How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XVI

Babies and young children are often most vulnerable to potentially dangerous chemicals in cosmetics. Are the products you use on your baby safe?   This baby shampoo is made by a company that is known for environmentally products, so you trust the product based on brand recognition.  Though many people base their shopping on brand recognition and reputation, this is not always a good idea.  Did you make the right choice by purchasing this product?  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

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

Decyl Glucoside:  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from the reaction of glucose from corn starch (GMO?)  with decanol (fatty alcohol) of coconuts.  Decyl Glucoside is a non-ionic surfactant that can be used as a foaming agent, emulsifier, or conditioner.  It is biodegradable and is not known to be toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic (MSDS).

Sodium Coco Sulfate:  Avoid!/Beware! This ingredient is derived from various isolated fatty acids in coconut oil. This product is similar to/contains sodium lauryl sulfate, but contains other fatty acids such as capric, caprylic, oleic, and stearyl. Each fatty acid is reacted with sulfuric acid, then sodium carbonate, which produced sodium [fatty acid] sulfate. The term ‘coco’ is used to avoid using the individual name of each fatty acid that is derived from coconut oil. Though sodium coco sulfate contains sodium lauryl sulfate it is not believed to be as harsh, though it has similar concerns to sodium lauryl sulfate. This ingredient is a surfactant and is typically used in concentrations of 1-15% of the formula. There is no toxicological information on this ingredient, though it has the same concerns about skin and eye irritation as sodium lauryl sulfate. Given that babies have more sensitive skin than adults and there is no toxicity information on this ingredient, it is best to Avoid! for babies, and Beware! for adults. (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)

Olive Leaf Extract:  Beware!  Olive Leaf extract is used for its skin conditioning, antioxidant, anti-inflamatory, and antimicrobial properties.  It is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or cause developmental toxicity.  This ingredient can be a skin, eye, lung, and digestive irritant in pure form (MSDS)

Aloe Vera Powder:  Safe!  This is the inner leaf of the aloe vera plant that has been processed into a powder form. Aloe gel from the inner leave is pasteurized and concentrated using low temperature evaporation. The product is then freeze dried to preserve freshness and alleviated the need for a preservative. Aloe vera powder is non-toxic, is not a carcinogen, and is not known to be a skin or eye irritant. Information on mutagenicity is not available. (MSDS; MSDS)

Magnesium Chloride: Safe!  Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2) is a natural inorganic salt that can be extracted from brine or sea water. It can be produced using various chemical reactions. It is used to increase viscosity of the water (aqueous) portion of a cosmetic formulation. Magnesium Chloride is generally considered safe by the FDA. In pure form it can be a skin irritant and targets the kidneys. It is typically used in low concentrations and should be of minimal concern. It is not known to be a carcinogen. (MSDS; MSDS)

Citric Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally occurring in citrus fruits, but is typically produced by feeding sucrose or glucose to mold and additional chemical treatment.  It is used in cosmetics as a pH adjuster.  It is generally considered safe, though it is a skin and eye irritant in pure form. (MSDS)

Essential Oils and Botanical Extracts:

      • Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil: Safe!  Orange Peel Oil is used as a skin conditioning agent and fragrant.
      • Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil:  Safe!/ Beware!   Grapefruit Peel Oil is used as a skin conditioning agent and fragrant.  This ingredient has use restrictions in the EU, but should be fine for use in this product. (MSDS)
      • Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil:  Beware! Mandarin Orange Peel Oil is used as a skin conditioning agent and fragrant. This product should be avoided while pregnant, and likely is not safe for babies. Concentrations in this product are very low and are rinsed off, so exercise caution. (MSDS)

Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate:

      • Sodium Benzoate:  Safe!  This ingredient is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, which is likely synthetically derived though it is naturally occurring in some berry species.  It is widely used as a preservative in food, wine, and personal care products.  It is known to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant in pure form, though it is not generally considered to be a carcinogen, mutagen, or teratogen in humans, however, additional research suggests that is is mutagenic and genotoxic in human blood cells (in vitro).  It is typically not used in concentrations above 0.2%, so it should be fine in this product.  (MSDS)
      • Potassium Sorbate:  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient is the sodium salt of benzoic acid, and is commonly used as a preservative in food and cosmetics.  This ingredient is typically synthetically derived.  The FDA mandates that this ingredient is not to exceed 0.1% of the formula by weight.  When combined with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), sodium benzoate can react to form benzene, a known carcinogen–this product contains a form of Vitamin C.  These claims have been substantiated by the FDA, though the benzene levels are considered less than World Health Organization limits to be considered dangerous.  Sodium benzoate is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or neurotoxic, though it can be teratogenic in embryos and fetuses.  This ingredient may cause skin and eye irritation in pure form.  (MSDS)

Tetrasodium Iminodisccinate:  Avoid!  This ingredient is a chealator that binds to mineral deposits and soap scum to prevent them from depositing on skin and allows them to be rinsed away. No MSDS found.



Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict: This product looked promising at first glance.  The only ingredients that were questionable were Magnesium Chloride and Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate.  In actuality, Sodium Coco Sulfate was an unsuspecting concern.  This product is far better than the commonly found baby products, though it still has questionable ingredients. Sodium Coco Sulfate is a key example of deceptive marketing.  The word ‘coco’ leads many consumers to believe that the ingredient is naturally (coconut) derived and therefore safe.  Sodium Coco Sulfate and Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate are both rated Avoid! because of lack of information, though they may not be hazardous.  Essential Oils can also be of minor concern, though they should be okay for use in this product given it is to be rinsed off, and is likely in low concentrations.  Err on the side of caution and skip this product unless your only other options are ‘conventional’ baby products.


Would you purchase this product?  Tell us in the comments!

Thank you for reading!


4 thoughts on “How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XVI”

  1. Thank you for this list. It’s very helpful. I was at an Indian grocery store today and I checked out some hair oil products that were from India. You’d think they’d be all natural, but not really. It was kind of confusing because several of them contained ingredients that didn’t look natural. I’ll take this list with me the next time I go, 🙂

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