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Ingredient Glossary


Search ingredients below to find out all about the ingredients we use and what they do.

    A

    • Adenosine is a building block of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy for skin cells. The body constantly makes ATP in the mitochondria of skin cells, where all of the cell’s energy is stored. The cell then uses this energy to perform all of its functions: regenerating itself and making DNA and proteins such as collagen and elastin. More adenosine in the cell leads to more ATP. This allows skin cells to be even more active in promoting a healthier, smoother and more youthful-looking complexion.
    • Allantoin is a botanical extract naturally occurring in comfrey root, an ancient herb known for its therapeutic properties. The extract is established as a soothing wound healer and skin protectant. It also enhances cellular turnover to promote a smooth and even skin surface. This prevents the blockage of pores which can lead to imperfections. Allantoin is ideal for use on blemish-prone skin or those with enlarged pores.
    • Native to East and South African deserts, the aloe vera plant belongs to the lily family. Its thick and fleshy leaves provide sharp protection against predators. When harvested the leaves produce a thick, viscous gel – aloe vera extract. One of the oldest healing remedies, it was rumoured that even Cleopatra used it as a soothing skin treatment. Now an essential for calming the skin, aloe vera leaves the complexion glowing and cared for.
    • A powerful antioxidant, ALA is able to shield the skin from the environment and UV rays, which can cause free radical damage in the skin cells. By neutralising the free radicals, ALA protects skin cells from DNA damage and the breakdown of collagen, leaving the skin’s delicate structure intact. This helps to stop the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, while preserving the skin’s natural elasticity. This is ideal for minimising and tightening pores.
    • Naturally occuring in bearberry plant, an edible fruit native to Arctic climates, arbutin is a potent brightening active. Able to block tyrosinase, the enzyme that forms melanin, arbutin inhibits the process that makes pigment in the skin. This helps to luminise the complexion and balance out an uneven skin tone.
    • An amino acid that occurs naturally in the body, arginine is a key building block to proteins. Arginine leaves the complexion firmer and can even bolster the skin’s natural repair processes. It can also stimulate skin cells to divide; helping to increase the skin’s thickness for younger, healthier-looking complexion. Arginine acts as an antioxidant against free radical damage which can cause premature ageing, while binding to hydration to leave the skin soft and supple.
    • Arnica naturally occurs from the rare Arnica montana wildflower which grows in mountainous regions of Europe. The bright yellow flower is sometimes referred to as leopard’s bane. In folklore stories, humans harnessed the power of arnica after seeing injured mountain goats seeking out the arnica flower after falling over. Ideal for use as an anti-inflammatory, arnica helps to reduce bruising and relieve sore skin.
    • Pure, chirally correct vitamin C is ascorbic acid. In the skin it can stimulate collagen production, block the process to form melanin and act as an antioxidant to provide free radical protection to our cells. Vitamin C is absolutely essential in your morning routine to combat the day’s environmental damage, tackle fine lines and wrinkles and luminise the complexion.

      While ascorbic acid is exceptional at targeting signs of ageing, it has one small issue. Pure vitamin C is extremely unstable. In water, ascorbic acid is oxidised which causes a cascade of reactions. The ascorbic acid becomes powerless and can even become a pro-oxidant – meaning it can form harmful free radicals itself. When ascorbic acid becomes unstable it can often turn products yellow, which is a sure sign you should stop using the product. Some brands will even include artificial colours to cover up when the vitamin C goes off.

