Tag Archives: lotion

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XLVI

You have had enough of your dry cracked hands from this winter weather! You stop by the beauty section of your favorite organic/natural grocery store to see if they have any good hand creams. You figure, considering the store, anything you pick up is sure to be a safe bet. Does the first hand cream you scan meet your standards? This is 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

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The Ingredients

Purified Water: Safe!   Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in many moisturizing products.

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

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil: Safe!  Coconut oil is used for is skin conditioning and moisturizing properties. It is high in vitamins E and K.

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil: Safe!  Sunflower Oil is comprised of triglycerides (esters of glycerol and fatty acids) and has a high Vitamin E content.  It primarily acts as an emollient and assists the skin in retaining moisture.

Glyceryl Stearate Citrate:

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)

Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil: Safe! Sweet Almond oil is high in oleic acid and is primarily used as an emollient.

Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil: Safe!  Safflower oil is made from safflower seeds and is high in monounsaturated fatty acids. Safflower oil helps the skin retain moisture and promote elasticity. It may be a slight skin and eye irritant, though it is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or a developmental toxin.  (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)

Natural Fragrance: Safe!/Beware! Without knowing what flavors were used and assessment of toxicological information and benefits cannot be determined.

Natural BEESWAX (cera alba):Safe!   This ingredient is derived from worker honeybees within a bee hive.  It is used as a thickener and skin barrier.

Vegetable Glycerin: Safe!  This ingredient is derived from palm, coconut, soy, or other vegetable fats.  It is used as an emollient and has the ability to draw moisture and oxygen to the skin.  There is no information in mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, developmental toxicity, or teratogenic effects.  In pure form is can be a skin, eye, and lung irritant, and may be toxic to the kidneys with prolonged exposure.  It is typically used in concentrations of 2 – 5% of the formula and is a minimal concern.  (MSDS)

Glyceryl Oleate: Safe!  This ingredient consists of oleic acid and glycerin both from vegetable sources as indicated on the bottle.  It is used as an emollient, emulsifier, and fragrance ingredient.  (MSDS)

Lauryl Laurate:

HONEY (mel): Safe!  Honey is a humectant that draws moisture into the hair, which helps to maintain elasticity, shine, and overall health of hair.

Xanthan 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)

Glyceryl Caprylate:

Sodium Levulinate:

Potassium Sorbate:  Safe!/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 concentration above 0.2%, so it should be fine in this product.  (MSDS)

Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil: Safe!  This oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree found in Morocco. It is high in oleic and linoleic fatty acids and is renowned for its hair repairing and moisturizing properties. (MSDS)

Sodium Phytate (from rice bran):

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict: This product doesn’t look half bad. The top 5 ingredients are all moisturizing, hopefully the beeswax down the list will help the skin retain that moisture. There are a few ingredients that we have not come across before (intentionally left blank). We’ve been doing this series for a while, and yet we are always coming across new ingredients! What are your thoughts on having 5 ingredients that the 44 other Label Poise’s have not covered? Check back tomorrow for the details on those ingredients!

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels X

A few weeks ago, I set out to test my own Label Poise.  I decided to look for a lotion with high quality ingredients, so no fillers and of course very limited, low risk chemicals.  My Label Poise standards are relatively high so I was curious to see if any of the lotions in the store I went to would pass my evaluation.  There were at least 50 lotions.  I avoided brands I already knew had ingredients I wanted to avoid.  I was a bit shocked to see that even some of the “natural” brands had less than favorable ingredients.  I did find what my Label Poise determined to be the best product.   How did I do?

The Label

LabelPoise10

The Ingredients

Asterisk (*) Denotes a certified organic ingredient.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*: Safe! Coconut oil is used for is skin conditioning and moisturizing properties. It is high in vitamins E and K.

Deionized Water:  Safe!  Deionized water has had the ions of minerals found in soil or pipes removed.

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

Stearyl Alcohol (Palm Kernel):  Safe!   This is also a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioner.  This ingredient indicated that is was derivered from palm kernel.

