How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XV

This post is by request!  This product is an intensive moisturizing conditioner that can be found in drugstores and beauty supply stores.  If you would like to see a product featured in Label Poise feel free to ask in the comments or send an e-mail via the contact page!


Here are my tips 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
The Label


The Ingredients

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

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)

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)

Dicetyldimonium Chloride:  Beware!/Avoid!  This ingredient is a quarternary ammonium salt that is used as an emulsifier, surfactant, anti-static agent, and conditioning agent.  Dicetyldimonium Chloride is chemically known as Dihexadecyldimethylammonium chloride.  There is very limited information on this ingredient.  Though it is not believed to be a carcinogen it is a suspected human allergen.  No MSDS found for specific ingredient, however, MSDS found for similar ingredient (Centrimonium Chloride) shows it is a skin and eye irritant and may absorb through the skin. (MSDS)

Polyquarternium-37:  Beware!  Polyquaternium-37 is a polycationic polymer which consist of quarternary ammonium salts.  It is also known as Poly(2-methacryloxyethyltrimethylammonium chloride).  It is an anti-static agent and film former that is positively charged, which is believed to counteract the negative charges commonly found in shampoos.  This ingredient is a potential skin irritant and may be absorbed through the skin; it may also be an eye irritant in pure form.  There is no data on human or environmental toxicity, though it is not believed to be a carcinogen.  This ingredient may be fine to use if you chemically relax your hair or use harsh dyes, otherwise feel free to skip this ingredient.  (MSDS)

Lanolin Oil:  Safe!  Lanolin Oil is actually a wax made from the secretions of the sebaceous glands of animals with wool.  It is similar to petroleum in that is creates a barrier around the hair or skin that reduces water loss (or entrance) of the skin.  Though this ingredient is all natural, it is not a preferred ‘oil.’  It is a slight irritant and skin permeator in pure form, though it is not believed to be carcinogenic, teratogenic, mutagenic, or a developmental toxin.   Avoid! if you are vegan.  (MSDS)

PEG-12 Dimethicone: Beware!   This ingredient is 12 molecule polyethylene glycol combined with dimethicone, making it a silicone-based polymer.  It can also be described as an ethoxylated polymidethylsilocane.  It is used to improve spreadability and create a smooth feeling.  It is typically used in concentrations of 0.5-3%.  It can be a skin and eye irritant in pure form.  This ingredient, along with various other ethoxylated chemicals and PEGs, may be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane and Ethylene oxide, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  (MSDS)

Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate:  Beware!  This ingredient is a mixture of esters of propylene glycol and fatty acids caprylic acid and capric acid.  It is primarily used as a viscosity increaser (thickener) and occlusive (blocking) skin conditioning agent.  Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate is not considered comedogenic (skin clogging) and is not suspected to be a mutagen, skin irritant or sensitizer.  It is a suspected penetration enhancer and environmental toxin.  (Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate MSDS)

Behentrimonium Methosulfate:  Beware!  This ingredient is a surfactant, detangling agent, anti-static agent, and hair thickener.  It is commonly derived from colza or rapeseed oil.  This product is typically combined with Cetearyl alcohol, also in this product, as a 75%/25% mix with BTMS being the lower component.  No individual MSDS found.  I have used this ingredient in a product before and had no ill effects, but it is listed as beware being that there is very limited information on it.  (MSDS [Cetearyl Alcohol & Behentrimonium Methosulfate])

Polyquaternium-10:   Beware!  This ingredient is a polymeric quaternary ammonium salt of hydroyethyly-cellulose and is used as an anti-static agent and film former.  Polyquaternium-10 readily bonds to hair proteins and increases viscosity (thickness) of the conditioner.  It is typically used in concentrations between 0.2% – 2%.  At greater concentrations it can cause skin irritation.  No data available on carcinogenicity or mutagenicity.  It is not believed to be genotoxic.  I would not use this product unless you chemically relax or treat your hair.  (MSDS)

Amodimethicone:  Beware!/Avoid!  This ingredient is a derivative of silica and is used as an anti-static film forming agent.  Silicone polymers typically are not toxic though they are not the best ingredients for hair due to their film forming properties which prevent moisture from entering the hair shaft.  No toxicological data available. (MSDS)

Phenyl Trimethicone:  Beware!/Avoid! This ingredient is also a derivative of silica with a phenyl substitution. It is a silicone that is used as an anti-foaming and skin conditioning agent. Phenyl trimethicone is a suspected environmental toxin, though overall very limited information is available. No toxicological information available.  (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!