      But not at Medik8. We formulated our pure ascorbic acid serum Pure C15™ with a supportive antioxidant network of vitamin E and glutathione. This complex mimics the skin’s natural antioxidant network, with each ingredient helping to regenerate the others; boosting the stability of the serum. Pure C15 is the vitamin C choice for purists looking for exceptional results. It contains 15% pure ascorbic acid, which is completely stable before opening and lasts for at least 8 weeks after opening (you get two 8-week supply bottles). We only use chirally correct L-ascorbic acid to ensure optimally potency in all our products.
    • With three major modes of action, azelaic acid is ideal for blemish-prone skin. Firstly, it is able to stop the growth of P. acnes, the blemish-causing bacteria which exacerbates imperfections. On top of this, it can normalise the skin-shedding cycle. This helps to stop the plugging of a pore which can lead to blemishes. Finally, azelaic acid is a potent anti-inflammatory which reduces the redness associated with sore and inflamed blemishes. Azelaic acid can even target overactive melanocytes, the skin cells which produce pigments, to reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after blemishes have healed.

    B

    • Arnica naturally occurs from the rare Arnica montana wildflower which grows in mountainous regions of Europe. The bright yellow flower is sometimes referred to as leopard’s bane. In folklore stories, humans harnessed the power of arnica after seeing injured mountain goats seeking out the arnica flower after falling over. Ideal for use as an anti-inflammatory, arnica helps to reduce bruising and relieve sore skin.
    • Often described as the healing clay, bentonite is able to absorb oil and impurities from the skin and pores. This helps to reduce shine and congestion to leave the skin soothed and refreshed. Further enriched with antibacterial properties, bentonite helps to minimise blemish-causing bacteria for a clearer complexion.
    • Naturally occuring in the bran of oats, beta-glucan enhances the skin’s ability to repair itself by strengthening collagen. Providing immediate comfort to inflamed skin, beta-glucan protects the complexion from the damaging effects of UV rays by boosting the body’s natural defence mechanisms.
    • A highly advanced sheet mask material made from tightly woven natural cellulose fibres. It forms a veil so fine it is able to fit into the smallest lines and wrinkles for optimal delivery of serums infused within it. Resistant to breakages and tears, the bio-cellulose is able to hold many times its own weight in water to thoroughly replenish and hydrate the complexion for soft and supple skin.

    C

    • Not just an ingredient in your morning coffee, caffeine is ideal for reducing the appearance of puffiness and darkness under the eyes. Able to shrink the blood vessels underneath the eye, it diminishes dark circles while firming and lifting the entire eye area. Caffeine works in a similar way on redness-prone skin; it constrains the capillaries that enhance redness. Caffeine also works as an antioxidant to help prevent damage from UV and pollution, stopping any inflammation which can often worsen redness and irritation.
    • A protective peptide which is naturally produced in the body, carnosine is able to block the glycation process. This is the natural ageing process in which sugars react with proteins such as collagen and elastin, transforming them into advanced glycation end-products (A.G.E.s). A.G.E.s modify skin’s collagen and elastin which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. Carnosine is able to block the glycation process and prevent A.G.E.s from being formed. This inhibits the process which causes fine lines and wrinkles. Carnosine also protects the skin from infrared rays. Infrared rays increase MMPs, which are enzymes that break down collagen. Carnosine is able to inhibit MMPs being formed, which leaves collagen untouched for firm, smooth skin.
    • Renowned as a soothing, calming extract for damaged skin, chamomile is ideal for taking down redness and inflammation. The main extract from chamomile, bisabolol, is high in vitamin B5, which helps to stimulate and promote the skin’s natural healing process. Soothing and nourishing, chamomile extract even has antioxidants to protect the complexion from future damage.
    • A selection of lipids naturally found in the waterproof barrier that sits on top of the upper layers of the skin. Ceramides are essential for retaining water, regulating cells and helping to repair the skin’s natural protective shield. They are exceptionally useful for moisturising the complexion, but work best when combined in an optimal ratio with other molecules present in the skin’s natural lipid barrier. Medik8’s extensive research into ceramide combinations has yielded an optimised mixture of ceramide 1 and 3 alongside cholesterol and fatty acids, which are almost ‘skin identical’ allowing them to easily nourish the skin.
    • Derived from the bamboo plants of Asia and harvested at 5 years of age, finely milled black charcoal powder is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. Long revered for its purifying, healing and detoxifying effects, charcoal is even used in modern medicine to treat poisoning. Activated with water vapour, charcoal has millions of tiny pores which increase its surface area. On the skin, charcoal draws impurities to its large surface area, sucking in bacteria, dirt, pollution and excess oils. The skin is left decongested, refreshed and refined.
    • A natural green pigment that serves as the main source of energy in plants. In nature, the pigment absorbs the sun’s rays; converting them into food and sustenance for plants to survive. On the skin, chlorophyll restores skin balance and boosts its natural regenerative cycle. This leaves the complexion glowing and healthy. Meanwhile chlorophyll’s antioxidant powers gently neutralise free radicals for protected skin. Not only that, but chlorophyll has been found to stimulate the skin’s natural healing processes while deeply detoxifying pores.
    • This sweet smelling spice is packed full of nutrients to blast your skin with goodness. With two modes of action against blemishes, cinnamon extract is ideal to add to your daily routine. Firstly it acts as a natural antibacterial; tackling blemish-causing bacteria such as P. acnes which can produce red and inflamed imperfections. Secondly, cinnamon extract is able to control the skin’s oil production, helping to make pore blockages a thing of the past.
    • An extraordinary breakthrough in vitamin A, climbazole is able to boost the effects of retinoids in the skin without increasing their irritation. In the skin, retinol and retinal are converted to retinoic acid which is the active form of vitamin A that stimulates collagen production, cellular turnover and reduces pigmentation. Climbazole is able to block the enzyme which breaks down retinoic acid, leaving a reservoir of vitamin A for the skin to use up. This means climbazole strives for maximum vitamin A results, while keeping irritation at an all time low.
    • Revolutionary patented copper PCA is the copper salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid. A potent antioxidant, it protects the skin with broad spectrum protection against a wide range of free radicals. Copper PCA helps to neutralise the free radicals targeting the skin to minimise damage to skin cell DNA which can cause premature ageing.