Vegetable Emulsifying Wax:  Beware!  This ingredient is a combination of 4 ingredients, which may vary by manufacturer: Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG-150 Stearate, Steareth-20. Despite its name it is not all natural.  Of its four components Cetearyl Alcohol is of minimal concern, nor is Polysorbate 60 at low doses.  However there is significant concern about  PEG-150 Stearate, which is a polyethlyene glycol derivative, may be contaminated with ethlyene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, and is linked to carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption, developmental toxicity, and skin irritation.   Steareth-20 is believed to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane if not properly purified.  It is not listed as a skin irritant, though it may be an eye irritant.  There is no information on carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, or developmental toxicity.  It is typically used as 5-10% of the formulation.  (MSDS)

Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*:  Safe!  Cocoa butter is used for its skin conditioning properties.  It is high in antioxidants and are high in saturated fats. It is also used as an emollient.

Vegetable Glycerin:  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from palm, coconut, soy, or other vegetable fats.  It is used as an emollient and has the ability to draw moisture and oxygen to the skin.  There is no information in mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, developmental toxicity, or teratogenic effects.  In pure form is can be a skin, eye, and lung irritant, and may be toxic to the kidneys with prolonged exposure.  It is typically used in concentrations of 2 – 5% of the formula and is a minimal concern.  (MSDS)

Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*:  Safe!  Olive oil is used for its skin conditioning and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is rich in vitamins E and A, as well as antioxidants.

Essential Oil Blend:  Safe!/Beware!  This is a blend of various essential oils that likely acts as a fragrance and may also have other beneficial properties for the hair.  It is listed generically, similar to parfum or fragrance, because the blend is likely considered a “trade secret.”  If you have sensitive skin or are known to be allergic to some essential oils Beware!

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

Tocopherol (Vitamin E):  Safe! Also known as Vitamin E, Tocopherol is a chemical alcohol with antioxidant properties.  This ingredient is not known to have carcinogenic or toxic effects (via MSDS).  It can also be used as a preservative for oils.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract:  Safe!  Also known as Roselle, this extract is used for its antioxidant properties.  It is also believed to stop degradation of the skins elastin and is beneficial in products made for skin tone, anti-cellulite and refirming.  It is typically used in concentrations of 0.1-4%.  It is not known as a skin or eye irritant. There is no available information on carcinogenicity. (MSDS)

Papain (Papaya Extract): Safe! This ingredient is used for its anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and anti-aging properties.  It is believe to improve the tone and texture of the skin, increase blood circulation, and exfoliate dead and damaged skin.  It is typically used in concentrations of 5-10% of the weight of the formula.  It is not a skin irritant, though there is limited information carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, or teratogenic effects. (MSDS)

Allantoin (Comfrey Root Extract): Safe!/Beware! This ingredient is the synthetic derivative of the comfrey root, which is botanical urea (oxidation of uric acid).  It is used for its hydrating, soothing, and skin repairing properties, and is regarded as safe by the FDA.  It is typically used in concentrations between 0.2 – 2 % by weight of the formula.  It is not a skin or lung irritant, though it can be an eye irritant in pure form.  There is limited information on carcinogenicity, however, it is not expected to be toxic via skin.  It can be toxic to lungs and mucous membranes via inhalation, eye contact, and ingestion. (MSDS; MSDS ; MSDS)

Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower [Extract]: Beware! This ingredient can be used as a fragrant and is believed to have cleansing properties, however, it is primarily used in conjunction with Japanese Honeysuckle as a preservative.  Used alone it can be in concentration of 5-10% of the formula by weight, but in this product it is used between 0.5-2% as a mixture with Japanese Honeysuckle.  It is not known to be toxic or an irritant in small quantities.  It should be noted that parabens are very similar in structure (essentially the synthetic version) to p-hydrobenzoic acid, the active ingredient in Japanese Honeysuckle extract.  It is believed to act similarly to parabens in the body.  (MSDS)

