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Babassu Oil-Buxux Sempervirens

Beauty and Cosmetic Glossary - B


babassu oil. Plant oil that can have emollient properties for skin. There is no research showing it to have special properties for skin.

Bacillus subtilis. Naturally occurring widespread bacterium that can be used to control plant diseases, fungal plant infestation, and several types of mildew. Based on available information, the bacterium appears to have no adverse effects on humans or the environment (Source: Environmental Protection Agency,

There is no known benefit when applied to skin.

balm mint extract. Derived from a fragrant plant; it poses some risk of skin irritation. It also has some reported antiviral properties (Source: Phytomedicine, 1999, volume 6, pages 225-230). Claims that it can help heal wounds are not substantiated.

balsam peru. A fatty resin that topically can cause allergic skin reactions and contact dermatitis. It also has the potential to cause photodermatitis and phototoxicity. Balsam peru is also a standard used in patch tests for skin sensitivity due to its high incidence of causing reactions (Sources: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, December 2001, pages 836-839).

banana extract. Has some weak antioxidant properties (Source: Free Radical Research, February 2002, pages 217-233).

bar cleanser. Although these are often advertised as being gentle or specially formulated, they are no better than or different from what you can buy at the drugstore. The irritating and pore-clogging ingredients are still included regardless of the price or claim.

barberry. Plant whose primary component, berberine, is an alkaloid that can have antibacterial properties and some cellular anti-inflammatory response. However, it can also be a skin irritant because of its effect on cells (Sources: Alternative Medicine Review, April 2000, pages 175-177; and Healthnotes Review of Complementary and Integrative Medicine,

barium sulfate. Earth mineral used as a whitening agent in cosmetics. It can be a skin irritant.

barley extract. From barley plants. Can have antioxidant properties when ingested, but there is no research showing this to be the case when applied topically (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, March 2001, pages 1455-1463).

bay leaf oil. Can be a potent antioxidant (Source: Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, January 2002, pages 102-108). However, it can also be a potent skin irritant due to its fragrant component.

bearberry extract. Contains arbutin (Sources: Phytochemical Analysis, September-October 2001, pages 336-339; and Phytochemical Analysis, September 2001, pages 336-339). Arbutin can inhibit melanin production, though this has only been shown in vitro and in pure form, not in a cosmetic formulation. The fractional amounts of bearberry extract used in cosmetics and the small amount of arbutin the extract contains mean this is unlikely to affect skin or melanin. See arbutin.

beauty care. Is the phenomenon of the experience of pleasure, through the perception of balance and proportion of stimulus. It involves the cognition of a balanced form and structure that elicits attraction and appeal towards a person.

beauty skin care. Healing the skin and keeping it healthy are of primary importance both in preventing further damage and enhancing the patient's quality of life. Developing and following a daily skin care routine is critical to preventing recurrent episodes of symptoms. Key factors are proper bathing and the application of lubricants, such as creams or ointments, within 3 minutes of bathing. People with atopic dermatitis should avoid hot or long (more than 10 to 15 minutes) baths and showers. A lukewarm bath helps to cleanse and moisturize the skin without drying it excessively

bee pollen. Can have antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, April 2001, pages 1848-1853), but there is no research showing this to be true when applied topically. Bee pollen can also be a skin irritant and allergen (Source: International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, June 2001, 96-111).

beeswax. Substance made by bees to build the walls of their honeycomb. It is a thickening agent and has some emollient properties.

behenic acid. Fatty acid used as a thickening agent and surfactant. See fatty acid.

behenyl alcohol. A thickening agent used in cosmetics. It is not related to irritating forms of alcohol.

Bellis perennis. See daisy flower extract.

bentonite. Claylike material used as an absorbent in cosmetics. It can be drying for skin.

benzalkonium chloride. Antimicrobial agent used as a preservative in skin-care products. There is no research showing it to have any effect against the acne bacterium Propionibacterium acnes.

benzephenone-3. Also called oxybenzone. A sunscreen agent that protects primarily from the sun's UVB rays and some, but not all, UVA rays (Sources:; and Skin Therapy Letter, Volume 2, Number 5, 1997). See UVA.

benzocaine. A topical anesthetic (Source: Dermatol Surgery, December 2001, pages 1010-8; and Pediatric Dentistry, January-February 2001, pages 19-23).