      The main ingredient in Firewall®, copper PCA has been found to be 40 times better than vitamin C at neutralising a specific type of free radical (peroxynitrite).* Combined with an antioxidant super-blend in Firewall, the serum has been found to harness 5 times the antioxidant power of its next best competitor.*

      Copper PCA’s antioxidant role is particularly important in Breakout Defence & Age Repair™ where it helps to protect the skin’s sebum from oxidation by free radicals. Oxidation can cause the oils within pores to oxidise which leaves blockages in the pore more likely. Free radicals can also cause inflammation; making blemishes red and sore.

      *Results from 3rd party independent tests assessing antioxidant performance against peroxynitrite radical and tests assessing antioxidant performance against competitors

    D

    • Also known as octadecenedioic acid, this ingredient is structurally similar to azelaic acid and has a similar effect of reducing the growth of blemish-causing bacteria (P. acnes). Alongside this, dioic acid is able to control the amount of sebum produced by the skin’s pores. Excess sebum can often contribute to the formation of blemishes, by binding together dead skin cells to form a blockage. By reducing the amount of sebum produced, dioic acid helps to reduce the likelihood of blocked pores.
    • Native to Mexico, dragon fruit is grown from the night-blooming cactus Hylocereus undatus, which flowers only at night. Also called moonflowers, the white, fragranced blossom grows succulent dragon fruits 30-50 days after flowering. Dragon fruit has high levels of antioxidants to protect the skin and is bursting with natural sugars called polysaccharides which firm and tone the skin. The fruit has even been studied for its wound healing properties. Research shows it is able to enhance the natural skin regenerative process for a smoother, softer complexion.

    E

    • The star of Super C30™, ethylated ascorbic acid has a molecular structure close to pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid), but it has an extra carbon chain that blocks the most reactive part of the molecule. This means that ethylated ascorbic acid has none of the stability issues of pure vitamin C. The extra chain stops it from becoming oxidised and turning yellow, but the molecule still retains almost all of the antioxidant power of ascorbic acid. It protects the complexion from harmful free radicals, while stimulating collagen production and blocking the formation of melanin for a bright, youthful-looking complexion. Expect a slight tingle when you apply this ingredient. This is due to its potency, but it will subside within a few minutes. We only ever use chirally correct vitamin C in all our products to ensure it reaches its full potential on the skin.