Lonicera Japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract:  Beware!  This ingredient is used in conjunction with Honeysuckle extract as a preservative.  It is not known to be toxic or an irritant in small quantities.  It should be noted that parabens are very similar in structure (essentially the synthetic version) to p-hydrobenzoic acid, the active ingredient in Japanese Honeysuckle extract.  It is believed to act similarly to parabens in the body.  (MSDS)

Songyi Mushroom Extract:  Beware!  This ingredient is used for gently lightening and evening the skin. It is typically used in concentrations of 0.10 – 0.5% by weight of the formulation.  Very limited information on toxicity.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Milk:  Safe!  This ingredient is the liquid from the grated milk of brown coconuts.  It is high in saturated fat and is used for its moisturizing and soothing properties.  It is not toxic.  (MSDS)

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  The only ingredient that surprised me was the Vegetable Emulsifying Wax.  Though it sounds natural, it is not in any way.  The primary concern with that ingredient is contamination of carcinogens, which may or may not be present in this product.  Additionally, the formula of VEW can vary so it may not contain the 2 constituents that make it a concern.  Songyi Mushroom Extract is listed as beware because it lightens skin but there is limited information on it.  The surprise ingredient to many of you is likely the Honeysuckle Flower Extract and Japanese Honeysuckle Extract which are similar in structure to parabens, which are the synthetic version of the primary active in the extracts, p-hydrobenzoic acid.  Parabens have not been confirmed to cause cancer, but they were shown to accumulate in human tissues, though it was not determined what the source was as many fruits contain p-hydrobenzoic acid naturally.  Using a product with parabens or Honeysuckle or Japanese Honeysuckle Flower Extract is absolutely subjective.  I personally do not use products with parabens, but I do use some of the products this brand makes containing these ingredients and am not very concerned though it is not my ideal.  This product is labeled as containing no parabens, which is true, but is slightly misleading given that the 2 preservatives are very similar in chemical structure.  Overall, this was the best lotion that I found and it has great ingredients including several that are certified organic, including 2 of the top 5 ingredients.  I would not purchase this particular product because I am not interesting in brightening and toning (how this product is formulated and marketed) my skin, however, I would use some of the other lotions this company makes.

 

Would you buy this product?

Beeswax: Friend or Foe?

Beeswax has emerged as a relatively abundant ingredient in many personal care products who market themselves as being natural and organic. It is commonly found in lip balms and lotions, and has essentially become the ‘natural’ replacement for petroleum based derivatives, such as mineral oil or petroleum jelly, in these formulations. Though beeswax is all natural, is it a beneficial ingredient for skin and lips, or is it a natural version of a filler?

Beeswax is the wax produced by honey bees from the Apis genus to form the foundation for the honeycomb.  It is made up of several different components, but primarily consists of monoesters (carbonyl group connected to and ether linkage), hydrocarbons, diesters, and free fatty alcohols (long chained).  The approximate chemical formula of beeswax is C15H31COOC30H61, which means it has a large molecular weight (~676 g/mol).  It is generally believed that substances with a molecular weight below 500 grams per mole (g/mol) can easily pass through the skin.  Substances with larger molecular weights such as mineral oil are too large to be absorbed by the skin, unless they are chemically altered to make their molecules small enough to be absorbed.  Is beeswax beneficial to the skin and lips, other than creating a barrier that keeps moisture in?

A German study conducted in 2003 found that beeswax based barrier creams performed better than petroleum based creams in alleviating moisture loss and irritant contact dermatitis (Frosch et al. 2003).  Beeswax itself is not a moisturizer.  Beeswax can be in the first 3 to 5 ingredients of a lip balm or moisturizer, but I would hesitate to use a product that contains beeswax as the first ingredient.  I have used a lip balm whose first ingredient is beeswax and the performance was okay.  It is not a bad product by any means (it is USDA Certified Organic), however, it did not provide long term moisture or softness to my lips (after 1 application for 2-3 hours). Beeswax is far from ‘foe,’ though it is not quite ‘friend’ depending on its purpose in an application (i.e. as a binder versus as a primary component).  Perhaps ‘associate‘ is the best designation if it is the first ingredient, and ‘friend‘ if it is a component used to bind the formula together.  By and large, it is dependent on what YOU like and what works for YOU.

