Glossary of Ingredients

This section is meant to serve as a quick guide to the various ingredients we use in our skincare and cosmetic formulations.

This list is a living document that I will update regularly. ♥

acacia senegal gum / gum arabic

Produced from the sap of the African acacia tree, and is composed of polysaccharides (multi-chain starches) and glycoproteins. Has good adhesive and film-forming properties and enhances stability and suspension properties. Aqueous solutions of gum arabic will gel with the addition of ferric salts, borax, alcohol or sodium silicate. Lather enhancer when combined with surfactants. Can be used as an oil-in-water emulsifier. Lower viscosity than guar or xanthan gums. May work better paired with other gums (i.e. 3 parts acacia to 1 part xanthan). Added to water phase prior to heating. Recommended usage rate is 1%-10%. INCI: Acacia gum


agar agar (Gelidium cartilagineum)

Nutrient rich, hydrophilic polysaccharide derived from agarophyte seaweed. Used as an emulsifier, thickening agent and fragrance binder. Added to water phase prior to heating. INCI: gelidium amansii (agar)


allantoin

Synthetically produced to mimic naturally occurring protein found in the roots/leaves of the comfrey plant. Water soluble occlusive and FDA recognized skin protectant that acts as a humectant and keratin softener (keratolytic). Causes rapid cell regeneration/proliferation and wound healing. May minimize pore size. Dissolve 0.5%-2.0% in water phase. Can be gritty if used dry and in too high quantities. Comfrey root extract (contains up to 0.4% allantoin) may be a good natural alternative. INCI: allantoin


aloe vera 200x powder (Aloe barbadensis)

Processed from the inner fillet of the aloe leaf, removing the pulp and fiber to create a water soluble ingredient. Has a pH of 3.5 to 5.0, making it an effective and natural way to lower a product’s overall pH. Extremely concentrated powder. Recommended usage rate is 0.05%-0.5%. 1% added to a product gives the same concentration as pure aloe juice squeezed from a fresh aloe vera plant. INCI: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice

beeswax (Cera alba)

Thickens, stabilizes, improves adhesion and adds shine and hold to cosmetic formulations. Often used in protective skin care formulations such as barrier protection preparations because of the hydrophobic film it creates. Less commonly used in facial balms, due to its tackier skin feel. Beeswax has the ability to adjust the viscosity of W/O emulsions. Melting point is about 144-161.5 F. INCI: Cera alba (beeswax)


boron nitride

Slip modifier and optical diffuser with a smooth, silky feel and pearly sheen; offers excellent adhesion, some skin whitening, and low friction on the skin. In lipstick, it offers slip, glide, adhesion, a pearly sheen and a little whitening that won’t alter your colors as much as titanium dioxide. Recommended usage rate is 3%-7% in foundations, 5%-30% in face/body powders, 2%-5% in lipsticks and 5%-40% in blush or eye shadows. INCI: boron nitride

calcium carbonate (AKA chalk)

A natural mineral and talc alternative with excellent oil absorbing, texturizing and mattifying properties. Often used in skincare products intended for oily skin. Imparts opacity to color cosmetics and enhances lather in shampoo and body wash formulations. Also a common ingredient in oral hygiene products as a gentle abrasive. High pH. Typical usage rate is 3%-15%. INCI: calcium carbonate


candelilla wax

(Euphorbia cerifera)
Derived from the leaves of the candelilla shrub (Euphorbia cerifera) native to Mexico and the US. Imparts gloss and hardness to cosmetic products. Used to adjust the viscosity of W/O emulsions. Similar to but not as pliable as beeswax and can be brittle at higher concentrations. Excellent film forming properties. Mix with other waxes to increase hardness without raising the melting point. High oil binding capacity and less sticky than beeswax, so balms made with it won’t get any staying power from it. Added to oil phase in formulas requiring emulsification. Common food additive. Typical use level 2%-30%. Soluble in alcohol. Melting point of about 156-161 F. INCI: Euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax


carnauba wax (Copernicia cerifera)

