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Hamamelis Virginiana - Hyssop

Beauty and Cosmetic Glossary - H


hair care.  The activity of washing or cutting or curling or arranging the hair.
Use a dime-sized amount of shampoo and gently stroke it through your hair and scalp.
Every six weeks wash your hair with a good clarifying shampoo. This will remove any residue of styling products and help your shampoo perform optimally.

hair growth blend.  The right vitamins and minerals play a major role in keeping your hair healthy. Any nutritional deficiencies can lead to thinning hair or even total baldness. 
If you are having any health problems or suffering from any nutritional deficiencies, your hair may stop growing or show damage.

hair nourishing.  If your hair is feeling a bit dry and damaged, an nourishing and effective hair mask is a perfect solution. Stimulates the scalp, prevents thinning of hair, and stimulates hair growth.

hair spray.  Toiletry consisting of a commercial preparation that is sprayed on the hair to hold it in place.

Hair Style. A haircut or hairstyle normally describes cutting or styling head hair, rather than other body hair such as pubic, facial or underarm hair.  Hair styles are often used to signal cultural, social and ethnic identity. Hair styles in both men and women also vary with fashion.

hair toner.  Hair toner revitalizes all types of hair. It repairs split ends, adds new strength and vitality. It may reduce the itchiness of scalp by supplying necessary nutrients to scalp and hair. It prevents further hair loss and promotes hair growth by providing extra nourishment

Hair Restoration. Hair restoration procedures are designed to restore or improve the natural hairline. There are many options available for hair restoration, from medications to hair follicle transplantation. Hair restoration may require several sessions.

Hamamelis virginiana. See witch hazel.

hamamelitannin. Tannin that is found in witch hazel. It can be a skin irritant but it also has potent antioxidant properties. See tannin.

Handmade Cosmetics. A preparation, such as a powder or a skin cream, for the improvement of beauty especially that of the complexion.

Haslea ostrearia extract. Derived from a water plant also known as blue algae. In pure concentrations this extract can have antiviral properties on skin. See also algae.

hawthorn extract. When taken orally hawthorn may improve circulation (Source: Phytomedicine, 1994, volume 1, pages 17-24). The bioflavonoids in hawthorn are potent antioxidants (Planta Medica, 1994, volume 60, pages 323-328). But there is no research showing that this extract has any benefit for skin.

hayflower extract. Plant extract that, due to its constricting effect on skin, can be an irritant. There is no research supporting the claim that it can have any effect on skin.

hazelnut oil. Oil extracted from the hazelnut; used as an emollient. See natural moisturizing factors.

heavy water. Water in which hydrogen atoms have been replaced by deuterium; it is used chiefly as a coolant in nuclear reactors.

Hedera helix. See English ivy.

hedione. Synthetic fragrant component in products that can also be a skin irritant.

helianthus oil. See sunflower oil.

Helichrysum italicum. One species of a plant family that includes strawflower. Extracts of these plants can have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for skin (Sources: Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, March 2002, pages 365-371; and Life Sciences, January 2002, pages 1023-1033).

hematin. Iron-containing portion of blood. It has no known benefit for skin.

hemolymph extract. Extract of crustacean blood. It can be a source of proteins or other water-binding agents, but there is no research showing it to have special benefit when applied topically on skin.

hemp seed oil. From the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Because both hemp and marijuana are from the genus Cannabis, they are often thought (erroneously) to have similar properties. Yet because hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, it is not used as a drug of any kind. In cosmetics, hemp seed oil is used as an emollient. Other claims about its effect on skin are not substantiated. See fatty acid.

hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Stimulates division in cells lining the liver, skin cells, and cells that produce skin color. See human growth factor.

heptamethylnonane. See isohexadecane.

herbal cosmetics. Cosmetics from botanicals and living plants' extracts and use for personal care.

hesperidin. A bioflavinoid that has antioxidant and water-binding properties for skin. It is also called "vitamin P." See bioflavonoid.

hexylene glycol. See propylene glycol.

Hibiscus sabdariffa flower extract. There is some research showing extracted components of the plant have antioxidant, antitumor, and anti-inflammatory properties (Sources: Food and Chemical Toxicology, May 2000, pages 411-416, and June 1999, pages 591-601). Whether or not these potential benefits are from the flower extract itself as opposed to its components has not been evaluated.

Hierochloe Odorata extract. Commonly known as sweet grass, it may have antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, May 2002, pages 2914-2919).

Himanthalia elongate extract. Component of algae. See algae.

histidine. See amino acid.

homemade cosmetics.  Cosmetics made or produced in the home or by yourself.