Do you use any products that contain beeswax?  How do they perform for you?

 

Are there any ingredient (food or cosmetics) you would like to see featured in Friend or Foe?  Leave a comment below or send us an e-mail!

Thank you for reading!

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels IX

You think you’ve found a good product that will not only treat your dry skin, but meets Label Poise standards.  Great!  Your Label Poise has improved and you are curious to see try the “active naturals” this product contains.  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.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first eight posts on how to read ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

Quick Tip:  Aside from avoiding synthetic chemicals as much as possible, have an idea of what ingredients do not work as well for you.  Pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use.  If you notice every time you use a product with [insert ingredient here] you get an allergic reaction or your hair/skin responds negatively, make a note and steer clear!

The Label

NPLabelPoise9

The Ingredients

Dimethicone (@1.2%): Beware! Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer siloxanes derived from silica. They are used as a skin conditioning agent and it forms a protective barrier on the skin the prevents moisture from leaving or entering, which can be harmful to skin. It is pretty low in this lotion though it is the “active ingredient,” so it would be okay for use if you are not averse to dimethicone.

Water:  Safe!

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the hair, if you are ‘glycerin sensitive’ avoid this product. Glycerin can be derive from fats and oils or synthetically.

Distearyldimonium Chloride:  Beware!  Also known as Dimethyldioctadecylammonium chloride or distearyl dimethyl ammonium chloride is a quartnary ammonium salt. This ingredient is synthetically derived and is a positively charged surfactant that is used as as an emollient, anti-static, and smoothing agent. This ingredient can be an irritant to mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract in pure form, though full toxicological information has not been thoroughly explored. While the exact concentration in this product is unknown, it is the 3rd ingredient on the list, so err on the side of caution. (MSDS)

Petrolatum: Beware!  This ingredient is also known as Petroleum Jelly is a hydrocarbon and is a distillate of crude (oil). It is used in skin lotions as an emollient and to prevent skin moisture loss. Similar to mineral oil, it prevents moisture from entering or leaving the barrier. There is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. Unless it is guaranteed 100% refined, petroleum may be with carcinogens. It can be a potential skin, eye, digestive, and lung irritant.  (MSDS)

Isopropyl Palmitate:  Beware!  This ingredient is used as a thickener, emollient, moisturizer, and antistatic agent. It is a synthetic ester of isopropyl alcohol and palmitic acid from coconuts, palm oil, or vegetable or animal fats. Isopropyl Palmitate is believed to clog pores (comedogenic) which causes the formation of acne and blackheads. This ingredient is not known as a skin or eye irritant, however, there is no available information on toxicity, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, or developmental toxicity.  (MSDS)

Cetyl Alcohol: Safe!  This is a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioners. It is typically derived naturally from coconut or palm oil.

Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour:  Safe!  This ingredient is powderized oat. It is collodial as is does not settle from the other ingredients and remains mixed. It is used for its moisturizing and skin soothing properties, as oats have been used for such purposes since at least 2000 BC. This ingredient also acts as an antioxidant and UV protectants. This ingredient is high in flavonoids, phenols, and beta-glucans (water holding properties). It is typically used in concentrations of 1-10% or 5-30% by weight of a cosmetic forumlation. Colloidal Oat Flour is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic. This ingredient may contain gluten or gluten residue, so avoid this ingredient if you have Celiac disease or choose to live gluten-free. (MSDS)

Benzyl Alcohol:  Beware!  This ingredient is made naturally by many plants or can be synthetically derived. It is typically used as a preservative and based on its placement on the list is in low concentration. Benzyl Alcohol is not known to be a carcinogen or teratogen, though it is a mutagen in bacteria and yeast, and may be toxic to the liver and central nervous system in pure form. Benzyl Alcohol can be slightly hazardous with skin contact, but due to its concentration it should be okay.  (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)

