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Talc - Tyrosine

Beauty and Cosmetic Glossary - T


talc. Finely ground mineral used as an absorbent, and the primary base of most pressed and loose powder. Talc is often criticized and described as a cosmetic ingredient to avoid. The concern about talc is not about its use in makeup, but, rather, the way it was used in pure, large concentrations such as in talcum powder. Part of this story dates back to several studies published in the 1990s that found a significant increase in the risk of ovarian cancer from vaginal (perineal) application of talcum powder (Sources: American Journal of Epidemiology, March 1997, pages 459-465; International Journal of Cancer, May 1999, pages 351-356; Seminars in Oncology, June 1998, pages 255-264; and Cancer, June 1997, pages 2396-2401). However, subsequent and concurrent studies have cast doubt on the way these studies were conducted as well as their conclusions (Sources: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, February 2000, pages 249-252; American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, March 2000, pages 720-724; and Obstetrics and Gynecology, March 1999, pages 372-376). There is no research showing talc to be a problem in cosmetics.

tallow. Substance extracted from the fatty deposits of animals, especially from suet (the fat of cattle and sheep). Tallow is often used to make soap and candles. In soap, because of its fat content, it can be a problem for breakouts.

tamanu oil. From a tree native to Polynesia. It is reputed to have wondrous wound-healing properties, as well as being a cure-all for almost every skin ailment you can think of, from acne to eczema to psoriasis, but all of the miraculous claims are hinged on anecdotal, not scientific, evidence. Theres no harm in using this oil in skin care?like most oils, it is composed of phospholipids and glycolipids, and these are natural constituents of healthy skin and are good water-binding agents. Tamanu oil may have anti-inflammatory properties and there is some research showing it has anti-tumor properties, though this has not been proven in any direct research on skin.

Tambourissa extract. Extract of a plant indigenous to Madagascar that has no known benefit for skin. It may contain volatile components that can be skin irritants (Source: Planta Medica, April 2001, pages 290-292).

Tanacetum parthenium. See feverfew.

tangerine oil. Fragrant, volatile citrus oil that can be a skin irritant.

tannic acid. A potent antioxidant; it may have some anticarcinogenic properties (Sources: Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, June 2002, pages 1567-1570; and Nutrition and Cancer, 1998, volume 32, number 2, pages 81-85).

tannin. A component of many plants. It can have an antitumor benefit when consumed in tea or foods (Source: Nutrition and Cancer, 1998, volume 32, number 2, pages 81-85). There is some research on animals showing that this benefit may translate to skin (Source: Photochemistry and Photobiology, June 1998, pages 663-668). Tannins can also have constricting properties on skin, and that may cause irritation with repeated use.

Taraktogenos kurzii. See chaulmoogra oil.

Taraxacum japonicum. See Japanese dandelion.

Taraxacum officinale. See dandelion.

Taraxacum platycarpum. See Japanese dandelion.

tartaric acid. See AHA.

TBHQ. Abbreviation for 2-tert-butylhydroquinone. It is a potent antioxidant (Source: Journal of Biological Chemistry, January 2002, pages 2477-2484), though there is no research showing this to be of benefit when applied topically.

TEA. See triethanolamine.

tea tree oil. Also known as melaleuca, from the name of its plant source, Melaleuca alternifolia. It can have disinfecting properties that have been shown to be effective against the bacteria that cause blemishes. According to Healthnotes Review of Complementary and Integrative Medicine ( and the Medical Journal of Australia (October 1990, pages 455-458), 5% tea tree oil and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide are effective in reducing the number of blemishes, with a significantly better result for benzoyl peroxide when compared to the tea tree oil. Skin oiliness was lessened significantly in the benzoyl peroxide group versus the tea tree oil group. However, the tea tree oil had somewhat less irritating side effects. Concentrations of 5% to 10% are recommended. However, the amount found in most skin-care products is usually less than 1% and, therefore, considered not to be effective for disinfecting.

TEA-lauryl sulfate. While there is abundant research showing sodium lauryl sulfate to be a sensitizing cleansing agent, there is no similar supporting research for TEA-lauryl sulfate. However, because the relationship between the two is so close, I decided to recommend against the use of either of them. The basis for this is a judgment call, made from a desire to protect skin from sensitization; however, there are no specific studies I can cite for this recommendation, although there are those who will understandably disagree with my conclusion. See sodium lauryl sulfate.

Tecoma curialis bark extract. Potential irritant and sensitizer for skin (Source: Botanical Dermatology Database,

Tepescohuite extract. Is the spanish name for Mimosa tenuiflora extract. See Mimosa tenuflora extract.

Tephrosia purpurea seed extract. There is a small amount of research showing this to have antioxidant and anticancer properties when fed to rats, or in vitro (Source: Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods, June 2001, pages 294-299), but there is no evidence that this effect can be duplicated when applied topically on skin.

Terminalia catappa. Can be a potent antioxidant (Source: Anticancer Research, January-February 2001, pages 237-243).

