A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients


The fifth edition of this classic guide, first published in 1978, continues the tradition of being the most up-to-date, complete, and trusted reference for taking the guesswork out of choosing safe and effective cosmetics and toiletries.
The more than 6,000 entries include 1,400 newly developed chemicals (along with hundreds more whose names have been changed by the manufacturers since the last edition of this book was published in 1994). Virtually every chemical found in ...
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The fifth edition of this classic guide, first published in 1978, continues the tradition of being the most up-to-date, complete, and trusted reference for taking the guesswork out of choosing safe and effective cosmetics and toiletries.
The more than 6,000 entries include 1,400 newly developed chemicals (along with hundreds more whose names have been changed by the manufacturers since the last edition of this book was published in 1994). Virtually every chemical found in toiletries and cosmetics, from body and face creams to toothpaste, hand lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, soap, perfume, and makeup, is evaluated, including those ingredients marketed as being all natural, for children, and for people of color. The book's alphabetical arrangement makes it easy to look up the ingredients in the products you use.

With more substances than ever in products we use every day—and with the continuing deregulation of the cosmetics industry—this book is more indispensable than ever.

"....includes over 6,000 entries with 800 new substances and updates on more than half of the existing entries...lists virtually every chemical found in toiletries and cosmetics-- from shampoos to anti-aging creams."

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Editorial Reviews

A guide for consumers who read labels and want to know what's in their food as well as the meaning of such terms as fat-free and all- natural. Definitions include what the additive does, in what products it is generally used, and what is known about possible effects on health. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517552865
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/1984
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 2821

Meet the Author

Ruth Winter, M.S., is an award-winning science writer who is nationally known for her many books and for her magazine articles in Family Circle, Woman's Day, Omni, and Reader's Digest. She is also the author of A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives and A Consumer's Dictionary of Medicines: Prescription, Over-the-Counter, Homeopathic, and Herbal.
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Read an Excerpt


ABEYANCE • The term used by the FDA that includes petitions that were filed and were found after detailed review by the Office of Food Additive (OFAS) or certain cosmetic colorings to be deficient. OFAS does not actively work on petitions in abeyances. When all the information required to address the deficiency or deficiencies is provided, a petition can be refiled and assigned a new filing date.

ABIES • A. alba, A. balsamea, A. pectinata, A. sibirica. Essential oils derived from a variety of pine trees. They are used as natural flavoring ingredients and to scent bath products. Ingestion of large amounts can cause intestinal hemorrhages.

ABIES ALBA LEAF WAX • A wax obtained from the needles of Abies alba (see above). It is used as a skin-conditioning ingredient and as a skin protectant.

ABIES PECTINATA OIL • The volatile oil from Abies alba (see) used as a fragrance ingredient.

ABIETIC ACID • Abietinol. Abietol. Sylvic acid. Chiefly a texturizer in the making of soaps. A widely available natural acid, water-insoluble, prepared from pine rosin, usually yellow and composed of either glassy or crystalline particles. Used also in the manufacture of vinyls, lacquers, and plastics. Little is known about abietic acid toxicity; it is harmless when injected into mice but causes paralysis in frogs and is slightly irritating to human skin and mucous membranes. May cause allergic reactions.

ABIETYL ALCOHOL • Increases thickness. See Abietic Acid

ABITOL • Dihydroabietyl Alcohol. Used in cosmetics, plastics, and adhesives. See Abietic Acid

ABRADE • Scrape or erode a covering, such asskin.

ABRASIVE • Natural or synthetic cosmetic ingredients intended to rub away or scrape the surface layer of cells or tissue from the skin.

ABSOLUTE • The term refers to a plant-extracted material that has been concentrated but that remains essentially unchanged in its original taste and odor. For example, see Jasmine Absolute. Often called “natural perfume materials” because they are not subjected to heat and water as are distilled products. See Distilled

ABSORBENT • An ingredient or cosmetic that has the capacity to absorb.

ABSORPTION BASES • Compounds used to improve the water-absorbing capacity and stability of creams, lotions, and hairdressings. Lanolin-type absorption bases are mixtures of lanolin alcohols, mineral oil, and petrolatum (see all). Also used as bases are cholesterol and beeswax (see both).

