Ingredient Dictionary

Each ingredient in our products was meticulously selected based on thorough scientific research. All DERMA et al. products are formulated with optimal concentrations for treating sensitive skin and skin of colour.


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Derma et al.

Ingredient Dictionary


WHAT IS IT: Adenosine is a naturally occurring compound found in all living cells, including human cells. The adenosine used in skincare is commonly extracted from plant or yeast cells.

BENEFITS: Adenosine possesses various skincare benefits, including its ability to minimise the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles through the stimulation of collagen production, resulting in smoother and more youthful-looking skin. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory abilities make it highly effective in soothing irritated, sensitive skin. Adenosine also has wound-healing properties that result in skin repair and rejuvenation, while its moisturising abilities preserve skin hydration and fortify the skin barrier.

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WHAT IS IT: Allantoin, or aluminium dihydroxy allantoinate, is a chemical compound found within the human body and in many plants. It’s often extracted from the comfrey, though it also can be made synthetically.

BENEFITS: Allantoin is known to be gentle while soothing, hydrating and healing dry or sensitive skin. It also protects against free radical damage and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to fight redness and swelling.

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Aloe barbadensis extract

WHAT IS IT: Aloe vera (commonly from the Aloe barbadensis plant) is one of the most conventional herbal remedies for topical skin conditions. This is because the gel-like components of the plant are known to heal the skin from a variety of minor ailments.

BENEFITS: Aloe helps to relieve inflamed and irritated due to its soothing properties. It’s made up of 99% water and is perfect for hydrating skin by reducing flaking and forming a protective layer that retains moisture.

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Alpha arbutin

WHAT IS IT: Alpha arbutin or hydroquinone β-D-glucopyranoside can either be made synthetically in a lab or is naturally derived from certain plants in the Ericaceae family (bearberry, mulberry, blueberry, cranberry).

BENEFITS: Alpha arbutin is an antioxidant that evens out and brightens skin tone, and can help with the appearance of scars. It reacts with melanin, the natural pigment in your skin and inhbits the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme that plays an important role in melanin production.

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Alpha lipoic acid

WHAT IS IT: Alpha-lipoic acid, also known as thiotic acid, is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in the body. It's both water- and fat-soluble, allowing it to work in various parts of the body.

BENEFITS: Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It is unique in that it can regenerate other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, enhancing their effectiveness. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help calm redness and irritation in the skin. It's known for its potential in improving skin texture and tone, as it supports collagen production, leading to a firmer and more youthful complexion. Additionally, alpha-lipoic acid has been studied for its potential in reducing hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.

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Avena sativa (oat kernal) flour

WHAT IS IT: Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour is the flour produced from the seeds of the Avena sativa or oat plant. The flour is made up of ground seeds and is also commonly referred to as colloidal oatmeal. 

BENEFITS: Topically applied colloidal oatmeal is known to reduce redness and soothe skin irritation. It provides skin moisture and hydration with its potent emollient properties. This ingredient is commonly used to relieve skin disorders, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. 

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WHAT IS IT: Bisabolol, also known as alpha-bisabolol, is an active ingredient in chamomile. The oil containing the ingredient is extracted from Matricaria chamomilla or German chamomile.

BENEFITS: This ingredient is acclaimed for its soothing properties, making it excellent for sensitive and irritable skin. It goes further to help with dryness and flakiness by hydrating the skin and stimulating the skin’s healing response to reduce scarring and blemishes.

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Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter

WHAT IS IT: Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of native West African shea trees. Its high levels of vitamins and fatty acids, along with its consistency, have made it a popular ingredient in cosmetics for centuries.

BENEFITS: While shea butter is a tree nut product,  it’s very low in proteins that can cause allergic reactions making it safe for nearly any skin type. The benefits of shea are due to its fatty acid content, which includes linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids. These oils are absorbed by the skin and restore the skin’s moisture and thereby the skin barrier. Furthermore, shea butter contains high levels of vitamins A and E, which gives it strong antioxidant properties.

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Camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract

WHAT IS IT: Green tea leaves, from the Camellia sinensis plant, are the same that we drink and have a variety of health benefits. This is due to the high concentration of polyphenols (in particular catechins).

