Natural Health Resource Center

  • Natural remedies, homeopathy, herbal preparations, and other alternative health practices can offer a natural way to maintain ones health. However, herbs can be very powerful and it is important to know how your body responds to different combinations and doses. This section provides some guidance when selecting alternative health options.

Cosmetic Ingredients Reference
Guide & Dictionary                                

This cosmetic reference guide gives a brief description of the most common ingredients and terms. There are many debates on additives and it is suggested that you examine formulas to guarantee their safety and suitability.

This guide will help to identify the mysterious names commonly found on labels. Click on the first letter in the name to see the alphabetic listing.


A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H     I     J     K     L     M
N     O     P     Q    R     S     T     U    V    W    X     Y     Z


Abietic Acid
Obtained from pine rosin. Used as a texturizer in soaps.

The most frequently used are calcium carbonate (chalk) and, in toothpaste, di-calcium phosphate dihydrate.

Pure essential oils acquired from plants (mostly flowers) and used in products as natural fragrance additives.

Acetic Acid
Acid found in vinegar, some fruits, and human sweat. Used in hair dyes and hand lotions, and in lotions for bleaching freckles. Skin irritant and toxic to lungs.

Colorless, flammable liquid. Used in nail polish, nail polish removers. It is excessively toxic.

Acid Rinse
Extremely useful for eliminating soap films from the hair after shampooing. A mixture of vinegar or lemon juice and water is a common one.

After Shave
A perfumed liquid usually containing alcohol used to soothe the skin after shaving. May contain menthol to cool irritated skin.

After Shave Balm
After shave with a thicker consistency containing lotion for increased moisturizing capabilities.

Type of protein found in blood, egg whites, milk, fruits, and vegetables.

The study and practice of chemistry in the Middle Ages which focused primarily on the transmutation of metals into gold and the finding of a universal remedy for disease.

A group of compounds that includes ethanol, methanol, and others.

Groups of synthetic fatty acids designated as DEA, MEA, MIPA, and PEG. Used for thickening, gelling, emulsifying, emolliency, skin and hair conditioning, foam boosting, foam stabilizing, wetting, opacifying, lubricating, powder binding, skin protecting, fungicidal properties, and superfatting. Found in shampoos, bubble baths, and liquid hand and body cleansers. Harmful when contaminated by nitrosamines and harmful to the environment.

Reported to have healing, soothing, and anti-irritating properties. Extracted from urea, which is derived from the urine of most animals, and from herbs like comfrey or uva ursi.

Aloe Vera Gel
Is a compound expressed from the leaf of the aloe plant, which is a South African lilylike plant. A moisture storehouse for enzymes, vitamins, proteins, and minerals that support skin functions, Aloe Vera helps maintain the skin's moisture balance and stimulates blood circulation. Tightens and rejuvenates skin leaving it silky feeling.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Group of acids that appear naturally in fruit. Used in toners, creams, and masks to exfoliate and moisturize the skin. Can be a skin irritant causing redness and rashes.

Amino Acids
Every living cell in the body contains protein and cannot function properly without it. Approximately 80 amino acids are found in nature; only 20 are necessary for human metabolism. Some must be supplied by food and are called "essential". Amino acids are rapidly absorbed in the blood stream, and in combination with vitamins, provide essential nutrients to a wound area to promote healing.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Derived from natural coconut alcohols. Acts as a mild cleanser.

Anise Oil
Known for its warm, spicy liquorice-like scent. An antiseptic and stimulant.

Substances that slow the breakdown of nutrients and counteract the destructive effect of free radicals (chemically reactive compounds) in the body. There are several types which include vitamins A, E, C complex, and B complex, the minerals selenium and zinc, and the synthetic compounds BHT and BHA. Vitamins A, C, and E as well as BHA and BHT are used as preserving agents in cosmetics.

A person who prepares and sells medications, a pharmacist. A system of weights used in the pharmacy.

Apricot Kernel
A natural exfoliant especially when finely ground.

Arnica Extract
Herbal extract made from the dried flowers of a mountain-loving plant. Has reviving and firming qualities.

The pleasing odor, many times recognizable, given off by a substance.

The use of essences that are extracted from different parts of a plant - Root, Seed, Flower, Leaf, Bark, Fruit. These essences are called essential oils. Essential oils have numerous properties and various scents that affect us on a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical level. The art of using the essential (odor producing) oils from roots, barks, and herbs for treating the skin and body.

Ascorbic Acid
Acid occurring naturally in many fruits. Also known as vitamin C. Used as a preservative in food and cosmetics. Nontoxic and not a skin irritant.

A clear liquid containing alcohol used mostly to cleanse oily skin, closes pores with its property of contracting the skin.

Azuki Beans
Traditional Japanese beans which, when ground, are excellent natural exfoliants. Protein and mineral rich.



Balm Mint Extract
A fragrant herb with soothing properties

Base Notes
The infusion of fragrance with your personal body chemistry.

Bath Gels
A perfumed foaming product used in the bath for its soothing, cleansing and emollient qualities.

Bath Oils
A perfumed liquid, usually containing mineral or vegetable oil, designed to moisturize the skin in the bath. Can be foaming or non-foaming.

Bath Powder
Scented loose powder applied to the body with a powder puff after bathing.

Bath Salts
Rock salts used in the bath to color, scent and, or chemically treat the water.

Bee Pollen
A natural substance that is prominent in pantothenic acid. European research suggests it may be beneficial in fighting the effects of radiation exposure. It is not, however, particularly valuable as a topical.

Clay that is an effective skin clarifier. Used in facial masks. It takes its name from Fort Benton where bentonite deposits are found.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives.

The learning of the chemical compounds workings that occur in living plants and animals.

It is one of the B vitamins that assists in dermatitis and hair loss.

The plug of a clogged oil gland (pore) exposed to the surface of the skin with a black tip. Easily visible.