Hoelen. Has antibacterial, preservative, wound-healing, and water-binding properties when applied topically (Sources: BioMed Central (BMC) Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2001, volume 1, issue 1, page 2; and Burns, March 1998, pages 157-161).

honeysuckle extract. Fragrant plant extract that can be a skin irritant, but may also have anti-irritant properties (Source: International Journal of Molecular Medicine, January 2001, pages 79-83).

hops. There is no research showing that hops have any benefit for skin. However, components in hops may have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. The plant may also have estrogenic properties.

Hordeum vulgare extract. See barley extract.

horse chestnut extract. May have anti-inflammatory properties for skin. Orally it has been shown to reduce edema in the lower leg by improving the elastic tissue surrounding the vein (Sources: Pharmacological Research, September 2001, pages 183-193; Phytotherapy Research, March 2002, number S1, pages 1-5; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2002, volume 3, number 5, pages 341-348). See escin.

horse elder. See elecampane.

horseradish. Can irritate skin and should never be applied to abraded skin.

horsetail extract. Has a high tannin, alkaloid, and nicotine content, which can have skin-constricting properties and be irritating to skin (Source: It also has antioxidant properties, but there are many other potent antioxidants to use that don't cause any skin irritation.

Huang qi. See milk vetch root.

human growth factor. It is important to make it clear that the topic of human growth factor (HGF) is exceedingly complicated. The physiological intricacies of the varying HGFs and their actions challenge any layperson's comprehension. Nonetheless, because the use of HGF seems to be the direction some skin-care companies are taking, and because there is a large body of research showing its efficacy for wound healing (but not for wrinkles), it does deserve comment.

HGFs make up a complex family of hormones that are produced by the body to control cell growth and cell division in skin, blood, bone, and nerve tissue. Most significantly, HGFs regulate the division and reproduction of cells, and they also can influence the growth rate of some cancers. HGFs occur naturally in the body but they are also synthesized and used in medicine for a range of applications, including wound healing and immune system stimulation. HGFs are chemical messages that bind to receptor sites on the cell surface (receptor sites are places where cells communicate with a substance to let them know what or what not to do). HGFs must communicate with cells to instruct them to activate the production of new cells, or to instruct a cell to create new cells that have different functions. Another way to think of HGFs is that they are messengers designed to be received or "heard" by specific receptor sites or "ears" on the cell. HGFs, such as transforming growth factor (TGF, stimulates collagen production) or epidermal growth factor (EGF, stimulates skin cell production), play significant roles in healing surgical wounds. The main task of HGFs is to cause cell division, which is helpful; however, at certain concentrations and lengths of application they can cause cells to over-proliferate, which can cause cancer or other health problems.

But what happens when you put HGFs on skin, particularly TGF and EGF, which some companies claim their products contain? The risk is that they could accelerate the growth of skin cancer by stimulating the overproduction of skin cells. In the case of TGF, which stimulates collagen production, it can encourage scarring. This is because scars are the result of excessive collagen production, and if you make too much collagen you get a scar or a knot on the skin such as a keloidal scar. Most of the research on the issue of HGFs for skin has looked primarily at the issue of wound healing, and at short-term use of HGFs. In skin-care products, they would be used repeatedly, possibly over long periods of time. A shortcoming of HGFs, according to an article by Dr. Donald R. Owen in the March 1999 issue of Global Cosmetic Industry, is that "The body produces these [HGFs] in exquisitely small concentrations at just the right location and time.... Actual growth factors such as [EGF and TGF-B] are [large] configurations, which do not penetrate the skin.... They [also] lose their activity within days in water or even as solids at normal temperatures.... [Yet], even after all these complications, the siren's song is too strong. We [the cosmetics chemists] will use them." The research into HGFs is without question intriguing, but there is much that's not known, especially in terms of long-term risk or stability when they're used in cosmetics and applied to skin. In this arena, if cosmetics companies continue to use HGFs, it is the consumer who will be the guinea pig.

humectant. See water-binding agent.

Humulus lupulus extract. See hops.

hyaluronic acid. Component of skin tissue that is used in skin-care products as a good water-binding agent. See natural moisturizing factors.

Hydnocarpus anthelmintica. See chaulmoogra oil.

hydrating lotion.  Lotion for restoring or maintaining normal proportion of fluid in the skin.

hydrating shampoo.  Shampoo for restoring or maintaining normal proportion of fluid in the hair.

