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Recently, I’ve been reading this book by Miss Paula Begoun Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me 2nd Edition and I guess it’s really important for cosmetics users to know more about their products.

I have here a list of some chemical contents that are usually found in make ups and skin care products. Hopefully this will be beneficial to all of the readers.

1. Thickeners, emulsifiers, standard water-binding agents and slip agents- These are used in every cosmetic product to create texture, appearance, and help bind other ingredients together.

names: cetyl, stearyl alcohol, myristyl myristate, glyceryl stearate, cetyl esters, PEG-8, PEG-100 stearate, caprylic/ capric triglyceride, sorbitan stearate, cetyl acetate, polysorbate 80, acetylated lanolin alcohol, tea stearate, myristyl lactate, cetearyl alcohol, and ceteareth- 20. All of these and hundreds more are standard, wax-like ingredients that all clump together as thickeners and emulsifiers.

Slip agents and standard water binding ingredients are those that  allow cosmetic to glide over the face and help bring water into and on the skin, keeping it moist and smooth.

names: proplylene glycol, butylene glycol, hexylene glycol, lecithin, glycerin, dimethicone, and cyclomethicone, hyaluronic acid, mucopolysaccharides, sodium PCA, NaPCA, collagen, elastin, and protein.

2. Detergent Cleanser- this removes the oil or grease.

names: sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, tea-lauryl sulphate, cocamide DEA, ammonium laureth sulphate, ammonium lauryl sulphate.

Acetone- used in some astringents and toners for its ability to remove oil from the skin. It can cause drying and skin irritation.

Alcohol, SD Alcohol 10-40- usually found in many different types of skin care products,but most frequently in astringents, toners, and fresheners. It can severely dry out the skin, and the result is dryness and skin irritation.

Algae Extract- Derived from seaweed and any water where green stuff grows. It claims that it can do something for wrinkles; it can’t.

Allantoin, panthenol, aloe vera- They are well known to soothe the skin.

Amino Acids (Proteins and Animal Protein)- Constitute the protein in human skin. Twenty-two of these extremely complex substances are used in cosmetics. Proteins provide a smooth covering on the skin and are considered beneficial in helping the skin absorb water. They provide no other benefit such as building or supplementing the protein in your own skin.

Ammonium Glycerhizinate- a very good anti inflammatory agent. It helps soothe skin and reduce irritation.

Amniotic Fluid- In cosmetics the claim is that this fluid can rejuvenate the skin. There are no independent studies that supports this.

Animal Extracts- Animal extracts include the following: spleen, matrix, neural lipid, epidermal lipid, thymus, animal tissue of cow, pig, or sheep. There is no evidence that this extract can do anything for the skin, much less make it look younger, or even keep water in the skin for that matter.

2-Bromo-2-Notropane-1, 3 Diol- When this compound triethanolamine are used together in a cosmetic, they can combine to form a potentially carcinogenic material. By itself, is is a potent skin irritant.

Camphor- This can cause irritation upon contact with the skin.

Caprylic/Capric/Lauric Triglycerides- These are oily substance derived from coconut oil, and it helps keep water in the skin.

Cholesterol, Triglycerides, Phospholipids, Lecithin- These are found in human tissue. Very good for dry skin as it helps keep water in it.

Collagen and Elastin- They help keep water in the skin. The belief that they help rebuild the collagen on skin, when rubbed, is a thing of past. Due to their structure (in cosmetics) they can’t even penetrate the skin.

Fatty Acid- Stearic acid is the most popular one used in cosmetics.This substance is found in skin tissues and it keeps water in it.

Glycerin- It helps keep water on skin and keeps is moist.

Hyaluronic Acid- it is a mucopolysaccharide which is a basic element found in skin tissue. When used in creams and lotions it helps water penetrate the skin. There’s no evidence that it can aid the skin besides keeping the surface soft.

Isopropyl Myristate- The chemical has a reputation for causing blackheads and other skin irritations when used in concentrations of 10% or higher. Most cosmetics don’t use that much, but you don’t want to find this in the first few ingredients in a cosmetic you are thinking of using.

Kaolin, Bentonite- Both are clays that are used in cosmetics to aid in the absorption of excess oil. They can be slightly irritating.

Lanolin- The only thing negative about lanolin is that it is a potential skin sensitizer. Other than that, it is very effective for keeping the skin moist. You will see several types of lanolin on skin care product labels: hydroxylated lanolin, lanolin alcohols, lanolin oil, acetylated lanolin.

Liposomes (Ceramide)- It helps keep water and oil in the skin for a longer period of time than other skin care ingredients can.

Mineral Oil- it is considered one of the most non irritating cosmetic ingredient available and is superior at keeping the water in the skin though it has gained a bad reputation in the past.

Minerals– Minerals such as salt (sodium chloride), iodine, magnesium, chloride, potassium are potential skin irritants when found in the first part of a cosmetics ingredients list (later i will tell you why).

Mucopolysaccharides, Glycosaminoglycans- along with collagen and elastin, these substances are found in the lower layers of the human skin. In skin care products, they offer exactly the same benefit to the skin as collgen and elastin.

Oil- it keeps water in the skin.

Petrolatum- Study after study indicates it performs as well as or better than any other skin care ingredients for keeping the water in the skin ans does not clog the pores.

Plant Extracts- They offer little benefit other than to boost the appeal (price) of the product.

Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol- it is usually found in cleanser, lotion, toner, cream or specialty products. it helps attract moisture to the skin and helps the product spread evenly oven the skin.

Serum Albumin, Serum Protein- This is derived from the blood of cows or pigs and used as a moisturizing ingredients. Neither provide any benefit for the skin in spite of sounding like a blood transfusion.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Zinc Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Magnesium Lauryl Sulfate- These compounds are all cleansing ingredients found in shampoos and skin cleansers. They are considered drying when used as primary ingredient in a skin cleanser.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Magnesium Laureth Sulfate- They are more gentle cleansing ingredients than those mentioned above.They are found in most shampoos and water-soluble cleanser. They can be gentle but can also be somewhat drying to skin.

Sodium PCA- This ingredient is a component of human skin that is used in cosmetics for its ability to hold water to the skin.

Tocopherol- This is the chemical name for Vitamin E. It is used in cosmetics as anti-oxidant, which means it helps keep the air off the face, and helps prevent dehydration  and possible free-radical damage.

Vitamin A, Retinyl Palmitate, and Retinol- It is a derivative of Vitamin A. It is an anti-oxidant which helps prevent possible free-redical damage. They may also have some benefits in terms of allowing moisture to penetrate the skin.

Water- It rehydrates cells and provides moisture to the skin.

Witch Hazel- This compound is about 15-20 percent alcohol. It is considered to be a mild skin irritant. Many products claim to be alcohol-free contain witch hazel.


* When you check the ingredient list of a product, you should realize that the first five to ten ingredients are the ones most abundant in the formulas- are those that affect the skin the most. Ingredient labels are organized in descending order. The most significant ingredient is listed first, the next most used is listed the second, and so on.

** Remember that on ingredient list, the closer a specific ingredient to a preservative (such as methylparben,propylparaben, ethylparaben, disodium EDTA, urea, imidazolidinyl urea) or fragrance, the less likely there is any significant amount of it is present in the product.

I hope this will help you about the cosmetics that you use. Have a nice day!~ ^_^

* Credits to Miss Paula Begoun’s Book Don’t Go to The Cosmetics Counter without me Second Edition.