BENEFITS: Catechins are powerful natural antioxidants which neutralise free radicals to protect the skin cells and tissue from damage. Topical application of green tea extract protects the skin from UV damage and oxidative stress, thereby defending the skin barrier.

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Carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil

WHAT IS IT: Carthamus tinctorius or the safflower plant is recognised by its distinctive bright yellow and orange flowers. Pure safflower oil is made from the seeds of the plant.

BENEFITS: Safflower oil is non-comedogenic oil that is high in linoleic acid. This means that it does not clog the pores and can help to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory effects may also be helpful in treating pimples and acne spots. 

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Centella asiatica extract

WHAT IS IT: Centella asiatica, or gotu kola, is a medicinal herb that appears in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional African medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to treat wounds such as burns or cuts, and skin conditions, and it is a popular ingredient in skincare products.

BENEFITS: Centella asiatica contains madecassoside which serves as an antioxidant. It is a rich source of amino acids to soothe compromised skin, while also improving hydration. There's also evidence that Centella asiatica products can help revitalize the skin's protective barrier, and may mitigate some of the visible effects of sun damage.

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Ceramides (NP, AP, EOP)

WHAT IS IT: Ceramides are waxy, lipid molecules naturally present in the stratum corneum (top layer) of the skin. These molecules are one of the skin’s natural moisturising factors that hold the skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture. 

BENEFITS: When applied topically, ceramides work synergistically to help increase skin hydration and promote optimal barrier function. They restore moisture, fortify the skin’s natural barrier and help protect it against harm from foreign elements. 

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Cetyl alcohol

WHAT IS IT: Cetyl alcohol is an emulsifier, meaning it helps prevent creams from separating into oil and liquid. It may also make a product thicker or increase the product's ability to foam. In addition, it is known to be an emollient.

BENEFITS: As an emollient, cetyl alcohol can soften and smoothen the skin, thereby reducing rough, dry skin. Emollients are also occlusive agents, meaning they provide a layer of protection that helps prevent transepidermal water loss from the skin.

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WHAT IS IT: Cholesterol is a natural component of skin’s stratum corneum, accounting for ~25% of the intercellular lipids. In skin care formulas, cholesterol can function as a skin conditioner, stabilizer, and water-binding agent.

BENEFITS: When cholesterol is applied to skin topically, it plays a replenishing role to help support the skin’s natural barrier function by retaining moisture levels and regulating cell activity for healthier and more resilient skin. Reinforcing skin’s outermost layers in this way also helps protect it from external stressors.

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WHAT IS IT: Dimethicone is a  synthetic silicone-based polymer that is frequently used as a skin protectant and moisturiser in skincare products. 

BENEFITS: Dimethicone creates a silky texture for skincare products containing it, making them easily spreadable. In addition, it helps to moisturise the skin by minimising transepidermal water loss. Dimethicone has emollient properties and despite being occlusive, it is non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic.

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Encapsulated retinol

WHAT IS IT: Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and is part of the retinoid family, which includes other compounds like retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate. Encapsulated retinol is a form of retinol that is housed within a protective capsule or sphere. This encapsulation technology allows for a controlled and gradual release of retinol onto the skin.

BENEFITS: Encapsulated retinol offers all the benefits of regular retinol, but with some additional advantages. The encapsulation process helps to stabilize the retinol molecule, making it less prone to degradation and oxidation. This means that encapsulated retinol is often more stable and less likely to cause irritation compared to traditional forms of retinol.

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WHAT IS IT: Ethylhexylglycerin is a synthetic ingredient often used in skincare formulations. It can be used as a preservative and a carrier agent that increases the efficacy of other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol.

BENEFITS: In addition to its preservative properties, ethylhexylglycerin is a mild humectant that can have a skin-softening effect by improving hydration.

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WHAT IS IT: Glycerin is a natural component of healthy skin. It’s also known as glycerine and glycerol, the latter being the term most often seen in studies about this hardworking ingredient. In skin care, glycerin's most popular use is as a humectant, meaning it draws water from the atmosphere to the skin.

BENEFITS: Glycerin is great for the skin because, through its humectant properties, it can increase hydration and refresh the skin's surface. It's also an emollient, which means it can soften skin. Glycerin is also known as a skin-replenishing ingredient, meaning it helps keep the skin's surface strong and protected from environmental damage.

