How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XI

Who doesn’t like a nice body oil after bathing to moisturize the skin?  You are in the store and stumble upon a nice after bath oil.  Your skin has been a little dry lately and this would be a nice remedy.  Distracted by other things you temporarily forget your Label Poise and buy the product.  Once you settle down you remember to check the ingredients.  Did you make a selection that meets your Label Poise?  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 ten posts on how to read cosmetic 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

Isopropyl Myristate:  Beware!  This ingredient is an ester of isopropyl alcohol and myristic acid, which is a saturated fatty acid that can be sourced from plant or animal sources. Isopropyl Myristate is used as a thickener, emollient, and penetration enhancer. It has a sheer feel that decreases the oily feeling of using a natural oil. There is mixed information suggesting it is comedogenic, and should be avoided by those with acne prone or oily skin. It can be an eye irritant, and slight skin and lung irritant in pure form. A patch test found 3 of 244 tested people developed contact dermatitis from this ingredient. It is not known to be toxic, and is not believed to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or developmentally toxic (data “not available”).  (MSDS)

Sesame (Sesamum Indicum) Seed Oil:  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from sesame seeds and is used for its moisturizing properties. It contain large amounts of vitamins A and E.   Avoid! if you are allergic to sesame seeds.

PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate:  Beware!  This ingredient is an ester of polyethylene glycol and sorbitol fatty acids and is used as an emulsifying agent and surfactant. PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate is considered safe up to concentrations of 25%, though it may be contaminated with carcinogen 1,4-dioxane from the ethoxylation process. It is lowly toxic and is not believed to be a carcinogen.  No MSDS found.

Propylparaben:  Beware!  Propylparaben is used as an anti-fungal preservative, typically in concentrations less than 1%. It is commonly synthetically produced though it is produced naturally in fruits as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  It is readily absorbed into the skin and metabolized, and has been found in urine in limited tests.  This ingredient is readily absorbed into skin and it along with other parabens have been at the center of controversy about its role in causing cancerous cells in breast tissue being that parabens are xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.

BHT:  Avoid!  Also known as butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT is a lipophilic (likely to bind to fat) organic compound derived from phenol (-OH group attached to a benzene ring). It is typically used as an antioxidant to prevent foods or cosmetics with oils from spoiling. Various studies have deemed it carcinogenic whereas some claim it may have cancer fighting properties.  It is a skin, eye, and lung irritant in pure form. It is not listed as a carcinogen in humans by the IAR and ACGIH, can be mutagenic for mammalian somatic (reproductive) cells, may be toxic to the blood, liver, and central nervous system, and can damage target organs over prolonged exposure.  Despite being in a low (<10%) concentration in this product I would not recommend its use. (MSDS)

Fragrance:  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though they are low in concentration in this body oil, there is still a small chance of having an allergic reaction as its specific components are not disclosed.


Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  I would not purchase this product.  As a general rule, when you are looking to buy any type of “oil” and oil is not the first ingredient, do not buy it.  Chances are you can buy the oil yourself for cheaper than what they are selling without any penetration enhancers, parabens, polyethylene glycol derivatives, fragrance, or BHT.  The way this product is formulated is likely to help the sesame oil absorb into the skin and decrease the oily, ‘greasy’ feel of oil.  Looking at the label my curiosity was to peaked to learn what exactly ‘BHT’ was, chances are it was made into an acronym for a reason.  Of course BHT is the abbreviation for butylated hydroxytoluene, whose carcinogenicity has been debated for decades, but is known to be toxic.  Why not just skip the added ingredients and apply a natural oil to your skin?


Would you buy this product?


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