A thorough mixture of two or more substances so that neither is distinguishable from the other. In makeup application, shading.

Body Lotion
A non-oily product applied to the skin to moisturize, soothe and scent. Can be stored in a tube or bottle.

This common term refers to salts describable to boric oxide or orthoboric acid.

Boric Acid
Also known as acidum boricum. Used widely as an eyewash. Odorless, white crystalline powder. It can be used around windows and doors as a bug repellent. Should not be used in baby cosmetics or baby powder. It is poisonous at doses 1-3g for babies, 5g for children, and 15-20g for adults.

Any substance acquired from plants which has medicinal or similar uses.

Brewers Yeast
Rich in vitamins and proteins, this proven moisturizer helps keep skin soft and supple.

Toxic alcohol. It is used in fabric softeners and detergents. It is also used in face creams, shampoos, hair dressings, mascara, and bath oils. It is a white crystalline powder that can cause skin irritation at concentrations of .25%.

Butyl Acetate
A toxic solvent used in nail polish and many other products.

Butyl Stearate
An artificial chemical found in face creams and other facial care products.



A pink powder that is made of zinc oxide with a small amount of ferric oxide. It is used in lotions, ointments, and liniments. It is a customary mixture that is soothing and healing to the skin. It is great for itchy rashes such as poison ivy. It is natural but some formulas contain phenol which can cause poisoning when applied to the skin. A blend of natural calamine and aloe vera is a good, pure skin treatment for burns, rashes, and insect bites.

Calcium Alginate
Nontoxic. It is used in many foods for binding. Also used as a film-former in peel-off masks. It is a stabilizer for oil-in-water emulsions.

Calcium Carbonate
Natural occurring salt that is found in limestone, chalk, and marble. It is used as a pigment and for pigment prolonging. It has no known toxicity.

Calcium Chloride
Customarily used in road salt and antifreeze. It is used in cosmetics as an emulsifier and texturizer. If taken internally, it can cause constipation and stomach problems. It can also cause lung difficulties if inhaled during manufacturing or processing. It's toxicity in cosmetics is unknown.

Calendula Extract
Marigolds are the source for this wonderful emollient oil which has a soothing effect on skin.

Camphor Oil
Distilled from the wood, roots and branches of an evergreen tree native to China and Japan. Used to treat acne, inflammation, oily conditions, spots.

Candelilla Wax
A herbal wax. It is used in lipsticks, in creams, and as a replacement for rubber.

Caprylic acid
An oil liquid made by the oxidation of octanol for use in perfumery. Occurs naturally in palm and coconut oil.

Capsicum Oleoresin
An oil from the pepper family that is used in hair tonics to arouse the scalp. It is said to upgrade hair growth. It may however cause allergic reactions in some people.

A concentrated solution of heated sugar or glucose. It is used in cosmetics as a color and in skin lotions as a soothing agent. In 198,1 the FDA ruled caramel generally recognized as safe.

Carbomer 934,940,941,960,961
Used in many cosmetics and toothpastes as a thickener. It can cause eye irritation.

Natural red color comes from the dried female cochineal beetle. It is sometimes used to color lip gloss, lipsticks, and other cosmetics.

Develops in plants and in the bodies of plant-eating animals. They are precursors to vitamin A.

Carrot Oil
Rich in vitamins and minerals, this oil has many antiseptic properties. Smoothes and tones skin. Used for skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rashes.

CA 24
Used as an antimicrobial in shampoos and bath lotions at concentrations of up to .3%. Humans have had allergic reactions to a .1% water solution of it within 24, 48, or 72 hours of use. CA 24 contains 70% chloroacetamide and 30% sodium benzoate.

Cell Renewal
The orderly replacement of the skin cells from the basal layer to the stratum corneum, a process which ordinarily takes from 28 - 35 days although this time increases with age.

The fiber in the cell walls of all plants. Gum that is made from it is used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and binder in cosmetics. There is no known toxicity. Inhaling the powder during manufacturing or processing can be harmful to the lungs.

Certified Colors
A color "certified" by the FDA as safe. However, various colors (coal tar dyes) have been found to cause cancer. But, hair dyes are exempt from even this regulation.

Used in cosmetics as an emulsifier and lotion. Dries out the skin and causes numerous allergic reactions.

Cetearyl Alcohol
May be natural or artificial. It's used in most lotions. A thickener and carrying agent for other ingredients.

Cetyl Alcohol
Used as an emollient, emulsifier, thickener, and carrying agent for other ingredients. Can be derived naturally, as in coconut fatty alcohol, or synthetically.

Cetyl Lactate, Myristate, Palmitate, and Stearate
Natural or synthetic compounds used as emollients and texturizers in cosmetics.

Chamomile Oil
Known for its calming effect. Soothing and anti-inflammatory for the skin and the spirit.

Citric Acid
Used as a flavoring agent in foods and pharmaceuticals, and as a preservative sequestering agent. Foam-stabilizer and pH-adjuster in cosmetics. It is nontoxic.

Clover Blossom Extract
Soothes and conditions the skin.

Coal Tar
A topical anti-eczematic. Coal is a mineral of organic origin, formed from the remains of vegetation which over millions of years has changed to coal. From early times, people relied on the strength of the sun and the use of coal tar as their only form of treatment for psoriasis.

Cocamide DEA, MEA, and MIPA
See alkyloamides.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Artificial substance frequently referred to as a natural substance made "from coconuts" on the labels of shampoos. It's a secondary surfactant, used in combination with other, stronger surfactants.

Cod Liver Oil
A rich source of vitamins A and D. When vitamin A deficiency occurs the most outstanding symptom is dry, scaly skin, particularly on the hands and soles of the feet.

