A what? A vital glossary of the key terms and phrases used in this site and in the book, to help you understand what is going on.



An inclusive term for medical specialities that focus on improving cosmetic appearance.


A brand of fat-dissolving injections which can be used to sculpt the face (and body) by permanently dissolving small areas of fat.

Alpha hydroxy acid (AHAs)

A type of chemical compound found in skincare that loosens the ‘glue’ between skin cells allowing the dead skin cells to shed revealing a smoother skin. Popular in both skin peels in clinic and for home use. Key AHAs include glycolic and lactic acid.



A brand of fat-dissolving injections (from Allergan, the makers of Botox) which is due to launch in the UK in 2019. It is already available in the USA under the name Kybella.

Bone resorption

As we age, the structure of our bones begins to wear away – a process known as resorption. In the face, this results in a softer jawline, larger eye sockets and the impression that the mouth is collapsing inwards.



These are one of the essential components of the natural fats or  lipids that are found in the skin (the others are essential fatty acids and cholesterol). As a cosmetic ingredient, they help improve moisture and reinforce the skin’s natural barrier.

Chemical peels

A procedure that smooths and improves the texture of the skin by removing the outermost layers of skin by applying a peel solution to induce a controlled injury to the skin.


A name is a combination of ‘cosmetic’ and ‘pharmaceutical’ and it is a cosmetic product with bioactive ingredients that have medical benefits, however they are not required by law to prove that they perform as they claim.

Cosmetic Dermatologist

A qualified medical doctor who has completed additional training to in dermatology to assess and treat the skin cosmetically.

Cosmetic Doctor

A qualified doctor who performs non invasive or minimally invasive procedures to alter or enhance the physical appearance.

Cosmetic Nurse

A qualified medical nurse who has completed additional training and has qualified to assess and treat the skin cosmetically. Many aesthetic nurses are also nurse-prescribers, which means that they are qualified to prescribe prescription-only products such as Botox.

Cosmetic surgeon

A surgeon who has undertaken further training and is qualified to perform operations or invasive medical procedures to change the physical appearance for cosmetic rather than medical reasons.


A non-invasive body contouring system that freezes fat cells to reduce their volume and is used for the reduction of localised fat deposits.


Deoxycholic acid

A substance that helps to absorb fat and works by destroying fat cells where it is injected into the body for localised fat reduction.


An exfoliating treatment carried out by a doctor or aesthetician where a surgical scalpel is used to gently scrape off any dead skin cells on the surface of the skin along with the vellus hair (ie peach fuzz).


A doctor who has additional, specialised qualifications to treat skin diseases.

Dermal filler

A gel which is injected through the skin (the dermis) to add volume or structure to the area where it is injected. Most dermal fillers are made from hyaluronic acid gel. Much to the despair of all reputable aesthetic practitioners, in the UK, dermal fillers are still not categorized as medicines, so anyone can legally obtain them and inject them into anyone else. Be warned. And read my Staying Safe page.

Dermatology-grade facial

A facial involving thorough examination and treatment of the skin, which is less pampering and more rigorous than most beauty-salon facials. Expect painstaking extractions, a light chemical peel and possibly red light therapy.


The time after an aesthetic procedure when the skin is healing and you may not be able to carry out your normal activities. Sometimes referred to as ‘social downtime’, ie time when you may not want to show your face to your colleagues or your nearest and dearest.


Electrical muscle stimulating facial

A microcurrent facial delivers safe, painless, low-level electrical impulses to strategic locations under the skin to firm and tone the facial muscles.


A dermal filler that works to not only immediately correct wrinkles but also stimulates the body’s own natural collagen to have a long-lasting, natural result. Unlike most fillers, it is not made from hyaluronic acid, but from polycaprolactone (a bioabsorbable material that is also used in sutures for surgical stitches) that slowly gets absorbed by the body but in the meantime works to stimulate collagen growth.


