Alphabetical Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary from Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop

Rating Ingredient
Best

Haematococcus pluvialis extract

Poor

Hamamelis virginiana

Poor

hamamelitannin

Tannin that is found in witch hazel. It can be a skin sensitizer but it also has antioxidant...

Categories: Antioxidants, Sensitizing
Good

Haslea ostrearia extract

Extract derived from a water plant also known as blue algae. In pure concentrations this extract...

Poor

hayflower extract

Plant extract that, due to its constricting effect on skin, can be sensitizing There is no...

Good

hazelnut oil

Oil extracted from the hazelnut and that is used as an emollient.

Categories: Emollients
Good

hectorite

A type of clay used in cosmetics that enhances texture by imparting a smooth, silky feel.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Poor

Hedera helix

Poor

hedione

Synthetic fragrant component in products, which also can be a skin sensitizer.

Best

Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil

Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil is a non-volatile, non-fragrant plant oil used as an emollient in cosmetics.

Best

Helianthus oil

Categories: Plant Extracts, Emollients
Best

hemp seed oil

From the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.

Categories: Plant Extracts, Emollients
Best

hesperidin

Flavonoid found in various plants such as citrus and evening primrose oil. It has potential as a...

Good

hesperidin methyl chalcone

ynthetic antioxidant that helps protect skin from UV damage. Research also shows it possess soothing and anti-redness properties.

Best

hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate

Hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate is a synthetic peptide that helps skin’s surface shed properly and speeds up surface renewal for fresher-looking skin.

Categories: Skin-Restoring
Poor

hexyl cinnamal

A fragrance ingredient used in many perfumes and often seen in fragranced skincare products...

Good

hexyldecanol

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

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

hexylene glycol

Categories: Slip Agents
Good

hexyl laurate

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

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Average

hexylresorcinol

A synthetic ingredient that has been shown to have skin brightening ability but there is very limited research about it on skin...

Categories: Antioxidants
Good

hibiscus

Fragrant plant

Good

Himanthalia elongate extract

Extract of a species of algae.

Best

Hippophae rhamnoides

Best

Hippophae Rhamnoides (seaberry) fruit extract

Also known as sea buckthorn, seaberry is a good source of vitamin C as well as various B vitamins, vitamin E.

Good

histidine

Categories: Antioxidants
Best

hoelen

A mushroom that grows underground on the roots of pines and other trees around the world. It has...

Best

homosalate

FDA-approved sunscreen active ingredient that primarily provides UVB protection. Its UVA range is...

Categories: Sunscreen Actives
Best

honey

Honey is a substance produced by bees from the nectar of flowering plants.

Best

honey extract

Best

honeysuckle flower extract

Plant extract that functions as a soothing agent. It is a very good source of flavonoids...

Average

hops

There is no research showing that hops have any benefit for skin. However, components in hops may...

Average

Hordeum vulgare extract

Good

horse chestnut extract

May have soothing properties for skin...

Poor

horse elder

Poor

horseradish

Plant that can sensitize skin and should never be applied to abraded skin.

Average

horsetail extract

Plant extract that has antioxidant and soothing properties, but there's no solid research showing it can and does exert these effects...

Average

Hortonia floribunda leaf extract

No research shows this plant as having any benefit for skin although it and other plant components...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

Huang qi

Average

Humulus lupulus extract

Best

hyaluronic acid

Component of skin that is used in skincare products as a good restorative ingredient....

Poor

Hydnocarpus anthelmintica

Poor

Hydrastis canadenis

Best

hydrocotyl extract

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

hydrogenated castor oil/sebacic acid copolymer

Synthetic and plant-derived ingredient that works as a skin-smoothing emollient and also helps the hair’s cuticle layer flatten so it feels healthier and reflects light better.

Categories: Emollients
Good

hydrogenated coco-glyceride

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

hydrogenated didecene

Skin-conditioning agent derived from didecene, which is a hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbons are organic...