70% of the body's connective tissue in the dermis is made of collagen. Gerontologists have discovered that is where the aging process of the skin takes place. Young connective tissue is made up of soluble collagen whose molecules are disordered in relation to each other. As the skin ages, and is exposed to sunlight, chemicals (like makeup, coal tar dyes, etc., and various foods), the soluble collagen becomes "cross-linked," so the molecules are no longer displaced in relation to each other. Cross-linking makes the collagen insoluble and inflexible. As this happens, the connective tissues becomes strained, dry, wrinkled, and worn.

Fragrance applied to the skin, usually with a floral or citrus base. Originally named after a town in Germany, it usually contains an alcohol content higher than that of perfume. Fragrance concentration of 2-5%.

Cologne (Men)
The most concentrated form of fragrance for men. A blend of ingredients which can include alcohol, essential oils and natural or man-made scents combined for a unique fragrance experience.

A plant that produces Allentoin, an ingredient that promotes skin healing. This extract is anti-inflammatory, astringent and emollient.

Known for its ability to soften skin, leaving it more supple. A natural antiseptic.

Has soothing effects on the skin and improves moisture retention.

Emollient skin conditioning agent derived from silica. Water repellent, skin-adherent and stable over a wide range of temperatures.



Dandruff: A chronic noninflammatory scaling of the scalp. The absence of inflammation sets dandruff apart from other scaling conditions of the scalp, namely, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff can be confused with dry scalp. Dry scalp is caused by drying conditions. Wind, indoor heat, sap moisture from the scalp, causing flaking. Dandruff is the result of accelerated cell turnover and people with oily scalps tend to suffer most from dandruff. The dandruff test: brush or shake hair over dark paper. If you see powdery flakes, it's dry scalp. If you see clumps, you may have dandruff.

This abbreviation preceding the name of a color means that the FDA has certified it as safe for use in drugs and cosmetics, but not in food. D&C means that the color can only be used externally and not around the eyes or inside the mouth. D&C colors are usually man-made.

Dantoin 685
A preservative used in shampoos and deodorants. Contains formaldehyde and N-acetal. Highly toxic. Also listed as DMDM hydantoin.

A product that reduces perspiration odor. There are natural deodorants containing herbs like marigold and vitamin E. Deodorants do not stop perspiration.

Loss of water/moisture from the body or skin.

Destroy hair by breaking the chemical bonds that hold it together. After using any hair removal method, a moisturizer should be applied to soothe the skin.

Inflammation of the skin covering a wide variety of skin disorders and evidenced by itching, redness and various skin lesions. Can be due to one of several causes - systemic disease, skin irritants such as poison ivy, corrosives, acids and alkalies or hypersensitivity.

The second or middle layer of skin. contains the blood vessels, elastin and collagen, etc.

These artificial soaps may be made with a variety of chemicals and are frequently not biodegradable.

More commonly known by its abbreviation, DEA. One of many artificial detergents. It may be contaminated with nitrosamines and should be avoided.

Gives a smooth feel to a cosmetic cream or lotion. Various allergic reactions and internal problems make them questionable as cosmetic ingredients. Although they're still widely used, they should be avoided. Many herbal oils, such as vegetable glycerin, can easily replace this chemical.

DMDM Hydantoin
See Dantoin 685.

According to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (as amended), a drug is:

  • Articles recognized in the United States Pharmacopoeia, the official National Formulary, or any supplement to any of them.
  • Articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in human beings or other animals.
  • Articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of human beings or other animals.


Eau de Parfum
Women’s fragrance with a lighter scent concentration than perfume (8 to 15%). Can be used in a spray application.

Eau de Toilette
See Toilet Water

Acute or chronic weeping, crusting and inflammatory skin conditions. Eczema is more the description of a symptom than of a disease. The word has become synonymous with dermatitis.

Eau de Cologne. See Cologne

See Eau de Parfum

See Toilet Water

An artificial chemical that is used as an antioxidant and as a "complexing" agent in shampoos, which means that it binds metallic irons so that the surfactants can work more effectively.

Elder Flowers
Elder flower has been used for generations to keep complexion soft. It both tones and protects the skin.

Prevent water loss and have a softening and soothing effect on the skin. They can be natural, like almond oil, or manufactured, like mineral oil.

A stable combination of oil and water phases accomplished with the use of surfactants.

The outer layer of skin.

Essential Fatty Acids
Sometimes known as vitamin F, these substances can't be manufactured by the body and must be consumed in the diet. There are three types: linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic. The primary fatty acids fulfill many functions in our bodies. They lubricate, aid in the transportation of oxygen to the cells, and help thicken the blood.

Essential Oils
Oily liquids obtained from plants. Complex mixtures of alcohols, ketones, phenols, acids, ethers, aldehydes, esters, oxides, and sulfur compounds (among others). They're also called volatile oils, ethereal oils, essences, or absolutes.

Ethanol (or ethyl alcohol)
Colorless, vaporizable liquid. Has a burning taste. Well-known to most of us as the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Commonly called simply "alcohol," although there are many other kinds of alcohols. Ethanol is widely used in cosmetics as a solvent and as an antibacterial agent. As a preservative, it's effective at concentrations of 15% to 20%. It's an antitoxin in concentrations of 60% to 70%, with a bactericidal effect within 45 seconds. It's also used in acne treatments and in rinses for oily hair. Ethanol absorbs water and thus can be very drying in fast-drying skin lotions (at concentrations of 15%); the lotions need to include glycerols and vegetable oils to minimize the drying effect. Provokes a late allergic reaction in some people when used topically. Taken orally, ethanol is toxic in doses above 80g. Ethanol is often purposely made poisonous by the addition of methanol and it is then known as SDA (specially denatured alcohol).

Ethyl Acetate
Compound made from acetic acid and ethyl alcohol used as a solvent and in nail polish and nail polish removers. May irritate skin.

Eucalyptus Extract
Stimulating and antiseptic oil. Aids in the formation of healthy skin tissue. Very healing.

A product used to shed the superficial cells of the outer layer of skin.