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product states: “[t]his naturally nourishing, non-greasy lotion absorbs quickly and contains no added fragrance. The unique oatmeal formula locks in moisture to help prevent and protect dry skin, leaving your skin soft, smooth and naturally healthy-looking.”  The Colloidal oat flour in this lotion is used to lock in moisture, and this formula does not contain any added fragrances, which is a first of the products featured in Label Poise.  This product also bolsters a short ingredient list, which may also be the shortest of all other products we have featured, which is commendable.  This product does contain petroleum as the fourth ingredient, depending on its quantity in the formula this product may very well be non-greasy.  Three of the first 5 ingredients are categorized as Beware!; petroleum is not a huge concern, though the other 2 ingredients should be of concern as one is comedogenic and the other has limited toxicological data.  One issue with this product is its labeling, which could lead consumers to think that all of its ingredients are natural when they are not, though the ‘active naturals’ is solely referring to the oat flour.  Considering that this product is for dry skin, it is designed to keep moisture in as dry skin looses moisture quickly.  This should be fine to use if you have dry skin, however, be mindful if you notice any unusual acne while using. If you do not have dry perhaps skin skip this product.

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels VII

Today you are looking for a general lotion.  Your Label Poise is increasing and you think you’ve found one of the better products outside of the ‘natural’ section.  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.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first six posts on how to read ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

Quick Tip:  Aside from avoiding synthetic chemicals as much as possible, have an idea of what ingredients do not work as well for you.  Pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use.  If you notice every time you use a product with [insert ingredient here] you get an allergic reaction or your hair/skin responds negatively, make a note and steer clear!

The Label

LabelPoise7

The Ingredients

Water:  Safe!  

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

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.

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the hair, if you are ‘glycerin sensitive’ avoid this product.  Glycerine can be derive from fats and oils or synthetically.

Petrolatum:  Beware!  This ingredient is also known as Petroleum Jelly and is a hydrocarbon and is a distillate of crude (oil).  It is used in skin lotions as an emollient and protective barrier to prevent skin moisture loss.  Similar to mineral oil, it prevents moisture from entering or leaving the barrier.  There is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity.  It can be a potential skin, eye, digestive, and lung irritant.  (MSDS)

Dimethicone: Beware!  Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer derived from silica.   Silicones are not known to be toxic.  Similar to other silicones, mineral oil and petroleum, Dimethicone creates a barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from escaping or entering. Information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity is not known.

Ethylhexyl Isononanoate:  Beware!  This ingredient is used as an emollient and is derived from esters of Pelargonic Acid (a fatty acid) and isononanoic acid (a fatty acid).  In pure form it is a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant.  This is no information regarding carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. (MSDS)

Ceteareth-20:  Beware!  A derivative of Cetearyl Alcohol (Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohol) and Ethylene Oxide (a known carcinogen), this ingredient is used as an emulsifier and emollient.  Ceteareth-20 is a penetration enhancer that can allow other (potentially) hazardous substances to enter your system.  This ingredient may also be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen, as well as Ethylene Oxide.  Carcinogen contamination depends largely on how well purified the chemical is.  Products with this ingredient should not be applied to damaged skin as it may result in kidney damage.  In pure form it can be a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, however there is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. (MSDS; MSDS)

Hydroxyethyl Urea:  Safe!/Beware!  This product is used as a moisturizer similar to Glycerin and is believed to hydrate the deepest layers of the skin.  This product may be derived from animal urine excretions.  It is not known to be toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or embryotoxic in humans.  (MSDS)

Octyldodecyl Myristate:  Beware!   This ingredient is used in cosmetic formulations as an emollient.  It is a derivative of Octyldodecanol, a thickener, and Myristic Acid.  No information available about toxicity, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. (MSDS)

Mineral Oil:  Beware!  This is a petrochemical typically derived from crude oil.  It can be found in high concentrations (One of the first 5 ingredients, more on this later) in a variety of products.  Mineral Oil prevents moisture from entering or leaving the skin.

