Ingredients lists can be difficult to understand.
Ingredients are usually shown by their scientific name, which sometimes looks nothing like its common name. It can be puzzling if a product is sold as "Natural" or " Organic" but you do not recognize the ingredients
In the case of essential oils, there can be ingredients, usually with a little * next to them that are chemicals formed from the essential oils, like Linalool, but not an actual ingredient that is added to a product.
When looking at an ingredients list, the ingredients listed first are in the greatest amounts and the ingredients at the end of the list the least. So if there is an ingredient I am not sure about, I might accept it being there if it is at the bottom of the list rather than the top.
When I am evaluating a product for my store, the ingredients are one of the first things I look at. I am not a scientist or a chemist, so the information I find is always an opinion, not a definite and you should always double check any ingredient you are concerned about yourself. Ingredients that I find need a double check in a product will always be highlighted in the ingredients list so you are aware that they are there.
Ingredients we do not or no longer except in products are SLS, Parabens, Petrochemicals, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB), Benzyl Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol & Palm Oil.
This list is ever changing and being updated. Please let me know if there is an ingredient you would like me to add.
Each chemical/ingredient comes with a safety data sheet by the manufacturer. These sheets show potential safety risks or toxicities in the ingredients pure form. I have provided links to some of these SDS to provide examples of what is in the ingredients and some of the concerns. These sheets are not intended to be a slur on the company quoted,( as no matter who makes the ingredients, they will have a similar SDS) these SDS sheets were the easiest for me to access and link. They are just to provide you with scientific information to further your own research into potential skin/haircare ingredients.
Personally, I am not a fan of preservatives, I understand the need for them but if presented with a choice I will probably choose a product that is oil based and does not require preservatives. (As brands are required by law to use a preservative on all products made with water). This is my personal choice and one of the reasons all the ingredient are clearly marked on this site.
On this site, you will only find preservatives in products that have been deemed safe and can be used in natural and or organic skincare.
EWG refer's to The Skin Deep Cosmetic Database Safety Rating
Aloe Barbedensis (aloe) leaf juice powder * -A powerful anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants aloe promotes the growth of new skin cells allowing, skin to heal quickly, reducing scarring and soothing inflammation and irritations. Hydrating promotes skin elasticity and firmness.
Benzyl Alcohol (EWG 5) An aromatic alcohol is a natural constituent of several essential oils, including ylang-ylang, jasmine, and styrax. This fragrance material also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which means it can be used as a preservative. Can be a skin sensitizer, is drying and I would not use on infants. The EU has strict rules on the percentage that can be used in a product.
Benzyl Benzoate (EWG 6) is used as solvent and preservative; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
Camellia sinensis (matcha) leaf powder *- Is a powerful antioxidant that has a natural soothing property, which means it can help with oily skin and sensitive skin.
Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, EWG Score 1, a mild, solubilizing non-ionic surfactant obtained from renewable raw materials: fatty alcohols and glucose from vegetable origin. Works as an emulsifier, which helps oils and water to mix. Also works with the ingredient above to help make a denser foam. SDS sheet here.
Caprylic /Capric Triglyceride (EWG 1) Derived from coconut oil and glycerin, it’s considered an excellent emollient and skin-replenishing ingredient. A fatty acid and a thickener. Generally recognized as a safe.
Caprylyl glycol - (EWG Score 1) Derived from Coconut/Palm milk or Synthetic. A Preservative. Mostly deemed safe.
Cetearyl Alcohol - (EWG 1) A mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohols. A fatty alcohol made from coconut or palm oil, Used as a thickener and stabilizer in an emulsion. Fatty alcohols are thought not to be irritating and, in fact, can be beneficial for dry skin (Paulas Choice)
Cetyl Alcohol - (EWG 1) A fatty alcohol made from coconut or palm oil Works as an emollient, emulsifier, thickener and carrying agent for other ingredients contained in a cosmetic solution. It keeps the oil and water parts of an emulsion from separating and gives products good spreadability. A small number of people will be sensitive to this ingredient and may cause redness. Stay away if you have Rosacea or Psoriasis.
Citric Acid, EWG Score 2, A natural preservative & PH adjuster.
Citrus limon (lemon) peel oil *-It helps to eliminate the sebum that often accumulates on the face and promotes clogged pores.