To remove the outermost layer of dead skin cells with a scrub or cleanser.

Ext. D&C
When followed by a color, means that the FDA has certified it as safe for use only in drugs and in cosmetics used externally and not around the eyes or inside the mouth. It is not safe for foods.



Acquired from animal fat, oil seeds, or fruit pulp. They are used as lotion or salve in cosmetics. They can be solid, semisolid, or liquid.

Fatty Acids
Organic oils found in vegetable and animal fats. Excellent skin emollients and an important part of the diet.

Fatty Alcohols
Thick to semi-thick syrup-like liquids. Give high emolliency. Can be natural or man-made. Sometimes used in hair and skin-conditioners, creams, lotions, and conditioning shampoos.

The Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency responsible for managing the safety and strength of all foods and drugs, and cosmetics sold in the US.

When preceded by the name of a color, the Food and Drug Administration has certified the coloring safe for use in food, drugs, and cosmetics.

A small bottle with a stopper used to hold perfume, usually a decorative or collectible item.

Fluid Ounces
Unit of volume in the U.S. system of weights and measures. Used to measure liquid, one fluid ounce is equal to 29.57 milliliters.

Fluoride is toxic. It is however used in toothpaste as an antienzyme ingredient to slow down tooth decay. It is added to the water supply in some states and sites.

Colorless, harsh, irritating substance that is found in many preservatives. It is severely toxic when inhaled or swallowed. 44% of all people whose skin is exposed to it get an irritating reaction. It is used in shampoos at concentrations of .1% to .2%. Methanol is sometimes added to formaldehyde at a 15% concentration to prevent polymerization.

Sweet pleasing odor used to enhance products of all kinds, especially in the beauty industry. May be used in differing concentrations for various products.

No added fragrances; just the natural aroma of the ingredients.

Fragrance Oil
A concentrated product used in the creation of perfume, cologne or toilet water.

Free –Radical
Circulating substances in the body that could cause a breakdown of the immune system and lead to disease processes or infection.

Free Radicals
Unstable or chemically incomplete molecules which can be formed within skin as a result of sun, pollution and stress. These molecules may "steal" particles from other molecules thus creating more unstable compounds and setting off a chain reaction that can damage cells. Anti-oxidants such as Vitamins C and E fight free radical action that can weaken epidermal support, resulting in wrinkling of skin, dryness, loss of skin elasticity and premature aging.

Fruit Acids
Found in various fruits and herbs. They are used in masks and moisturizers for their ability to moisturize and exfoliate the skin. Fruit acids are used in concentrations as low as .25% and as high as 8%. The higher concentrations increase the "heat" of the product and the peeling action. It can also cause skin irritation in some people.

Full Bodied
A rich-scented fragrance.



Gamma Linolenic Acid
A fatty acid. Found in evening primrose oil, black currant seeds, borage oil, and mother's milk.

Refined protein from animal origin. Used as a thickener and film-forming agent.

Geranium Oil
An effective anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent derived from the aromatic plant. For use on acne and oily skin.

Ginger Oil
Revered in Asia since the earliest of times, ginger acts as an antiseptic and stimulant.

Gingko Biloba Oil
Ginko, thought to be the oldest tree on the planet, has long been used in Chinese medicine. Used for its anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic properties.

A polyethylene glycol ether of glycerin. It is an artificial form of glycerin.

Glycerin, Glycerine, Glycerol
Sweet, syrupy alcohol that can be produced artificially from propylene alcohol or naturally derived from vegetable oils. Used in cosmetics for thousands of years as a solvent, plasticizer, humectant, emollient, and lubricant.

Glyceryl Coconate, Dilaurate, Erucate, Hydroxystearate, Monostearate, Myristate, Oleate, Ricinoleate, Sesquioleate, Stearate, Trimyristate, etc.
Largely artificial chemicals with a drop or two of some natural fatty acid. Used as a texturizer in pasta products and as a opacifying agent in shampoos, lotions, and creams.

Glycolic Acid
Used as a skin care treatment in exfoliation creams and masks. It may irritate mucous membranes and cause allergic reactions.

Grapefruit Oil
A natural bactericide, preserver and stabilizer. Both a tonic and astringent.

Green Tea
Anti-carcinogenic. Contains polyphenolic antioxidants which play an important role in the prevention of cell damage. Has a soothing and moisturizing effect.

Polysaccharides of high molecular weight that are scattered in water. They are incomparable to manufactured polymers like the PVP/PVA copolymers. Some gums are used as hair setting products. Natural thickeners are acacia, tragacanth, quince seed, and locust bean.



The state of physical and mental well-being, free from disease.

Hemp Seed Oil
A natural source of essential fatty acids vital in preventing cell loss, regulating skin's moisture barrier and maintaining elasticity. This oil absorbs directly into the skin and provides important amino acids, linoleic acid, protein and highly prized Omega oils. Skin visibly responds to this rich nourishment.

Particularly used in medicine, cosmetics, or foods. A plant without woody tissue that withers and dies after flowering.

The fragrance blend from the herbaceous family of plant life. This is a fresh scent that can be used successfully in shampoos and body products.

Person who is in the business of cultivating and processing herbs for use in industry, both beauty and health.

The practice of natural medicine, using herbal substances rather than conventional medications.

Artificial chemical that is used to replace the phenolic compounds that are used in sunscreens.

Used to retain moisture. Using a natural humectant in a cosmetic product helps speed moisturization to the skin.

Hyaluronic Acid
A chemical ingredient that helps skin hold on to moisture. It is the body's natural lubricantand part of the natural moisturizing factor.

As a noun, this means a compound formed by the union of water with another substance. As a verb, it means to supply water to something that absorbs it.

A hormone from the adrenal gland. Synthesized for medical use, particularly for application to inflamed skin. It can adversely affect the skin by damaging the collagen of the connective tissues.

