How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXII

It is summer time and you want hydrated, nourished hair that will stand up to humidity.  You see a hydrating conditioner that touts ‘healthy botanicals’ and your Label Poise immediately said “Check the ingredients!”  You passed on this conditioner, but did you make the right choice?  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:  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)

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, I don’t recall using this ingredient in a product so err on the side of caution.) (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)

Amodimethicone:  Beware! 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)

Tricedeth-12:  Beware!/Avoid! This ingredient is an ether of polyethylene glycol and tridecyl alcohol, a long chain fatty alcohol, with 12 units of ethylene oxide, a suspected carcinogen. Tricedeth-12 is primarily used as a surfactant that reduces the buildup of silicones (a silicone is the 5th ingredient). This ingredient has a low molecular weight and show not be used an broken or irritated skin or scalp as it has the ability to absorb through the skin. 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen, is often a byproduct of the reaction used to make this ingredient (ethyloxylation), and therefore may be present in low levels. This ingredient is deemed safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review when formulated to be nonirritating and in current use concentrations, however, there is limited information about this ingredient and no MSDS available, therefore it is rated AVOID as a precaution.

Cetrimonium Chloride: Beware!  Cetrimonium Chloride is a positively charged quaternary ammonium salt. It is used as a conditioning agent and softener, it also improves wet and dry combing of hair. It is also listed as a topical antiseptic and preservative. It is listed as a skin irritant and allergen in a small portion of individuals; it is not a carcinogen (MSDS;MSDS).

Cetyl Esters:  Beware!  This ingredient is derived from vegetable sources, such as coconuts, and is typically used as a thickener in cosmetics.  It is comprised of various fatty alcohols and fatty acids.  It is typically 1 to 3% of the weight of the formula.  There is no data regarding toxicity, carcinogenicity, or mutagenicity.  (MSDS)

Solanum Tuberosum (Potato) Starch:  Safe!  Strach is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate sugar molecules) obtained from the potato. This ingredient is used as an absorbent and viscosity controlling agent. (MSDS)

Fragrance:  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though they are low in concentration in the product, there is still a small chance of having an allergic reaction.

Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil:  Safe! This oil contains Vitamin E and contains antioxidants.

Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil:  Safe! Grapeseed oil is high in linoleic acid and is high in beneficial antioxidants.

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, which is ironic considering how this product is marketed. This ingredient typically is not toxic.

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)

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, though they appear in conjunction with 2 parabens in this formulation.  Methylisothiazolinone is also very toxic to aquatic organisms in pure form. (MSDS)

Phenethyl Alcohol:  Safe!  This ingredient is an aromatic alcohol, that is commonly found in a variety of flower essential oils, and can be fragrant. Phenetyhl alcohol is known to slow bacterial growth and is used in this product as a preservative. It can be an irritant to the skin in pure form, though it has not been shown to be a sensitizer. It can also be toxic to lungs, the nervous system, and mucous membranes in pure form, though concentrations in this product are likely too low to cause such a reaction. (MSDS)

PPG-2 Methyl Ether:  Beware!  This ingredient is a polypropylene glycol ether of methyl alcohol. It is used as a fragrance ingredient and solvent. This ingredient is used in concentrations of 0.4% – 2% and is considered safe for use in cosmetics in these concentrations. PPG-2 Methyl Ether may be slowly absorbed through the skin because it is highly water soluble. No MSDS found.


Would you buy this product?

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  The first four ingredients of the product are fairly good.  I’m not fond of silicones so I would not purchase this product.  The brand name of this product hints at natural ingredients (“botanical blends”) however, the Avocado and Grapeseed Oils are 11th and 12th on the list respectively.  This product may very well work great, but it does not meet my Label Poise.


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

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