    F

    • Naturally found protecting the cell walls of plants such as rice and oats, ferulic acid harnesses extraordinary antioxidant power. When free radicals come to steal an electron from skin cells, ferulic acid swoops in to save the day. The molecule selflessly gives up an electron to quench the free radical. Its chemical structure means that it can effectively stabilise its own unpaired electron. Combined with vitamin C and vitamin E, the synergistic antioxidant trio provides excellent protection to the skin. This helps to stop the cascade of reactions where free radicals can damage collagen and elastin, shielding skin cell DNA from attack.

    G

    • Gluconolactone is a polyhydroxy acid (PHA). PHAs are similar in structure to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acid. PHAs are able to break down the bonds between skin cells in a similar way to AHAs. This aids the exfoliation of skin cells to uncover the fresh skin beneath. However, there is one main difference between PHAs and AHAs. PHAs are much larger than AHAs, which means they have more trouble penetrating the top layer of the skin. Therefore, they are usually much less irritating than AHAs and are often more suitable chemical exfoliators for sensitive skin. Gluconolactone is effective in reducing pigmentation as it exfoliates the top layer of melanin-rich skin cells to trigger enhanced cellular regeneration. This means the skin cells are being recycled quicker to reveal fresher, brighter skin beneath.
    • A peptide that is naturally present in the body’s defensive system, glutathione is a key component in the body’s antioxidant recycling system. In combination with vitamin C and E, glutathione helps to regenerate the power of other antioxidants so they can continue to protect the skin from free radical attack. In Pure C15™ glutathione ensures exceptional stability.
    • Glycerin is present in the natural moisturising factors of our skin, which provide essential protection and hydration. An effective humectant, this ingredient is able to draw water to itself from the lower layers of the skin and the atmosphere. This keeps the skin hydrated, supple and soft.

    H

    • Also known as vitamin P, hesperidin helps to promote the skin’s natural blood circulation. Dark, puffy circles underneath the eyes can be alleviated by enhancing the blood flow through these areas, for brighter and more awake-looking eyes. Hesperidin also helps to tackle hyperpigmentation. Melanin pigments in the skin are formed in cells called melanocytes. Then the melanin must be transported to the skin cells to show as pigment on the surface of the skin. Hesperidin encourages the melanin particles to clump together, making transportation much harder. This helps to inhibit hyperpigmentation; leaving an even, brighter complexion.
    • Hyaluronic acid is one of the major components of our natural extracellular matrix, which is the framework our skin sits on. This is important for maintaining a firm and supple complexion. With a unique ability to attract and retain more than 1,000 times its own weight in water, hyaluronic acid can draw moisture from the surrounding atmosphere and lower skin layers to the top levels of the epidermis. This leaves the complexion both nourished and supple.

      Multiple weights of hyaluronic acid are used throughout the Medik8 range, from the smallest molecules to the biggest. The smallest hyaluronic acid molecules are able to penetrate deep into the skin, drawing moisture up from the lower layers of the dermis. Larger molecules of hyaluronic acid sit on the skin as a moisture reservoir, feeding the upper layers and blocking water loss to the environment. Used together, low and high weights of hyaluronic acid distribute hydration throughout the entirety of the skin for a smooth and supple complexion.

    I

    J

    • Jojoba is a botanical native to the North America Sonoran Desert. Our jojoba grains are perfectly spherical for gentle yet effective exfoliation, without any scratching of the skin. Both biodegradable and sustainably sourced, these micro-exfoliators contain no harmful microplastics.