Hydrolyzed Animal Protein
Appears in many shampoos. Improves hair, repairs spilt ends, and gives luster to the hair.

Cosmetic ingredient that will attract moisture to the skin.

Artificial polymer is used as an emulsifier and plasticizer.

Hypericum Extract
Also known as St. John's Wort. An extract of the leaves of the stem of the Hypericum Perforatum which is known for its ability to purify and soothe the skin.



Imidazolidinyl Urea
Commonly used cosmetic preservative. Can cause contact dermatitis.

The addition of an herb or other natural substance to an oil or other liquid to extract the fragrance or flavor into that liquid.

In Vitro
Experiments carried out in an artificial environment, outside of living organisms.

In Vivo
Within a living organism, as opposed to in vitro.

Nonmetallic element. Occurs in seawater and in plants and animals that grow in the sea. When applied topically, it has antiseptic benefits.

Irish Moss
Also known as carrageenan. A seaweed that looks like moss which is used as a soothing emollient.

Iron Oxides
Compounds of iron that are used as colorings in some cosmetics. Also known as jewelers' rouge or rust.

Isopropyl Alcohol
Artificial fatty alcohol. Used as an antiseptic, a solvent, a rubbing alcohol, and as a source for acetone.

Isopropyl Lanolate, Laurate, Oleate, Palmitate, Stearate, and Isostearate
These are esters of isopropyl alcohol and various fatty acids.

Isopropyl Myristate
This synthetic chemical is used to reduce the greasy feel caused by the high oil content of other ingredients.

Ivy Extract
An extract of the climbing plant. Used for its anti-septic properties.



Jasmine Oil
Often used as a source of perfume. The oil is considered antidepressant and relaxing, and is used externally to soothe dry or sensitive skin.

Jojoba Butter and Oil
Extracted from the edible seeds of the desert shrub Simondsia californica. Used as a lubricant and hair conditioner. Often used in shampoos, moisturizers, and sunscreens. May cause allergic reactions.

Juniper Extract
Extract obtained from the sweet pulp of the juniper berry. Works as a natural skin and hair freshener, and has anti-itching qualities.

Juniper Oil
Has a slightly warming effect on the skin and is thought to promote removal of waste products from underlying tissues. Effectively tones skin.

Used in manufacturing high-grade porcelain, paper, paint, cloth, soaps, and many powdered and covering cosmetics. It's also used for its dehydrating and astringent effect. It's known as China Clay.

This insoluble albumoid (fiber protein) can be found in horny tissues like the hair and nails. High in sulfur, it's quite strong, but it is subject to chemical penetration.

These odorous substances, used in nail polish removers, are toxic.



The Cosmetic Labeling Act ( Fair packaging and labeling act ) marked a major step in helping consumers become aware of what they put into their hair and rub onto their faces. Passed April 14, 1977, it requires that ingredients be listed, in descending order of concentration, on the labels of most cosmetics. Soap, however, excluded, and flavors, fragrances and trade secrets don't have to be listed specifically.

Lactic Acid
Naturally occurs in products made by bacterial fermentation. Produces pH levels like those of the hair and skin. It also helps moisturize the skin naturally.

Lake Colors
These solid forms of dyes are made by mixing liquid dye with an insoluble powder like aluminum oxide. They may be natural, but they're usually manufactured and are made from coal tar.

This yellow, semisolid, fatty discharge from sheep's wool is used as an emulsifier, a base, and an ointment. There have been some reports of allergic reactions.

Lauramide DEA
This white, waxy, nonionic, artificial chemical is used in shampoos, bubble baths, and detergents as a surfactant and foam-builder. It may be mildly irritating to the skin.

Lauryl Alcohol
This fatty alcohol, often derived from coconut oil, is used to make anionic surfactants. It may be natural or man-made.

Lavender Oil
Known for its sweet, floral-herbaceous scent. Lavender has significant antiseptic and antibacterial actions which help promote healing. Used in baths to relax, revive and soothe. For use on all skin types.

The ability of a person to wear different forms of the same fragrance at the same time. For example, bath gel, bath powder and cologne all used at the same time, it surrounds the user with a fragrance experience.

Used as an emulsifier and surfactant. High in the B vitamins choline and inositol. It's found in egg yolk and manufactured from soy oil.

Lemon Oil
From the fruit of the citrus lemon. Known for its astringent and anti-irritant qualities.

Lime Oil
Shares many qualities with lemon oil. Has many antiseptic and restorative properties.

Linden Extract
From the flowers of the Linden tree. The flowers contain essential oils which are celebrated for their brightening and soothing qualities.

Linoleic Acid
Essential fatty acid, found in cold pressed oils, used as an emulsifier in cosmetics.

These materials are soluble in alcohol (and other solvents) but not in water. Includes fatty acids, fats, waxes, fixed oils, phosphatides, cerebrosides, and sometimes steroids and carotenoids. Along with proteins and carbohydrates, lipids constitute the structure of cells. When used on the skin, they have a moisturizing and cream action.

Microscopic sacs obtained from natural or synthetic sources. Because these can easily penetrate the skin, in lotions and creams liposomes are used to deliver substances, contained within the sac, to internal skin layers.



Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
Flaky white solid. Used as a filler and thickener in cosmetics. Especially used in antiperspirants, creams, and shaving creams.

Magnesium Stearate
Used as a filler in cosmetics.

Matricaria Oil
Oil obtained from the dried flower heads of the plant Matricaria Chamomilla. Celebrated as a source of azulene, the blue substance known for its reviving quality.

Monoethanolamine. See alkyloamides.

Melon Extract

Melon has natural cleansing properties as well as the ability to soften and soothe the skin.

Derived from peppermint. Has soothing properties if used in concentrations of 1% or less.

Methyl Acetate
Artificial chemical used as an aromatic and solvent. It can cause dryness.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)
Flammable, colorless liquid. Primarily used as a solvent. Skin irritant.

