Meet the Ingredients, Part 3: Mystery Solved

When it comes to natural skincare formulas, there are certain ingredients that are necessary to help ensure the stability of a product and contribute to its effectiveness - things like emulsifiers, which help to bind oil and water molecules together and keep them from separating. 

With names that can sometimes be a bit complicated, these types of ingredients may seem a little intimidating. We're hear to help solve the mystery!

Mystery Solved

Cetearyl Glucoside 

Commonly derived from coconut oil, Cetearyl Glucoside is a natural emulsifier used to prevent oil and liquid ingredients from separating, resulting in a stable end product.

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Cetearyl Alcohol

Created from a combination of fatty alcohols derived from vegetable sources, Cetearyl Alcohol is primarily used in natural skincare formulas for its stabilizing and thickening action, as well as its effectiveness in conditioning the skin.

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Cetyl Alcohol

Cetyl alcohol is a wax-textured fatty alcohol that is added to natural skincare products for its thickening and conditioning properties, as well as its effectiveness in emulsifying liquid and oil ingredients into a stable end product that prevents separation.

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Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is an extremely gentle amphoteric surfactant (meaning it can naturally adjust the pH of a formula) derived from coconut oil. It’s frequently used in natural skincare recipes for its cleansing and foaming actions and helps to soften and smooth the skin and hair.

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Decyl Glucoside

Obtained from corn and coconut, Decyl Glucoside is a biodegradable, nonionic  surfactant, meaning a “surface active agent” with an uncharged ion. Surfactants are primarily used in cleansing products for their foaming, emulsifying and moisturizing properties. Decyl Glucoside is added to natural skincare formulations for its foaming action and is mild enough for sensitive skin types.

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DMAE Bitartrate (Dimethylaminoethanol Bitartrate)

Although naturally occurring in fish, DMAE Bitartrate in skincare formulations is derived from fruit acid and is said to defend the skin against damaging free radicals through its potent antioxidant properties. It is also known for helping to firm and smooth the skin’s surface, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

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Emulsifying Wax (Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60)

Emulsifying wax is used to bind water and oil together in natural skincare formulas to prevent them from separating, creating a silky and stable end product that absorbs easily into the skin. Derived from vegetables, emulsifying waxes are considered a safe addition to natural skincare preparations.

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Commonly derived from vegetable fats, glycerin is a water and alcohol soluble compound that works as a humectant to help draw moisture into the skin. It also serves as a natural emollient to smooth and soften the skin and is added to natural skincare preparations to prolong shelf life. 

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Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a type of large sugar molecule that naturally occurs in the body’s connective tissues. It’s well-known for its excellent moisturizing properties – it’s said one molecule can help retain 1,000 times its own weight in water. In natural skincare applications, hyaluronic acid’s ability to hold moisture in the skin is said to help reduce signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.

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Hydrolized Wheat Protein

Naturally derived from wheat, hydrolyzed wheat protein is added to natural beauty products for its ability to retain moisture in the skin, as well as strengthen and condition the hair, helping it to appear shinier and more voluminous.

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Derived from vegetables – in our case, sunflower oil – lecithin is commonly used as an emulsifier and, with its anti-oxidant and moisturizing properties, makes an excellent addition to natural skincare formulas.

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MSM (Dimethyl Sulfone)

MSM is an organic form of sulfur naturally occuring in the body and, when used in natural skincare applications, is said to promote collagen production, helping the skin appear more youthful and radiant. It is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties that work to calm the skin and smooth the complexion.

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Polysorbate 20

Polysorbate 20 is a safe and mild compound used in natural skincare formulations in small amounts as a nonionic surfactant, as an emulsifier to bind oil and water ingredients together into a stable product and as a solubilizer to uniformly blend essential oils into water.

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Polysorbate 80

Similar to its counterpart above, Polysorbate 80 is a safe and mild compound used in natural skincare formulations in small amounts as a nonionic surfactant and as an emulsifier to blend thicker, heavier types of oils into water.

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Phenoxyethanol is preservative frequently added to natural skincare products to protect against bacterial growth, and is used in extremely low concentrations as a safe and effective alternative to potentially harmful formaldehyde-based preservatives.

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Propylene Glycol

Used in small amounts as a humectant to retain moisture in the skin and enhance the stability of natural products, Propylene Glycol is an organic alcohol that also works to help ingredients better penetrate the skin.

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Provitamin A (Beta-Carotene)

Found in a variety of beta-carotene-rich vegetables and fruits, including leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers, Provitamin A is a precursor of retinol. When added to natural skincare formulas, Provitamin A is said to help boost cellular production and reduce signs of aging. It is also works to calm and condition the skin, as well as brighten the complexion.

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Provitamin B5 (DL-Panthenol)

Provitamin B5 is a humectant, meaning it helps to retain moisture, and is often used in hair care formulations to condition the hair and make it appear stronger and more lustrous.

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Red Iron Oxide (CI 77491)

Derived from minerals, iron oxides are used in natural skincare and make-up formulations as a colouring agent. Although at one time the iron oxides used in cosmetic formulations were naturally mined, they are now created synthetically to avoid potentially harmful impurities such as heavy metals. Iron oxides are considered to be safe and mild enough for sensitive skin types.

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Sodium PCA

Sodium PCA is a naturally occurring compound found in the skin. It’s used in natural skincare products for its ultra-hydrating properties and works extremely well to retain the skin’s moisture.

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Stearic Acid

Derived from vegetable fats, stearic acid is a type of fatty acid used as an emulsifier in natural skincare recipes to bind water and oil ingredients together and create a creamy, stable end product.

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Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate

Tetrasodium glutamate diacetate is a biodegradable compound used primarily in natural skincare preparations as a chelating agent to help enhance preservative performance and stabilize the final product.

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Vitamin A Ester (Retinyl Palmitate)

A combination of Vitamin A and palmitic acid, Retinyl Palmitate readily penetrates the skin’s surface where it’s converted into retinol. Retinyl Palmitate is said to deliver a high potency of antioxidants to the skin to help protect against signs of aging and, in particular, against the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. A 20 year-old study that once reported about the potential harms of Retinyl Palmitate has since been widely disregarded by skincare experts, although we encourage you to do your own research if you have concerns.

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Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)

Vitamin B3 is a superstar skincare ingredient with potent antioxidant properties that, when used in natural skincare formulations, is said to protect the skin from damaging free radicals, boost collagen production, improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation and calm redness and blemishes.

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Xantham Gum

Xantham gum is a natural sugar used in skincare products as a thickening and stabilizing agent.

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Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is a naturally-occurring mineral used in natural skincare formulations – natural sunscreens in particular - for its ability to provide an opaque barrier on the outermost layer of the skin. Zinc oxide is also commonly used in natural deodorant preparations due to its antibacterial and absorptive properties.

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Review Part I of our Meet the Ingredients series: Oils and Fats!

Review Part 2 of our Meet the Ingredients Series: Your Trusted Allies!

Note: the information on this website has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.

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