    K

    • Otherwise known as china clay, natural kaolin absorbs impurities and dirt from the skin to clear congestion. This clay is ideal for deep cleansing and drawing out debris from the complexion. Exceptionally gentle, kaolin is suitable for even the most sensitive of skins.
    • Naturally found in wild mushrooms, kojic acid is able to block tyrosinase, the enzyme that forms melanin pigment in the skin. Tyrosinase works by converting the amino acid tyrosine into melanin. Kojic acid blocks this process by sitting in the active site of tyrosinase, leaving no space for amino acid, tyrosine. Widely used in Asia for skin brightening, kojic acid is thought to be one of the most effective luminising agents on the market alongside oxyresveratrol. Medik8 offers White Balance Original Serum™ for die-hard kojic acid fans, or an alternative serum using oxyresveratrol in White Balance Brightening Serum™.

    L

    • An AHA which can occur in milk, lactic acid is an AHA which breaks down the bonds between skin cells to help exfoliation. The lactic acid used in Medik8 products is from vegetable origin, produced via fermentation of carbohydrates. This allows dead skin cells to be lightly buffed away; revealing new, fresh skin beneath. Also extremely nourishing, lactic acid increases the natural lipids in the skin’s barrier to help the complexion hold onto water for soft, supple skin.
    • Derived from the roots of Glycyrrhiz glabra plant, liquorice extract is native to Europe and parts of Asia. Naturally able to inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme which forms melanin, liquorice extract helps to brighten up the complexion and target hyperpigmentation. The geishas of Japan were rumoured to use liquorice extracts to maintain their ethereal, even complexions. Containing powerful antioxidants, liquorice extract helps to shield the skin from free radical damage while promoting a radiant glow.

    M

    • Native to Southeast Asia, this exotic superfruit has been used for millennia to treat common illnesses and ailments all around the world. Its incredible healing power is down to its ultra-potent antioxidant properties; the polyphenolic compounds found in mangtosteen neutralise damaging free radicals before they can attack vulnerable skin cells. This helps to safeguard the skin against collagen and elastin degradation, pigmentation irregularities and sensitivity.

      What’s more, the zingy fruit contains generous helpings of vitamin C to ensure your skin is optimally radiant. Plus powerful anti-inflammatory properties to soothe and care for the complexion. The fruit is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Fruits’, a nickname that was coined after Queen Victoria of England famously offered a reward for anyone who could bring her a fresh mangosteen. When applied to the skin, it leaves the complexion protected, smooth and even.
    • An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) with the power of beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Naturally occuring in almonds, mandelic acid is both oil and water soluble, meaning it can penetrate oily pores while working on the upper layers of the skin. In each case, it breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells so they can be easily exfoliated away; decongesting pores and refreshing the upper skin surface. This leaves the complexion renewed and luminised while fine lines are smoothed. With the largest particle size of the hydroxy acids, mandelic acid is ideal for sensitive skin as it does not penetrate as deeply as glycolic acid.
    • The exotic oil extract of passion fruit, maracuja oil is renowned for its high content of nourishing fatty acids and protective antioxidants. Grown in warm climates and sourced from the Amazon, succulent passion fruits are celebrated for their antioxidant power. Its oil is rich in vitamins and nutrients, specifically vitamin E which protects the skin from free radical damage. Also brimming with nourishing linoleic acid (omega-6), maracuja oil is able to replenish the skin’s natural lipid barrier to soothe dry skin. Linoleic acid is also ideal for rebalancing blemish-prone skin, which is often lacking in omega-6.
    • A combination of the peptides palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 and palmitoyl oligopeptide, matrixyl 3000 is ideal for firming and plumping the skin. It works by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin in the skin’s extracellular matrix, which is the framework our skin sits on. Each peptide mimics a fragment of collagen, which “tricks” the skin into thinking its own collagen has broken down so it must make more. This helps to restore the extracellular matrix to leave the skin firmer with fine lines and wrinkles visibly reduced.
    • Medik8’s signature Moisture Magnets contain an extraordinary hydrator called saccharide isomerate. This is similar to the natural carbohydrate complexes found in the upper layers of the skin. It is able to bind to skin cells like a magnet and then draw water to itself, providing deep hydration where it is needed the most. The result is long-lasting hydration for supple and smooth skin.
    • Moringa is often used as a natural cleanser. It draws dirt and impurities to itself so they can be easily cleansed away. Able to form a film over the skin, moringa acts as an ‘urban shield’ to bat away pollution particles before they can create free radicals which can cause premature ageing. Protecting the skin from heavy metals, cigarette smoke and small particulate matter, moringa offers essential antioxidant protection throughout the day.
    • A natural yet powerful skin brightener that can inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme which forms melanin pigment in the skin. This helps to luminise the complexion; targeting hyperpigmentation for a smooth and even skin tone.

