5 cosmetic ingredients that sound scary, but are totally innocent
We've often talked about the long list of scary chemicals found in most mass-produced bath and body care products, from lotions to soap to shampoo. But what about the ones that sound scary - with long, sometimes difficult-to-pronounce names - but are actually totally innocent? What's the real deal, and why do these things sound so bizarre?
The short answer is that Health Canada has very strict cosmetic product labelling requirements to protect consumers and help them make educated choices about the products they're buying. That means that botanical ingredients must be listed by their Latin names (for example, spearmint leaf oil is properly called Mentha viridis; beeswax becomes cera alba). Of course, many handmade products do not adhere very strictly to these guidelines. One of our challenges, which many other small companies face, has been to put French on our labelling, which is another compliance guideline. Labels are expensive, and so are translation services...but we're getting there!
The next time you're looking at a product label and wondering whether something is copacetic or not, see if you can find the ingredient below in this list of very common cosmetic ingredients that sound scary but are actually totally innocent.
1. Titanium dioxide - This is a mineral colour found in just about every opaque (white) product - specifically soaps, though of course it is also found in a wide range of other products, from makeup to food to house paint. If a soap is white, as opposed to clear, it contains titanium dioxide, which is just a naturally derived, safe mineral pigment.
2. Tocopherol - A form of Vitamin E derived from vegetable oils. It's used in lots of body care products as an antioxidant that's great for your skin, as well as a preservative in natural botanical products that helps keep other ingredients stable.
3. Butyrospermum parkii - Sounds like something you'd find in an oilfield, but actually it's the proper name for shea butter.
4. Lauric acid - This is a saturated fatty acid also known as dodecanoic acid. It is a component of triglycerides derived from the coconut oil and palm kernel oil in the all-natural soap base we use for our handmade soaps. We refer to it as dodecanoic acid so people won't confuse it with sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, SLS.
5. Sorbitan oleate - This solid ingredient is the monoester of oleic acid (a source of omegas) derived from sorbitol (a sugar alcohol naturally found in fruits, and often used as a humectant). It is used in a variety of formulas in the cosmetic industry, including skin care products, moisturizers and makeup makeup; in soap and body wash, it's used as an emulsifier, keeping the vegetable oils together.
There! Now you know a bit more about naturally derived products that, rather unfairly, sound like harsh chemicals. We'll be back with another post about the chemicals to truly avoid in the body care products you use every day.