At Herbs on the Hill, we. only use natural ingredients. Here we have documented many chemical names used within the cosmetic industry, as well as our own natural ingredients, in a detailed glossary to provide you with an excellent reference guide.
Strong synthetic preservative and solvent used in many cosmetics.
See Alginic Acid.
Highly gelatinous, from seaweed, usually brown. Humectant, will absorb 200-300 times its weight in water and salts. Cosmetic stabiliser: alginate, the sodium and calcium salts of alginic acid, is widely used as gelling agents, thickeners and barrier agents in hand creams, conditioners and lotions.
Natural nut oil high in fatty acids. Absorbed more easily than film-forming mineral oil. From Almond native to Southern Europe. Oil is nearly colourless, nearly odourless. Used in high quality soap and perfumes and cosmetic creams. Carefully distilled to remove hydrocyanic (prussic) acid, it is non-toxic in most forms, but may cause allergic reaction in especially sensitive individuals when worn on skin in a cosmetic.
Extract from leaves of the Aloe Vera plant is used to soothe and protect skin. Widely used in cosmetics for treatment of burns, insect bites, cuts, skin and scalp irritation. Reports of irritation and allergy, especially to people sensitive to aspirin.
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
A surfactant and emulsifier. Good ability to cleanse oils from skin and scalp. May dry skin and hair. Non-toxic when used externally. See Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Natural oil of the apricot (persic oil) which leaves no oily film on skin. No toxicity on record.
Natural oil of the avocado. Skin softener and conditioner which leaves no oily film on the skin. No know toxicity.
Barrier agent, emollient and solvent in eye shadows, foundations, creams and lotions. Oily liquid from wide range of plants, vegetable oils. Synthesised from coconut oil or palm kernel oil.
Used as cationic surfactant in shampoo, antistatic in hair conditioner, softens hair and adds luster. May irritate skin and eyes.
A wax-like fatty alcohol substance which helps emulsify oils into a water base. Widely used in creams, hair conditioner, lotions, deodorants, etc. Usually synthesized from coconut oil or palm kernel oil.
Highly stimulating, i.e. used in cosmetics for its aromatic and astringent properties. Also used in cellulite reduction products to reduce water in tissue. Also useful in hair rinses to impart a slight brown tone. Common allergen.
Derived from citrus fruit or by fermentation of crude sugar. Employed to prevent colour, texture or appearance changes in cosmetics. Helps adjust the pH. No toxicity on record.
Excellent wash for oily skin, normalises sebaceous glands; used in hair rinses to give hair a lustrous sheen. This herb is a grass whose fragrant oil is traditionally used in insect repellents. Come aromatherapy use as heart stimulant.
Derived from salts in coconut oil (see) and used as a foam booster, anti-static agent and cleansing agent.
An excellent moisturiser which serves as a protective layer retaining the moisture within the skin, lathers easily and cleans very well. Derivative compounds are ingredients in soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, creams, lotions, ointments, lip balm, etc. Approximately 25% of all cosmetic ingredients are coconut oil derived due to its long stable molecular structure as well as its easy, inexpensive availability.
Naturally produced from vegetable fat, can also be prepared synthetically. By-product of soap manufacturing. Humectant, mild emulsifier, emollient. Used to hold moisture.
Glycerin (see) by-product of coconut oil (see) Emulsifier surfactant.
An emulsifying and dispersing agent. No toxicity on record when used externally.
Emulsifier and humectant. Produced from fatty acids and glyerine. Will absorb moisture in the air. (See also Stearic Acids, Stearin)
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Biological additive. Extracted from grapefruit seeds and used in combination with Propylene Glycol and Glycerin as a preservative, bactericide, stabiliser, although not specifically designated fro these purposes. Formerly named Quaternium 57, renamed because, although it is used as a preservative, it is not a quaternary ammonium compound. Possible irritation to eyes in heavier concentrations.
Used as an emollient, humectant and bateriostat. Occasionally used as a base in exfoliants. Reports of pollen-allergic reactions.