Terminalia sericea. May have antibacterial properties (Source: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2002, pages 169-177), but can also have a high incidence of irritation or contact dermatitis.

tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. Stable form of vitamin C. See vitamin C.

tetrahydrodemethoxycurcumin. See curcumin, and turmeric.

tetrasodium EDTA. A chelating agent. It is used to prevent minerals present in formulations from bonding to other ingredients.

tetrasodium etidronate. Used as a chelating agent in cosmetics to prevent varying mineral components from binding together and negatively affecting the formulation.

Thea sinensis extract. See green tea.

thiamine HCL. Vitamin B1. There is no research showing this to be effective when applied topically on skin.

thiamine HCL. Vitamin B1. There is no research showing this to be effective when applied topically on skin.

thiazolidine carboxylate. Can have antioxidant properties, but there is no research showing this to be the case when it is applied topically on skin.

thickening agent. Substances that can have a soft to hard waxlike texture or a creamy, emollient feel, and that can be great lubricants. There are literally thousands of ingredients in this category that give each and every lotion, cream, lipstick, foundation, and mascara, as well as other cosmetic products, their distinctive feel and form.

thioglycolate. Compounds used in permanent waves and depilatories either to alter the structure of hair or to dissolve it. These are potent skin irritants.

thiotaurine. An amino acid. Potentially, it can have antioxidant properties for skin (Source: Shiseido Corporation, See amino acid.

threonine. See amino acid.

Thuja occidentalis extract. Also known as extract of red or yellow cedar. It has antibacterial properties on skin, but it also has constricting properties and can be a skin irritant.

thyme extract. Derived from the thyme plant. It can have potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, March 2002, pages 1845-1851). Its fragrant component can also cause skin irritation.

thyme oil. See thyme extract.

thymine. Component of DNA that carries genetic information for the cell. See DNA.

thymus extract. See thymus hydrolysate.

thymus hydrolysate. Form of animal thymus derived by acid, enzyme, or other methods of hydrolysis. It can have water-binding properties for skin but has no other special or unique benefit.

Thymus serpillum extract. An extract of wild thyme. See thyme extract.

Thymus vulgaris. See thyme extract.

Tian men dong. Chinese herbal asparagus extract; it has no known benefit for skin.

Tilia cordata. See linden flower extract.

Tinosorb M. See Tinosorb S.

Tinosorb S. In Europe there are two sunscreen ingredients, Tinosorb S (bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine) and Tinosorb M (methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol), that are approved for protection of the entire range of UVA radiation (Sources: Photochemistry and Photobiology, September 2001, pages 401-406; and Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation, North America, Whether they are preferred over the other UVA-protecting ingredients used in sunscreens has not been established. As this book goes to press, neither Tinosorb M nor Tinosorb S have been approved for use in the United States or Canada. See UVA.

Tinted Moisturizers. These provide minimal coverage, and are perfect for those blessed with rather good complexion. Tinted moisturizers are good for adding a hint of color to sallow complexions and to conceal very slight complexion flaws

tissue respiratory factor (TRF). Trade name for a form of yeast suspended in alcohol. There is only one independent study, performed on animals, that showed it to have some wound-healing benefits (Source: Journal of Burn Care Rehabilitation, March-April 1999, pages 155-162).

titanium dioxide. Inert earth mineral used as a thickening, whitening, lubricating, and sunscreen ingredient in cosmetics. It protects skin from UVA and UVB radiation and is considered to have no risk of skin irritation (Sources:; and Skin Therapy Letter, 1997, volume 2, number 5). See UVA.

tocopherol acetate. See vitamin E.

tocopheryl lineolate. See vitamin E.

tocotrienols. Super-potent forms of vitamin E that are considered stable and powerful antioxidants. There is some research showing tocotrienols to be more potent than other forms of vitamin E for antioxidant activity (Source: Journal of Nutrition, February 2001, pages 369S-373S), but the studies cited in this review were all performed on animal models or in vitro. According to the University of California at Berkeleys Wellness Guide to Dietary Supplements (October 1999), [Tocotrienol] research in humans is very limited, and the results conflicting.The research that has been done has centered on large doses of oral tocotrienols, animal studies, or test-tube trials. Companies that want you to believe that tocotrienols are now the answer for your skin are only guessing whether or not the laboratory evidence translates to human skin as it exists in the real world (Source: Healthnotes Review of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Full-scale clinical studies on humans to assess the benefits of topical tocotrienols have not yet been performed, so for now (as is true for all antioxidants), choosing it as the best one is a leap of faith. See vitamin E.

toluene. Solvent used in nail polishes; it is considered toxic with repeated use.

tomato extract. Has weak antioxidant properties (Source: Free Radical Research, February 2002, pages 217-233). Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a significant antioxidant, but it is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes (Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, volume 66, number 1, pages 116-122). It can also be a potential skin irritant depending on what part of the tomato is used, but there is no way to know that from an ingredient label. See lycopene.

tooth whitening. A cosmetic technique used to whiten teeth with a peroxide based material, dispensed by the dentist to be used at home

tormentil extract. See Potentilla erecta root extract.