Made from the leaves of the Brazilian carnauba palm, also known as Brazil wax or palm wax. Hardest natural wax available, composed of wax esters (85%), free fatty acids, fatty alcohols & resins (15%). Nearly twice as hard as beeswax, and imparts stiffness, gloss, and slip to applications. Reduces stickiness in lipstick formulations. Used in mascara as a volumizing agent and in hairstyling products to impart hold. Used in any cosmetic application requiring a formidable barrier agent. In W/O emulsions, it is used as a stabilizer and viscosity modifier. Common food and pharmaceutical additive. Rarely used as a stand-alone wax; can be brittle in high concentrations. Typical use level 2%-40%. Soluble in alcohol. Melting point of 176-187 F. INCI: Copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax

 

castor oil (Ricinus communis)

Derived from the seeds of the castor (Ricinus communis) plant, castor oil is about 90% ricinoleic acid, 3-4% oleic acid and 3-4% linoleic acid. Glossy, viscous oil with a relatively high specific gravity and a low molecular weight, which enables it to penetrate deeply into the epidermis. Often used  as an emollient in lip care products to impart gloss and shine. Recommended usage rate is up to 100%, but 1-40% is typical for skin care formulations, 0.2-2% for hair care products and 5–20% can be added to soap recipes to improve conditioning and lather. INCI: Ricinus communis (castor) oil


cera bellina wax

Hydrophilic derivative of beeswax in which the free fatty acids have been converted to polyglycerols esters. Much softer than beeswax, and adds a unique gel-like texture to products and imparts a smooth, satin-like glide. Acts as a gelling agent, thickener and pigment dispersion stabilizer in oils. Inhibits crystallization in the oil phase. Also helps with pigment distribution, reduces sweating in solid balms and can function as a co-emulsifier. Great in lip balms, ointments, glosses and lotion bars. Concentrations of 20% or less form a translucent, gel-like product. INCI: polyglycerol-3 beeswax


cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao)

Produced from cold pressed ground cocoa beans. Composed of 34% oleic acid, 2% linoleic acid, 27% palmitic acid, 31% stearic acid. Emollient, nourishing and not overly greasy on the skin. Lovely natural chocolate scent. Melting point is just under body temperature, about 95 F. INCI: Theobroma cacao seed butter 


colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa)

Whole oat kernels that have been processed, micronized and pre-solubilized into a particle size capable of forming a homogeneous suspension in water-based products. It’s a soothing addition to cosmetic applications that can help relieve dry, irritated, itchy skin associated with eczema, rashes and other skin conditions. Added to hot or cold water phase. Recommended usage rate is 1%-10% in gels, lotions, shampoos, powders and creams, though some sources recommend up to 30%. INCI: Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour

diatomaceous earth

Naturally occurring fossilized remains of diatoms contain 80-90 silicone dioxide, AKA silica. Highly absorbent anti-caking and bulking agent that improves slip in facial powders, foundations, and eye shadows. Food grade DE by definition must contain less than 1% of the jagged crystalline silica, which is the form that that is problematic when inhaled. Possible natural substitute for silica microspheres? INCI: solum diatomeae (diatomaceous earth) clay

emulsifying wax / e-wax NF

Nonionic vegetable-derived self-emulsifying wax and thickener used to create oil-in-water emulsions. In cleansing oils and balms it creates products that self-emulsify on contact with water. Added to oil phase in formulas requiring emulsification. Recommended usage rate is 2%-25%. Works reliably at 20%-25% of oil phase. INCI: Emulsifying Wax NF

ferulic acid

Naturally occurring antioxidant extracted from rice bran. Prevents and may even repair sun damage to skin cells caused by UV light. Antioxidant acton is increased by exposure to UV light. Neutralizes free radicals and boosts collagen synthesis. May prevent DNA damage and cancer formation. Increases efficacy and stability of vitamin C and E in combination. Soluble in natural oils up to 0.2%. INCI: Ferulic Acid

