How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XII

Two weeks ago I told you about my Label Poise experiment, where I was on the hunt for a lotion that met my standards.  Out of about 50 products, I found 1 lotion that was somewhat suitable.  Many of the lotions I expected to have better ingredients, based on brand recognition and marketing, did not.  I was almost surprised.  This one of the lotions I expected to have good, if not great, ingredients.

The Label


The Ingredients

Water (Eau):  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in any moisturizing product.

Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil: Safe!/Beware!  Soybean oil is used as an emollient and emulsifier.  Produced from soy beans, this oil may be genetically modified, contaminated with pesticides, and thus contain a lower linolenic acid content.  A source of origin would clarify this. Other than GMO and pesticide contamination, soybean oil is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic.

Cocoglycerides:  Beware!   This ingredient is used as an emulsifier, emollient and thickener.  It is made of mono-, di-, and tri- glycerides derived from coconut.  Cocoglycerides are deemed safe for use by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review at presently used concentrations (0.4 – 14% for all products reviewed during 2006-2008), however, it does not have a MSDS.  This ingredient may very well be Safe!, however, that determination cannot be confidently made until there is toxicology information released for cocoglycerides.

Glyceryl Stearate:  Safe!  Also known as Glyceryl Monostearate, this ingredient is typically derived from vegetable sources such as palm kernel and soy oil, and is the glycerol ester of stearic acid.  It is used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, lubricant, and decreases the ‘greasiness’ of oils.  It is believed to form a barrier on the skin to decrease moisture loss.  In pure form is is a slight skin irritant.  The is no data available on human toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, and teratogenicity. This ingredient is considered “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA.  (MSDSMSDS )

Dimethicone: Beware!  Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer siloxane derived from silica.   They are used as a skin conditioning agent and form a protective barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from leaving or entering, which can be harmful to skin.  Dimethicone is the 5th ingredient in this product indicating its (quantity) in the formula.   (MSDS)

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the skin. Glycerine can be derived from fats and oils, or synthetically–which is not indicated here.  (MSDS)

Cetearyl Alcohol:  Safe!  Typically naturally derived from Coconut and Palm Oils (though it can be derived synthetically), it is a mixture of Cetyl and Stearyl fatty alcohols.  This ingredient acts as a thickener and moisturizer in personal care products.  In pure form,  this ingredient can be a slight skin irritant and permeator, and is toxic to mucous membranes.  The is no data available on human toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, and teratogenicity.  (MSDS)

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate:   Safe!  This ingredient is an ester of plant derived lactic acid and a fatty acid (stearic acid) that has been neutralized by sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate.  Though it is commonly used in food products, it serves as an emollient, emulsifier, and conditioner in personal care products.  It is typically used in concentrations of 0.5-10% by weight of the formula it is in.  This product is available EcoCert (international organic certification), though this product does not indicate that this ingredient is organic.  In pure form, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is a slight skin irritant and is not believed to be toxic.  The is no data available on human toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, and teratogenicity.  There is some small incidence of allergies (contact dermatitis) to this ingredient.  (MSDS)

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil:  Safe!  Sunflower Oil is comprised of triglycerides (esters of glycerol and fatty acids) and has high Vitamin E content.  It primarily acts as an emollient and assists the skin in retaining moisture.

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter):  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from the nut of the Shea Tree and is used for its moisturizing properties.  (MSDS)

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!

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice:  Safe!  This ingredient is used for its nutrient content and moisturizing properties.  (MSDS)

Avena Sativa (Oat) Meal Extract:  Safe!  Oat Meal Extract is used for its anti-fungal, anti-inflammation, and believed beneficial properties for the skin.  It is typically used in concentrations of 1-10% by weight of the formulation.  It is not believed to be toxic.  (MSDS)

Cucumus Sativus (Cucumber) Root Extract:  Avoid!  Little information is available about Cucumber Root, there is plentiful information about Cucumber Fruit Extract.  The CIR does not have Cucumber Root listed with 7 other cucumber derived ingredients, therefore as a precaution this will be labeled Avoid! due to lack of information.  Please note that it may not be toxic in any manner, but there is no information to support that claim.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate:  Safe!  Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is an oil-soluble Vitamin C ester.  It has a high lipid (fat) content and is believed to bind to skin better than Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid).  It is believed to improve collagen production, have high antioxidant activity, and clarify and brighten skin by preventing pigment formation. It is typically used in formula in concentrations of 0.5-2% by weight, but can be used up to 10%.  Avoid!  if you are weary of the ‘brightening’ and prevention of pigment formation caused by this product.  (MSDS; MSDS)

Tocopheryl Acetate:  Safe!/Beware!  Tocpheryl Acetate is has antioxidant properties and can penetrate skin cells. It is generally regarded as safe however I saw some information (not on a MSDS) linking it to cancer so use your best discretion. (MSDS)

Retinyl Palmitate:  Beware!  Retinyl Palmitate is an ester of Retinol (Vitamin A) and palmitic acid (fatty acids of palm oil).  It is readily absorbed into the skin where it is converted to Retinol.  It is believed to add in collagen production, though it is concerned less effective in quantities lower than 20%, which is likely the concentration (<20%) in this product.  This ingredient is suspected to photomutagenic and forms free radicals.  It is also a suspected carcinogen and developmental toxin.  It may be toxic to the liver, central nervous system, skin, and gastrointestinal tract in pure form.  (MSDS)

Fragrance (Parfum):  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though they are low in concentration in the product, here is still 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.  (MSDS)

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.

Methylisotiazolinone:  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)

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.  (MSDS)

Sodium Hydroxide:  Beware!  Also known as caustic soda or lye, this ingredient is likely used to aid surfactants or increase pH. In pure form it can be dangerous, toxic to eyes, lungs, and skin, though it is typically used in low concentrations in personal care products. (MSDS)

Ingredients in this product has slightly changed!  New ingredients are in bold, removed ingredient is struck-through (via company website):

Water (Eau), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Cocoglycerides, Glyceryl Stearate, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Avena Sativa (Oat) Meal Extract, Cucumus Sativus (Cucumber) Root Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Fragrance (Parfum), Carbomer, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisotiazolinone, DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, BHT.

Though they are at the end of the list.  Tetrasodium EDTA and BHT are not ingredients you would want to use!


Nature’s Pulchritude Verdict:  I would not purchase this lotion.  It may be an effective moisturizer but it does not meet my Label Poise.  The 3 of the first 5 ingredients are okay, with Cocoglycerides and Dimethicone being ingredients you should be cautious of (Beware!).  I am not big on soybean oil and not knowing the source of origin of the soybeans (GMO or organic) does not make me willing to compromise.  The biggest concerns within this product are Cucumber Root Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, and Methylisotiazolinone.  This product is listed at 97% natural and paraben free, despite the fact that ‘natural’ is an arbitrary term and the replacement for parabens can be a skin allergen and carcinogenic (formaldehyde releaser).  Though Cucumber Root Extract sounds innocuous and safe, that does not mean that it is.  The fact that the product has been reformulated to remove the Cucumber Root Extract solidifies my stance on categorizing ingredients with no available information as ‘Avoid! ‘ as a precaution.  The added ingredients are preservatives.


Would you buy this lotion?


6 thoughts on “How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XII”

    1. Absolutely! I make a lot of my own products, but people who don’t want to go through the trouble should be able to go buy a quality product without bad chemicals! Thank you for reading and commenting!

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