Unlike the simple and recognizable ingredients that go into the manufacture of organic cosmetics, the ingredients that go into making most cosmetic products reads like a sci-fi mystery. Demystifying what these ingredients are, and why they are in your favorite product to begin with, is not easy, and with very little regulation as to whether these products are safe, it’s a good idea to know what you are putting on your skin every day.
In the United States, the chemical ingredients in your cosmetics are not subject to FDA pre-market approval (with the exception of color additives). In Europe, where controls are tighter, the European Union has banned a total of 1,100 chemicals in cosmetics, while the US has only banned 9 chemical ingredients, and has imposed no new bans since 1989.
But it’s not all bad news – many of the ingredients in your favorite products are actually natural ingredients with an unprounceable name. That’s because cosmetic ingredients are listed in Latin to ensure consistency throughout the industry, and follow the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, (INCI) system of names for waxes, oils, pigments, chemicals and other ingredients. INCI names often differ greatly from common names, so just because you cannot pronounce the ingredients on the label, does not mean it’s time to throw out all your expensive lotions and potions.
For example, did you know that Butyrospermum Parkii, is Shea Butter? Or that Carum Petroselinum is not some harmful petrochemical, but simply, healthy, healing, Parsley?
Now that you are feeling a little better, here are a few common ingredients (and their Latin name) that are not harmful or toxic (unless you are allergic to the source):
Hemp Seed Oil Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil
Jojoba Seed Oil Simmondsia Chinensis
Lavender Oil Lavandula Angustifolia
Peppermint Leaf Mentha Piperita
Purified Water Aqua
Shea Butter Butyrospermum Parkii
Tea Tree Oil Melaleuca Alternifolia
Vitamin E Tocopherol
Yucca Herbal Extract Yucca Schidigera Stem Extract
One more thing! INCI labeling rules dictate the all ingredients are listed in descending order – meaning the ingredient with the highest percentage should be listed first. So when reading the labels, the first ingredients listed are the ones that count the most. Normally the first 2-8 ingredients are the big ones, while the rest are just included in very small quantities, although this of course varies a lot depending on the product.
- Organic Make-up: A Beautiful Trend (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Got Sensitive Skin? (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- DHEA (healthyskinsolutions.com)