How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels IX

You think you’ve found a good product that will not only treat your dry skin, but meets Label Poise standards.  Great!  Your Label Poise has improved and you are curious to see try the “active naturals” this product contains.  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 eight 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

Dimethicone (@1.2%): Beware! Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer siloxanes derived from silica. They are used as a skin conditioning agent and it forms a protective barrier on the skin the prevents moisture from leaving or entering, which can be harmful to skin. It is pretty low in this lotion though it is the “active ingredient,” so it would be okay for use if you are not averse to dimethicone.

Water:  Safe!

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

Distearyldimonium Chloride:  Beware!  Also known as Dimethyldioctadecylammonium chloride or distearyl dimethyl ammonium chloride is a quartnary ammonium salt. This ingredient is synthetically derived and is a positively charged surfactant that is used as as an emollient, anti-static, and smoothing agent. This ingredient can be an irritant to mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract in pure form, though full toxicological information has not been thoroughly explored. While the exact concentration in this product is unknown, it is the 3rd ingredient on the list, so err on the side of caution. (MSDS)

Petrolatum: Beware!  This ingredient is also known as Petroleum Jelly is a hydrocarbon and is a distillate of crude (oil). It is used in skin lotions as an emollient and to prevent skin moisture loss. Similar to mineral oil, it prevents moisture from entering or leaving the barrier. There is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. Unless it is guaranteed 100% refined, petroleum may be with carcinogens. It can be a potential skin, eye, digestive, and lung irritant.  (MSDS)

Isopropyl Palmitate:  Beware!  This ingredient is used as a thickener, emollient, moisturizer, and antistatic agent. It is a synthetic ester of isopropyl alcohol and palmitic acid from coconuts, palm oil, or vegetable or animal fats. Isopropyl Palmitate is believed to clog pores (comedogenic) which causes the formation of acne and blackheads. This ingredient is not known as a skin or eye irritant, however, there is no available information on toxicity, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, or developmental toxicity.  (MSDS)

Cetyl Alcohol: Safe!  This is a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioners. It is typically derived naturally from coconut or palm oil.

Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour:  Safe!  This ingredient is powderized oat. It is collodial as is does not settle from the other ingredients and remains mixed. It is used for its moisturizing and skin soothing properties, as oats have been used for such purposes since at least 2000 BC. This ingredient also acts as an antioxidant and UV protectants. This ingredient is high in flavonoids, phenols, and beta-glucans (water holding properties). It is typically used in concentrations of 1-10% or 5-30% by weight of a cosmetic forumlation. Colloidal Oat Flour is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic. This ingredient may contain gluten or gluten residue, so avoid this ingredient if you have Celiac disease or choose to live gluten-free. (MSDS)

Benzyl Alcohol:  Beware!  This ingredient is made naturally by many plants or can be synthetically derived. It is typically used as a preservative and based on its placement on the list is in low concentration. Benzyl Alcohol is not known to be a carcinogen or teratogen, though it is a mutagen in bacteria and yeast, and may be toxic to the liver and central nervous system in pure form. Benzyl Alcohol can be slightly hazardous with skin contact, but due to its concentration it should be okay.  (MSDS)

Sodium Chloride: Beware!  This is common table salt. Sodium Chloride can be added to a lotion as a thickener or as a preservative. Salt can dry moisture away from the skin, however, given the likely concentration it should not be a concern.  (MSDS)

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product states: “[t]his naturally nourishing, non-greasy lotion absorbs quickly and contains no added fragrance. The unique oatmeal formula locks in moisture to help prevent and protect dry skin, leaving your skin soft, smooth and naturally healthy-looking.”  The Colloidal oat flour in this lotion is used to lock in moisture, and this formula does not contain any added fragrances, which is a first of the products featured in Label Poise.  This product also bolsters a short ingredient list, which may also be the shortest of all other products we have featured, which is commendable.  This product does contain petroleum as the fourth ingredient, depending on its quantity in the formula this product may very well be non-greasy.  Three of the first 5 ingredients are categorized as Beware!; petroleum is not a huge concern, though the other 2 ingredients should be of concern as one is comedogenic and the other has limited toxicological data.  One issue with this product is its labeling, which could lead consumers to think that all of its ingredients are natural when they are not, though the ‘active naturals’ is solely referring to the oat flour.  Considering that this product is for dry skin, it is designed to keep moisture in as dry skin looses moisture quickly.  This should be fine to use if you have dry skin, however, be mindful if you notice any unusual acne while using. If you do not have dry perhaps skin skip this product.


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