Isolated from the beans produced by the Simonsia Chinensis, a shrub found in the arid deserts of the America southwest. The oil (technically liquid wax) is of extremely fine molecular size, making it an ideal lubricant. Plant oil most similar to skin's own sebum. In cosmetics it has a wide range of applications from hair preparations and scalp cleansers to lotions, gels, acne preparations, and other skin uses. Despite some claims, it has no apparent effect on baldness or hair growth. Used as a substitute for sperm whale oil.
Clay (China clay, French clay, Deep-cleansing clay) absorbs oil secreted by the skin. No toxicity on record when used externally.
A wax produced by the oil glands in sheep and separated from wool with no harm to the animal. Used in creams, ointments, lotions, soaps, suntan preparations, lip balm and more. Anhydrous Lanolin is generally used, as it can be mixed with about twice its weight of water without separating. It is claimed that lanolin has more penetration power than petroleum or beeswax because its composition and molecular size is nearly identical to lipids in human skin. Common allergen and sensitiser. Not irritating.
Fatty acid from palm kernel, coconut, or laurel (Bay) as well as other vegetable fats. High sudsing detergent properties. Used as surfactant and wetting ingredient in many cosmetics. Non-toxic may act as irritant but not a sensitiser.
Sodium Hydroxide (see). Also see: Potassium Hydroxide and soap.
Methyl p-Hydroxybenzoate, from gum benzoin, benzoic acid. An inhibitor of microbial growth, used to preserve cosmetics and extend shelf life.
(Baby Oil, Lily White Oil, Paraffin Oil) Heavy, film-forming oil. A clear liquid mixture of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum. Unsuitable in lotions or shampoos as residue remains coating skin or hair shaft. Of benefit in cleansing lotions specifically designed not to remain on the skin.
Natural oil used as an emollient, in soaps, cleansers, and shampoos due to its copious, small bubble lather. Reports of allergic reactions, irritation to eyes on contact.
Palm Kernel Oil
Oil from palm nut, African palm. High sudsing cleaning agent in many soaps. Makes a softer bar soap than tallow or palm oil. Is considered a "Lauric" fat more like coconut oil than palm oil. No toxic properties known.
See Palmitic Acid.
A solid organic acid, occurring in many oils and fats. Obtained from palm oil, Japan Wax, or Chinese vegetable tallow. Used as a surfactant, emulsifier, and texturiser in shampoos, shaving soaps, and creams. No known toxicity to skin and hair provided no salts of lauric or oleic acids (see both) are present.
Groups of Preservatives (see) effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, fungus, yeast, mould, and other organisms. Methyl and propylparaben are the most widely used in cosmetic preservatives. Parabens are some of the safest preservatives, effective and stable over a wide pH range. Soluble in water and effective against water-borne bacteria.
1,2-propanediol. Very widely used in cosmetics, makeup, lotions, sun preparations, fragrance oils, etc. Humectant, solvent, inhibits fermentation and mould growth, provides highly neutral base for cosmetic preparations. Very mildly toxicity in humans when taken internally.
Esters of p-Hydrogxybenzoate acid (from Benzoic acid) widely used as a preservative in cosmetics, as bactericide and fungicide. Effective against large variety of contaminants, neutral, slightly soluble. Effective over entire pH range: acid, neutral or alkaline. Low toxicity. Used in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, creams, etc. Used medically to treat fungul infections.
Karite Butter. Vegetable fat from the Karite tree. Forms breathable, water-resistant film. Moisturises, texturises. No toxicity.
Prepared by treating soda Ash (sodium carbonate) with carbon dioxide. Adds smooth texture to creams or lotions. Adjusts pH, stabilises viscosity. Also used in effervescent bath products. Traditional use as dentifrice, antacid, mould preventive, cleansing agents, mouthwash. No toxicity.
Common salt or sea salt. Used to increase viscosity or thickness. Used in bath salts either in refined state or as pure sea salt to soften skin and relax muscles. No reports of irritation if sufficiently diluted. Reports of irritation from concentrated solutions.
