing properties.

Wheat (Triticum vulgare) germ: An antioxidant with high vitamin E content.

Wheat protein: Used as an emollient and water-binder.

Willow (Salix alba): Used for its soothing and tonic properties.


There are no glossary entries for this letter.


Yeast: Used as a water binding agent and antioxidant.

Yogurt filtrate: Derived from fermented milk. Used as a revitalizer and anti-inflammatory agent.


Zinc oxide: An earth mineral that provides excellent protection from the sun and other irritants. When used in sunscreens it reflects both UVA and UVB rays.