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Word Up: Know Your Beauty Buzzwords

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Old Dictionary Series

buzzwordn. slang1 a fashionable piece of esp. technical jargon. 2 a catchword; a slogan (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition)

Each season brings with it a handful of buzzwords used to describe rising trends or hot topics. Sometimes they’re straightforward, sometimes they’re not. Here’s a handful of today’s bandied-about terms and what they really mean. (The staff's whinging about this list not being in alphabetical order; I told her to buzz off.)

naturaladj. Your kitchen-sink mayo hair mask counts if you make the mayo yourself — eggs, olive oil, lemon and salt. Natural ingredients are derived from a non-synthetic source. Simple.

organicadj. Not so simple. Yes, organic ingredients are of natural, chemical-free plant-based origin, but the term also encompasses specific growing and processing conditions that limit the use of synthetics, harsh chemicals, cleaning agents, and prohibit contamination from non-organic materials. Note: minerals and water are not organic substances.

If you see “organic” stamped on a label, that product’s makeup is supposed to be 95 percent or more organic — it’s an A+ in organic, if you will. The label should also be marked with a logo from a recognized certification body such as ECCOCERT, or USDA Organic. Formulas with organic content of 70 to 95 percent can say on their packaging they are made with X-percent (insert certified organic ingredient name here). And anything that is less than 70 percent organic is restricted to mentioning organic ingredients in the ingredients section. However take note: a product can contain 100% certified organic "active ingredients" (a term which refers to ingredients that are supposed to change the skin at a cellular level) and not be organic. Active ingredients are not always the sum of a formula.

fair traden. & adj. We’re hearing this more and more in connection with ingredients, such as coffee, shea butter, marula nut oil, and cocoa, and more. The term includes produce or merchandise usually sourced from less-developed parts of the world and often from predominantly female communities who would, without their singular harvest or industry, have zero means of self-support. Sounds good, right? What’s better is that responsible corporations with fair-trade agreements take great care to forge strong, ongoing relationships with suppliers to ensure the communities thrive, become independent, and even find other streams of revenue so they don’t rely on just one source for their economic well-being. Another term is community trade -- that's what The Body Shop called it when they started it more than 20 years ago.

boytoxn. C’mon, guess. Yes, it’s BOTOX® injected into men. So many women go the BOTOX® route as an anti-aging measure that it’s — well, not considered unusual. When men go there, it’s the same BOTOX®, but less common, so we get to make a funny.

organiceuticaln. The newest skincare marketing term to hit, this one combines "organic" and "pharmaceutical" to suggest a product with natural ingredients has the same level of efficacy as a pharmaceutical or prescription formula. Trademarked by the makers of Revaléskin, a line of anti-aging skincare made with the antioxidant coffeeberry, the term is destined for regular usage in beauty world the way Kleenex is used to mean tissue in everyday speak.

Of course one of the biggest buzzwords at the moment is a certain beyond-overused term for the savvy shopper who manages to look fabulously chic on a modified budget, but I think we're sick to death of that one.


Image courtesy of Dreamstime/Pdtnc.