glucomannan

Water soluble polysaccharide made from the dried tubers of amorphophallus konjac plant. An effective thickener and co-emulsifier, it creates a transparent gel with skin conditioning and protective properties. A natural carbomer alternative. Maintains viscosity in the presence of electrolytes. Combining 95% glucomannan with 5% xanthan gum (total polysaccharide concentration of 1% in solution) yields a strong gel structure. Add to glycerin prior to emulsifying to minimize clumping. Soluble in alcohol up to 10%. Warm the liquid phase you’re adding the glucomannan to slightly, (not too hot!) then stir in the glucomannan until you have the desired consistency. Gel will have stable hold if the mixture is heated slightly when adding the konjac. Use up to 1 gram of glucomannan to a 100 mL liquid to produce a firm but not stiff, stable gel. If the pH is raised to 9-10.5 by the addition of a mild alkali, then heated to about 185F for 20 minutes and cooled, it produces a very firm, but elastic thermo irreversible/heat-stable gel. INCI: glucomannan


glycerin

Water soluble humectant, solvent and emollient. byproduct of the soap making process. INCI: glycerin


green tea wax (Camellia sinensis)

A byproduct of green tea production extracted from the leaves of Camellia sinensis via CO₂ extraction. Oil soluble soft, creamy wax with a medium-low melting point. More of an emollient than a wax, and does not add stability to a formula. Imparts creaminess, color and a light green tea scent. Recommended usage rate is 0.5 - 3.0%. INCI: Camellia sinensis  (green tea) leaf wax


guar gum (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba)

Non-ionic water soluble sugar polymer (polysaccharide) produced from the seeds of a legume guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) grown in Pakistan and India. Non-gelling thickener that enhances suspension properties and acts as an emulsion stabilizer, demulcent and light emulsifier. Lather enhancer when combined with surfactants. Film forming, imparts a smooth and silky feel to skin, acts as an anti-irritant. Cationic version (yellowish powder) is modified to have a positive charge, giving it conditioning and anti-static properties. Can act as an anti-freeze by inhibiting ice crystal growth. High pH. Added to water phase prior to heating or add to pre-emulsion oil phase to avoid clumping. In general, solutions prepared with heat will have a lower final viscosity than the same solutions prepared with cold water and allowed to hydrate slowly. Recommended usage rate is 0.2%-2%. Works well paired with xanthan gum (75% to 25% guar gum). Possible silicone alternative for hair care formulations. INCI: Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (guar gum)


gum arabic / acacia senegal gum

Produced from the sap of the African acacia tree, and is composed of polysaccharides (multi-chain starches) and glycoproteins. Has good adhesive and film-forming properties and enhances stability and suspension properties. Aqueous solutions of gum arabic will gel with the addition of ferric salts, borax, alcohol or sodium silicate. Lather enhancer when combined with surfactants. Can be used as an oil-in-water emulsifier. Lower viscosity than guar or xanthan gums. May work better paired with other gums (i.e. 3 parts acacia to 1 part xanthan). Added to water phase prior to heating. Recommended usage rate is 1%-10%. INCI: acacia gum

hyaluronic acid / sodium hyaluronate

Polysaccharide produced by the bacterial fermentation of plant matter. HA can be mixed with glycerin before adding to water phase to avoid clumping. INCI: Sodium Hyaluronate

lanolin

Cholesterol-rich natural wax derived from sheep’s wool containing sterol esters and squalane. Effective moisturizer, softener and occulsive/barrier protectant. May be able to penetrate the upper layers of the stratum corneum providing longer lasting moisturizing than other natural oils. Common use levels in lip products 5%-100%, cold process soap 3%-6%, lotions and creams 3%-5%. INCI: lanolin

magnesium stearate

Salt of stearic acid that improves adhesion, glide, slip and texture. Used in concentrations of 3%-10% by weight in a loose powder. INCI: magnesium stearate