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)

Stearic Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is a saturated fatty acid and is commonly derived from vegetable sources, though it can be animal derived. It is used as a thickening and stabilizing agent. It can be a slight eye irritant in pure form, but is not a skin irritant. Other toxicity information is not known. (MSDS)

Hydrogenated Polydecene:  Beware!  This ingredient is synthetically derived and is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent.  Clinical studies have shown this ingredient to improve moisture in those with dry skin.  This ingredient should not be combined with oxidizing materials.  There is no information available regarding toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, or developmental toxicity.  (MSDS)

Methylparaben:  Beware!  This ingredient is synthetic and acts as a preservative with anti-fungal properties.  It is naturally occurring in fruits such as blueberries as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  This ingredient is readily absorbed into skin and it along with other parabens have been at the center of controversy about its role in causing cancerous cells in breast tissue being that parabens are xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that states that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.  Methylparaben is suspected to cause DNA damage and increased skin aging when it reacts to UVB rays.

Phenoxyethanol:  Beware!/Avoid!  This is a preservative.  It is commonly used because it is safer than formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.  It is also suspected to be a xenoestrogen (mimics estrogen), a cause of contact dermatitis and skin irritant.  The concentration in this product is likely low and 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.  This ingredient is made from 2 carcinogens (benzene and ethylene oxide), though it itself is not known to be carcinogenic.  The FDA released a warning about how it can impact the central nervous system and induce vomiting in infants.   People around small children should ‘Avoid!’ this ingredient, others should ‘Beware!’.  (MSDS)

Carbomer: Beware!  Used as a thickener, typically at very low concentrations.  This ingredient is not toxic, but can be slightly hazardous upon skin contact.  Concentrations likely not high enough to be hazardous.  (MSDS)

Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter:  Safe!

Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter:  Safe!

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

Propylparaben:  Beware!  Propylparaben is used as an anti-fungal preservative, typically in concentrations less than 1%.  It is commonly synthetically produced though it is produced naturally in fruits as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  It is readily absorbed into the skin and metabolized, and has been found in urine in limited tests.  Propylparaben is suspected to be a xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.

Dimethiconol:  Beware!  Dimethiconol is a silicone that acts as a skin conditioner and emollient.  It forms a protective barrier on the skin prevent moisture from entering or escaping.  It is unlikely to penetrate the skin.  Dimethiconol is believed to cause reproductive toxicity via inhalation, though it is not expected to be a skin irritant.  The concentration in this product is low so it is not a high concern.  (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)

Caramel: Safe!  Caramel is used as a coloring agent, used from heating edible sugars at high temperatures.  It is generally regarded as safe by the FDA.  It is mutagenic to mammalian somatic cells, bacteria, and yeast.  It may effect genetic material after chronic exposure (inhalation or ingestion), and can be a skin, lung, and eye irritant in pure form.  This ingredient is very low in concentration and is fine to use.  (MSDS)

Tocopheryl Acetate:  Safe!/Beware!  Tocopheryl 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.

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)

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  The first 4 ingredients of this product are a great foundation for a moisturizer.  This product is marketed as containing shea butter and it is the second ingredient after water, which is commendable as other products we have looked at did not have high quantities of the marketed ingredient.  The Mango Butter and Cocoa Butter could have been higher in quantity.  Even though this product contains petrolatum, dimethicone, and mineral oil, they are in lower concentrations than the key ‘Safe!‘ ingredients.  The biggest concern for this product are the large number of fillers and the presence of parabens and methylisothiazolinone.  This is a good option for a hand or foot cream.  Note:  This product has been reformulated and the Mango Butter and Cocoa Butter are the 9th and 10th ingredients.

 

Would you buy this product?

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels VI

You are back in the natural product section looking for a lotion, when you see one that catches your eye.  The ingredients look good, but after the last product you picked up in this section, you wanted to make sure you took extra care and used the Educate Yourself page to cross reference the ingredients.  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.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first five posts on how to read ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

The Label:

LabelPoise6

 

The Ingredients:

Aqua (Water, Eau):  Safe!