Coco Glucoside (EWG 1) Comes from coconut and fruit sugars and is completely biodegradable. A common, natural alternative to conventional foaming agents and surfactants. It does not irritate and dry out the skin like other foaming agents and surfactants do, as it shares a lot of the moisturizing qualities of coconut oil. Gentle enough to be used in baby products.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine (EWG 4) Also known as CAPB. Created by mixing raw coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine, creating what is known as an amphoteric surfactant. It creates that thick lather used by shampoos. CAPB is thought by some to be a popular cause for rosacea, eczema, skin irritation, and eye irritation. See Blog post here See SDS Sheet here
Cocos nucifera (coconut) milk powder - High in lauric acid, iron, magnesium, and vitamins C, E and B6 coconut milk hydrates, plumps and soothes dry, aged skin or damaged skin. Antibacterial, antiviral and incredibly moisturizing it’s a rejuvenating ingredient for all skin types
1,3-Dihydroxy-2-proponone also known as Dihydroxacetone (DHA ) ( EWG 1-4 depending on use) s a simple carbohydrate that is primarily used as an ingredient in sunless tanning products. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane, by the fermentation of glycerin.
Decyl Glucoside, EWG Score 1, A mild non-ionic glucose based surfactant, plant-derived, biodegradable and from a 100% vegetable renewable source. Used together with the CAPB to provide the foam. SDS sheet here
D-erythrulose erythrulose (EWG 1) a carbohydrate used in fake tan.
Glycerin - (EWG 2) Can be of animal or vegetable origin A humectant that attracts moisture to the upper layer of the skin, which makes your skin look plump and hydrated. It can pull in the moisture from the air or alternative from your dermis layer. Which you ideally do not want it to do, therefore it is normally mixed with ingredients like oils, that the glycerine can pull the moisture from and help your skin to absorb them better.
Glyceryl Oleate, EWG score 1, is the ester of glycerin and oleic acid. It is produced from oils that contain high concentrations of oleic acid, such as olive oil, peanut oil, or pecan oil. It is used as an emulsifier (mixes oil and water). Helps hair to be glossy and to enable our hair to be brushed when wet. SDS sheet here
Glyceryl Stearate ( EWG 1) Made from Glycerin & Stearate Plant or animal-derived or synthetic. used as an emulsifier, surfactant, and an emollient. Generally seen as safe.
Helianthus Annuus(Sunflower) Seed Oil (EWG 1) made from Sunflower seeds, rich in vitamin E.
Hydrolyzed Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Protein*, Baobab Oil, penetrates the hair follicle to enrich it with moisture and improving elasticity whilst nourishing the scalp. Similar benefits to argan oil but does not weigh down the hair.
Hydrogenated palm glycerides citrate (EWG 1) the fatty acid component of palm oil. Hydrogenation allows the oily liquid to remain in a solid state at room temperature.It is used as an antioxidant and emollient.
Kaolin clay - Clay derived from soils that have matured from the weathering of rocks in humid climates. Kaolin is a mild clay, suitable for all skin types it soothes and gently cleanses. Soaking up excess oils and preventing clog ups, it purifies and refreshes pores. Stimulates circulation and brightens skin. Used in Face Masks.
Lactic Acid - (EWG 4) Naturally occurring. Derived from animals or plants. A alpha hydroxy acids(AHAs) used in acne care and anti-aging.
Lauryl Glucoside, EWG Score 1, derived from Coconut. Used as a cleansing agent in shampoo as well as for foaming and as an emulsifier. SDS sheet here
Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower oil * - A calming and soothing essential oil, not only is it relaxing, aiding anxiety, stress and insomnia it is holds antiseptic, and soothing properties for the skin.
Levulinic Acid, EWG Score 1. A natural plant acid used as a preservative.
Lllite (green clay) (France) - Rich in minerals, it is Absorbant, Purifying and Calming. Long known for it detoxifying skin care benefits
Ocimum basilicum (basil) oil *- anti-inflammatory property makes it an excellent skin remedy for irritations, small wounds, and sores. It has a soothing and relaxing effect.
Phenethyl Alcohol (EWG Score 1) Prevents or retards bacterial growth and as a fragrance. Can be natural from plants or synthetic. Synthetic Phenethyl is thought to be an ingredient to avoid as it can causes sensitivities. Natural Phenethyl is expensive and can be certified organic. Its possible will not say which ingredient is used on the product label. So look for a product certification, or at the price of the product.