MM sericite mica / magnesium myristate

Surface-treated inert earth mineral sourced from areas that have seen hydrothermal alteration. Improves slip, adhesion and dilutes pigments. Light diffusion properties gives a luminous appearance without being sparkly. The addition of the Magnesium Myristate makes the product somewhat better at adhering to the skin than plain sericite. Effectively reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines. Used in mineral cosmetics, foundations, blushes and finishing powders. Recommended usage rate is up to 100% in powdered products. INCI: mica (77019), myristic acid, magnesium hydroxide

olivem 1000

Ecocert, PEG-free, non-ionic, oil-in-water emulsifier and thickener. Recommended usage rates for low viscosity (serums and lotions) 3%-4% and high viscosity (lotions and creams) 7%-8%. INCI: cetearyl olivate (and) sorbitan olivate

panthenol

Water and alcohol soluble active sourced from a component of honey (d-pantolactone) and is the alcohol analog of pantothenic acid (vitamin b5). Able to penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, improving hydration by retaining moisture. When used in lotions and creams at up to 3%, DL-Panthenol will help repair and rehydrate dry, damaged skin. Recommended usage rate is 0.5%-5%. INCI: panthenol

sclerotium gum

Cold water soluble, non-ionic polysaccharide produced by fermentation of the filamentous fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. Used as a thickening and suspension agent with rheological properties and high thermal stability, meaning high temperature has little effect on its viscosity. Effective emulsifier and stabilizer that can produce a crystal clear gel base used at 0.8-1.5% up to 2%. Recommended usage rate for lotions and creams to increase viscosity while maintaining good fluidity, flexibility and pouring properties is 0.25%-0.5%. INCI: sclerotium gum


sericite mica

Inert earth mineral sourced from areas that have seen hydrothermal alteration. Improves slip, adhesion and dilutes pigments. Light diffusion properties gives a luminous appearance without being sparkly. Effectively reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines. Commonly used in mineral cosmetics, foundations, blushes and finishing powders. Recommended usage rate is up to 100% in powdered products. INCI: sericite


shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

Extracted from the nut of the African shea (Butyrospermum parkii) tree. Composed of 50-57.5% oleic acid, 6-7% linoleic acid, 4-5.5% palmitic acid and 29-35% stearic acid, depending on where the shea butter is sourced. Semi-soft butter is a natural source of vitamin A, vitamin E and allantoin. Anti-inflammatory and improves skin elasticity. Sometimes combined with cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolate. Usually has a melting point of 90F, but it can be as low as 77-86F, depending on orgin. INCI: shea (Butyrospermum parkii) butter


silk powder

Water soluble powder that adds sheen and light diffusion to makeup products; can absorb or release moisture as the temperature and humidity change. Recommended usage rate is 3%-20%. INCI: silk


Siligel™

Proprietary blend of xanthan gum, lecithin, sclerotium gum and pullulan created by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics. A “green” gelling agent that produces a thixotropic mixture capable of keeping pigments/sunscreens/exfoliants fully suspended in oils and emulsions, meaning the product will be thick or viscous, under static conditions, but should flow (become thin, less viscous) when shaken, agitated, sheared or otherwise stressed (i.e. pumped, sprayed or squeezed out of a bottle). Gelling agent, co-emulsifier, stabilizer and suspending agent. Added to the heated water phase or in the post-emulsion cool-down phase. Final viscosity will be reached in 24 hours. INCI: xanthan gum, lecithin, sclerotium gum, pullulan


sodium hyaluronate / hyaluronic acid

Polysaccharide produced by the bacterial fermentation of plant matter. HA can be mixed with glycerin before adding to water phase to avoid clumping. INCI: Sodium Hyaluronate


sodium lactate

Water soluble sodium salt of lactic acid produced by the fermentation of corn or beet sugar. Humectant with a water holding capacity second only to hyaluronic acid, it can improve the skin feel of a formulation and reduce tackiness. Antimicrobial preservative enhancer (but not a stand-alone preservative) and buffering agent. In bar soaps it can facilitate unmolding and accelerate curing times, resulting in harder, smoother bars. Added to hot or cold water phase. Recommended usage rate is 0.5%-5% for skin care products and 2%-3% in bar soaps. INCI: sodium lactate