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Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract

WHAT IS IT: Licorice root extract comes from the licorice plant, also known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. The plant is typically found in Western Europe, Southern Asia, and the Middle East and has been used for centuries as a medical remedy for ailments.

BENEFITS: Glabridin, one of the key components of licorice root extract, is a potent antioxidant with skin-soothing properties. Glycyrrhizin, an anti-inflammatory component of the extract, is used for treating inflamed, irritated skin. Furthermore, it protects the skin from free radical damage as an antioxidant.

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Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil

WHAT IS IT: Helianthus annuus seed oil comes from compressing the seeds of a plant most commonly known as a sunflower.  In skincare, it is mainly used as an emollient agent in cosmetic products.  This is made possible by its high concentrations of oleic acid, linoleic acid and vitamin E.

BENEFITS: Being very high in vitamin E, it acts as an emollient which traps moisture and keeps the skin well hydrated. It also helps prevent damage to cells by ultraviolet light and aids against premature ageing of the skin by protecting the collagen and elastin content. Skin benefits of sunflower oil include: improving skin hydration and providing antioxidant protection

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Hyaluronic acid

WHAT IS IT: Hyaluronic acid or hyaluronate is a group of sugar molecules. These molecules work to cushion and lubricate and are found naturally in the body’s connective tissues.

BENEFITS: Hyaluronic acid penetrates the skin and binds water to skin cells, infusing all layers of the skin with valuable, rejuvenating moisture. Hyaluronic acid helps skin stretch and flex and reduces skin wrinkles and lines. It is also proven to help wounds heal faster and can reduce scarring.

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Hydroxypinacolone retinoate

WHAT IS IT: Hydroxypinacolone retinoate, also known as granactive retinoid, is a novel retinoid derivative. It's a synthetic compound designed to mimic the effects of retinoic acid.

BENEFITS: Hydroxypinacolone retinoate provides similar effects to retinoic acid, but with a lower likelihood of causing irritation, making it suitable for sensitive skin. This derivative is also less prone to oxidation and degradation, ensuring its potency and effectiveness over time. By stimulating collagen production, it improves skin texture and firmness, resulting in a smoother and more radiant complexion. It also addresses fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, contributing to an anti-aging effect. Additionally, it possesses antioxidant properties, helping to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

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Kojic acid dipalmitate

WHAT IS IT: Kojic acid dipalmitate (KAD) is a diesterified derivative of kojic acid. It is thought to be superior to kojic acid in its brightening ability and is more stable in cosmetic formulations.

BENEFITS: By inhibiting tyrosinase activity, KAD is capable of suppressing skin pigmentation. It is also very beneficial in treating acne scars or dark spots. Furthermore, KAD helps in improving ageing spots and UV-induced damage. 

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N-acetyl glucosamine

WHAT IS IT: N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) is an amino acid sugar and a precursor for hyaluronic acid. As a natural moisturising factor, NAG is naturally found in the spaces between the skin cells. 

BENEFITS: NAG has been shown to increase the moisture content and elasticity of the skin, as well as the speed of wound healing. Studies have also shown NAG’s ability to reduce hyperpigmentation, especially when combined with niacinamide.

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Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

WHAT IS IT: Niacinamide is also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinamide. It is a water-soluble vitamin that works with the natural substances in your skin to help various aspects of the skin’s health. It has become popular in skincare products for a good reason, it’s that good.

BENEFITS: When applied topically, niacinamide can improve skin hydration by preventing evaporation of the skin’s moisture into the environment. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, meaning it’s great for calming irritated and sensitive skin. Some of its additional benefits include brightening, preventing signs of ageing, and reducing acne. 

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Oat beta glucan

WHAT IS IT: Oat beta-glucan is a soluble fiber found in the cell walls of oats. It's extracted from oat bran and has gained recognition for its various health and skincare benefits.

BENEFITS: Oat beta-glucan is known for its exceptional moisturizing properties. When applied topically, it forms a fine, breathable film on the skin, which helps to reduce water loss, making it an excellent ingredient for hydrating dry or sensitive skin. Additionally, oat beta-glucan has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe irritated or inflamed skin. It's particularly beneficial for individuals with conditions like eczema or dermatitis. This compound is also an antioxidant, meaning it helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. This can contribute to its anti-aging effects, as it supports the skin's natural defense against environmental stressors. Furthermore, oat beta-glucan supports the skin's natural healing process, making it effective in aiding the recovery of damaged or wounded skin. It's also known for its ability to improve the overall texture and elasticity of the skin.

