How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels VIII

Today you are looking at a shampoo that you have recently seen various advertisements about.  Your Label Poise is increasing and you are curious to see how “naturally infused” this product is, because just a few months ago you probably would have purchased it without checking.  Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first seven posts on how to read ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

Quick Tip:  Aside from avoiding synthetic chemicals as much as possible, have an idea of what ingredients do not work as well for you.  Pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use.  If you notice every time you use a product with [insert ingredient here] you get an allergic reaction or your hair/skin responds negatively, make a note and steer clear!

The Label


The Ingredients

Water (Aqua):  Safe!

Sodium Laureth Sulfate:  Beware!   Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a surfactant and foaming agent commonly found in shampoos. It is a known skin and eye irritant. SLES can also be containated with possible carcinogen 1,4-dioxane and known carcinogen ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide can be toxic to the central nervous system; 1,4-dioxane does not easily degrade in the environment (persistent. This ingredient can be extremely drying to the hair, though it is considered less harsh than sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). (MSDS, MSDS)

Sodium Chloride:  Beware!   This is common table salt. Sodium Chloride is added to shampoos for its cleansing ability. Sodium Chloride in conditioners can be very drying and can negate the effects of keratin (essential hair protein) in hair products. (MSDS)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic surfactant derived from coconut oil and dimethylamonipropylamine. This ingredient can be a skin allergen and irritant and was voted Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. It is also an eye and lung irritant, though it is not known to be carcinogenic or mutagenic. (MSDS)

Glycol Distearate:  Avoid!  This ingredient is used as an emollient. It is the diester of ethylene glycol and stearic acid. It is typically used in concentrations of 0.5 – 4%. There is no data available about hazards, caricnogenicity, or mutagenicity. (MSDS)

Dimethiconol:  Beware!  Dimethiconol is a silicone that acts as a skin conditioner and emollient. It forms a protective barrier on the skin prevent moisture from entering or escaping. It is unlikely to penetrate the skin. Dimethiconol is believed to cause reproductive toxicity via inhalation, though it is not expected to be a skin irritant. The concentration in this product is low so it is not a high concern. (MSDS)

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the hair, if you are ‘glycerin sensitive’ avoid this product. Glycerine can be derive from fats and oils or synthetically.

Fragrance (Parfum):  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though actual concentration is unknown, fragrance is high on the list, therefore there is a small chance of having an allergic reaction.

Carbomer:  Beware!  Used as a thickener, typically at very low concentrations. This ingredient is not toxic, but can be slightly hazardous upon skin contact. Concentrations likely not high enough to be hazardous.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride:  Safe!  Also known as cationic guar gum, this ingredient is a quarternary ammonium (positively charged polyatomic ions) derivative of guar gum (a natural substance). It is added to shampoos for its conditioning and anti-static properties. In pure form, the dusts of this ingredient may be an irritant, however, it is not toxic to the skin and is not known to be carcinogenic. Information on mutagenicity is not available. (MSDS; MSDS)

TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic chemical that is used as a surfactant and foaming agent. This ingredient can be an irritant and must be formulated to reduce irritation properties, otherwise it is regarded as safe for use in cosmetics. TEA stands for Triethanolamine. No MSDS found.

Citric Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally occurring in citrus fruits, but is typically produced by feeding sucrose or glucose to mold and additional chemical treatment. It is used in cosmetics as a pH adjuster. It is generally considered safe, though it is a skin and eye irritant in pure form.

PPG-9:  Beware!  This ingredient is a derivative of propylene glycol, a polymer of propylene oxide. It is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent, that is typically synthetically derived. Limited information available, no MSDS found.

Tetrasodium EDTA:  Beware!/Avoid!  EDTA is an abbreviation for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. This ingredient is used as a chelating agent to sequester metal ions and causing them to lose the ability of reacting with other ingredients. It is also used as a preservative. It can also improve lather and decrease incidence of soap scum. Tetrasodium EDTA is a penetration enhancer and suspected to be toxic to the upper respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. Target organs are the kidneys and bladder. This ingredient is toxic to the environment and is a suspected persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the EU. (MSDS, MSDS)

DMDM Hydantoin:  Avoid!  This product is a used as a preservative and prevents (or slows) microbial growth in personal care products. This ingredient works by releasing formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) to kill or prevent microorganisms. In concentrations over 0.2% it is suspected to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant and may cause contact dermatitis.

PEG-45M:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic chemical that is derived from polyethylene glycol (polymer of ethylene glycol) use for its humectant (moisture drawing), binding, viscosity increasing and stabilizing properties.  45M indicates that this ingredient has 45,000 units of ethylene glycol.  This ingredient has a larger molecular weight and is less likely to be absorbed into intact skin, though some PEGs are penetration enhancers.  Trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane (a possible human carcinogen) may be present.  No MSDS found.

Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil:  Safe!  This ingredient is made by pressing macadamia nuts and is used for its moisturizing and emollient properties. If you are allergic to tree nuts or macadamia nuts, Beware!

Phalaenopsis Amabilis Extract:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally derived from the Phalaenopsis amabilis (Moth Orchid) plant and is used as a humectant.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone:  Beware!  This ingredient is a preservative that is a known skin irritant, sensitize and allergen, as well as lung and eye irritant. It has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is not known to be a carcinogen, though it is a skin sensitizer that can cause rashes and eczema in certain individuals. Limited to no greater than 0.0015% in rinse of products in EU and US (in conjuction with Methylisothiazolinone 3:1). No individual MSDS found.

Methylisothiazolinone:  Beware!  This preservative is a known skin irritant, sensitizer, and allergen; lung and eye irritant. Methylisothiazolinone has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis was named Contact Allergen of the Year in 2013. It is also believed to cause burns in pure form. This ingredient is also believed to be cytotoxic (toxic to living cells) and neurotoxic (toxic tot he nervous system) based on various studies, though information has been refuted due to the low exposure based on quantity in cosmetic formulas. It is not known to be carcinogenic. This ingredient is one of many that have been used to replace parabens. Methylisothiazolinone is also very toxic to aquatic organisms in pure form. Limited to no greater than 0.0015% in rinse of products in EU and US (in conjuction with Methylisothiazolinone 3:1). (MSDS)



Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict: The product is marketed using the following: “Enriched with exotic natural ingredients, thisrange of products delivers noticeable hair benefits.  Products contain No Parabens. No Dyes.”  The product does not contain parabens or dyes, but that doesn’t mean it is good.  It is naturally infused with “exotic” macadamia oil and white orchid though they are the 16th and 17th ingredients respectively–they did not say these ingredients were high on the list.  I question how truly moisturizing this shampoo really is.  It is sold under the name of “Natural Infusions” though not much is really natural about this product. Don’t be lured in by these ‘deceptive’ marketing without reading the labels and making sure they are what they claim.  This product has fragrance pretty high on the list, contains a drying sulfate, and a formaldehyde releaser.  For these reasons I would not purchase this product.



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