A to Z of Useful Cosmetic Chemistry Terms

Creating your own home made products is really satisfying.

However, as discussed yesterday, before you begin getting creative, its a good idea to grips with the different terminology used in cosmetic chemistry.

Chemistry Terminology

Absorption: This is a physical process rather than a chemical one

It involves the assimilation of one body by another.

For instance a sponge can absorb water, but this water can easily be released by the action of squeezing.

Adsorption: This is where one substance clings to the surface of another substance,

Without being assimilated by it, or having a chemical reaction from it.

Take sellotape for example, whilst it may adhere to a surface it can easily be separated,

Without being absorbed by it or having a chemical reaction.

Analysis: This is where a reaction to separate a compound or substance takes place.

Calorie: This simply is a unit of energy.

Catalysis: This is the process of adding a catalyst to a reaction to speed up that reaction.

Catalyst: This term is used in chemistry when we add a substance to speed up that reaction, the catalyst remains intact and cannot be destroyed or changed by the process.

Colloid: This is a form of suspension which has some characteristics of a solution.

Conduction: This is how heat is transferred along the metal.

Convection: This is the method of transferring heat through the air.

Crystallization: This method involves negative and positive ions being packed tightly together, in order to form a crystal lattice in a particular order to form crystals.

Decantation: This describes the process of pouring liquid a liquid from one container into another in such a way as to leave the sediment behind undisturbed.

Dispersion: This is a colloidal system consisting of dispersed particles and the medium in which they are suspended.

Distillation: This is a term you will often come across in the aromatherapy industry, where the difference in boiling point of various substances is utilized to separate those substances.

It involves the process of vaporization followed by a process known as condensation.

The condensed material is referred to as the distillate, and the remaining material is known as the residue.

In the aromatherapy industry the distillate is the essential oils and the remaining material is known as hydrolat.

Emulsifier: A substance that allows two immiscible liquids to come together, in order to combine to form a stable suspension.

Emulsion: This is when a suspension in both phases consist of immiscible liquids.

Enzyme: Biological catalyst.

Filtration: A process used to separate two components, as long as one component is an insoluble solid.

The method involves the mixture being passed through a filter, which allows the liquid component known as the filtrate to pass through the filter, whilst preventing the residue or solid part of the substance to pass through.

Homogenous: This is a term often used in cosmetic formulation, which means a mixture that has a uniform composition, where the constituents are all in one phase.

Heterogeneous: This is a non uniform composition, whose constituents are all in more than one phase.

Hydrogenation: This the term used where a substance combines with a hydrogen.

Oil is often hydrogenated to produce fat, for instance unsaturated fat and a hydrogen creates saturated fat.

A process often coined as hardening when producing a block of margarine.

Hydrophilic: Attracts water.

Hydrophobic: Repels water.

Immiscible: Does not dissolve.

Joule: A measurement of energy.

Lipophilic: Attracts fats or oils

Lipophobic: Repels fats or oils

Miscible: Able to be mixed

Neutralisation: The process of combining and alkali and acid in order to render a substance neither acid or alkali,with a pH of 7.

Oxidation: This is a chemical reaction which involves a combination with oxygen, more is discussed on oxidation in the article what are antioxidants.

Radiation: This is known as the transfer of heat and waves though empty space and is how we measure UV rays.

Solubility: The property which enables a substance to dissolve.

Solution: A mixture in which one substance the solute, dissolve into another substance the solvent.

Solvent: The ingredient is usually liquid, of a solution where the solute is then dissolved.

Suspension: A multi-phase system which can be separated into its components by filtration.

Synthesis: The chemical reaction required to combine two or ore substances into an entirely new substance.

Temperature: A measure of heat energy

Viscosity: A term used to describe the stickiness of liquid, the closer the viscosity is to zero the less sticky the liquid is, and the greater is its ability to flow.

Please note if I included every term, this list would be really really long, so it is a work in progress.

As my background is in beauty, I have also put together a glossary of beauty terms, that you may find useful which you can find here.

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