COMMON INGREDIENTS IN COSMETICS
Rich in the same vital nutrients, trace elements and amino acids present in human blood plasma, allowing it to penetrate the skin more thoroughly than most other ingredients. It speeds up the elimination of toxins from cells and is a natural cellular renewal ingredient. It also helps to nourish and remineralize the skin.
A gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. It acts as an emulsifier and thickening agent.
A compound that occurs naturally in wheat sprouts, tobacco seed, comfrey, and sugar beets, or it may be derived synthetically from uric acid. It is an effective healing agent that helps to promote cellular renewal and it has a soothing and softening effect.
A nut oil high in fatty acids. Nearly colorless and odorless, Almond Oil is used in soaps, moisturizers and creams.
Aloe Vera Gel
A concentrated form derived from the Aloe Vera (true Aloe) plant, one of the oldest medicinal plants known. Widely revered and used by
the ancient Egyptians and Native Americans, it has remarkable healing abilities because it is a natural oxygenator (drawing and holding oxygen to the skin). For this same reason, it is one of the most effective cellular renewal ingredients available for
use in cosmetics. It has a composition similar to that of human blood plasma and sea water, and because its pH is the same as human skin, it is extremely soothing and protective. It is also a natural astringent.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Includes Ascorbic, Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, Tartatic and other structurally similar fruit acids. Derived from plants (fruit acids) and marine sources. Works on upper (epidermis) skin layers. Increases skin Collagen levels and skin thickness. Main uses: skin exfoliation, skin cell renewal, acne, and anti-ageing.
A naturally occurring red-yellow dye derived from the seeds of tropical trees.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Found in toners; may be used with water as an "acid rinse" to adjust the skins own pH.
Used as an anti-irritant and to treat muscle soreness and bruising. (A proven carcinogen sometimes found in talc)
Vitamin C. An antioxidant that is also used as a pH adjuster and as a preservative in cosmetics.
An ester of Ascorbic Acid. An antioxidant for oils and fats; keeps products fresh and prevents color change.
See Ascorbic Acid.
Natural oil from Avocados that is rich in vitamins and minerals. An excellent skin conditioner and
moisturizer that readily penetrates the skin; nonocclusive.
An essential oil derived from German camomile (Matricaria chamomilla). It is an excellent
anti-inflammatory, analgesic and detoxifier. Extremely calming and soothing to the skin.
Ocimum basilicum belongs to the labiate botanical family, which contains the largest number of medicinal plants. This essential oil contains linalol, thymol, tannins, pinene, and camphor, making it excellent for healing and soothing the skin. It has a stimulating
effect on the skins circulation and the oil glands.
Natural wax produced by bees. Used in a wide variety of cosmetics as an emulsifier. Can clog pores if
used as a primary ingredient in a formulation.
A naturally occurring clay from volcanic ash. Used as an ingredient in masks and foundation makeup.
Artificial essential oil of Almond.
Beta Hydroxy Acid
Includes Salicylic and Citric acids. Natural Salicylic acid is derived from willow bark, wintergreen and other plants. Works on lower (dermal) skin layers. New found cosmetic ingredient for reversing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, exfoliates skin, reduces adult acne and aids in skin cell renewal.
Naturally occurring cosmetic preservative from
Gum Benzoin. May be irritating to eyes. See Gum Benzoin.
UVA blocker. Protects against ultraviolet light (from sunlight and fluorescent sources).
antioxidant used to prevent oxidation of
oils in cosmetics. Some reports of allergic
A salt derived from the mineral Bismuth that imparts a slight sheen, enabling powders to reflect light. A natural antiseptic.
Derived from the dried
Thallus (bulbous root) of Fucus vesiculosus, a type of
seaweed. It is rich in the same trace
minerals, amino acids and other vital nutrients
present in human blood plasma and therefore helps to
balance and remineralize the skin.
An enzyme derived from pineapples. Digests dead
protein, as in surface skin cells.
Can form carcinogens in cosmetics or on the skin. Often used in shampoos and
moisturizers; avoid products with this ingredient. Sometimes called BNPD.
A humectant and solvent with some mold-inhibiting
ability. Can be irritating if used as more than five
percent of a formulation.
Preservative used to prevent mold, fungus and
bacteria; extends shelf life of cosmetics. Non-toxic and
non-irritating at .05 of 1 percent. It may
be irritating to the skin if more than 5 percent
is used in a formulation.
Alcohols Benzoate An emollient derived
from Benzoic acid, a naturally occurring
preservative. Very mild.
Distilled from the flowers and leaves of the
Melaleuca leucadendra tree, which grows in Malaysia.
Antiseptic and antiviral, its function is to
cleanse and drain toxins and excess oil
from the skin.
