How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXVII

Conditioner is a key step in every hair routine.  You are looking to try another all natural conditioner, that meets all of your hair needs.  Is this product right for you?  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.  Forinstructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.

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)

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)

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)

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)

Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Extract: Beware! Grapefruit Extract is derived from the seed, pulp, and white membranes of the grapefruit. It is commonly used in cosmetics as a preservative as it is touted as having antimicrobial properties. Grapefruit extract is controversial because chemical tests revealed that the ingredient had synthetic components. It is a skin, lung, and eye irritant in pure form. (MSDS ; MSDS)

Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil*: Safe!  Carrot seed oil is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent. It is high in omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and nutrients such as Beta Carotene, vitamin A and Stigmasterol. It is not known to be toxic, an irritant, or sensitizer. (MSDS ; MSDS)

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

Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract: Safe!  Pomegranate is believed to have antibacterial properties and contain antioxidants, vitamin C, as well as offer benefits against various diseases. It is not known to be toxic, though it can be an eye and skin irritant (allergic dermatitis) in pure form. (MSDS; MSDS)

Sea Water: Safe! This is water presumably from the ocean or sea, however, synthetic sea water is commercially available. It is typically saltly (high salinity) and contains various minerals.

Sea Silt Extract: Safe! Also known as Maris Limus extract, is is the extract of sea minerals. It is said to contain sulfur, purifying clay, oxygen, and trace elements. No MSDS found.

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)

Tocopheryl Acetate:  Safe!/Beware!  Tocpheryl Acetate is has antioxidant properties and can penetrate skin cells. It is generally regarded as safe however I saw some information (not on a MSDS) linking it to cancer so use your best discretion. (MSDS)

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)

Sodium Hydroxide: Beware!  Also known as caustic soda or lye, this ingredient is likely used to aid surfactants or increase pH. In pure form it can be dangerous, toxic to eyes, lungs, and skin, though it is typically used in low concentrations in personal care products. (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.

Geraniol: Beware! Geraniol is a phytochemical, a monoterpenoid and alcohol, that is a component of many natural fragrance oils, such as rose oil, citronella oil, and palmarosa oil. It is used as a fragrant. It can be a skin and eye irritant in pure form. (MSDS)

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict: This product has a short ingredient list and contains a majority of safe ingredients. The biggest concerns in the product are the preservatives grapefruit extract and phenoxyethanol, which are not high on the concern list. This conditioner just may be worth a try!


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