tourmaline. An inert, though complex, mineral. One of its unique properties is that it is piezoelectric, meaning that it generates an electrical charge when under pressure. That's why tourmaline is typically used in pressure gauges. Tourmaline is also pyroelectric, which means that it generates an electrical charge during a temperature change (either increase or decrease). One of the results of generating such an electric charge is that dust particles will become attached to one end of the tourmaline crystal. However, none of that can take place in a cosmetic. There is no published research showing tourmaline has any proven effect on skin whatsoever.

tragacanth. Natural gum used as a thickener in cosmetics.

tranexamic acid. Technical name 4-aminomethylcyclohexanecarboxylic acid. When used orally, it is an antihemophilic (stops bleeding) medicine; topically it is an anti-inflammatory agent.

transforming growth factor (TGF). Stimulates wound healing and collagen growth. See human growth factor.

translucent powder.  Sheer, imperfection correction. Designed to even skin tone, diminish redness or skin sallowness. Perfect for every skin color and type. Smoothes skin, perfects finish and gives your skin natural light reflection. Use on clear skin before mineral powders.

transparent soap. Looks milder or less drying because of its unclouded, clear appearance, but many such soaps contain harsh cleansing ingredients, and the ingredients that give the bar its shape can clog pores.

trehalose. A plant sugar that has water-binding properties for skin.

tretinoin. Topical, prescription-only medication that can improve cell production after it has been damaged. It is the active ingredient in Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, and Avita. One of the more significant problems of sun damage is abnormal and mutated cell growth. An article from Clinics in Geriatric Medicine (November 2001, pages 643-659) stated that Studies that have elucidated photoaging pathophysiology have produced significant evidence that topical tretinoin (all-trans retinoic acid), the only agent approved so far for the treatment of photoaging, also works to prevent it (Sources: Cosmetic Dermatology, December 2001, page 38; and Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2001, volume 111, pages 778-784). Tretinoin affects and improves actual cell production deep in the dermis, far away from the surface of skin (Sources: Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, October 2001, pages 613-618; Clinical Geriatric Medicine, November 2001, pages 643-659; and Photochemistry and Photobiology, February 1999, pages 154-157).

tribenzoin. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester.

triclosan. Good antibacterial agent used in many products, from those for oral hygiene to cleansers (Sources: Federation of European Microbiological Societies Microbiology Letter, August 2001, pages 1-7; and American Journal of Infection Control, April 2000, pages 184-196). However, whether triclosan is effective for treatment of acne has not been researched. There is also controversy over whether or not triclosan may contribute to creating strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics owing to its overuse in cosmetic products. Further, there is also concern about whether, in practical use, it can in fact impart the benefits of disinfection indicated on the label (Source: Journal of Hospital Infection, August 2001, Supplement A, pages S4-S8).

tridecyl salicylate. Salt form of salicylic acid (BHA). When it is no longer an acid (as here), salicylic acid no longer has exfoliating properties.

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

tridecyl trimellitate. Used in cosmetics as a thickening agent and emollient.

triethanolamine. Used in cosmetics as a pH balancer. Like all amines, it has the potential for creating nitrosamines. There is controversy as to whether this poses a real problem for skin, given the low concentrations used in cosmetics and the theory that nitrosamines can't penetrate skin.

Trifolium pratense. See red clover.

triglyceride. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester, and natural moisturizing factors.

Trigonella feonum-graecum. See fenugreek.

trilaurin. Group of ingredients that are triesters of glycerin and aliphatic acids, and known generically as glyceryl triesters. These are used in cosmetic products as thickening agents and emollients (Source: International Journal of Toxicology, 2001, volume 20, Supplement 4, pages 61-94).

trioctanoin. Emollient and thickening agent used in cosmetics. See trilaurin.

tristearin. Triglyceride of stearic acid. It is used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Triticum vulgare oil. See wheat germ oil.

tryptophan. See amino acid.

turmeric. Plant source of a spice made from the dried, ground root; its extract is called curcurmin. A natural yellow food coloring that has potent antioxidant properties (Sources: Food Chemistry and Toxicology, August 2002, pages 1091-1097; and Planta Medica, December 2001, pages 876-877). Because it is a potent spice, it may have some irritating properties for skin as well.

Tussilago farfara. See coltsfoot.

tyrosinase. Enzyme that stimulates melanin production. See tyrosine.

tyrosine. An amino acid in skin that initiates the production of melanin (melanin is the component of skin that gives it color). According to information on the FDA's Web site (, tyrosine's use is based on the assumption that it penetrates the skin, increases the tyrosine content of the melanocytes, and thus enhances melanin formation. This effect has not been documented in the scientific literature. In fact, an animal study reported a few years ago demonstrated that ingestion or topical application of tyrosine has no effect on melanogenesis [the creation of melanin].Tyrosine is important to the structure of almost all proteins in the body. However, the chemical pathway needed for tyrosine to function is complex and this pathway cannot be duplicated by including tyrosine in a skin-care product or by applying it topically.
Talc - Tyrosine