Lye, Caustic Soda. White powder; pellets, or flakes; extremely soluble in water. The base alkali of soap manufacturing, it is combined with animal fat or vegetable oil in almost all solid soaps whether bars, flakes, granules, or strips. Undiluted lye is extremely damaging both internally and externally in its liquid state. It remains severely irritating even in the form of liquid drain cleaners, which are no greater than 10% solutions. Soap is not dangerous because it is saponified (see). The new compound exhibits entirely different properties from its constituents.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Surfactant foams faster than Sodium Lauryl sulfate (see), but foam is not as long lasting. Otherwise identical in cleansing properties. Irritating only in high concentrations.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
(Sodium Cetyl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate) Surfactant, detergent, emulsifier. Found in shampoos, creams, lotions, bath products, and dentifrices. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a combination of lauryl alcohol and mineral sodium sulfate followed by neutralisation with sodium carbonate. Grease-cutting ability may produce dry skin. Generally non-toxic when used externally. Sodium Sulfate is mined around turquoise and has the appearance of limestone. Lauryl Alcohol is derived from coconut oil.
Sodium salt of stearic acid (see). Waterproofing and gelling agent, thickener, emulsifier. White powder with fatty odour, soluble in hot water or hot alcohol, but only slightly in cold. Used in toothpastes, cosmetics, gels, deodorant sticks. Non-irritating, non-toxic.
Derived from berries, cherries, plums, pears, apples, seaweed and algae. Flavouring agent, skin-conditioning agent, humectant, emulsifier, thickener. Feels velvet-smooth when rubbed on skin. Works as a stabiliser and gives a lubricous feel to lotions. No toxicity on record.
A white, waxy, natural fatty acid, the most common fatty acid in natural animal and vegetable fats. Emulsifying agent in many creams, deodorants, and lotions. Cleansing agent when saponified. Provides pearliness and firmness, waxy feel. Not a strong acid which will affect pH. Reports of sensitisation reactions when used by allergic persons, irritating in high concentrations.
Sodium salt of EDTA. Used in cosmetics as sequestering agent and chelating agent. Non-toxic on the skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Extracted from leaves of the Australian tree melaleuca alternafolia. This oil has a reputation for effectiveness in treating a wide range of skin and scalp disorders including cuts, burns, insect bites, fungus and athlete's foot. Germicide, fungicide and antiseptic. No toxicity.
Rutile. White powder mineral found in nature. It has the greatest hiding powder of al white pigments. Wide use as a whitening agent due to very high refractive index (higher than diamond). Sunscreen agent, opacifier, colourant. Effective UV blocker in facial makeup even when invisible as a micronised (extremely fine) powder. Besides cosmetic use, it is found in white inks and paint pigments. No toxicity; dust can irritate lungs.
Stabilised Vitamin E. Vitamin E Acetate. Anti-oxidant whose function is to act upon application, no to protect the product (see Tocopherol). Its activity is released by enzymes in the epidermis. Powerful free-radical scavenger, one molecule of Tocopherol Acetate can neutralise fifty radical particles (uncombined oxygen ions which damage tissues) in the skin.
Vitamin E. Prevents rancidity. An anti-oxidant in creams, lotions, sun products, makeup, foundations, baby preparations, deodorant, and hair grooming aids. Obtained by the vacuum distillation of edible oils, rendered animal fats, or a combination of such fats with vegetable oils. Helps form normal red blood breakdown. Experimental evidence shows Vitamin E may protect the heart and blood vessels and retard aging. (Natural Vitamin E is of higher cost than synthetic variety)
PH adjuster, neutraliser. Colourless, low-alkaline solid. Part of many surfactant ingredients. Not a beverage.
Wheat Germ Oil
Natural oil obtained from the embryo of the wheat kernel separated in milling. Heavy, relatively thick oil used in creams, lotions, massage oils. Natural source of Vitamins E, A and D and Squalane.
Natural extract from leaves and twigs of hamaelis plant, non-alcoholic. Acts as an astringent, due to its tannic acid content, soothes irritated skin.