Fat dissolving injections

Placing small injections of a chemical called deoxycholate into fatty tissue dissolves everything around it. Brands include Aqualyx and Belkyra (Kybella).

Fat freezing

The less technical name for Cryolipolysis.  A non-invasive body contouring system that freezes fat cells to reduce their volume and is used for the reduction of localised fat deposits.

Fat transfer

A surgical fat transfer is a cosmetic treatment to collect fat cells from one part of the body and inject them into another. The aim is to collect from an area where there is plenty of fat (stomach, thighs) and use it to smooth or increase the size of another area.

Fillers (dermal fillers)

Injectable fillers are gels most often made from hyaluronic acid, that are injected into the skin to replace lost volume, smooth the skin or to help sculpt the face.

Focussed Ultrasound

Usually described as High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), this treatment involves concentrated ultrasound energy is delivered below the surface of the skin by a handheld device to stimulate skin rejuvenation, collagen production and to lift and tighten the skin.


Glycolic acid

Typically derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid is part of the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) family and is an ingredient in skin care used for effectively exfoliating the outermost layer of dead skin cells to reveal fresher skin. It is also often used in products designed to treat scarring, discolouration and signs of ageing.



High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), this treatment involves concentrated ultrasound energy is delivered below the surface of the skin by a handheld device to stimulate skin rejuvenation, collagen production and to lift and tighten the skin.


What you might call a mechanical facial  – the Hydrafacial machine has a variety of treatment heads that are able to offer cleansing, exfoliation, extraction of debris from the skin, hydration and antioxidant protection of the skin with minimal discomfort or downtime.


Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

A type of light therapy used to treat age spots and to reduce unwanted hair growth on the face and body. Not the same as laser – laser light is more powerful, and strikes to a very precise depth in the skin. IPL


Hydrating facial that involves spraying the skin with a jet of pressurised oxygen mixed with hyaluronic acid for greater moisturisation, lymph drainage and radiance.



Well known and well-tested brand of FDA-approved dermal fillers, from medical company Allergan.



A powerful narrow beam of concentrated light which strikes at a specific depth in the skin, depending on its wavelength. Can be used lightly to brighten the skin, or heavily to strip away pigmentation and everything else in between. ‘Laser’ stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation (always a good one to have up your sleeve for a pub quiz).

Laser facial

A facial that will involve the use of a laser to treat the skin to reduce facial wrinkles and skin irregularities such as blemishes or acne scars.

LED Blue Light Therapy

LED blue light is shone onto the skin from a canopy that hovers over the face. Blue light denatures the p.acnes bacteria that provoke acne, so a course of treatment can greatly reduce active acne.

LED Near Infrared light therapy

LED near-infrared light, again shone onto the skin from a canopy or delivered via a moulded mask, is a great skin-booster. It offers the collagen-boosting effects of red light (see below) but travels more deeply into the body and can stimulate bone tissue, too. It can also lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and has a positive effect on the body’s feel-good hormones.

LED Red Light Therapy

LED red light treatment, from a canopy or mask as above, penetrates the skin and is absorbed the cells to stimulate the growth of more collagen. A course of treatment can help treat a range of conditions from wrinkles to rosacea.

Lip filler

Dermal fillers used for increasing the volume of the lips.

Lip plumping

Procedures and products used to increase the volume of the lips such as dermal fillers, lip glosses or suction.



A minimally invasive procedure where a series of superfine injections of vitamins, minerals and amino acids are delivered into the skin to nourish and rejuvenate while also stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.


A minimally invasive treatment in which tiny punctures in the skin are made using micro-fine needles to trigger the body’s wound healing process, stimulating collagen and elastin production.


Non-surgical nose job

Reshaping the nose with dermal fillers. It sounds unlikely, but lumps on the bridge of the nose can be smoothed away, and droopy nose tips lifted.


The process that creates new collagen within the skin. Many tweakments – including laser, ultrasound, radiofrequency and needling — aim to kick-start neocollagenesis.