ACACIA • Gum Arabic. Catechu. Acacia is the odorless, colorless, tasteless dried exudate from the stem of the acacia tree, grown in Africa, the Near East, India, and the southern United States. Its most distinguishing quality among the natural gums is its ability to dissolve rapidly in water. The use of acacia dates back 4,000 years, when the Egyptians employed it in paints. Medically, it is used as a demulcent to soothe irritations, particularly of the mucous membranes. It can cause allergic reactions such as skin rash and asthmatic attacks. Oral toxicity is low, but the FDA issued a notice in 1992 that catechu tincture had not been shown to be safe and effective as claimed in OTC digestive aid products. See also Vegetable Gums and Catechu Black

ACACIA DEALBATA LEAF WAX • Acacia dealbata. Mimosa, Silver Wattle. Obtained from the leaves of a prickly Egyptian shrub. It is used as a skin-conditioning ingredient, emollient, and skin protectant. Used in moisturizers, cleaning products, blushers, eye shadow, and foundations. It is considered a poisonous house plant.

ACACIA FARNESIAN EXTRACT • Acacia Extract. Flowers, and stems of Acacia farnesiana. It is used as an astringent.

ACACIA FARNESIANA GUM • AEC Gum Arabic. Acacia senegal Gum. Widely used all over the world, it acts as an adhesive in mascara, bath soaps, and detergents as well as in body and hand preparations, except for shaving creams. It is also used in hair colorings.

ACANTHOPANX SENTICOSUS • Extract of Eleuthro Ginseng. Siberian Ginseng. A plant material derived from Acanthopanax senticosus. A skin-conditioning ingredient related to siloxans and ginseng (see both).

ACEFYLLINE METHYLSILANOL MANNURONATE • Used as a skin conditioning ingredient. Prepared from theophylline, an alkaloid (see) with caffeine found in tea leaves. Theophylline, however, is usually prepared synthetically.

ACER • A. pseudoplantanus, A. saccharinum. Mountain Maple. It acts similarly to tannin (see).

ACEROLA • Malpighia glabra. Derived from the ripe fruit of the West Indian or Barbados cherry, grown in Central America and the West Indies. A rich source of ascorbic acid. Used as an antioxidant.

ACESULFAME • Non-nutritive sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar. Animals that were fed acesulfame developed tumors more often than animals not given it.

ACETAL • A volatile liquid derived from acetaldehyde (see) and alcohol and used as a solvent in synthetic perfumes such as jasmine. Also used in fruit flavorings (it has a nutlike aftertaste) and as a hypnotic in medicine. It is a central nervous system depressant, similar in action to paraldehyde but more toxic. Paraldehyde is a hypnotic and sedative whose side effects are respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, and possible high blood pressure reactions. No known skin toxicity.

ACETALDEHYDE • Ethanal. An intermediate (see) and solvent in the manufacture of perfumes. A flammable, colorless liquid with a characteristic odor, occurring naturally in apples, broccoli, cheese, coffee, grapefruit, and other vegetables and fruits. Used as a fragrance ingredient in cosmetics. Also used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber and in the silvering of mirrors. It is irritating to the mucous membranes, and ingestion of large doses may cause death by respiratory paralysis. Inhalation, usually limited by intense irritation of the lungs, can also be toxic. May cause skin irritation.

ACETAMIDE MEA • N-Acetyl Acid Amide. N-Acetyl Ethanolamine. Used as a solvent, plasticizer, and stabilizer (see all). Used in hair conditioners and skin creams and as a foam booster and thickener. It is also used in shampoos, tonics, dressings, and other hair products. Crystals absorb water. Odorless when pure but can have a mousy scent. A mild skin irritant with low toxicity. Has caused liver cancer when given orally to rats in doses of 5,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The CIR Expert Panel (see) found that it is safe at concentrations not to exceed 7.5 percent. They found, however, that it may form nitrosamines.

ACETAMIDOETHOXYBUTYL TRIMONIUM CHLORIDE • Used in hair conditioners, skin conditioning ingredients, and other miscellaneous products. See Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

ACETAMINOPHEN • A coal tar derivative, it is widely used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. It is used as an antioxidant and stabilizer in cosmetics.

ACETAMINOPROPYL TRIMONIUM CHLORIDE • Antistatic ingredient used in conditioners, bath soaps, detergents, and shampoos. See Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

ACETAMINOSALOL • Derived from ammonia and salicylic acid (see both), it absorbs ultraviolet light.