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)

Isostearyl Ethylimidazolinium Ethosulfate:  Avoid!  This ingredient is a quaternary ammonium salt and is used as an anti-static and hair conditioning agent.  This ingredient can be a skin irritant in pure form, no additional toxicological information available.  (MSDS)

PPG-1 Trideceth-6:  Avoid!  This ingredient is a synthetic polyoxypropylene and polyoxyethylene ether of tridecyl alcohol (fatty).  It is also known as Polyoxypropylen(1) Polyoxyethylen(1) Tridecylether.  It is an emollient and emulsion stabilizer. This ingredient may contain traces of Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-dioxane from the polyoxypropylene and polyoxyethylene, which is a suspected carcinogen.  The Cosmetic Ingredient Review considered PPG-1 Tricedeth to be not irritating and relatively safe when used in concentrations of 0.024%-0.3% of the formula.  Whether or not this produce falls into this range is unknown, however, if it does the remaining ingredients (including Argan oil) are very low in concentration.  Propylene glycol is also believed to be a penetration enhancer.  Very limited additional information on toxicity. No MSDS found.

Panthenol:  Safe!  This ingredient is a provitamin of B5.  Panthenol is an alcohol analog of Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).  It is used as an anti-static and conditioning agent.  It can be derived from plants or animals therefore it may not be vegan friendly. There is debate about what benefits panthenol can actually provide to hair as a vitamin being that hair is not living.  Panthenol is a mild skin and eye irritant in pure form, though there is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity.  It is low on the list of ingredients and should not be a concern.  (MSDS; MSDS)

Propylene Glycol:  Beware!/Avoid!  Propylene Glycol aka PPG is used as a penetration enhancer, humectant, and stabilizes the product despite temperature changes.  This ingredient is not believed to be carcinogenic or a developmental toxin, though it may be contaminated with impurities such as Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-dioxane which are carcinogens.  It is a suspected mutagen and teratogen.  It is believed to be a skin irritant.  In pure form it can be toxic to the central nervous system and may cause target organ damage (lungs and kidneys) with prolonged or repeated exposure.  This ingredient is low on this list and should only be a low-moderate concern.  (MSDS)

Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil:  Safe!  This oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree found in Morocco. It is high in oleic and linoleic fatty acids and is renowned for its hair repairing and moisturizing properties. (MSDS)

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally derived and contains wheat oligosaccharides (carbohydrates) and acts as a moisturizer and film former to nourish skin (or hair). It is not known to be a carcinogen or mutagen, though it can cause eye and dermal irritation in pure form.  Avoid! if you have a gluten allergy. (MSDS)

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil:  Safe! Olive oil is used for its skin conditioning and anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in vitamins E and A, as well as antioxidants.  (MSDS)

Mel (Honey) (Miel):  Safe!  Honey is a humectant that draws moisture into the hair, which helps to maintain elasticity, shine, and overall health of hair.

Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein:  Avoid! This ingredient is used as an anti-static and hair conditioning agent. Very limited information. No MSDS found.

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

Parfum (Fragrance):  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.

Phenoxyethanol:  Beware!/Avoid!  This is a preservative.  You will notice it is very high on the list of ingredients.    It is used because it is safer than formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, though the FDA released a warning about how it can impact the central nervous system and induce vomiting in infants.  It is also suspected to be a xenoestrogen (mimics estrogen), a cause of contact dermatitis and skin irritant.  In pure form phenoxyethanol is toxic to kidneys, the nervous system, and liver; it is an extremely hazardous eye irritant and a very hazardous eye irritant, though information on carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, and developmental toxicity are not available.  It is banned in the EU and Japan in concentrations over 1%.  Therefore, one would assume it is either greater than the EU concentration restraint or it is in accordance, and the remaining ingredients in this product are at very low concentrations.  This ingredient is made from 2 carcinogens (benzene and ethylene oxide), though it itself is not known to be carcinogenic.  People around small children should ‘Avoid!‘ this ingredient, others should ‘Beware!‘.  (MSDS)

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 first 4 ingredients in this product are pretty good, then it all goes downhill from there.  This product is marketed with Argan Oil, though it is the 20th ingredient on the list–20th!  Argan oil along with olive oil, honey, and several of the other beneficial ingredients in this product are so low in concentration they likely do not make much of a difference.  Most of the ingredients in this product are labeled as Beware! or Avoid!, mainly due to lack of information.  Many of the ingredients in this product can be useful to those with relaxed or chemically treated hair.  I would not purchase this product or suggest it to anyone who is does not have chemically relaxed or treated hair.


Would you purchase this product?

Thank you for reading!


2 thoughts on “How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XV”

    1. Well if you really really like it you could keep using it so you don’t waste your money, considering making it with some oils to improve it. But otherwise I’d stop using it, especially for locs. Glad to share some hair knowledge! 🙂

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