Fine white powder
occurring naturally in limestone, oyster
shells, and marble. Used in powders and
toothpastes. Also used as an antacid, opacifier, whitener,
Anticaking and opacifying agent; absorbent.
Used in face powders, blushers and bath salts.
Topical anti-inflammatory, antioxidant.
Commonly used to treat acne and problem skin.
Distilled from the small yellow flowers of several
varieties of Camomile, including German
(Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman (Anthemis
nobilis). German Camomile contains a high
percentage of Azulene, a powerful healer that is
extremely soothing to the skin. In aromatherapy,
Camomile is used to balance female energy
and reproductive organs.
Distilled from the wood of the Camphor tree
(Cinnamomum camphora). It is a natural antiseptic and
analgesic that helps to calm the skin and
A hard wax obtained from the Candelilla plant,
used as an occlusive and binder in lipsticks and creams.
Fatty acid used as an emulsifier. Found in milk and
sweat and synthesized from coconut oil.
Barrier agent, emollient and
solvent used in foundations, eye shadow, creams
and lotions. Oily liquid from plants,
vegetable oils, dairy fats and sweat. Synthesized
from coconut oil or palm kernel oil.
Gelling agent. Synthetic polymer used to thicken,
stabilize and promote shelf life of cosmetics.
Can be irritating.
A natural pigment derived from the dried female insect,
Coccus cacti; used as dye.
From the Brazilian wax palm. Used as a barrier
agent and texturizer in lipsticks, deodorant sticks and
Present in quantity in a
variety of orange/ yellow fruits and
vegetables, such as carrots, cantaloupe and
papaya. Carotene has an orange color that oxidizes (fades)
when exposed to sunlight. It is converted into
vitamin A by the body and is used for its
cellular renewal and healing abilities.
Sometimes called "red algae," it is derived
from the type of seaweed known as
"Irish moss." It is a natural emulsifier
and thickening agent and has a soothing effect on the
Natural extract of carrot used as a colorant. High in
betacarotene; healing and soothing to the skin.
From the Castor bean. Acts as a barrier agent,
emollient and lubricant. Used in lipsticks and
From red Cedar. It is a strong
antiseptic and has a calming effect on the
Gum from Cellulose, the cell wall and structural
component of plants. Used as a thickener and emulsifier
in creams and lotions and as a film former
From Ozokerite, a naturally occurring mineral wax.
Used as an emulsifier, hair conditioner and
A compound made from Stearyl Alcohol (solid
alcohols mixed with stearol, a derivative of stearic
acid) and Coconut or Palm oil. Used as an
emollient and emulsifier.
Not an "alcohol" such as ethyl or rubbing
alcohol. It is an emulsifying wax made by
combining fatty alcohols derived from
vegetable sources. Used as an emulsifier and
emollient, it is not drying to the skin.
Not an "alcohol" such as ethyl or rubbing
alcohol. Yellowish white flakes with no
odor or toxicity, it is used as an emollient
and emulsifier. When Sebum (the moisturizer produced
by the body) is synthetically formulated in a
laboratory, Cetyl Alcohol is added as one
of the constituents because it closely resembles
a component of Sebum.
The green component of plants used as a natural
colorant in deodorants, creams and toothpaste.
Found in all body tissues. Acts as an emulsifying
and lubricating agent in cosmetics.
A factor of the Hyaluronic Acid complex
that is bioengineered (grown in a yeastlike culture in a
Chromium Hydroxide Green
A coloring agent.
Found widely in plants and in animal tissues. Adjusts pH and acts as an antioxidant.
A herb most commonly used as an insect repellent.
In skin care, the essential oil is used to calm
A combination of grapefruit,
orange and lemon oils.
Acts as a foam stabilizer and thickener in
Appears most often in shampoos; can be
A saturated fat with emollient properties, making it
too heavy for use on facial skin. Frequently
appears in suntan preparations. May produce
A saturated fat. The fat molecules are large, making the oil too "heavy" for use on facial skin.
The protein that makes up the fibrous support system
from which skin is made. For cosmetic use, Collagen is
usually derived from cows. New technology
has produced Collagen from soy and wheat.
Sulfur is a naturally occurring material. Colloidal
sulfur is a mixture of sulfur and acacia, a
hydrophilic (water-loving) colloid derived
from the African acacia tree. This ingredient is
used for its ability to calm the skin and oil glands.
Commonly found in various types of acne
preparations, it helps to reduce redness,
soreness and swelling.
Extracted from the common flower, Bachelor's
Button (Centaurea cyanus). It contains allantoin,
potassium, calcium, and vitamins C and K. Because of its
soothing and anti-inflammatory properties,
it is traditionally used for compresses
around the eyes.
A "starchy" white powder derived from corn
that is very soothing to the skin. If you
have an allergy to corn, you may be
allergic to this ingredient.