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil:  Safe!  Sunflower Oil is comprised of triglycerides (esters of glycerol and fatty acids) and has a high Vitamin E content.  It primarily acts as an emollient and assists the skin in retaining moisture.

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the hair, if you are ‘glycerin sensitive’ avoid this product.  Glycerine can be derived from fats and oils or synthetically.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil:  Safe!  Coconut Oil is used for its nourishing properties.

Stearic Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is a saturated fatty acid and is commonly derived from vegetable sources, though it can be animal derived.  It is used as a thickening and stabilizing agent.  It can be a slight eye irritant in pure form, but is not a skin irritant.  Other toxicity information is not known.  (MSDS)

Cera Alba (Beeseax, Cire d’Abeille):  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from worker honeybees within a bee hive.  It is used as a thickener and skin barrier.

Parfum (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.

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)

Royal Jelly:  Safe!  This ingredient is a secretion that is used to provide nutrients to honey bee larvae and adult queens.  It is primarily made of water, with some crude protein, amino acids, fatty acids, and trace amounts of various vitamins (A, C, D, E, K, B6, B5) and minerals.  It can cause allergic reactions if consumed.  It is not known to be toxic, however, little data is available. (MSDS)

CI 77019 (Mica):  Safe!  Mica is a mineral that is often ground and used for its reflective and refracting properties in various cosmetics, including moisturizing lotions.  In pure form it can be a slight skin and eye irritant, as well as act as a toxin to the lungs and mucous membranes.  Information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, and developmental toxicity are not available.  (MSDSMSDS)

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Wax:  Safe!/Beware! This ingredient is derived from orange peels.  It acts as a protective barrier against the environment, while allowing the orange to breathe and maintain a water balance.  It provides these same properties to skin, acting as an emollient and moisturizer.  This ingredient is believed to be phototoxic, therefore should be used in accompaniment with sunscreen.  (MSDS)

Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract:  Safe!  This ingredient is used as a skin conditioning agent, skin protectant, and antioxidant.  It is generally regarded as safe and is not known to be toxic.

Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract:  Safe!  This ingredient is used for its conditioning and astringent properties.  Depending on the concentration Avoid! if you have high blood pressure as it is believed to increase circulation.

Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract:  Safe!  It is used as an antimicrobial agent, fragrance, and skin conditioning agent and is generally regarded as safe. (MSDS)

Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract:  Safe!  This ingredient is used as a skin conditioning agent, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent.  The carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, and developmental toxicity are not known.

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

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract:  Safe!  Derived from the leaves of aloe vera plants, it is used for its nourishing, emollient, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Tocopherol:  Safe!  Also known as Vitamin E, Tocopherol is a chemical alcohol with antioxidant properties.  This ingredient is not known to have carcinogenic or toxic effects (via MSDS).  It can also be used as a preservative for oils.

Xanthan 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)

Sucrose Stearate:  Safe!  This ingredient is typically plant derived and is used as an emulsifier and skin conditioner.  It is table sugar combined with Stearic Acid (a fatty acid).  Information regarding carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, or developmental toxicity are not available. (MSDS)

CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide):  Safe!  This is a white pigment used for various applications.  In pure form Titanium Dioxide is a potential human carcinogen when inhaled.  Its health impacts are dependent on size based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).  It should be fine to use in this topical product.  (MSDS)

Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil:  Safe!/Beware!  Soybean oil is used as an emollient and emulsifier.  Produced from soy beans, this oil may be genetically modified, contaminated with pesticides, and thus contain a lower linolenic acid content.  A source of origin would clarify this.  Other than GMO and pesticide contamination, soybean oil is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic.

Sodium Borate:  Safe!/Beware!  Also known as Borax, it is the sodium salt of Boric Acid.  This ingredient is used to control pH, prevent bacterial growth, and maintain an emulsion.  In pure form it can be a slight skin and eye irritant; information on carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, and developmental toxicity are not available. It is not allowed in topical products in concentrations greater than 3% in the EU.  (MSDS)

Canola Oil (Huile de Colza):  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient is derived from rapeseed and is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent.  This ingredient can also be genetically modified and contaminated with pesticides as an estimated 87% of all canola grown in the US was genetically modified in 2005.

