Friday, March 4, 2016Cosmetics glossary


© L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

An antioxidant inhibits reactions promoted by oxygen, thus avoiding oxidation and rancidity.

Reading time
~ 3 minutes

In cosmetics, antioxidants can be used for two main purposes:
• Protecting the product formula from oxidation, in particular by preventing plant-derived fats (oils, butters, waxes…) from going rancid
• Helping the skin fight against free radicals, these factors of premature skin aging

There are many antioxidant agents available (the official nomenclature counts no less of 1,280 of them). They can be synthetic or derived from plants, but also from biotechnologies, and their toxicological profiles can then prove considerably different.
All vegetable oils also naturally contain antioxidants.

Among antioxidants


The most antioxidant:
• Vitamin A: Retinol
• Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid, and the ingredients including the term 'Ascorbate'
• Vitamin E: Tocopherol, and the ingredients including the term 'Tocopheryl'

Plant extracts

To mention only a few:
• Coffee: Coffea arabica
• Carotenoids: Carotenoid,
• Cheery: Prunus cerasus,
• Olive: Olea europaea,
• Tea: Camellia sinensis,
• Tomato and its lycopene: Solanum lycopersicum, Lycopene,
• Grape and its resveratrol : Vitis vinifera, Resveratrol
• Thyme essential oil: Thymus vulgaris
• Rosemary flower: Rosmarinus officinalis…

Antioxidants obtained with biotechnologies

They correspond to all the extracts obtained from the fermentation of plants, like:
• Turmeric: Lactobacillus/Saccharomyces/Turmeric ferment extract filtrate
• Ginseng: Panax ginseng cambium cell culture, Saccharomyces/Panax ginseng flower ferment extract
• Lotus: Saccharomyces/Nelumbo nucifera ferment extract filtrate
• Rice: Monascus/Rice ferment, Saccharomyces/Rice ferment filtrate extract
• Damascus Rose: Rosa damascena callus culture extract
• White willow: Lactobacillus/Salix alba bark ferment filtrate,
• Spirulina: Lactobacillus/Spirulina ferment filtrate
• Or mixtures of several plant extracts, like those of lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme: Saccharomyces/(Lavender/Rosemary/Sage/Thyme) seed extract ferment filtrate…

Synthetic antioxidants

The least commendable belong to this category:
• BHA: carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting potential
• BHT: endocrine-disrupting potential
• Gallates: allergenic potential…

© CosmeticOBS-L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
© 2016- 2021  CosmeticOBS

Cosmetics glossaryOther articles