stearic acid

Oil soluble animal or vegetable (usually palm) derived fatty acid that works as an emollient and co-emulsifier and stabilizing agent. Thickens without the weight and waxiness of waxes. Hardens and raises the melting point of formulas without added waxiness. Can give liquid oils a more “buttery” consistency without added waxes. Anionic oil-in-water emulsifier. Added to the heated oil phase. Recommended usage rate is 2%-10%. INCI: stearic acid

tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate

Oil-soluble, gentle and stable Vitamin C ester. Antioxidant that can increase collagen, inhibit lipid peroxidation and correct hyperpigmentation and age spots. Topical use can mitigate the damaging effects of UV exposure. Recommended usage rate is usually 1%-10%, but may be used up to 30% for therapeutic purposes. INCI: tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate


thickening clay

Proprietary blend of Quaternium-90, Sepiolite and Quaternium-90 Montmorillonite produced by TKB Trading, LLC. Marketed as a thickener with rheological properties that is capable of keeping pigments/sunscreens/exfoliants fully suspended in oils and emulsions, meaning the product will be thick or viscous, under static conditions, but should flow (become thin, less viscous) when shaken, agitated, sheared or otherwise stressed (i.e. pumped or squeezed out of a bottle). Add to oils before adding micas and pigments. Recommended usage rate is about 1%-3%. INCI: quaternium-90 sepiolite (and) quaternium-90 montmorillonite


titanium dioxide

Inert earth mineral primarily sourced from ilmenite ore. Used as a thickener, opacifying agent and whitening pigment with light scattering properties. Also works as a physical UVA/UVB sunscreen (only slightly less effective than zinc oxides). Better adhesion properties than zinc oxide. Available in water dispersible and an oil dispersible versions. Recommended usage rate is generally 2%-25% (~15% in eye shadow, ~10% in foundation, ~25% in blush, up to 40% in foundations/concealers). INCI: titanium dioxide


turkey red oil / sulfated castor oil (Ricinus communis)

Castor oil is exposed to sulfuric acid to create a unique oil that is miscible (soluble) in water while retaining the humectant/moisturizing properties of castor oil. An anionic surfactant that can be used as a solubilizer to disperse oils and essential oils in water. Recommended usage rate up to 100%. INCI: sulfated Ricinus communis (castor) oil

xanthan gum

Hot or cold-water soluble anionic sugar polymer (polysaccharide) derived from the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris. Conditioning with non-gelling thickening properties. Enhances stability and suspension properties. Lather enhancer when combined with surfactants. Maintains and may increase viscosity in the presence of electrolytes. Will not dissolve in alcohol, but is compatible with up to 60% alcohol, so it is an ideal thickener for making hand sanitizers. Rheological properties remain stable at a wide range of temperatures. Can act as an anti-freeze by inhibiting ice crystal growth. Added to water phase prior to heating or add to pre-emulsion oil phase to avoid clumping. Recommended usage rate is 0.5%-2%. A drawback of xanthan gum is its tendency to pill or ball up if too much product is used. In higher concentrations, it can also feel a bit tacky on the skin. Works well paired with sclerotium and acacia gums (50% sclerotium, 25% xanthan, 25% acacia). Possible silicone alternative for hair care formulations. INCI: xanthan gum

zinc ricinoleate

Oil soluble zinc salt of ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid found in castor seed oil. There is no ricin in zinc ricinoleate, because ricin is water soluble, and not present in castor seed oil. INCI: zinc ricinoleate


zinc oxide

Inert earth mineral produced from zinc ore. Slightly astringent, used as a bulking agent, pigment and anti-chafing skin protectant. Can be an opacifying agent and whitening pigment but is more translucent than titanium dioxide, which does these things more effectively. Also works as a physical UVA/UVB sunscreen. Insoluble but dispersible in water and oils. Recommended usage rate is 5%-25%. INCI: zinc oxide

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