benzoic acid. Preservative used in skin-care products; it is considered less irritating than other forms of preservatives.

benzoin extract. Balsam resin that has some disinfecting and fragrant properties; it may also be a skin irritant (Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,

benzoin siam. See benzoin extract.

benzophenones. Used in cosmetics as sunscreen agents to protect mostly from UVB radiation and from some, but not all, UVA radiation (Sources:; and Skin Therapy Letter, Volume 2, Number 5, 1997). See UVA.

benzothonium chloride. Used as a preservative in cosmetics. It is generally considered less irritating than other forms of preservatives.

benzoyl peroxide. Considered the most effective over-the-counter choice for a topical antibacterial agent in the treatment of blemishes (Source: Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, September-October 2000, pages 292-296). The amount of research demonstrating the effectiveness of benzoyl peroxide is exhaustive and conclusive (Source: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 1999, pages 710-716). Among benzoyl peroxide's attributes is its ability to penetrate into the hair follicle to reach the bacteria that are causing the problem, and then killing them with a low risk of irritation. It also doesn't pose the problem of bacterial resistance that some prescription topical antibacterials (antibiotics) do (Source: Dermatology, 1998, volume 196, issue 1, pages 119-125). Benzoyl peroxide solutions range in strength from 2.5% to 10%. It is best to start with less-potent concentrations, because a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide product is much less irritating than a 5% or 10% concentration, and it can be just as effective. The necessary concentration completely depends on how stubborn the strain of bacteria in your pores happens to be.

benzyl alcohol. See alcohol.

Berberis aristata. See barberry.

bergamot oil. When used topically, it is a photosensitizer and has photomutagenic properties, meaning it can induce malignant changes to cells (Sources: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, September 2001, pages 458-461; and Journal of Dermatology, May 1994, pages 319-322).

Bertholletia excelsa extract. See Brazil nut extract.

best concealer eye make up. An opaque makeup used to cover darkness under eyes, or anything irregular in the skin's color or texture. Comes in a waxy stick, cream, or opaque liquid formula.

beta hydroxy acid. See salicylic acid.

beta sitosterol. A plant extract, similar to cholesterol that can have antimicrobial properties (Source: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, January 2002, pages 129-132) and, therefore, may be a problem for healthy skin cells. There is a small amount of research showing it to have anti-inflammatory properties (Source: Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, May 2001, pages 470-473).

beta-carotene. A member of the carotenoid family. There are hundreds of carotenoids including lycopene and lutein. Beta-carotene is a precursor that helps form retinol (vitamin A). It is converted to vitamin A in the liver as needed. Topically, beta-carotene is a potentially good antioxidant and can reduce the effects of sun damage, though this benefit is dose dependent. There is research showing that too much beta-carotene can generate oxidative damage (Sources: Photochemistry and Photobiology, May 2002, pages 503-506; The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, August 2002, pages 1289-1291; and Berkeley Wellness Newsletter, Berkeley Wellness on Beta Carotene).

beta-glucan. A polysaccharide, meaning it is a sugar (such as starch and cellulose) that can be derived from yeast. It has some antioxidant properties and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent (Source: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, February 2001, pages 393-402). See mucopolysaccharide.

Betula alba. See birch bark.

BHA. Abbreviation for butylated hydroxyanisole, a synthetic, potent antioxidant (Sources: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2002, pages 3322-3327; and Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 1996, volume 20, number 2, pages 225-236), but also a suspected carcinogen (Source: Mutation Research and Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis, July 2002, pages 123-133). The abbreviation BHA should not be confused with beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid), which is an exfoliant. Salicylic acid is abbreviated in discussions as BHA, but it would never be shown that way on a cosmetic ingredient list.

BHA. See salicylic acid.

