How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXIV

Microbeads have been in the news recently due to their toxicity to aquatic life and have been proposed to be banned in New York and various other states. You are looking for a facial scrub that is not only all natural but that is not toxic to aquatic life. This product totes all natural scrubbing beads and naturally derived ingredients, but does it meet your Label Poise?  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.  For instructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.

The Label


The Ingredients

Water:  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key base in many products.

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)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic surfactant derived from coconut oil and dimethylamonipropylamine.    This ingredient can be a skin allergen and irritant and was voted Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. It is also an eye and lung irritant, though it is not known to be carcinogenic or mutagenic.  (MSDS)

Hydrogenated Castor Oil:  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient has been hydrogenated by chemically combining Hydrogen atoms with castor oil in the presence of a nickel catalyst. Also known as castor wax, this ingredient is not known to be toxic to humans, though it may be a skin irritant (causing or aggravating dermatitis) in pure form. Hydrogenated castor oil is very toxic to aquatic animals in pure form. (MSDS; MSDS)

Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine:  Beware!  This ingredient is a mild amphoteric (reacts as a base and an acid) synthetic surfactant, and the bottle indicates this product is derived from coconut/palm. This ingredient is not believed to be an eye or skin irritant, though an additional study found it to be a skin allergen in a patch test. It is not believed to be a carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen, or reproductive toxin, though there is limited information available. (MSDS)

Xantham Gum:  Safe!  This ingredient is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate consisting of sugar molecules) secreted by Xanthomonas campestris (a bacterium). It is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or cause developmental toxicity, though it can be an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form. There is a risk of long term biodegraded products being more toxic than pure Xanthan Gum. (MSDS)

Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract:  Beware!  This ingredient is an extract of white willow bark. It can be used as an astringent, tonic, skin conditioner and soothing agent. Willow Bark Extract is an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form, though it is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to aquatic species. (MSDS;MSDS)

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride:  Safe!  Also known as cationic guar gum, this ingredient is a quarternary ammonium (positively charged polyatomic ions) derivative of guar gum (a natural substance). It is added to shampoos for its conditioning and anti-static properties. In pure form, the dusts of this ingredient may be an irritant, however, it is not toxic to the skin and is not known to be carcinogenic. Information on mutagenicity is not available. (MSDS; MSDS)

Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil:  Safe!/Beware!  The product of hydrogenation, chemically combined with hydrogen atoms, of jojoba oil, this ingredient is a high melting point wax that is used as the exfoliating agent in this product, or jojoba beads. This ingredient can also sure as a skin conditioning agent. Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil is not known to be toxic to humans. (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)

Sodium Benzoate:  Beware!  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)

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.


Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product does make a much appreciated effort in educating its consumers as to where its ingredients are derived from.   This product contains an extract that is purportedly good for acne treatment and may be a good more ‘natural’ alternative to other commercially available products.  Or if you want to go all natural you can use an all natural  cleanser and follow with a mixture of sugar and oil to exfoliate.


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