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Oryza sativa (rice) bran oil

WHAT IS IT: Oryza sativa or rice bran oil is a cold-pressed oil. The oil retains the vast majority of the active compounds of brown rice, which include fatty acids, antioxidants as well as vitamins B and E.

BENEFITS: The anti-oxidant properties of rice bran oil prevent and combat the harmful effects of free radicals that are responsible for skin ageing. They protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, pollution and environmental damage. The fatty acid content helps moisturise the skin while soothing and repairing the skin barrier.

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Panthenol (pro-Vitamin B5)

WHAT IS IT: Panthenol is an alcohol derivative of vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid. It is structurally similar to vitamin B5 except that it contains a hydroxyl group, making it an alcohol. The body converts it to vitamin B5 once applied to the skin. It is a stable, water-soluble ingredient that readily penetrates the skin. 

BENEFITS: Panthenol is typically used as a moisturiser but has various other benefits including, promoting wound healing, boosting skin barrier function as well as soothing the skin and reducing inflammation. 

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WHAT IS IT: Peptides, also called polypeptides, naturally occur in the body. These molecules essentially are chains of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. Important proteins in the skin include collagen and elastin.

BENEFITS: Applying peptides to the skin topically can assist in rebuilding collagen and elastin. This can reduce wrinkles and lead to more elastic skin. Furthermore, studies show that including peptides in your skincare routine improves the skin barrier, eases inflammation and can help clear breakouts. 

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WHAT IS IT: Phenoxyethanol is an ether alcohol that can be derived naturally from green tea and also synthesized in a lab. In cosmetic formulations, it serves as a preservative, a solvent, and an antimicrobial ingredient.

BENEFITS: Phenoxyethanol is used to inhibit antimicrobial growth in cosmetic formulations. In addition, it extends the shelf life and assists with the stability of products.

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WHAT IS IT: Phytosphingosine is a lipid (fat) that naturally occurs in the skin. It is a precursor of ceramides which is the most prominent lipid in the skin. 

BENEFITS: In skincare products, phytosphingosine enhances the skin’s barrier function. A strengthened skin barrier helps to protect the body from allergens and irritants and locks in moisture. Furthermore, the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it helpful in treating acne and inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. 

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WHAT IS IT: Resveratrol is a natural compound that belongs to a class of polyphenolic compounds known as stilbenes. It is found in various plants, including grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and Japanese knotweed.

BENEFITS: Resveratrol has gained significant attention in the skincare industry due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also help in reducing the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, promoting a more even skin tone.

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Rosa canina (rosehip) seed oil

WHAT IS IT: Rosehip seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the rosebush of Rosa canina fruit. This oil contains vitamins A, C and F, as well as essential fatty acids such as oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid.

BENEFITS: Rosehip oil is a natural antioxidant and helps protect and prevent the skin from UV damage. Additional benefits include exfoliation and brightening for glowing, vibrant skin. The fatty acids also reinforce the skin barrier and prevent water loss.

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Salix alba (white willow) bark extract

WHAT IS IT: White willow bark extract is a natural source of salicin, polyphenols and flavonoids. This plant extract is very gentle on the skin and thus suitable for sensitive skin types.

BENEFITS: Willow bark extract is proven to have soothing effects on the skin. It is also known for its antioxidant and anti-ageing properties. While salicin is a precursor to salicylic acid, the exfoliating potential of willow bark extract is debatable.

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Sodium PCA

WHAT IS IT: Sodium Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid (PCA) is the sodium salt of Pyroglutamic acid. PCA is derived from amino acids to act as a humectant. Sodium PCA is naturally found in the skin and is a component of the NMF (natural moisturising factors). It can be derived from fruits, vegetables and grasses and is completely safe to use on the skin.

BENEFITS: Sodium PCA increases the water content of the outermost layers of the skin. Its hygroscopic (“water seeking”) nature allows it to attract and retain moisture from the air. It plays a vital role in keeping the skin moisturised by binding skin cells together. It also enhances the appearance of the skin’s surface and keeps the skin looking healthy and plump.