BHT. Butylated hydroxytoluene, a synthetic, potent antioxidant that also has carcinogenic properties (Sources: Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, May 2002, pages 1203-1210; and Free Radical Biology and Medicine, February 2000, pages 330-336). See BHA.

bifida ferment lysate. Type of bacteria found in the digestive system. It has no known effect on skin.

bifidus extract. Carbohydrate in human milk that stimulates the growth of Lactobacillus bifidus in the intestine. In turn, the Lactobacillus bifidus lowers the pH of the intestinal contents and suppresses the growth of Escherischia coli and other pathogenic bacteria. Whether or not bifidus extract can have benefit for skin is unknown.

bilberry extract. Some research shows bilberry to be effective as an antioxidant, but this effect has not been demonstrated on skin (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, September 2001, pages 4183-4187).

bioflavonoid. A diverse range of substances that are components of many fruits and vegetables. Many of these have been shown to have potent antioxidant and gene-regulatory activity (Sources: Annals of the New York Academy of Science, May 2002, pages 70-77; Planta Medica, August 2001, pages 515-519; and Free Radical Biology and Medicine, June 1998, pages 1355-1363).

biotin. Also known as vitamin H. It is a water-soluble vitamin produced in the body by certain types of intestinal bacteria and obtained from food. Considered part of the B complex group of vitamins, biotin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). However, it has no reported benefit for skin when applied topically.

birch bark. Derived from the plant Betula alba (commonly called white birch). It can have potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, October 1999, pages 3954-3962), but it can also have astringent properties, which makes it a potential irritant for skin.

birch leaf extract. See birch bark.

bisabolol. Can be extracted from chamomile or derived synthetically. It is an anti-irritant.

bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate. Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics. See glyceryl ester.

bitter orange flower. See orange blossom.

black cohosh. There is research showing that black cohosh when taken orally can have some effect on menopausal and pre-menopausal symptoms (Source: Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, March-April 2000, pages 327-329). However, there is no research showing that black cohosh can have this or any effect when applied topically on skin (Source:

black currant oil. See gamma linolenic acid.

black elderberry. Has potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2000, pages 1588-1592).

black lipstick Makeup that is used to color the lips.

black locust extract. A plant extract that can have antioxidant properties, though it may have toxic components as well (Source: FDA, Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, "Poisonous Plant Bibliography,"

black mulberry. There is no research showing this to have any benefit when applied topically to skin.

black pepper extract and oil. Used topically as a counter-irritant, but that means it can cause significant skin irritation (Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, See counter-irritant.

black raspberry. Fruit that has potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, June 5, 2002, pages 3495-3500).

black tea. See green tea.

black walnut shell extract. There is a small amount of research showing it to have antioxidant properties (Source: Phytotherapy Research, June 2002, pages 364-367).

blackberry. Berries that have potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, June 5, 2002, pages 3495-3500).

bladderwrack extract. Derived from a seaweed; it can be an effective antioxidant and has water-binding properties for skin (Journal of Cosmetic Science, January-February 2002, pages 1-9; and Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, February 2002, pages 840-845).

Bletilla striata extract. Some research (Chinese and German) shows this to be effective for preventing blood clots and stemming bleeding, when taken orally, and it may stem bleeding when applied topically. There is extremely limited information about this plant extract in regard to skin.

bloodroot. A potent skin irritant (Source: Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database,

bloodwort. Also known as yarrow. See yarrow extract.

bluet extract. See cornflower.

blush. Makeup consisting of a pink or red powder applied to the cheeks. Makeup used on the face and especially on the cheekbones to give a usually rosy tint.

bois oil. Fragrant oil that has no research showing it to have benefit for skin (Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,

Bora cocos. See Poria cocos.

borage seed extract. From the plant Borago officinalis. Can have anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties (Source: Biofactors, 2000; volume 13, pages 179-185).

borage seed oil. Contains gamma linolenic acid (Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, See gamma linolenic acid.

borates. Used in cosmetics in small quantities primarily as pH adjusters (they have a pH of 9 to 11) or as antimicrobial agents (Source: Biological Trace Element Research, Winter 1998, pages 343-357). In larger amounts, due to the high pH, they can be significant skin irritants.

Borax. Also known as sodium borate decahydrate, is a mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. It has fungicide, preservative, insecticide, herbicide, and disinfectant properties. Borax functions as a bleaching agent by converting some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which generates free-radical damage and is a problem for skin. The pH of borax is about 9 to 11 and it can therefore be a significant skin irritant when used in cosmetics.

boric acid. May have wound-healing benefits (Source: Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, October 14, 2000, pages 168-173), but in cosmetics is used primarily as an antimicrobial.

boron nitride. A synthetic, inorganic powder. It has absorbent properties in cosmetics similar to organic powders such as talc.

