10 Most Important Terms to Know in Skincare

When we think of skincare, we just want to wash our faces with cleanser, throw on some moisturizer and call it a day, amirite?

So when seemingly endless terms are thrown our way regarding our face, we struggle to figure out where to begin.

To keep you from going insane, we've created a cheat sheet of the 10 most important terms to know in skincare:

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Oil-free products are formulated for skin types that produce a lot of sebum. Sebum is basically a fancy and scientific-y word for naturally occurring oils. If you feel you have naturally oily skin, opting for a label that says oil-free would benefit your skin. This type of product is good for acne-prone skin, but be careful not to overdo it. Stripping your skin too much may cause it to freak out and go into overdrive with its sebum production.



Parabens are preservatives to keep mold, fungus and bacteria from growing wild in your cosmetics or skincare products. Although the FDA cleared them in small numbers, most people are starting to move away from using parabens for safety. A paraben-free product is a good, clean option when you're shopping.



This term can be loose and shouldn't be taken too seriously. It can mean a plethora of things, from containing acne-fighting ingredients, to not clogging pores. It's a label you shouldn't put all of your money on. If you really want to test the efficacy of a product that's supposed to fight acne, flip it over and inspect the active ingredient label instead. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are reliable active ingredients known to kick zit-butt.

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Similar to the label above, anti-aging isn't too exact and can mean many different things. It's typically reserved for products that address fine lines and wrinkles. While it's not a term that needs to currently be high on your radar, it's never too early to be proactive and prevent problems later down the line.



Look for this in a product when your skin needs a bit more TLC. It means that the formula hydrates and has a combination of ingredients that will help restore moisture.



Marketers use this word when they want to make their products seem like a healthy option. The truth is, "natural" doesn't mean much and you shouldn't place too much importance on that word when you find it on a label.



Silicon is an ingredient that can make a formula feel deliciously slippery. If you've ever used a silicon-based product, you know what we are talking about. It makes things glide on very smoothly and can be found in a lot of primers. Beware, silicon may also cause breakouts, so test a product out before you commit.

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If you forget everything you learned here except one thing, make it this. SPF means "Sun Protection Factor." This term was introduced in the '70s and lets the wearer know how protected they are from the sun's harmful rays. Never, ever leave your house without a minimum of SPF 30.



Many acne-fighting products can include alcohol in their ingredients. It's great to dry out a zit, but it can also end up drying out your whole face. This drying out leads to more sebum production. More sebum will lead to more pimples—ugh, it's a vicious cycle. Stop it in its tracks by making sure your anti-acne products don't list alcohol as one of the first three ingredients.



Serums are typically potions packed with good-for-your-face ingredients. The difference between a serum and a cream is that a serum feels more lightweight and watery. It always feels easier to absorb, versus a cream that can sit atop your dermis (aka skin).


Now that you passed the skincare test, LOL with THESE makeup memes.