Somewhat shiny silicate minerals split into very thin sheets. Used in eye cosmetics to provide sparkle.

Middle Note
The second stage of fragrance development on the skin. Individuals react to different chemicals causing variations in scent.

Milk Bath
A bath preparation made with milk products as the base. A natural product, it is soothing to the skin.

Milk Protein
Obtained from a whole cow's milk. For centuries, milk has been used as a natural, soothing skin cleanser and softener.

Mineral Oil
A liquid mixture of hydrocarbons gathered from petroleum. Light mineral oil is an ingredient of choice as an essential moisturizer for psoriasis, primarily functioning as an occlusive barrier to retard moisture loss without restricting essential ingredient absorption. In the case of a psoriatic condition the water loss from the external skin layers can exceed the rate of replacement from below, hence as part of our formulation, it is necessary to place an occlusive barrier onto the surface of the skin to retard water loss.

When externally used on the hair or skin raises the moisture content.

Liquid amino alcohol that is used as an humectant and emulsifier in cosmetics.



Nail Polish Remover
Highly flammable. Can dissolve many plastics. It can be fatal if swallowed. The conditioning ingredients do little to mitigate acetone's strongly drying and degreasing effects.

Ingredients produced entirely from extracts taken from plants or animals, with no synthetic substances or additives.

Natural Spray
A spray in pump form, using no aerosol or chemical additives.

Nettle Leaf
Primarily used as a cleansing, detoxifying agent. Helps many skin conditions.

Flammable man-made substance. Used as an emulsifier and protective film in cosmetics, especially nail polish.

Carcinogenic compounds formed from secondary amines (nitosating agents) and nitrous acid. Typical nitrosating agents used in cosmetic formulations are DEA, MEA, and TEA.

Will not clog oil glands to produce a break-out on people
prone to acne.

Does not clog oil glands to cause blemishes.



Ground oat kernels (after husks have been removed). A natural, mild exfoliant. Soothing to the skin. Found in Oatmeal-Lavender Cleanser and Oatmeal-Mint Cleanser.

A product in which oil soluble solutions are the major part.

Oil Glands
Oil/Sebaceous glands produce a waxy-fatty substance called sebum which lubricates the skin and protects it from moisture loss.

Oleic Acid
Fatty acid that is a common constituent of many animals and vegetables. It is a common cosmetic ingredient.

Oleth-2 through Oleth-50
These polyethylene glycol ethers of oleic alcohol are used as surfactants.

Oleyl Alcohol
Fatty alcohol. Oily, unsaturated liquid found in fish oils. Is used to make surface-active agents.

Natural chemical compounds found in nature, void of synthetic substances. Also known as all-natural.

Sunscreening agent derived from isopropanol.

Naturally occurring waxlike mineral. An emulsifier and thickening agent used in lipstick and cream rouge.



Used in baby oils, bath oils, eye creams, hair conditioners, and moisturizers. It can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Palmitic Acid
Fatty acid from palm oil.

Palm Oil
White to yellowish fat. Used to make soaps, shampoos, ointments, and margarine.

Para-aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)
Found in Vitamin B complex. Used in sunscreen formulations and as an anesthetic in sunburn products. Can cause allergic reactions.

Toxic. Allergenic. Artificial chemicals. Used to preserve cosmetics. They are not effective with shampoos or with products that contain proteins.

Waxy, crystalline mixture. Used as a thickener for cosmetics.

See Perfume

Native to Malaysia and the Philippines, Patchouli has been used extensively in Asian Medicine. Its most common use has been as an aphrodisiac. It is thought to have a regenerative effect.

Patch Test
Apply a small amount of cosmetic to your inner arm, cover it with a bandage and leave it for 24 hours, if you are concerned with allergic reactions.

Natural substance. Used in cosmetics as an emulsifier and thickener. Contains partially methoxylated polygalacturonic acids.

PEG Compounds
Artificial. Used as solvents, bases, carriers, emulsifiers, and dispersants.

Peppermint Oil
An excellent antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Soothes and tones blemished, irritated skin. Cooling.

Natural or artificial. Composed of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. When peptide bonds in the hair are broken, the result is damaged hair.

The most concentrated form of synthetically prepared fragrance, applied to the skin to enhance the nature of one’s image. Dating back to ancient times, perfume was created by the Egyptians of resins and wood mixed with oils and water. Today’s perfumes are an enhanced blend of essential oils, alcohol and water, and the “secret” ingredients of its creator.

Petroleum Jelly
Semisolid mixture. Obtained from petroleum.

These are preservatives widely used in many cosmetics and shampoo. Another name is paraben.

Phosphoric Acid
Clear, viscous liquid. Use in cosmetics as an antioxidant, sequestrant, and acidifier.

Photo damage/ photoaging
Changes the appearance and function of the skin due to repeated sun exposure and not to the passage of time; may result in skin cancer. Sun protection is the principle means of protecting photoaging changes. Skin cancer incidence can also be reduced.

Medications or food which render the skin sensitive to light (sun) thereby causing an adverse reaction.

A cosmetic made mainly from vegetable sources.

Pineapple Extract
Pineapple's anti-inflammation and anti-irritation qualities, combined with its ability to refine the skin make it excellent for face care products.

An organ present in all mammals except marsupials and monotremes, unites the fetus to the mother and is expelled at birth. Bovine placenta liquid, obtained from cows, is used in some cosmetics as a moisturizer.

Polymers, polymeric, polymerization
Used in cosmetics to keep sunscreens from washing off, in hair-setting products, and as binders in skin creams. Plastic fingernails are also produced by polymerization.

Fatty acid esters. Used in many cosmetics as emulsifiers. Polysorbates are assigned different numerical values according to their formulas and whether they're intended to be used in foods or cosmetics.

Commonly known as PVP. Used in hairspray and other cosmetics. Inhaled particles may cause problems in the lungs of sensitive people.

