We've all been there. You flip over a new beauty or skincare product you want to try and see a slew of weird names in the ingredients list. 'What isall that? I have no idea what all this stuff is, do I want to put it on my skin?'
Here's what happened though. The "Clean Beauty" army came through with their tanks of misinformation and fear mongering, and had so many folks thinking that there must be "dirty" or "toxic" chemicals out there in some products. Read here about why Clean Beauty and I are not friends.
Let's take the time to demystify some of the ingredients you might see in a variety of our products, (which you will find in other brands as well), so you can feel more empowered and knowledgeable about what is being slathered on your skin.
Meet your ingredients:
Cetearyl Alcohol and Ceteareth-20: an emulsifier to combine the oils and water portions of a formula and helps moisturize the skin
CetearylAlcoholandBehentrimonium Methosulfate: a conditioning emulsifier, particularly found in hair care products
Cetyl Alcohol: an emollient, stabilizer, and fatty alcohol; also moisturizes skin and helps thicken emulsions (creams/lotions)
Stearic Acid: an emollient, stabilizer, and fatty alcohol; helps thicken emulsions (creams/lotions)
Allantoin: increases smoothness of skin, offers soothing and skin protectant benefits
Propanediol: a natural, propylene glycol alternative derived from corn sugar, acts as a humectant, hair and skin conditioner, preservative booster, and solvent for other ingredients
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey: also known as honeyquat, derived from honey with excellent moisture binding capabilities, particularly in hair care
Rosemary Oleoresin: potent antioxidant to prevent rancidity/oxidation and prolong shelf life of oil based products in particular
Tocopherol: also known as vitamin E, a great antioxidant that helps deter rancidity and prolong shelf life of some products
Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids: surfactant and cleanser derived from amino acids obtained from apple juice, very mild cleanser with excellent eye tolerance, and easily biodegradable
DecylGlucoside: exceptionally mild surfactant and cleanser, derived from coconut based fatty alcohols and glucose (sugar/starch)
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate: mild surfactant and cleanser with rich, creamy foam and excellent lather
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: very mild surfactant and cleanser, used to increase mildness and often used with other surfactants
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate: mild surfactant with good cleansing properties with hair and skin friendly pH
Hydrogenated Ethylhexyl Olivate and Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables: plant-based alternative to synthetic silicone (which are also perfectly safe), derived from olive oil esters and olive oil unsaponifiables; provides a soft and light dry after feel
XanthanGum: thickener and emulsion stabilizer
Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerin: work together to preserve a product
Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate: work together to preserve a product utilizing hurdle technology, ECOCERT approved, also improves skin moisture and has low irritation profile
SodiumPhytate: an all-natural chelating agent, improves the efficacy of preservatives and antioxidants, plays a fundamental role in the stability and efficacy of personal skin care products, also offers moisturizing and skin softening benefits
Polysorbate 20 and 80: an emulsifier and excellent solubilizer of oils that need to be solubilized/dispersed in water
Citric Acid: used to balance ph of cosmetics
Sodium Hydroxide: used to balance ph of cosmetics (also used in soap making and even food like pretzels)
This isn't a comprehensive list but a good starting point for many that are wondering what various ingredients are and their purpose.
You may also see some products where the ingredients looks like a short novel. Because some brands carry products in multiple countries, they have to adhere to regulations in those areas as well. Those regulations require the full INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient), which uses the full systematic names internationally recognized to identify cosmetic ingredients.
So you might see some ingredients like this:
Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) Flower Oil, the parentheses the INCI
The FDA in the United States does not require this and instead requires the common names to be used. We can include the INCI in parentheses as shown above, if we choose to.
Final Notes: Don't be scared of how well you can pronounce an ingredient or how "scary" it may look on the label. Ingredients aren't toxic or dirty. The danger is in the dose, friend!