Phenoxyethanol (EWG 4) Used as a preservative. An irritant, cam cause allergies. A product containing Phenoxyethanol should be kept away from infants.
Phytic Acid (EWG 1) Found in rice and plant seeds. Helps clear away dead skin cells a little like glycolic acid, but Phytic acid is not photosensitive and can be used in sunlight. It can help stop and reduce pigmentation.
Polyglyceryl-3 Esters (EWG 1) A natural mixture of polyglycerin-3, candelilla wax, jojoba seed wax, and rice bran wax that functions as a stabilizer and emulsifier in cosmetics.
Sodium Anisate (EWG 1) A natural plant acid with proven soothing effect to inflamed and irritated skin, it also helps to maintain the skin’s acid balance which increases protection against microbial infection.
Sodium Benzoate*, (EWG Score 3) A food grade preservative ( E211)that can be found naturally in foods & seasonings such as including cranberries, cinnamon, prunes and apples. Has been tested extensively for long & short term effects and found not to be a concern in small amounts. Currently found safe by the FDA, to use in concentrations of 0.1%. If eaten in fruit or seasoning in its natural form, Sodium Benzoate would be present in larger doses than what it is used for as a preservative. One concern of Sodium Benzoate is that when combined with Citric Acid or Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) that it can produce Benzene which is highly carcinogenic and may cause genetic mutations. This happens when the solution PH is 3.8 (acidic-Grapefruit juice) or lower. Heat, light and shelf life can affect the rate at which benzene is formed.
Its use is allowed in natural/organic cosmetic products.
Sodium Bicarbonate (EWG 1) (also known as baking soda) is a refined, soluble, white powder used as a leavening agent helping to soften bath water, cleanse in mouth care and absorbent in deodorants.
Sodium Coco-Sulfate, EWG Score 1, A surfactant, Synthetic made detergent. Derived from a combination of all the fatty acids of Coconut. Which will mean it contains some SLS, though it's molecular structure and the mixture is thought to be less irritating than SLS. Views are out to whether this is indeed a totally safe ingredient, or it is indeed "green-washing". Ideally do your own research on this one.
Sodium Dehydroacetate (EWG 1) A preservative considered safe as a cosmetic ingredient but not to be ingested. Thought to be a low hazard ingredient and to be an irritant.
Sodium Hyaluronate (EWG 1) Salt form of the skin-replenishing ingredient hyaluronic acid; considered more effective for skin than pure hyaluronic acid due to its greater compatibility. Naturally found in the dermis of the skin. Extracted from vegetable sources such as soybean or corn, using a fermentation process involving bacteria.
Sodium Levulinate (EWG 1) derived from salt formed by levulinic acid which is a preservative formed by plants and it food grade.
Sodium Phytate, EWG 1, is a plant-based complexing agent, which enables the formation of a fine-bubble foam in shampoos and thus improves the cleaning effect.
Sucrose Laurate (EWG 1 ) a white or off-white powder made from a combination of lauric acid and sucrose that is sometimes used in certain beverages as well as cosmetics. Used as a surfactant or an emulsifier.
Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate (EWG 1) An Emulsifier or moisturiser derived from coconut.Made by the reaction of lactic acid and stearic acid and conversion to sodium salts.
Stearic Acid (EWG 1 ) From animal or vegetable origin. Used as emulsifiers, emollients, and lubricants.
Tocopherol (EWG1 ) Vitamin E. Naturally from vegetable oils or synthetically derived. An Anti-oxidant and a preservative. Absorbs UV rays, an anti-inflammatory and moisturiser.
Zea mays (corn) starch - A fine silky powder obtained from dried corn, cornstarch is an absorbent used to facilitate the silky paste texture for face masks.
"The SCCP* is of the opinion that benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are safe for use for preservative and non-preservative purposes in cosmetic rinse-off products at a maximum concentration of 2.5 % and in cosmetic oral-care products at a maximum concentration of 1.7%, and in leave-on products up to 0.5%.27"
*The Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCP) in http://online.personalcarecouncil.org/ctfa-static/online/lists/cir-pdfs/FR574.pdf