Cucumber is a natural anti-inflammatory and
has an extremely soothing effect on the skin.
Possibly the most sacred, ancient essential oil, it was
widely used in religious ceremonies for its
spiritually "opening" effect.
Distilled from the bark of the Cypress tree, it is a natural
astringent and restorative. As a vasoconstrictor,
it also helps to shrink capillaries and
calm cupreous skin.
"Deionization" means that all the ions of
soluble salts have been removed. Calcium,
magnesium, sulfur, etc., can interfere with
formulations and "deactivate" active ingredients.
A type of alcohol used as a preservative.
Nondrying to the skin.
The "tanning agent" in many self-tanning
formulas. It is actually a Keto sugar that reacts
with protein on the surface of the skin to
create the look of a tan. The molecules in this
ingredient are too large to penetrate the skin any deeper than
the top-most layer. Since it is unable to react
in any way with the Melanin in the skin,
this ingredient does not afford the protection
from sun that a real tan would.
An oil derived from Silicone (which is derived from
Silica, a substance that occurs naturally in rocks
and sand). Dimethicone is used to
facilitate smooth application of a product and
helps to soften the skin.
A more waterproof form of Dimethicone
that adheres better to skin and hair.
One component of an ester blend of oils
designed to effectively penetrate the skin. It is
synthetically derived and non-irritating to
the skin or eyes.
Sequestering agent. See EDTA.
(ethylene diamine tetreacetic acid)
A synthetic chemical that removes
metals or mineral ions from a solution. Used
as a preservative. Can be irritating to the skin if more than 5
percent is used in a formulation.
Animal protein found in the dermal layers of skin that
functions to maintain skin elasticity. When
applied topically, there is no proof that
this highly insoluble protein has the ability to
improve the elasticity of the skin.
A preservative. See Parabens.
Evening Primrose Oil
A source of vitamin E and Gamma Linoleic
acid. Helps to regenerate skin cells.
alcohol, occurring naturally in many essential
oils such as camomile, rose, citronella, sandalwood and
lemon grass. Deodorant and bacteriostat.
A component of aerosols that destroys the
ozone layer of the atmosphere.
A pungent colorless gas. Used as a preservative,
disinfectant, germicide, antifungal and embalming fluid.
Extremely toxic and irritating to mucous
membrane; carcinogenic. Commonly used in
Sugar found in honey and fruits. Used as flavoring and
as a humectant.
from the leaves of Pelargonium graveolens.
It is a natural antiseptic and astringent that also
promotes healing. Geranium has the unusual ability to
balance Sebum production (because it is an
adrenal cortex stimulant), making it
valuable for those with combination, dry, dehydrated, or
oily skin. Aromatherapists use it as an antidepressant.
A humectant (water-attracting/binding ingredient) that
occurs naturally in both vegetable oils and animal
oils. The most common source is beef lard,
but this type of glycerin is usually mixed
with vegetable oils when used in cosmetics.
Glycerin by-product of coconut oil. Emulsifier
Used as an emulsifier in lotions and creams.
Contact with eyes may cause irritation.
An ester used as an emulsifier (to help
combine oils with water). It is a clear, oily liquid
readily able to penetrate the skin, made by
combining Glycerin and Stearic Acid.
Glyceryl Stearate SE
Used in shampoos as a pearlizing agent
and as an emulsifier and opacifier in creams and
Glycerin combined with alcohol--for example,
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Extracted from Grapefruit seeds and
used in combination with Propylene Glycol and Glycerin
as a preservative, bactericide and
Grape Seed Oil
Ultrafine oil expressed from Grape Seeds
commonly used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy products
and as a base for moisturizers.
Green Papaya Concentrate
Made from raw, Green Papayas at the
time when the Papain (proteolytic enzyme) content is at its
highest. Once the fruit begins to ripen, its
enzyme content decreases substantially. A
low-heat extraction and concentration process
must be used to protect the active enzyme. It is an
excellent free-radical scavenger and cellular renewal
ingredient. Papain has the ability to
digest protein, and selectively digests only
dead skin cells without harming the living ones.
Commonly known as azulene. This is a component
of the essential oil distilled from the blossoms of the
German camomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
flowers. It is used for its soothing and
calming effect on the skin, and it also has remarkable
antibacterial and antiinflammatory abilities. It has a
natural bluish color that changes to green
as it begins to oxidize or age.
Provides luminescence to liquid cosmetics. From fish
scales, sugar beets, yeast, and clover seed.
Naturally occurring resin from seeds of an Asian tree.
Used as a thickener and emulsifier.
Resin from benzoin. Mild natural preservative.
occurring clay used in facial masks to draw out
oil. May also draw moisture from skin. Gelling agent and
Used as an emollient, humectant, and bacteriostat.
