Cosmetic Label Ingredients

Ever take a look at a cosmetic label? You may do a lot of very informative reading over the next week, but most of that information will pale compared to the information found on your basic cosmetic label. The average person would have their tongue permanently pretzeled into a knot if they tried to read all the syllables on the average cosmetic label. What do all those scientific-sounding names mean and why are they necessary just to make you look better?

Acacia: Derived from a gum tree or shrub, its properties as a thicking agent. Most often found on a cosmetic label dedicated to thickening one’s hair.

Allantoin: Another botanical extract, this contains properties similar to aloe and is used primarily to soothe the skin and help heal light abrasions. For this reason, as you might expect, you will mostly find allantoin on the cosmetic lable found on the side of shaving creams and lotions.

Benzethonium chloride: A preservative that is meant to prevent germs from multiplying inside the cosmetic product. Just think about this one the next time you’re applying lipstick.

Candellia wax: Another of those pesky Mexican immigrants, candellia wax is derived from a shrug native to that country and the southwestern US. Ever wonder why lipstick can stay hard in all but the most sultry of conditions? Thank candellia wax. It has also been used in both the chewing gum and varnish industries.

Cetyl alcohol: This lovely little ingredient which can be found on a multitude of cosmetic lables was first isolated in something that almost all women at one time or another have dreamed about putting on her cheeks: whale sperm. Needless to say cetyl alcohol is currently a cosmetic industry favorite for softening up skin, therefore it can be found in many lotions, creams, deodorants and depilatories. Yes, there’s nothing quite like shaving your bikini area with an extract of Moby Dick’s sperm, is there?

Isopropyl alcohol: Yes, it is what you’re thinking. The same thing you apply liberally on your feet whenever you’ve stepped into a colony of hungry red ants. Check out the cosmetic label the next time you run to the store whenever that hair dye you tried turns your hair yellow instead of blonde. Most often found in hair color rinses, but also certain lotions.

Para-aminobezoic acid (PABA): This one is an organic compound related to Vitamin B. Found on the cosmetic label on sunscreens and tanning lotions. It was found to actually increase the risk of sun cancer in certain people and now a safer derivative is more commonly used.

Petrolatum: Your basic petroleum jelly. Typically used to provide a filmy covering over the skin to keep it remaining moist. Found on the cosmetic label of products from depilatories to eye shadow.

Polysorbates: Polysorbates are a cosmetic label MVP. You will normally find this word immediately succeeded by a number on the ingredient list, such as Polysorbate 20, or 60, or 80, etc. It’s an emulsifier or, in other words, an oily liquid. It works to bond oil and water and keep them from separating, as is their natural wont. You will find this, as you might imagine, in lotions, baby products, and certain deodorants.

Sorbitol: This is a sugar alcohol that the body produces naturally to help in the metabolic process. It is used in the world of cosmetics to keep the skin smooth and moist. It is also used to keep the tobacco in cigarettes moist. In addition to tobacco products, you will find it on the cosmetic lable of deodorants, hairspray, and beauty masks. Or you could just unroll the cigarette and paste the tobacco onto your face.

Reading a cosmetic label isn’t fun, but it is educational.

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