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WHAT IS IT: Squalane is a colourless poly-unsaturated hydrocarbon liquid derived by the hydrogenation of squalene. It is found naturally in various animals and plants, including human sebum. Essentially, squalane is among many naturally occurring lipids produced by the body to lubricate and protect the skin. 

Squalane is much lighter than squalene and thus is a suitable option for individuals with acne-prone skin. It is also more stable and less prone to oxidation. It is for this reason that squalane is more commonly used in skincare.

BENEFITS: Squalene and squalane are used as powerful emollients and natural antioxidants in skincare products. Traditionally, they have been employed in medicine to treat wounds and skin conditions. It improves and maintains the skin barrier and helps the skin retain moisture. Over time, squalane can reduce scars, undo UV-induced skin- damage, lighten freckles and erase skin pigmentation, all while protecting the skin from free radicals.

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Stearic acid

WHAT IS IT: Stearic acid is a saturated, long-chain fatty acid found naturally in many animal and plant fats and is produced synthetically. Stearic acid is an emollient and a major component of shea butter and cocoa butter. It is often used purely for formulation purposes.

BENEFITS: Stearic acid helps maintain the skin barrier and softens and smooths the skin's surface. Although it also functions as a surfactant, stearic acid is often used as an emulsifier to thicken and improve the texture of skincare products. Stearic acid is also an excellent option for those with sensitive and irritated skin. 

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Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate

WHAT IS IT: Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD), an analogue of L-ascorbic acid, is a highly stable form of vitamin C. THD is converted to ascorbic acid by enzymes within the skin. 

Unlike ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C), tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is fat-soluble. Thus, it is able to penetrate deeper layers of the skin where it interacts with the skin’s naturally occurring vitamin E. This allows THD to target the skin’s underlying support system via a pathway different to that of the water-soluble ascorbic acid. 

BENEFITS: Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate aids in improving the overall appearance of  the skin by gently reducing the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone.

Due to its antioxidant properties, it can neutralize the types of free radicals that damage the skin’s natural lipids, such as ceramides and cholesterol.

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Tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E)

WHAT IS IT: Tocopheryl acetate, commonly known as vitamin E acetate, is a synthetic and stable form of vitamin E. Tocopheryl acetate is a fat-soluble ester of a-tocopheryl and acetic acid. Thus on a molecular level, it is seen as a tocopherol molecule with an acetate group added.  

BENEFITS: Tocopheryl acetate is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental aggressors by reducing free radical-induced skin damage. It is known to have hydrating properties, relieve inflammation, promote wound healing, and help strengthen the skin barrier by maintaining the lipid balance and preventing transepidermal water loss.

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Tranexamic acid

WHAT IS IT: Tranexamic acid is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine. It is an excellent ingredient recognised for its ability to fade dark spots and treat hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanin production.  

BENEFITS: Tranexamic acid acts as a brightening agent that fades discolouration, dark spots and melasma as well as reduces the appearance of acne scars. Additionally, tranexamic acid may help strengthen the skin barrier when compromised. 

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WHAT IS IT: Ubiquinone, commonly known as Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cells of the body. It plays a crucial role in the production of cellular energy.

BENEFITS: Ubiquinone is a potent antioxidant that helps protect skin cells from damage caused by free radicals. This makes it a valuable addition to skincare routines for its ability to combat signs of aging and environmental stressors. It also supports the production of collagen and elastin, essential proteins for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. As a result, it can help improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promote a more youthful complexion. Additionally, Ubiquinone has been studied for its potential to support the skin's natural regeneration process, which is crucial for maintaining healthy, radiant skin. It may also aid in reducing redness and inflammation, making it suitable for sensitive or irritated skin.

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WHAT IS IT: Urea is a component of the natural moisturising factor (NMF) which is produced by the skin.

BENEFITS: Urea is a hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) humectant, thus having the ability to attract and absorb water molecules from the environment and draw it to the skin, leaving it feeling plump and moisturised. Urea helps the skin to maintain a healthy moisture balance at low percentages. In addition, it is an emollient that softens and smoothes the skin. Urea helps improve the appearance of dry, rough and scaly skin patches by hydrating and preventing the buildup of dead skin cells.

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