ACETANILID • Acetanilide. A solvent used in nail polishes and in liquid powders to give an opaque matte finish. It is also used in fragrances. Usually made from aniline and acetic acid (see both). It is of historic interest because it was the first coal tar analgesic and antifever ingredient introduced into medicine. It is a precursor of penicillin and is used as an antiseptic. It is sometimes still used in medicines but is frowned upon by the American Medical Association since there are other related products with less toxicity. It can cause a depletion of oxygen in the blood upon ingestion and eczema when applied to the skin. It caused tumors when given orally to rats in doses of 3,500 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

ACETARSOL • Acetarsone. Used in mouthwashes, toothpaste, and vaginal suppositories. Thick white crystals with a slight acid taste. Soluble in water. The lethal dose in mice is only 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. May cause sensitization.

ACETATE • Salt of acetic acid (see) used in perfumery and as a flavoring.

ACETIC ACID • Ethanoic Acid. Glacial Acetic Acid. Solvent for gums, resins, and volatile oils. Styptic (stops bleeding) and a rubefacient (see). Also used as a fragrance ingredient and pH adjuster. A clear colorless liquid with a pungent odor, it is used in freckle-bleaching lotions, hand lotions, and hair dyes. It occurs naturally in apples, cheese, cocoa, coffee, grapes, skimmed milk, oranges, peaches, pineapples, strawberries, and a variety of other fruits and plants. Vinegar is about 4 to 6 percent acetic acid, and essence of vinegar is about 14 percent. In its glacial form (without much water) it is highly corrosive, and its vapors are capable of producing lung obstruction. Less than 5 percent acetic acid in solution is mildly irritating to the skin. GRAS for packaging only, not for direct ingredient in product. It caused cancer in rats and mice when given orally or by injection.

ACETIC ANHYDRIDE • Acetyl Oxide. Acetic Oxide. Colorless liquid with a strong odor, it is derived from oxidation of acetaldehyde (see). It is used as a dehydrating and acetylating ingredient (see both Dehyrated and Acetylated) and in the production of dyes, perfumes, plastics, food starch, and aspirin. It is a strong irritant and may cause bumps and eye damage.

ACETOIN • Acetyl Methyl Carbinol. A flavoring ingredient and aroma carrier used in perfumery, it occurs naturally in broccoli, grapes, pears, cultured dairy products, cooked beef, and cooked chicken. As a product of fermentation and of cream ripened for churning, it is a colorless, or pale yellow, liquid or a white powder. It has a buttery odor and must be stored in a light-resistant container.

ACETOLAMIDE • n-Acetyl Ethanolamine. Used in hair-waving solutions and in emulsifiers. See Ethanolamines

ACETONE • A colorless, ethereal liquid derived by oxidation or fermentation and used as a denaturant (see) and as a solvent in nail polish removers and nail finishes. It is obtained by fermentation and is frequently used as a solvent for airplane glue, fats, oils, and waxes. It can cause peeling and splitting of the nails, skin rashes on the fingers and elsewhere, and nail brittleness. Inhalation may irritate the lungs, and in large amounts it is narcotic, causing symptoms of drunkenness similar to ethanol (see). In 1992, the FDA proposed a ban on acetone in astringent (see) products because it had not been shown to be safe and effective as claimed.

ACETONITRILE • Methylacyanide. Colorless liquid with a pleasant odor. Used as a solvent in extraction processes and for separation of fatty acids from vegetable oils. Also used in nail-glue remover. Toxic by skin absorption and inhalation. On the Canadian Hotlist (see). See also Artificial Nail Remover


1-ACETOXY-2-METHYLNAPHTHALENE • A hair coloring. See Naphthalene

ACETUM • See Vinegar


ACETYL ARGININE • See Arginine and Vinegar

ACETYLATED CASTOR OIL • Skin conditioner. See Castor Oil and Acetate

ACETYL BENZOYL PEROXIDE • Benzo-benzone. White crystals that decompose slowly. It is an active germicide and disinfectant, and is used for bleaching flour. It is toxic by ingestion, a strong irritant to the skin and mucous membranes. Benzoyl peroxide is on the Canadian Hotlist (see).

ACETYL GLUCOSAMINE • Used as a skin-conditioning ingredient in cosmetics, glucosamine is found in chitin (see), cell membranes, and protein and sugar complexes in the blood. It has become popular as an anti-osteoarthritis medication.

ACETYL GLUTAMIC ACID • Used in skin conditioners. See Glutamic Acid and Acetylated

ACETYL GLUTAMINE • Used in skin conditioners. See Glutamic Acid and Acetylated

ACETYL GLYCERYL RICINOLEATE • Used in skin conditioners. See Castor Oil

ACETYL HEXAMETHYL INDAN • A fragrance ingredient. Derived from coal tar, it may be irritating to the skin and eyes.

