How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XIII

Conditioner is a staple in most hair care routines.  You are on the market for a new conditioner and see an oil you’ve never seen before–Kukui Oil.  The ingredients look good. The conditioner contains silicones, which meet your Label Poise, though you see some preservatives you do not like at the end of the label.  You are curious about the Kukui Oil and purchase it!  Your Label Poise is increasing and you’ve made an educated decision when purchasing a beauty product and you feel empowered!  How well did you fare?  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.

The Label


The Ingredients

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

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)

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.  (MSDS)

Behentrimonium Chloride: Beware!  Also known as Docosyltrimethylammonium chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride Is a “quaternary ammonium compound” made from corn (likely GMO) or canola oil.  It is used as an antistatic, detangling aid, conditioning agent, and disinfectant.  This product is toxic to aquatic animals, however, the concentrations in the product are likely less than 3% and should not be harmful.  This product can cause skin irritation upon prolonged or repeated exposure (via MSDS), though concentrations and exposure length is not likely enough to be harmful.  In pure form Behentrimonium Chloride is also an eye irritant that can cause severe and permanent damage with prolonged exposure.  In the U.S. it is used in concentrations of 0.2 – 7% by weight of the formula, depending on the product. It is banned by the European Union in concentrations over 0.1% in “ready to use” products.  There is no data available regarding mutagenicity and carcinogenicity.  (Author’s Note: Avoid if you are averse to GMOs.)  (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)

Ceteareth-20:  Beware!  A derivative of Cetearyl Alcohol (Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohol) and Ethylene Oxide (a known carcinogen), this ingredient is used as an emulsifier and emollient.  Ceteareth-20 is a penetration enhancer that can allow other (potentially) hazardous substances to enter your system.  This ingredient may also be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen, as well as Ethylene Oxide.  Carcinogen contamination depends largely on how well purified the chemical is.  Products with this ingredient should not be applied to damaged skin as it may result in kidney damage.  In pure form it can be a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, however there is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity.  (MSDS; MSDS)

Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui) Seed Oil:  Safe!  This oil is pressed from the seed of the Kukui, also known as candlenut, tree.  It is commonly used in southeast Asian and Polynesian countries, where it is commonly found.  Kukui oil is believed to be rich in Vitamins A and E, and Omegas 3, 6, and 9. Beware if you have nut allergies.

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)

Cyclopentasiloxane:  Beware!  Cyclopentasiloxane, also known as cyclomethicone, is a silicone that is used as a conditioning agent, solvent, emollient, lubricant, and delivery agent.  Like other silicones it forms a protective barrier over the skin or hair that prevents moisture from entering or leaving the barrier.  It gives a wet and silky feeling when it is in used in hair conditioners, though it does not truly condition the hair.  It is a mild skin irritant, though it is not expected to be a skin irritant and is unlikely to pass through the skin into the body.  It is not known to be toxic, there is no data on mutagenicity or carcinogenicity.  (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 and is larger than silicones like dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane.  When paired with lighter silicones, such as in this product, dimethiconol has an greater likelihood of being effective.  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)

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)

Glycol Stearate:  Beware!  Also known as glycol monostearate, glycol stearate is an ester of stearic acid and ethylene glycol, a known human toxin.  It is primarily used as a opacifier (opaque, non transparent) and pearling agent and acts as an emulfisfier.  In 2001, Glycol Stearol was used in hair conditioners in concentrations of 0.0001-3%.  It is presently suggested for use in concentrations between 2-10% by weight of the formula, depending on the purpose in the product.  Given it is an ester of ethylene glycol it may be contaminated with carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.  It is not known to be a skin irritant up to 50%, based on patch tests, though it may be a mild eye irritant in pure form.  It is not listed as a carcinogen, there is no data on mutagenicity. (MSDS;  MSDS)

Isopropyl Alcohol:  Beware!  This is a drying alcohol (unlike fatty alcohols).  Isopropyl Alcohol is a solvent, and if the name sounds familiar it is because it is commonly sold as rubbing alcohol.  I am not sure what purpose this ingredient serves in this product, supposedly to assist in spreading the product.  Isopropyl Alcohol in hair products is supposedly very drying, though this is not definitively true.  This ingredient typically is not toxic, therefore I will not solidly classify this as ‘Avoid!

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)

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)

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.

Yellow 5 (CI 19140):  Beware!  This is a synthetic yellow dye (food coloring) also known as Tartrazine and FD&C Yellow 5.  Tartrazine is a known allergen and has various impacts on the immune system from dermal contact or ingestion.  It can be an eye irritant.  There is no data on mutagenicity, teratogenicity, developmental toxicity, or carcinogenicity.  It is not known to be toxic. (MSDS)

Yellow 6 (CI 15985):  Beware!  This is a synthetic yellow dye (food coloring) also known as FD&C Yellow 6 or Sunset Yellow FCF.  This dye in manufactured from the aromatic hydrocarbons of petroleum.  It is not known to be toxic and there are low instances of allergic reaction (aspirin intolerant should avoid this ingredient).  There is no data on mutagenicity, teratogenicity, developmental toxicity, or carcinogenicity.  (MSDS)


Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  The first 5 ingredients of this product are not bad in the slightest.  I have a conditioner that has Behentrimonium Chloride within the first 5 ingredients and no ill effects have been noticed.  The problems with this conditioner begin after the Kukui oil.  This product is filled with many ingredients that do not meet my Label Poise, specifically silicones (3 types), DMDM Hydantoin, and the isothiazolinone preservatives.  This conditioner may leave the hair feeling conditioned because of the silicones, but how effective it really is at nourishing the hair is debatable.  I would not purchase this product.


Would you buy this product?



One thought on “How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XIII”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s