A mixture of dried, sweet smelling flowers, leaves, and or spices used as a sachet or pomander. Potpourri has become a favorite fragrance mixture for various home craft projects.

Researchers have become increasingly aware of the dangers associated with microbial contamination of topical skin products and know more today than ever about the sources of contamination. Unfortunately the battle against contamination is far from won as adaptable organisms continue to cause problems resulting in bacterial infections of the skin.

A fragranced liquid used by men before shaving to lubricate the face and prepare the skin.

Propylene Glycol
One of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetics. Most common moisture carrying vehicle other than water. Permeates skin better than glycerin, but causes more sensitivity reactions.

Protein consists of amino acids and constitutes about 15% of human body weight. Protein is of critical importance in the structure and function of cells. Recently the use of proteins has been broadened to skin care since many skin problems such as chapping and dryness appear to be associated with damage to or actual loss of skin protein.

A chronic inflammatory skin disease of unknown cause in which skin cells replicate at a rapid rate. Psoriasis cannot be passed from one person to another, though it is more likely to occur in people whose family members have it. The rash usually consists of scaly red patches that can cause itching. Certain conditions, e.g., infection, some drugs, climate and perhaps hormonal factors and smoking, may trigger attacks.

Pulse Points
The areas on the body where the pulse of the heart is felt close to the skin. The pressure of the pulse will generate heat, therefore forcing the fragrance applied at these points to be enhanced. Pulse points are located behind the earlobes, at the wrists, behind the knees, on the neck, and in between the breasts.

Abbreviation for Polyvinylpyrrolidone. A faintly yellow, solid, plastic resin resembling albumen. Used to give a softer set in shampoos, hairsprays, and lacquers; also a carrier in emollient creams, liquid lip rouge, and face rouge; also a clarifier in vinegar and a plasma expander in medicine. The CIR Expert panel says based on available data, it is safe as a cosmetic ingredient



Quaternary Ammonium Salts
Used as water repellents, fungicides, emulsifiers, paper and fabric softeners, antistatic agents, and corrosion inhibitors. Their use in cosmetics, especially in hair conditioners and creme rinses, came from the paper and fabric industries.

Toxic chemical. More effective against bacteria than against molds and yeast.

A substance used to cure or heal an illness, pain or disorder. This can be a prepared medication, a natural substance found in nature, or a combination of the two.

Retin A (Also called retinoic acid)
A prescription drug for the treatment of acne. Is also believed to help repair sun damage.

Retinoic Acid
A derivative of Vitamin A.

A series of compounds derived from Vitamin A. These compounds are found in skin and aid in its normal functioning.

Retinyl Palmitate
A form of Vitamin A that is included in skin formulations and may improve elasticity and temporarily reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Rose Oil
The healing virtues of the rose have been known since antiquity. Helps soothe dry, sensitive skin.

Rose Hips
Scarlet fruit (called "hips") come from the Dog Rose and have high levels of vitamins.

Rosemary Oil
A physical and mental stimulant, and an astringent healer used to treat muscle soreness.



A small decorative bag filled with fragrant material used to enhance one’s home, used to scent clothing in drawers, shoes, furniture, luggage.

Salicyclic Acid
The active ingredient in aspirin. Used in cosmetics as an antiseptic and preservative.

Saponins (Quillia Extract)
Many plants (soap plants) contain substances called saponins which form a natural lather in water that is a gentle but effective natural cleaner and some have been used as an alternative to soap.

Sandalwood Oil
Deep, soft, sweet, woody balsamic scent. Highly esteemed in China and India. Plays a part in Hindu ritual.

Essential oil obtained from the roots of the Sassafras tree. Is a healing and antiseptic extract that can reduce irritation and swelling.

Saturated Fats
A fat usually of animal origin. When fatty acid chains can't accommodate any more hydrogen atoms they become saturated.

Sebaceous Glands
Glands in the skin that open into hair follicles and from which sebum is secreted.

A condition in which there is over-activity of the sebaceous glands. The distinctive characteristics of the disorder are its common occurrence in hair areas (especially the scalp), the appearance of well-demarcated, dull yellowish-red lesions, and the associated presence of greasy or dry scales. Rashes can occur on the face, shoulders and chest./p

High in vitamins A, B - complex, C and E. A skin and scalp nutrient, soothing and toning.

Sesame Oil
Softens skin.

Shea Butter
An excellent emollient for skin moisturizers made from Mangifolia Tree Nuts High in triglycerides and fatty acids.

Skin Disease
In the course of development before birth, skin is particularly associated with the nervous system. It is therefore not surprising that so many skin diseases are influenced by the emotional states. Other causes of skin disease are infections, glandular disorders and vitamin deficiencies. Early detection and treatment improve the prognosis for many skin conditions and medical advice can lead to beneficial therapy.

Skin Texture
Appearance of the skin which may be rough, smooth, dull, dry and scaly, etc.

Makeup: Consistency with skin color.
Skincare: Refers to the skin's firmness.

A cleansing material made of oils, detergents and fragrance, used on skin. Comes in many different forms; bar soap, liquid soap, gels, and flakes. The detergents in soap combine with water to penetrate the skin, attract the dirt particles and separate them from the skin, making them easier to then rinse away.

Sodium Alginate
Natural compound. Mostly used as a thickener and emulsifier in foods, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

Sodium Ascorbate
Used in cosmetics as an antioxidant and preservative.

Sodium Bisulphite
Artificial chemical that is used as a hair relaxer and a preservative.

Sodium Borate
Used in cosmetics as an emulsifier, preservative and detergent builder.

Sodium Carbonate
Used in cosmetics as a humectant and an alkalizer.

Sodium Citrate
Crystalline salt. Used in cosmetics as a sequestrant and an alkalizer, and in foods as a buffering agent.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Very popular ingredient. Used as a detergent, emulsifier, and surfactant in over a thousand cosmetic products. This includes shampoos, toothpaste, lotions, and creams.  Even though it is very popular, this additive can be harsh and drying to the skin.