Best

hydrogenated lecithin

Categories: Skin-Restoring, Emollients
Best

hydrogenated olive oil

A rich source of antioxidants; can help increase the viscosity and emolliency of a formula. Hydrogenating the oil changes it from its natural liquid state into a solid.

Good

hydrogenated palm glycerides

Palm glycerides are the fatty acid component of palm oil. When a plant oil is hydrogenated, it is...

Good

hydrogenated polydecene

Synthetic emollient and skin-softening agent. In certain formulations it lends a non-occlusive film for added skin barrier protection.

Categories: Emollients
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

hydrogenated rapeseed oil

Hydrogenated rapeseed oil works as an emollient, thickening agent, and occlusive.

Best

hydrogenated soybean oil

Non-fragrant plant oil from soy that has been hydrogenated so it retains a semi-solid rather than liquid state.

Categories: Antioxidants, Emollients
Good

hydrogenated vegetable glycerides citrate

A hydrogenated blend of vegetable glycerides that functions chiefly as an emollient and texture enhancer in cosmetics.

Poor

hydrogen peroxide

There is a great deal of current research showing that hydrogen peroxide is problematic as a...

Categories: Sensitizing
Good

hydrolysed corn starch

A natural absorbent derived from corn starch. It helps enhance the soft afterfeel of a skin care product.

Categories: Absorbent
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.

Best

hydrolysed rhodophycea (red algae) extract

Hydrolysed rhodophycea is a type of red algae that, like most other types used in skin care products, helps improve skin’s hydration.

Good

hydrolysed silk

An animal-derived byproduct made by hydrolysing the silk protein obtained from the spent cocoon of the silkworm. Helps to condition skin and hair, imparting a smooth feel.

Categories: Antioxidants, Slip Agents
Good

hydrolysed vegetable protein

The protein portion of vegetables obtained by hydrolysis, which is the breakdown of a substance when it’s reacted with water. This natural ingredient conditions skin and hair.

Categories: Miscellaneous, Hydration
Good

hydrolysed wheat protein

Versatile ingredient that can function as a film-forming agent, hydrator, and conditioning agent for skin or hair.

Good

hydrolyzed acacia macrostachya seed extract

The extract from the seed of the Acacia macrostachya plant, a tropical shrub.

Best

hydrolyzed algae extract

The hydrolyzed form of algae extract, and a rich source of polysaccharides for skin.

Best

hydrolyzed eruca sativa (arugula) leaf

When applied to skin, arugula is a good source of antioxidants and minerals to help defend skin from environmental damage.

Best

hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans

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

Good

hydrolyzed jojoba protein

Protein fraction of seeds from the jojoba plant that has been hydrolyzed, which is a chemical...

Categories: Plant Extracts, Emollients
Best

hydrolyzed pumpkin seedcake

Hydrolyzed pumpkin seedcake is a plant-derived ingredient that protects skin from moisture loss and supports firmness.

Categories: Plant Extracts, Hydration
Best

hydrolyzed soy protein

Good

hydroxyacetophenone

Hydroxyacetophenone is a synthetic antioxidant and skin-conditioning ingredient.

Categories: Antioxidants, Hydration
Good

hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyl dimethyl taurate copolymer

A polymer that functions as a stabilizer, thickening agent, and opacifying agent.

Good

hydroxyethylcellulose

A plant-derived thickening agent typically used as a binding agent or emulsifier.

Average

hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid

Also known by the acronym HEPES, hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid is a buffering ingredient typically used to...

Categories: Miscellaneous
Best

hydroxylated lecithin

Categories: Emollients
Good

hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin

A plant- derived or synthetic carbohydrate that functions as a chelating agent and...

Categories: Miscellaneous
Good

hydroxypropyl guar

Hydroxypropyl guar is a plant-derived ingredient that serves as a thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

hydroxypropyl starch phosphate

A plant-based or synthetic starch ingredient that functions as a thickener or bulking agent in cosmetics...

Good

hydroxystearic acid

A gentle, plant-derived ingredient whose versatility lends itself to many types of cosmetics, including cleansers, sunscreens, hair care, and makeup.

Good

Hypericum extract

Best

hyssop

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!