ACETYL HEXAMETHYL TETRALIN • Used in perfumes, it is closely related to acetyl ethyl tetramethyl tetralin, which was voluntarily removed from perfumes when it was reported that it caused nerve damage in animals. The “hexyl” component was inserted to make the fragrances less volatile and less allergenic.

ACETYL MANDELIC ACID • A pH (see) adjuster. See Mandelic Acid

ACETYL PROPIONYL • Yellow liquid. Soluble in water. Used as a butterscotch or chocolate-type flavoring. See Propionic Acid

ACETYL TRIETHYL CITRATE • A clear, oily, essentially odorless liquid used as a solvent. See Citric Acid

ACETYL TRIOCTYL CITRATE PECTIN • Citrus Pectin. A jelly-forming powder obtained from citrus peel and used as a texturizer and thickening ingredient to form gels with sugars and acids. Light in color.

ACETYL TYROSINE • Used in suntan gels, creams, and liquids. Widely distributed amino acid (see), termed nonessential because it does not seem to be necessary for growth. It is used as a dietary supplement. It is a building block of protein and is used in cosmetics to help creams penetrate the skin. The FDA has asked for further study of this additive that is GRAS. See Acetylated

ACETYL VALERYL • See Valeric Acid and Acetic Acid

ACETYLATED • Any organic compound that has been heated with acetic anhydride or acetyl chloride to remove its water. Acetylated lanolins are used in hand creams and lotions, for instance. Acetic anhydride produces irritation and necrosis of tissues in the vapor state and carries a warning against contact with skin and eyes.

ACETYLATED CETYL HYDROXYPROLINATE • Used in skin conditioners, it is derived from ammonia and amino acids (see both).

ACETYLATED GLYCOL STEARATE • Used as an emulsifying ingredient, stabilizer, and skin conditioner. See Acetylated and Glycols

ACETYLATED HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED GLYCERIDE • Used as a skin conditioner and emollient. See Cottonseed Oil

ACETYLATED HYDROGENATED LANOLIN • Skin conditioner. See Lanolin and Hydrogenation

ACETYLATED HYDROGENATED LARD GLYCERIDE • Skin conditioner ingredient. See Lard

ACETYLATED HYDROGENATED TALLOW GLYCERIDES • Skin conditioner ingredient. See Tallow and Hydrogenation


ACETYLATED LANOLIN • An emulsifier and emollient. Repels water better than plain lanolin and does not form emulsions. It is used as a water-resistant film when applied to the skin and reduces water loss through the skin. It is used as an emollient and gives that “velvety feel” to baby products and to skin, hair, and bath preparations such as creams, lotions, powders, and sprays. It is used in lipsticks, creams, shaving preparations, cleansing products such as cold creams, liquids, and pads, and eye makeup as well as hair conditioners. It is also in suntan gels and mudpacks. The CIR Expert Panel (see) found it safe in the early 1980s but are considering new information to determine if the final safety assessment should be reaffirmed, amended, or have an addendum. See Lanolin

ACETYLATED LANOLIN ALCOHOL • Hair and skin conditioner. Used in eye shadows, skin moiturizers, talcum, suntan gels, hair grooming aids, colognes, and toilet water as well as bath soaps and baby powders. The CIR Expert Panel (see) found it safe. See Acetylated Lanolin

ACETYLATED LANOLIN RICINOLEATE • A lanolin derivative, it is a skin conditioner. See Lanolin and Castor Oil

ACETYLATED LARD GLYCERIDE • An emollient and skin conditioner. See Lard and Glycerol

ACETYLATED PALM-KERNEL GLYCERIDES • See Acetylated and Palm Kernel Oil

ACETYLATED SUCROSE DISTEARATE • Ingredient in skin conditioners. See Sucrose

ACETYLATED TALLOW • See Acetylated and Tallow

ACETYLCHOLINE • A chemical neurotransmitter that is released by nerve cells and stimulates either other nerve cells or muscles and organs throughout the body This neurotransmitter is believed to be involved in memory function. Acetylcholine also dilates the blood vessels and helps to move food through the intestines. In a chloride solution for the eye, it causes contraction of the iris, resulting in contraction of the pupil. Used after eye surgery. No adverse reactions reported for a 1-percent solution. On the Canadian Hotlist (see).
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