Sodium Thioglycolate
A chemical used in permanents as a hair relaxer. Is a primary irritant.

Derived from fruit or algae. A humectant that gives skin a velvety feel. Gives a lubricant quality to lotions.

Soybean Oil
Pale yellow oil. Consists of mostly glycerides of linoleic, oleic, linolenic, and palmitic acids. Used in cosmetics as an emollient.

Spearmint Oil
Essential oil obtained from the fresh spearmint plant. Known for its healing, soothing properties.

Stearalkonium Chloride
Used almost universally in hair conditioners. It was originally developed by the textile industry for use as a fabric softener. It also has antistatic properties.

Used as lotions and emulsifiers.

Stearic Acid
Waxy, crystalline fatty acid. Found in cocoa butter and other vegetable fats. It is mainly from tallow and other animal fats.

Stratum Corneum
The topmost layer of cells of the epidermis.

The third and innermost layer of the skin.

Artificial liquid. Made with sulfated oils. Used to make manufactured soaps and detergents. Harmful to marine life and the environment.

Sugar Cane Extract
Gently removes damaged, dead and dry cell so fresh, healthy-looking skin can appear.

Sunflower Oil
Extracted from sunflower seeds it is rich in essential fatty acids.

Sunscreen/Sun block
Sunscreens provide protection from damaging/ harmful effects of UVB/ UVA rays. Sunscreens with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) can minimize the danger of photodamage and skin cancers. Sun blocks provide 100% protection from the sun and therefore do not enable one to tan.

A material (substance) that helps oil and water to mix so that the two will not separate and will remain a smooth stable cream or lotion (Emulsifier). They are also are important for cosmetics where mildness is needed such as shampoos and lotions.



Triethanolamine. Used in cosmetics as a pH adjuster, an emulsifier, a preservative, and in soap formulations. May be harmful when contaminated by nitrosamines.

TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
Very popular shampoo ingredient. Used as synthetic detergent. A combination of triethanolamine and the salt of lauryl sulfuric acid.

Tea Tree
A plant found in Australia, used for its unique fragrance and healing properties.

Tea Tree Oil
Derived from the tree Melaleuca alternifolia. Used as an antiseptic and germicide. Also used for insect bites, skin problems, as a dentifrice, and mouthwash. Cosmetic applications are often dandruff shampoos, face masks, and topical creams.

Compounds capable of breaking down the protein bonds in hair. Used in permanent waves and depilatory agents. Toxic in small doses and can damage hair and skin.

Thyme Extract
From the dried leaves and flowering tops of the wild, creeping herb. Is antiseptic, disinfectant, cleansing and hygienic.

Titanium Dioxide
White powder. Used as a pigment in eye makeup, sunscreens, and foundation makeup. It is also used as an opacifying agent, for its covering power, brilliance, and reflectivity.

Toilet Water
A less concentrated form of fragrance than perfume, usually 4 to 8%. This is a less aromatic scent, making it more suitable for daytime use, and the business world.

Used as a solvent in cosmetics, especially nail polish, and also dyes. It is used in pharmaceuticals and gasoline as a blending agent. It is toxic and narcotic in high concentrations.

Top Note
The initial odor or scent given off by a fragrance after application to the skin. The strongest emission of bouquet, before it is altered by the body chemistry.

Herbal gum. Used as a thickener in cosmetics, and in hair care products as a hairspray or setting-lotion ingredient.

An antibacterial agent used in deodorant and deodorant soaps. Absorption through skin may cause liver damage.



Found in urine and other body fluids. Used medicinally as a diuretic and in cosmetics. Can cause an allergic reaction to those allergic to ammonia and is an eye irritant.



Vetiver Oil
With a deep smoky, earthy, woody odor, it is used as a tonic and antiseptic. Helps encourage circulation and is also used for its aromatic, fine fragrance.

Essential for normal growth and contribute to the natural moisturizing factor. The skin is often the first indication of a vitamin deficiency that can cause dry skin.

Vitamin A
Fat-soluble vitamin. Helps remedy rough, dry skin and has been used in the treatment of psoriasis. It has been used as a topical acne treatment. Some people are allergic to it. It has been used to treat aging skin. It can be obtained from fish liver oil, liver, carrots, green and yellow vegetables, eggs, milk, and dairy products, margarine, and yellow fruits. It prevents vitamin C from being oxidized too quickly in the body. Normal dosages are harmless.

Vitamin C
Can preserve cosmetics both in the water phase and in its fat-soluble form. It plays an important role in building collagen, the connective tissue that holds us together.

Vitamin D
Fat-soluble vitamin essential for healthy bones, teeth, and the absorption of calcium. The body can produce its own vitamin D from sun exposure.

Vitamin E
One of the most compelling natural fat-soluble antioxidants in use, particularly when combined with vitamin C and vitamin A.



Walnut Shell Powder
The ground powder of the walnut shell acts as a natural exfoliant

A product in which water and water soluble materials constitute the major part.

Wheat Germ Oil
Oil from the embryo of the wheat kernel that is high in vitamin E. Used as a moisturizer in cosmetics.

The plug of a clogged oil gland (pore) lying beneath the surface of the skin. Smaller that a blackhead, it is sometimes only visible with the help of a magnifying glass

Wintergreen Oil
A tonic, stimulant and astringent, aromatic oil has a warming action on muscles. Brings relief to swollen or sore muscles.

Witch Hazel
A natural extract from the leaves and twigs of a shrub. A skin refresher, local anesthetic and a natural, gentle astringent. It is soothing to the skin and helps regulate sebaceous glands.



Zinc Oxide
White powder used in skin ointments for ultraviolet protection and diaper rash treatment. Also used for its skin-cleansing properties.

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