Hydrastis canadenis. See goldenseal.

hydrocortisone. Hormone from the adrenal gland that can also be created synthetically. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties for skin, but prolonged use can destroy collagen in the skin and cause skin fragility (Sources: American Academy of Dermatology Guidelines of Care for the Use of Topical Glucocorticosteroids,; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1996, volume 35, pages 615-619; and Cosmetic Dermatology, July 2002, pages 59-62).

hydrocotyl extract. See Centella asiatica.

hydrogen peroxide. There is a great deal of current research showing that hydrogen peroxide is problematic as a topical disinfectant because it can greatly reduce the production of healthy new skin cells (Source: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, September 2001, pages 675-687). Hydrogen peroxide is also a significant oxidizing agent, meaning that it generates free-radical damage. While it can function as a disinfectant, the cumulative problems that can stem from impacting the skin with a substance that is known to generate free-radical damage, impair the skin's healing process, cause cellular destruction, and reduce optimal cell functioning are serious enough so that it is better to avoid its use (Sources: Carcinogenesis, March 2002, pages 469-475; and Anticancer Research, July-August 2001, pages 2719-2724). See free-radical damage.

hydrogenated castor oil hydroxystearate. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester.

hydrogenated coco-glycerides. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester.

 hydrogenated lecithin. See lecithin.

hydrogenated palm glyceride. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester.

hydrolyzed actin. Form of protein that has water-binding properties for skin. See water-binding agent.

hydrolyzed conchiolin protein. A component of oyster shell. It can have water-binding properties for skin. See protein.

hydrolyzed reticulin. Reticulin are a type of fibers found in skin and thought to be part of a systematic network that surrounds collagen fibers and helps hold them together. There is no evidence that applying reticulin externally to skin can have any effect on collagen whatsoever. Moreover, the hydrolyzing process needed to mix reticulin into a skin-care product also alters its form, which may change or stop anything it might do.

hydrolyzed silk. See silk.

hydroquinone. Substance that is known to successfully reduce the intensity of freckles, melasma, and general brown patching by inhibiting melanin production. For continued and increased effectiveness it must be used long term. Unprotected sun exposure should be avoided, because it reverses the effect of hydroquinone by increasing melanin production. Occasionally, at higher concentrations, persons with a darker skin type will experience increased pigmentation, but this is rare. It can cause mild skin irritation and there is the possibility of an allergic reaction. Hydroquinone in 1% to 2% concentrations is available in over-the-counter products; 4% concentrations are available by prescription only (Source: American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2000, pages 261-268).

There is concern that hydroquinone is a potentially carcinogenic substance. In vitro, hydroquinone has a toxic effect on cells containing melanin (Source: Biochemical Pharmacology, March 1999, pages 663-672). Aside from the in vitro studies (done in test tubes), the only harmful effects are reported in animal studies where hydroquinone is fed to animals. In these studies tumor creation or DNA damage is noted. However, this is not the case in epidemiological studies in which production workers (meaning those workers involved in the manufacture of hydroquinone) have been shown to have lower death rates and reduced cancer rates when compared with the population as a whole. Adverse effects associated with skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone in FDA-regulated products have been limited to a small number of cases of hyperpigmentation (Sources: Critical Reviews in Toxicology, May 1999, pages 283-330; and Food and Chemical Toxicology, November 1999, pages 1105-1111).

hydroxylated lecithin. See lecithin.

hydroxypalmitoyl sphinganine. Sphinganine is a sphingoid base, found concentrated in mammalian epidermis, that may serve as a natural antifungal barrier preventing infection by pathogenic fungi. However, it may also inhibit ceramide production (Source: Food Chemistry and Toxicology, January 2002, pages 25-31).

hydroxyproline. Derived from the amino acid proline, it is a fundamental component of collagen and other structural proteins. Skin's ability to heal is partly determined by the presence of hydroxyproline within it. Whether topical application of hydroxyproline to the skin can help with wound healing has not been substantiated. However, it does have water-binding properties similar to those of collagen.

hypericum extract. See St. John's wort.

Hypnea musciformis extract. See algae.

hypoallergenic. Term used by the cosmetics industry to lead consumers to believe they are using a product that will not cause them to have an allergic or sensitizing skin reaction to a product. However, the word "hypoallergenic" is not regulated in any manner by the FDA and it is therefore used indiscriminately by cosmetics companies without any substantiation or need to show proof of the claim. Products formulated to contain the fewest possible allergens. Also describe products that have been specially treated or made to resist allergens.

hyssop. Fragrant plant extract that may have some antibacterial properties (Source: International Journal of Food Microbiology, August 2001, pages 187-195). It may also be a skin irritant.