    N

    • NAG is one of the building blocks that make up hyaluronic acid, a hydrating molecule that plays a large role in the structure and firmness of the skin. NAG can also block the formation of melanin, encouraging an even, luminous complexion. Combined with niacinamide, the two ingredients have been found to work synergistically to thoroughly brighten the skin. NAG has also be found to work synergistically with retinol, boosting the production of hyaluronic acid for a bouncy, full and youthful-looking complexion.
    • Otherwise known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in skincare. Ideal for treating blemishes, it can suppress the skin’s inflammatory response to calm red and sore imperfections. Niacinamide also helps to encourage the production of ceramides that are present in the natural moisturising factor of the skin. These are the oils that protect your skin, forming a barrier to stop pathogens entering and preventing water evaporating away.

      Niacinamide can block the transfer of melanin pigments into skin cells which helps to slow down the process leading to pigmentation. The molecule can even speed up cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production for a healthy, youthful-looking complexion.

    O

    • Extracted from the root of red ginseng, this natural extract is fermented to intensify its powers. Able to inhibit the process which forms melanin pigment, red ginseng helps to brighten the complexion and promote an even, healthy skin tone. It is able to protect the skin from the damaging effects of UVB rays by blocking the free radicals that break down collagen and elastin to form lines and wrinkles. It also stimulates collagen production to promote stronger, healthier skin. Fermented red ginseng has increased anti-wrinkle and brightening activity than normal red ginseng, and components of the extract have even been found to increase hyaluronic acid levels for soft and hydrated skin.
    • Oxyresveratrol (oxy-R) naturally occurs in white mulberries which are native to northern China. The molecule is exceptionally good at inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme that produces melanin pigment. Less melanin means that hyperpigmentation is less likely to occur. Oxy-R was found to be 32 times better at blocking tyrosinase than kojic acid.1 Also able to act as an antioxidant, oxy-R provides superior skin protection against free radicals, while reducing inflammation.

      Oxy-R is notoriously difficult to formulate with. At high strengths it can be extremely unstable. In White Balance® Brightening Serum our solution is to keep the oxy-R in the lid, away from the rest of the formula until the product is activated for use by the special click-activated packaging. When clicked, Oxy-R is plunged into the rest of the serum and is activated by shaking. After activation the serum colour changes from clear to yellow – the natural colour of oxy-R.

      Once the packaging has been clicked White Balance Brightening Serum stays potent for at least 6 weeks due to our patented stabilisation technology. We provide 2 smaller, individual bottles to ensure you can use the serum for 3 months without any risk of it becoming unstable.

      1 Y. Kim et al., Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2002, 277(18), pp 16340-4

    P

    • Perfluorodecalin is an oxygen carrier, which is able to bind to and deliver oxygen into the layers of the skin. Inflamed blemishes and other skin issues can often lack a good supply of oxygen, which worsens the condition. Perfluorodecalin helps to counteract this by supplying oxygen to areas of the skin which need it the most; helping to boost the skin’s healing capacity after inflammation.
    • A form of carbohydrate, prebiotics act as ‘food’ for our skin’s natural microbiome. This helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, while blocking the growth of bad bacteria. This rebalances the skin’s microbiome, reinforcing its defence against external aggressors.