12 Scary-Sounding Ingredients that Really Work

In today's market, we all want, and expect clean skincare products with transparent labelling and no nasty chemical in the ingredient list. That said, we been trained to expect to see certain chemical sounding names like Retinol, Niacinamide and various acids. We are okay with these because we have been educated on what they do and how they help. We are also satisfied these do no harm. 

Turns out scientists are terrible marketers and they tend to come up with the worst sounding names that at first blush, make us want to run away as fast as possible. In many cases our flight instinct is totally justified, but sometimes in amongst all those scary names, we find ingredients that truly work wonders and are amazing to have in our products. 

For this article we researched a range of ugly sounding ingredients that are actually great to have in our products, despite their terrible names.

1. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate sounds like something James Bond might find himself getting lowered into before he escapes in the nick of time. It turns out that this ingredient is perfect for brightening skin, providing anti-aging benefits and boosting your natural skin collagen production to help your skin, similar to Vitamin C. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is basically a stable version of Vitamin C and its also oil soluble, making it the perfect ingredient for products like face masks and so on. Vitamin C is fabulous for your skin but its not particularly stable in that once it gets exposed to air or ages, it tends to oxidize and this oxidation process erodes any benefit it might of had. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate solves all these problems while providing all the benefits.

2. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium Dioxide sounds like something you need to avoid in exhaust fumes but it's actually one of the safest compounds for sun protection making it the perfect addition to skincare creams that want to also layer in an element of sun protection that is so vital for your overall skin protection and skin health. While it does have many benefits in liquid form, it's not recommended in powder form when used in products like eyeshadows or foundations.

3. Isopropyl Palmitate

Isopropyl Palmitate sounds like an green fuel alternative but it's actually an extremely hydrating emollient, that's very gentle on your skin and leaves your skin feeling nourished and smooth.

4. Glycolic Acids

This is one you've probably heard of but it still sound like something we'd see in acid reflux medication. Glycolic Acid is widely used ingredient in skincare and it's known for its ability to help reduce pore size, eradicate whiteheads and blackheads and lift dirt and dead skin. 

5. Cetyl Alcohol

Cetyl Alcohol sounds like something you would drink purely for self destruction but its not really that kind of alcohol. It's actually a type of fatty alcohol that can hydrate your skin and act as a bacteria barrier protecting your skin from harmful environmental toxins you'll be exposed to in daily life.

6. Niacinamide

For me Niacinamide sounds like something you'd use to make a cake rise when baking but then once its risen, you won't want to eat it!  It's actually a naturally occurring compound used in many of the foods you probably consume like eggs, milk and vegetables and is a great source of Vitamin B3. It’s also great for skin care, specifically for brightening the skin, clearing acne and preventing signs of aging. It can be used in its pure form as an oil or in skincare products like face masks and creams.

7. Squalane

Squalane could be a great name for a window cleaner but it's a great hydrating ingredient with multiple benefits. Squalane can reduce fine lines, control oily skin and soften rough skin. It has major benefits both in pure, liquid form and as an ingredient in various types of skincare products from masks to creams and washes.

8. Glyceryl Stearate

Although a common ingredient in skincare products, Glyceryl Stearate doesn't necessarily sound great but it’s actually a smoothing and softening agent used in lotions, foundations and sunscreens.

9. Magnesium Aluminum Silicate

Magnesium Aluminum Silicate sounds like it belongs in a steel plant but actually it's a compound found in many of the products you’re probably already using from deodorants and lotions to skincare products and shampoos. It’s one of the safest ingredients and has very rare instances of negative effects and irritations.

10. Capric Triglyceride

Capric Triglyceride is an excellent emollient that hydrates the skin extremely well when added to skincare products. It’s perfect for replenishing and moisturizing skin and can often be found useful in products like healing creams and serums.

11. Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is the go-to for adding Vitamin A into skincare products to help to achieve a youthful glow. It’s known for reducing pore size, increasing hydration and acting as a powerful antioxidant

12. Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate

We saved the best and longest name for last. Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate, although quite the tongue twister, helps replenish dehydrated skin and enhance texture. It’s safe and light, perfect for helping to make light but hydrating skincare products that won’t clog your pores or cause oily skin.

In summary, it's always advisable to scan the ingredient list on the back of your products. Be curious and research different ingredients from time to time and you'll build up a good knowledge of the good ingredients and the bad. Although it's tempting to run a mile from anything chemical-sounding, just remember scientists are quite amazing, but not usually at marketing. 

When in doubt consult with your dermatologist or esthetician. Some ingredients might be great ingredients for most but not for you and vice versa. Time, and a bit of experimentation will usually lead you to what's ideal for you and your own skin needs.