How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXXIII

Shea Butter and Oatmeal sound great for the skin, but will this product meet your standards?  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 (Aqua):  Safe!   Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in many moisturizing products.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate:  Beware!  Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a surfactant and foaming agent commonly found in shampoos and body washes. It is a known skin and eye irritant. SLES can also be containated with possible carcinogen 1,4-dioxane and known carcinogen ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide can be toxic to the central nervous system; 1,4-dioxane does not easily degrade in the environment (persistent. This ingredient can be extremely drying to the hair, though it is considered less harsh than sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). (MSDS, MSDS)

Sodium Chloride:  Beware!  This is common table salt. Sodium Chloride can be added to a lotion as a thickener or as a preservative. Salt can dry moisture away from the skin, however, given the likely concentration it should not be a concern.  (MSDS)

Cocamide MEA: Beware! Also known as cocamide monoethanolamine, this ingredient is a mixture of fatty acid amides which are produced by reacting the fatty acids in coconut oil with ethanolamine. Cocamide MEA is used as a foaming agent, nonionic surfactant, and emulsifying agent. There are some contamination concerns with this ingredient, but it is not known to be a carcinogen. It is a skin and eye irritant in pure form with prolonged contact. ( 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)

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter:  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from the nut of the Shea Tree and is used for its moisturizing properties.  (MSDS)

Avena Sativa (Oat) Meal Extract:  Safe!  Oat Meal Extract is used for its anti-fungal, anti-inflammation, and believed beneficial properties for the skin.  It is typically used in concentrations of 1-10% by weight of the formulation.  It is not believed to be toxic.  (MSDS)

Fragrance (Parfum):  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.

Glycol Stearate:  Beware!   Also known as glycol monostearate, glycol stearate is an ester of stearic acid and ethylene glycol, a known human toxin.  It is primarily used as a opacifier (opaque, non transparent) and pearling agent and acts as an emulfisfier.  In 2001, Glycol Stearol was used in hair conditioners in concentrations of 0.0001-3%.  It is presently suggested for use in concentrations between 2-10% by weight of the formula, depending on the purpose in the product.  Given it is an ester of ethylene glycol it may be contaminated with carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.  It is not known to be a skin irritant up to 50%, based on patch tests, though it may be a mild eye irritant in pure form.  It is not listed as a carcinogen, there is no data on mutagenicity. (MSDS;  MSDS)

Tetrasodium EDTA:  Beware!/Avoid!  EDTA is an abbreviation for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid.  This ingredient is used as a chelating agent to sequester metal ions and causes them to lose the ability of reacting with other ingredients.  It is also used as a preservative.  It can improve lather and decrease incidence of soap scum.  Tetrasodium EDTA is a penetration enhancer and suspected to be toxic to the upper respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. Target organs are the kidneys and bladder.  This ingredient is toxic to the environment and is a suspected persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the EU.  (MSDS; MSDS)

Methylchloroisothiazolinone:  Beware!  This ingredient is a preservative that is a known skin irritant, sensitize and allergen, as well as lung and eye irritant.  It has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties.  It is not known to be a carcinogen, though it is a skin sensitizer that can cause rashes and eczema in certain individuals.  Limited to no greater than 0.0015% in rinse of products in EU and US (in conjuction with Methylisothiazolinone 3:1). No individual MSDS found.

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)

PPG-9:  Beware!  This ingredient is a derivative of propylene glycol, a polymer of propylene oxide. It is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent, that is typically synthetically derived. Limited information available, no MSDS found.

Propylene Glycol:  Beware!  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)

Stearamide AMP: Avoid! This ingredient is used as a foam booster and viscosity increasing agent. This ingredient is typically used in a blend with Glycol Stearate and is used as a pearlizing and opacifying agent. No individual MSDS found. (Joint MSDS)

Methylisotiazolinone:  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)

Blue 1 (CI 42090): Beware!  Also known as Brilliant FCF Blue, this ingredient is used as a colorant. ( MSDS)

Red 33 (CI 17200): Beware!  Also known as Acid Red, this ingredient is used as a colorant. It is synthetically produced from petroleum or coal tar, though it may also be produced from animal sources. (MSDS)

Yellow 5 (CI 19140):  Beware!  This is a synthetic yellow dye (food coloring) also known as Tartrazine and FD&C Yellow 5.  Tartrazine is a known allergen and has various impacts on the immune system from dermal contact or ingestion.  It can be an eye irritant.  There is no data on mutagenicity, teratogenicity, developmental toxicity, or carcinogenicity.  It is not known to be toxic. (MSDS)


Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product has quite a few questionable ingredients.  Though Shea Butter and Oat Meal Extract are 6th and 7th, respectively, on the ingredient list it is highly questionable that they will combat the drying effects of Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  This will get the job done and get you clean, however, if you are more conscious of ingredients, consider an alternative.


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