Boswellia carterii. See frankincense extract.

Botanical Cosmetics. Botanical cosmetics has no chemicals, no fillers, no mineral, and no dyes.
Medicinal plants and herbs contain substances known for their healing properties.

Botox. The brand name of the nontoxic form of botulinum toxin type A. When injected into specific area of the face, particularly of the forehead, it prevents movement by partially and almost completely paralyzing the muscles of that area. The resulting inability to use particular face muscles causes certain wrinkles to disappear completely. This helps eliminate almost all of the wrinkles of the forehead, in the crow's-feet area (by the eyes), and the lines that run from the nose to the mouth (the naso-labial folds). Over 800,000 Botox treatments were administered in 2001. Since 1973, Botox has been used by ophthalmologists to treat patients with disabling eye ticks, as well as to treat crossed eyes. It is also used by other medical specialists to treat spasmodic neck muscles, spasmodic laryngeal muscles, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, some post-stroke states, spinal cord injuries, nerve palsies, Parkinson's disease, facial spasms, and, most recently, migraine headaches. This extensive use (and the corresponding research) has shown that Botox has a great success rate, with minimal risk or detrimental side effects. In rare cases, depending on what parts of your face were injected, you may experience temporary facial or eye-area drooping, bruising, or jaw and neck weakness, but it lasts only for the duration of the Botox effect, so it goes away in three to six months. (Sources: FDA Consumer magazine, July-August 2002,; Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, August 2002, pages 601-611; The Medical Letter, May 2002, pages 47-48; Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, October 2001, pages 619-630; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 2002, pages 840-849.)

bovine spongiform encephalopathy. See Mad Cow Disease.

boxwood extract. Can have constricting properties, which makes it a skin irritant.

boysenberry. Berry that can have potent antioxidant properties (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, June 5, 2002, pages 3495-3500).

Brassica campestris. See rapeseed oil.

Brazil nut extract. There is a small amount of research showing it can have antioxidant properties (Source: Chemosphere, February 1995, pages 801-802).

Brewer's yeast. See yeast.

broad spectrum. Meant to refer to a sunscreen's ability to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. This term is not regulated by the FDA, so a cosmetic can make this claim even when the product does not actually provide adequate broad-spectrum protection. See UVA.

bromelain. Enzyme found in pineapple. Theoretically bromelain breaks down the connecting structure that holds surface skin cells together, which causes exfoliation, but it can also cause irritation. However, exactly how much bromelain is needed, whether it is stable, and in what bases and pH it works best have not been established. There is little to no research demonstrating how bromelain reacts on skin.

bronzer Process in which skin pigmentation darkens as a result of exposure to ultraviolet light.
Bronzer is a vital beauty element that will improve the look of anyone's skin. It is not an over done blush, but a subtle way to make your face glow. Bronzer usually comes packaged like a compact and varies in hues from very light to very dark. It can be found everywhere these days, from your local drugstore to the most expensive cosmetics lines.

bronopol. Technical name 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (Source: Contact Dermatitis, December 2000, pages 339-343). See formaldehyde-releasing preservative.

brown algae. There is no research showing this to be beneficial for skin (Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, See algae.

bumetrizole. Sunscreen ingredient that absorbs primarily UVB light.

Bupleurum falcatum extract. There is no research showing extracts of this plant to have any benefit for skin, though it may have some wound-healing properties for peptic ulcers. It does contain glucoside and polysaccharide, but whether these can affect skin following topical application of the extract is unknown (Source: Phytotherapy Research, February 2002, pages 91-93). See mucopolysaccharide.

burdock root. A small amount of research shows this plant it to be effective as an anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant (Source:

butcher's broom extract. There is evidence showing that it can reduce edema and venous problems when taken orally (Source: Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, December 2000, pages 539-549). It may also have anti-inflammatory properties for skin, but there is little evidence of this.

butyl acetate. Solvent used in nail polish and many other products.

butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane. See avobenzone.

butylene glycol. See propylene glycol.

butylparaben. See parabens.

Butyrospermum fruit. Fruit from the karite tree, scientific name Butyrospermum parkii, used to obtain the fat that makes shea butter. See shea butter.

Buxus chinensis. See jojoba oil.

Buxus sempervirens. See boxwood extract.