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Oak Root Extract - Ozokerite

Beauty and Cosmetic Glossary - O


oak root extract. May have antibacterial properties on skin but can also be a skin irritant.

oatmeal. Can have anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties (Source: Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, March-April 2002, pages 120-124).

oatmeal soap. Soap containing oatmeal and supposed to be better at absorbing oil and soothing sensitive skin than other soaps or bar cleansers. There are studies demonstrating that oatmeal can have anti-irritant properties. How that translates into a bar cleanser is unknown, but the benefits are probably nonexistent given the amount of time the oatmeal is actually on the skin and the presence of other irritating ingredients. Plus, when rubbed over the skin the pieces of oat particles can be scratchy and irritate some skin types. See oatmeal.

octinoxate. See octyl methoxycinnamate.

octocrylene. Sunscreen agent that protects skin from the UVB range of sunlight (Sources:; and Skin Therapy Letter, 1997, volume 2, number 5,

octyl methoxycinnamate. Sunscreen agent used to protect skin primarily from the sun's UVB rays (Sources:; and Skin Therapy Letter, 1997, volume 2, number 5,

octyl palmitate. Used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient.

octyl salicylate. Sunscreen agent used to protect skin primarily from the sun's UVB rays (Sources:; and Skin Therapy Letter, 1997, volume 2, number 5, volume 2, number 5,

octyl stearate. Used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient.

o-cymen-5-ol. Preservative used in cosmetics. See preservatives.

Oil Free Cosmetics. Oil-free cosmetics mean products that contain little or no ingredients such as isopropyl myristate, isopropyl esters, oleic acid, stearic acid, petrolatum and lanolin (especially acetylated lanolin, alcohol's and lanolin fatty acids).  The label on the cosmetic should state that it is oil-free. This implies that the product has been formulated with no oleaginous ingredients.

oleic acid. Mild surfactant. See surfactant.

oleic/linoleic triglyceride. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester.

oleths. Mild surfactants. See surfactant.

olibanum extract. See frankincense extract.

olive oil. Emollient plant oil similar to all nonfragrant plant oils. The concept of olive oil having antiaging properties stems from some evidence that diets high in olive oil may help prevent heart disease (Sources: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2002, pages 72-81; and Lipids, November 2001, pages 1195-1202, and Supplemental pages S49-S52). There are also a small number of animal tests showing that topically applied olive oil can protect against UVB damage (Sources: Carcinogenesis, November 2000, pages 2085-2090; Journal of Dermatological Science, March 2000, Supplemental pages S45-S50). It does seem that olive oil is a good antioxidant and assuredly it's a good moisturizing ingredient, but research shows similar results for other oils as well. See natural moisturizing factors.

olive oil PEG-6 esters. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester, and olive oil.

opium poppy seed. Potent analgesic (Source: Phytotherapy Research, September 2000, pages 401-418), though there is no research showing this to be effective when applied topically to skin.

Opuntia ficus-indica extract. Extract from the Indian fig or prickly pear cactus that has a small amount of research showing it to have wound-healing properties (Source: Fitoterapia, February 2001, pages 165-167) and anti-inflammatory properties (Source: Archives of Pharmacal Research, February 1998, pages 30-34).

orange blossom. Fragrant extract that can also be a skin irritant.

Orbignya martiana. See babassu oil.

Orbignya oleifera. See babassu oil.

orchid. Fragrant extract that can be a skin irritant.

Organic Beauty Products. The human skin wraps and protects our bodies. It constitutes a living, dynamic tissue system. It has the remarkable ability to absorb applied products, partially or completely, into the bloodstream. In fact, up to 60% of the products we use on our skin are absorbed and deposited into the circulatory system.
These new understandings of how the skin functions reveal concerns about the possible long term effects due to the combination of chemicals used in cosmetics.
Avoiding these substances serve to decrease overall exposure to harmful or irritating cosmetic ingredients. Natural cosmetic products and make-up are safer, healthier alternatives especially when these products are composed of all natural ingredients.

organic body care.  This products are gentle to your skin and enhance daily life while being cruelty free and environmentally friendly.

organic essential oil  A volatile material that is contained within plant cells and derived by physical process (such as distillation) from the plant. Some essential oils are not in the living tissue but are formed during destruction of the living tissue.  Certain botanical species have little scent buy they produce a volatile or essential oil when macerated that starts a fermentation (destructive) process - the macerate is then distilled and the volatile oil comes off.

organic lipstick.  Makeup made from 100% organic products that is used to color the lips.

oregano. Has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties, but can also be a skin irritant (Source: Journal of Food Protection, July 2001, pages 1019-1024).

majorana. See marjoram.