Sodium Benzoate:  Beware!  This ingredient is the sodium salt of benzoic acid, and is commonly used as a preservative in food and cosmetics.  This ingredient is typically synthetically derived.  The FDA mandates that this ingredient is not to exceed 0.1% of the formula by weight.  Sodium benzoate is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or neurotoxic, though it can be teratogenic in embryos and fetuses.  This ingredient may cause skin and eye irritation in pure form.  When combined with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), sodium benzoate can react to form benzene, a known carcinogen–this product does not contain Vitamin C.  These claims have been substantiated by the FDA, though the benzene levels are less than World Health Organization limits to be considered dangerous.    (MSDS)

Potassium Sorbate:  Safe!/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)

Limonene:  Safe!  Limonene naturally occurs in the rind of lemon and other citrus fruits.  It is primarily used as a flavor and fragrance though it also has been used for industrial degreasing.  It is not known to cause cancer or gene mutations in humans and can have anti-cancer effects in pure form, though limonene and its oxidation products are suspected skin and respiratory irritants in some cases.  A product that has been sitting on the shelf for an extended period may oxidize, however, ingredients with antioxidant properties, such as Vitamin E (Tocopherol), may alleviate this.  This ingredient must be listed if it exceeds concentrations of 0.01% in rinse off products in the EU.  (MSDS)

Linalool:  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient is used as a fragrance and is banned in rinse off products above a concentration of 0.01% (or 0.001% in leave-on products).  It is naturally occurring in various plants and spices, though it may also be made synthetically.  It is considered a skin irritant (causing eczema) and allergen, though pure linalool can have anti-cancer properties.  Given that the concentration is likely quite low it should be fine unless you are allergic to it.

Butylphenyl Methylpropional:  Beware!  It is a synthetic fragrance (an aromatic aldehyde) that has a strong floral fresh odor and is listed as a potential sensitizer based on the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).  This ingredient is restricted to a concentration of 0.001% in leave on products by the EU.

Hexyl Cinnamal:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic fragrance and is banned in rinse off products above a concentration of 0.01% (or 0.001% in leave-on products).  Though it is typically synthetically derived, it is found naturally in the essential oil of chamomile, but it is also synthetically derived.  Also known as Hexyl Cinnamaldehyde, it is a known allergen and skin irritant.

Hydroxycitronellal:  Beware!  This is a fragrance ingredient that has a moderate floral strength and is the primary constituent of many essential oils.  It is likely synthetically derived and is typically used in concentrations below 1% as it is an irritant at 5% concentration.

Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde:  Beware!  Also known as Lyral, it is used as a fragrance and is synthetically derived.  It is a skin irritant, particularly to those with existing eczema (about 2-3% of patients), at low concentrations.  This ingredient is restricted to 0.001% in leave-on products by the EU. (PubMed)

 

Nature’s Pulchritude Verdict:  Overall, the ingredients in the product are clean.  Within the first 5 ingredients there are no ingredients to Beware! or Avoid!, however the 6th and 7th ingredients are cause for concern.  Fragrance and Phenoxyethanol (a preservative) can both be irritants and toxins.  Additionally, given the likely concentrations of these two ingredients it is unlikely that the remainder of the ingredients are in significant concentrations.  The last 4 ingredients are skin irritants, however, their concentrations are likely low.  This product is marketed as being natural and though it is not 100% natural (98.2% natural per the label), it has ingredients that are better than the majority of commercially available products, though it is low-moderately ‘natural’ amongst similar products.  This product is also marketed as a radiance lotion; based on the ingredients it does not look very moisturizing.  There are better products available on the market in terms of moisturizing, however, this is a viable option if you are looking for a ‘radiance’ lotion for glowing skin.

Would you purchase this product?