Horse chestnut extract
An herb used for its calming effect on
Equisetum arvense, commonly known as
horsetail, mare's tail, shave grass, or bottle brush, is
a plant that grows throughout central
Europe. It is a natural astringent that is extremely
high in silica, which has a softening and smoothing effect
on the skin. It also helps to strengthen vein and
capillary walls, and it is high in a
variety of minerals including potassium, manganese,
sulfur, and magnesium.
A protein occurring in the skin. Known as a
water binder, it is able to bind 1000 times its weight
Hybrid safflower oil
The polyunsaturated oil of the herb
safflower, which is high in linoleic and linolenic
acids. It has a small molecular structure
that allows it to be quickly absorbed. Nourishing
and soothing to the skin.
Hydrocotyl asiatica, commonly known as
gotu kola or Indian pennywort, is imported from India.
For hundreds of years, this plant has been
called "the longevity plant" because
of its incredible ability to speed cellular renewal and
increase longevity. Its properties are very similar to
those of ginseng. Applied to the skin, it
acts as an anti- inflammatory agent; it
speeds cell production and therefore is healing. It has a
balancing and calming effect and is extremely soothing
for aggravated or problem skin.
Hydrolyzed animal protein
A by-product of the beef industry. Helps
skin to hold moisture; imparts a glossy sheen to hair.
Used as a skin bleaching agent and as an
antioxidant to prevent rancidity. Causes sensitivity to
sunlight. Toxic if taken internally.
A natural gelatin derived
fibers; used as a thickening agent.
preservative that may be derived from either
methanol (wood alcohol1 or allantoin. Kills harmful
microorganisms. It is nonirritating, nontoxic, and not a
formaldehyde donor. If heated to high
temperatures, such as over the boiling
point, it does produce formaldehyde. Not to be
confused with urea from bovine sources.
A naturally occurring compound of iron and oxygen
found in a wide range of colors from black to
yellow. Used as a natural colorant.
Dissolves oils; has antiseptic properties. Can
be drying to the skin if used as a primary ingredient in
An emollient that acts as a wetting agent for
cosmetic pigments. Appears as a binder for pressed
powders and as a lubricant in lipsticks.
Used as an emollient and lubricant in
preshaves, aftershaves, shampoos, bath oils,
antiperspirants, deodorants, and various
creams and lotions. More than 5 percent in
a formulation can cause skin irritation and clog pores.
Used in many
moisturizing creams. It forms a thin layer
on the skin and easily penetrates.
chinensis is a thick, waxy oil extracted from
the large, vanilla- shaped beans of a bush that grows in the
arid climates of Arizona, southern California, and
New Mexico. Jojoba oil is strikingly
similar to human sebum and is able to effectively
penetrate the skin. It is a natural cellular renewal
ingredient as well as an excellent moisturizer.
A white Chinese
clay used to give color and "slip" to
powders. It also helps to gently absorb oil on the
surface of the skin. Although commonly used
in clay facial masks, it may be drying to
the skin in this type of product.
Oil from a native African tree. Anti-irritant.
Traditionally used as a sunscreen. See Shea butter.
Oil from the Hawaiian kukui nut. Very emollient and
One of the
alphahydroxy acids; found in fermented milk.
Helps to loosen "intercellular glue" holding dead skin
cells onto surface of the skin. Reduces
wrinkles and improves skin texture.
Derived from lanolin. Acts as an emulsifier
and a superfatting agent, and it has some humectant
An oil extracted from the wool of sheep without causing
any harm to the animal. It is one of the oils
closest to human sebum, making it an
excellent moisturizing ingredient. Lanolin is a
natural emulsifier and humectant that absorbs water and
holds it to the skin to help prevent
dryness. Formerly believed to be a common
allergen, it is now known to cause allergic reactions in
only a very small percentage of people.
Used as a thickener for shampoos and bath
gels. Gives many cosmetics a creamy texture and a high
"Dewaxed lanolin"; acts as a skin moisturizer
and reduces stickiness of creams and
lotions. Also found in hair conditioners,
fingernail conditioners, and skin cosmetics.
Nonionic surfactant; builds and stabilizes foam
in shampoos and bubble baths. Can be drying to the skin.
A nonionic surfactant found in shampoos.
The most versatile of all essential oils. Because of
the high percentage of linalool that it contains,
lavender oil is excellent for promoting
healing and for balancing the skin. It is an
antiseptic, analgesic, antibiotic, antidepressant,
bactericide, decongestant, and sedative. It
helps to reduce scarring and also stimulates
the growth of new cells.
A thick, oily substance present in all living cells,
whether animal or plant. A natural
antioxidant, emulsifier, and emollient. Also
a phospholipid with great water-binding ability. (It is able to
bind 300 times its weight in water.) Occurs
naturally in eggs, milk, sunflower seeds,
soybeans, and some vegetables.