How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XLI

You have finally ventured away from the drugstore and have decided to look for products in a nearby health food store that sells natural and organic products.  You are curious to see if there is truly any difference in the ingredients at a typical drugstore versus a health food store.  You pick up a product that meets your standards: it has 5 ingredients (!!), the 5 ingredients look familar to you, and the product has fair trade ingredients.  Seeing a product that also has a social cause really moved you.  You are not too sure what saponified means, but the shea butter and coconut oil soothe your reservations.  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

Azadirachta Indica (Neem) Aqueous Extract:  Beware! This ingredient is used as a skin conditioning agent and has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-hyperglycemic and insecticidal properties. No MSDS found.

Liquid Shea Butter Soap

    • Water:  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in many moisturizing products.
    • Saponified Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter:  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from the nut of the Shea Tree and is used for its moisturizing properties.
    • Saponified Coconut Oil:  Safe! Coconut oil is used for is skin conditioning and moisturizing properties. It is high in vitamins E and K.

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)

Lavandula Hydrida Oil:  Safe!  This ingredient is a hybrid of true lavendar (Lavandula angustifolia) and Lavandula latifolia. The oil is extracted via steam distillation of the stems and leaves of the plant. It is used as an antiseptic and fragrant. It is not known to be carcinogenic or toxic, though it is a skin and eye irritant in pure form. It has the potential to bioaccumulate in aquatic species and is an aquatic toxin. (MSDSMSDS)

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)



Nature’s Pulchritude’s Critique:  This body wash is a “true” soap, meaning to produce the soap fats, in this case shea butter and coconut oil, were saponified (turning a fat into soap by reacting with an alkali).  If done correctly none of the alkali (typically Potassium Hydroxide [KOH] or Sodium Hydroxide [NaOH]) will no longer remain after the reaction, only the soap.  None of the ingredients in the product are of concern.  I would definitely give this product a try!

One thought on “How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XLI”

  1. What a great post! So helpful to know which ingredients to avoid. I usually just buy stuff without really looking into it but now I’ll be careful! Thank you. 🙂

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