Nurse prescriber

A nurse with qualifications to prescribe medicine. Cosmetic nurses with the ability to prescribe can prescribe Botox as well as administer it.


Perk non-surgical lip booster

A suction-treatment called Perk that uses a pen-like device to exfoliate the lips and then soaks the lips in a special solution that temporarily plumps them up.

Plasma skin tightening

Tiny blasts of ‘plasma energy’, like miniature lightning bolts, are used to vaporise tiny holes in the skin causing the skin to burn, contract and then to heal itself by producing fresh collagen. The best-known brand of plasma skin-tightening machine is Plexr.


A form of plasma skin tightening.


The proper term for a tweakment. Or rather a tweakment is a non-surgical cosmetic medical procedure.

Plastic surgeon

A qualified surgeon who has taken further qualifications in a surgical speciality involving the restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the human body and face.


A form of plasma skin tightening, where tiny blasts of ‘plasma energy’, like miniature lightning bolts, are used to vaporise tiny holes in the skin causing the skin to burn, contract and then to heal itself by producing fresh collagen.


An injectable anti-ageing treatment which is sometimes referred to as a ‘moisture jab’ or ‘injectable moisture’. It is a runny gel made from hyaluronic acid which, placed just beneath the skin by a needle, acts as a ‘biostimulator’ to improve skin elasticity, firmness and hydration.



A skin tightening aesthetic technique that uses radio-frequency energy to heat tissue and stimulate collagen production in the skin in order to improve the appearance of fine lines and loose skin. Sometimes described as a technology that ‘shrink-wraps’ the skin.

Radiofrequency facial

As above but treatment uses lower levels of radiofrequency energy  to firm and tone the skin on the face. The best-known brand of radiofrequency facial is the Venus Freeze.

Restylane Skinboosters

Restylane’s branded type of skin conditioning  (or ‘injectable moisture’) injections.



A dermal filler, but not one of the many made from hyaluronic acid gel. Sculptra is made from poly-l-lactic acid which, over the course of a couple of months, stimulates the face to produce its own collagen, so it is often classified as a ‘stimulating dermal filler’.

Silhouette Soft

Leading brand of thread lifts.

Skin conditioning injections

Pinprick injections of a fluid form of dermal filler made from hyaluronic acid. Provides deep hydration within the skin. Also known as the moisture jab. Brands include Profhilo, Volite and Skinboosters.

Skin peeling facial

Facial that involves a not-too-challenging facial peel, to exfoliate and brighten the skin.

Skin peels aka chemical peels

A technique used to improve the skin’s appearance usually on the face or hands which used a chemical solution that is applied to the skin that caused it to exfoliate and eventually peel off revealing smoother, clearer skin.


Tear trough

The grooves that sit between the lower eyelid and the cheeks. They create a hollow at the junction between the lower eyelid and cheek.

Thread lift

A minimally invasive, rejuvenating treatment that uses specialised dissolvable surgical threads to physically lift sagging skin on the face and body. The threads are inserted into the face (most commonly across the cheeks), then pulled tight to lift the tissues. There are cones along the length of the threads which hold the tightened skin tissue in its new position. The threads take three months to dissolve, during which time they stimulate the growth of new collagen around them.

Thread veins

Tiny blood vessels which are visible through the surface of the skin and look like fine, red wiggly lines. Also known as spider veins or broken veins they are caused by a backup of blood and are purely a cosmetic problem. Easy to treat with Intense Pulsed Light or laser.


A colloquial word for a non-surgical cosmetic medical procedure designed to enhance the appearance.

Tyndall effect

When dermal filler is injected too close to the surface of the skin, a bulge of filler can be seen through the skin and looks blue-ish when the light hits it.  That’s the Tyndall effect.



Branded hyaluronic acid injections across the face in grid pattern to improve skin smoothness, hydration and elasticity. See Skin Conditioning Injections