Rating Ingredient
Good

lentil fruit extract

Extract that functions as a skin-conditioning agent and likely has antioxidant benefit, too.

Good

hexyl laurate

Skin-softening agent and emollient that is a mixture of hexyl alcohol and lauric acid.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

hexyldecanol

A synthetic, non-drying fatty alcohol used as an emollient and skin-conditioning agent.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

hydrogenated polyisobutene

Synthetic emollient with research backing its ability to provide long-lasting moisture retention. It acts as a lubricant on skin’s surface, providing a soft, smooth feel.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Best

hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans

A skin-restorative ingredient that has been hydrolyzed, which is a chemical process involving the...

Best

hydrolysed jojoba esters

Essential fatty acids from the jojoba plant, broken down by water to form a new complex. They serve as skin-softening and stabilising ingredients in cosmetics.

Good

isoamyl laurate

The ester of isoamyl alcohol and lauric acid, this plant- or synthetic-based texture-enhancing ingredient feels velvety-soft.

Best

Limnanthes alba

Plant commonly known as meadowfoam; its seed oil is a non-volatile plant oil used as a...

Best

Lycium barbarum fruit extract

The extract of the fruit commonly known as goji, goji berry, or wolfberry. This fruit extract is an antioxidant...

Good

methyl gluceth-20

Made by combining polyethylene glycol with glucose to create a new synthetic compound that draws and holds moisture to skin.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Good

methyl glucose sesquistearate

A mixure of the diesters of methyl glucoside and stearic acid. Functions as a skin-conditioning...

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

methylglucoside phosphate

A type of monosaccharide (simple sugar) derived from glucose, it serves as a skin-conditioning agent...

Categories: Skin-Softening
Average

millet seed extract

Extract from a cereal grain that has no established benefit for skin, but is added to cosmetic...

Good

neopentyl glycol diheptanoate

Mixture of texture-enhancing ingredient neopentyl glycol and grape-derived fatty acid heptanoic acid. The compound functions as a non-aqueous skin-softening agent and thickener

Good

octyldodecyl myristate

Mixture of octyldodecanol (thickener) and myristic acid that forms a new compound used as a...

Good

octyldodecyl neopentanoate

A skin-softening agent and emollient.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

oleyl erucate

Skin-softening agent derived from oleyl alcohol, which is obtained chiefly from fish oil.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Best

Oryza sativa cera

A natural, non-fragrant wax obtained from rice bran. It functions as a skin-softening agent...

Categories: Skin-Softening
Good

polyglyceryl-10 laurate

A plant-derived or synthetic ester of lauric acid and the synthetic polymer polyglycerin-10.

Good

tridecyl trimellitate

Skin-softening agent and texture enhancer that can provide a cushiony, emollient feel.

Good

trimethylsiloxysilicate

Used as a skin-softening and occlusive agent.

Good

trioctyldodecyl citrate

Mixture of octyldodecanol and citric acid used as a skin-softening agent and emollient.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract

Extract from the germ portion of the wheat plant. In cosmetics, this ingredient functions as a...

Good

Triticum vulgare germ oil

Non-fragrant plant oil that imparts emollience and delivers beneficial compounds including skin-replenishing squalane.

Good

whey protein

A form of protein derived from milk that functions as a skin-softening and/or hair-conditioning agent. Whey protein also shows promise for enhancing skin’s extracellular matrix.

Good

xymenynic acid

Synthetic fatty acid that functions as a skin-softening agent.

Best

cocos nucifera (coconut) fruit extract

The extract of the fruit of the coconut tree, this ingredient is rich in skin-conditioning fatty acids, proteins, and complex B vitamins.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Good

magnesium aspartate

Magnesium aspartate is the magnesium salt of aspartic acid that plays a role in maintaining proteins in skin.

Categories: Skin-Softening, Hydration
Good

caprylyl caprylate/caprate

A synthetic ester blend of medium chain fatty acids and fatty alcohol that works as an emollient.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Best

ethylhexyl olivate

A natural ester of skin-conditioning fatty acids derived from olive oil. It can have an occlusive effect on skin.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

isoamyl cocoate

A mix of non-irritating fatty alcohol isoamyl alcohol and coconut acid, this natural ingredient works as an emollient on skin.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

sodium gluconate

The salt form of gluconic acid, a mild acid produced from the sugar glucose. It helps certain skin care ingredients bond with others in a formula.

Good

sodium cocoyl glycinate

Sodium cocoyl glycinate is an amino acid-derived cleansing agent and skin-softening ingredient in skin care and hair care products.

Good

diisostearyl polyglyceryl-3 dimer dilinoleate

Diisostearyl polyglyceryl-3 dimer dilinoleate is an emollient blend of fatty acids often used in cosmetics to enhance coverage.

Good

C13-15 alkane

C13-15 alkane is a synthetic blend of alkanes that functions as a solvent.

Good

coco caprylate/caprate

An emollient that leaves a non-greasy, soft finish on skin. Can also function as a prebiotic to help feed skin’s natural supply of probiotics.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Best

N-hydroxysuccinimide

N-hydroxysuccinimide is a synthetic ingredient used in cosmetics as an ester to soften and condition skin.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Good

myristamidopropyl PG-dimonium chloride phosphate

myristamidopropyl PG-dimonium chloride phosphate

Best

Oryza sativa (rice) bran extract

Oryza sativa (rice) bran extract is a plant ingredient used in cosmetics to condition and soften skin.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Best

Silybum marianum seed oil

Silybum marianum seed oil comes from the milk thistle plant.

Good

diisooctyl succinate

Diisooctyl succinate is a synthetic or plant-derived (Paula’s Choice uses the latter) transparent liquid emollient.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Best

biotin/folic acid/cyanocobalamin/niacinamide/pantothenic acid/pyridoxine/riboflavin/thiamine/yeast polypeptides

A blend of several B vitamins plus peptides derived from a strain of lab-produced yeast.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Good

magnesium palmitoyl glutamate

Magnesium palmitoyl glutamate is an amino acid (glutamic acid) and mineral (magnesium) blend that conditions and softens skin.

Categories: Skin-Softening
Good

sodium levulinate

Sodium levulinate is the salt of levulinic acid, a synthetic organic acid that helps condition and soften skin.

Good

PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate

PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate is an ester of the fatty acid isostearic acid combined with polyethylene glycol and glycerin.

Best

Lactobacillus/coconut fruit juice ferment filtrate

Lactobacillus/coconut fruit juice ferment filtrate is the filtered result of combining the skin-friendly lactobacillus bacteria with the milky liquid found inside coconuts.

Best

palmitoyl proline

Palmitoyl proline combines fatty acid palmitic acid with the amino acid proline.

Categories: Skin-Softening, Hydration

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!