Origanum vulgare flower extract. See oregano.

ornithine. Primary component of arginine (an amino acid) that shares many of the biopharmacologic effects of arginine, which include enhanced wound healing, particularly with regard to collagen synthesis, when taken orally. (Sources: Journal of Surgical Research, June 2002, pages 35-42; Nitric Oxide, May 2002, pages 313-318; and European Surgical Research, January-April 2002, pages 53-60). Whether ornithine has that effect when applied topically is not known.

Orobanche cernua extract. May have antibacterial properties (Source: Journal of Basic Microbiology, volume 39, number 5-6, pages 377-380).

Orobanche rapum extract. May have antioxidant properties (Source: Phytochemistry, June 2000, pages 295-300).

orris root. Used primarily as a fragrant component due to its violet-like scent (Source: It can cause allergic or sensitizing skin reactions and there is no research showing it to be beneficial for skin (Source: Botanical Dermatology Database,

Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Low-dosage type of birth-control pills (generic norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) approved for use in the United States for the treatment of acne. In Canada, Diane-35, a combination of cyproterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol, is approved for the treatment of acne (Source: Skin Therapy Letter, 1999, volume 4, number 4, According to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Fertility and Sterility (September 2001, pages 461-468), other "low-dose birth-control pills can be an effective and safe treatment for moderate acne." The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial found that the birth-control pill containing levonorgestrel (Alesse) reduced the appearance of acne.

Oryza sativa oil. See rice oil.

oryzanol. Component of plants and their products, such as rice bran, that has potent antioxidant properties.

osmanthus. Fragrant plant; used in perfumes, it can also be a skin irritant.

oxybenzone. Sunscreen agent that protects primarily from the sun's UVB rays, and some, but not all, UVA rays (Sources:; and kin Therapy Letter, 1997, volume 2, number 5, See UVA.

oxygen. Many cosmetic products contain antioxidants, ingredients that reduce the negative effect of oxygen or oxidative substances on skin. At the same time, the cosmetics industry also sells products that contain hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or other oxygen-releasing ingredients, which supposedly deliver an oxygen molecule when coming into contact with skin, although that generates free-radical damage (Source: Human and Experimental Toxicology, February 2002, pages 61-62). Why the concern about supplying oxygen to the skin? Oxygen depletion is one of the things that happens to older skin, regardless of whether it's been affected by sun damage or any other health-related factor. Why or how that happens is completely unknown, though it is thought to have something to do with blood flow and a reduction in lung capacity as we age. It is also believed that, with age, the issue isn't so much the amount of oxygen but rather a change in the blood's ability to use the oxygen it has.

However, when wound healing is a problem, regenerating the tissue often demands, in addition to other factors, increased topical oxygen, because wound repair can be facilitated by oxygen therapy. Yet this method of wound care lacks research showing it to be effective or to be the best option for skin (Source: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, May 2002, pages 239-249).

Oxidative stress is an unavoidable consequence of life in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. The "Oxygen Paradox" is that oxygen is dangerous to the very life forms for which it has become an essential component of energy production. The first defense against oxygen toxicity is the sharp reduction in the amount of oxygen present in cells, from the level present in air of 20% to a tissue concentration of only 3% to 4% oxygen. These relatively low tissue levels of oxygen prevent most oxidative damage from ever occurring. Cells, tissues, organs, and organisms have multiple layers of antioxidant defenses, plus damage replacement and repair systems to cope with the stress and damage that oxygen engenders (Source: Journal of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, October-November 2000, pages 279-289). See free-radical damage.

oxygenated water. Claims regarding the benefit of enhanced oxygenated water are unsubstantiated, and have been debunked by medical, sports, and physiology experts. All water that has been exposed to the air is "oxygenated" to a small extent. This can be increased a small amount by pressurizing the water with oxygen gas, but it adds less oxygen than what is contained in a single breath. Further, once the oxygenated water is exposed to air the oxygen goes back into the atmosphere (Source: Penn State Sports Medicine Newsletter,

ozokerite. Mineral that is used as a thickening agent in cosmetics, especially for lipsticks and stick foundations.