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December 15, 2007
Posted in: Beauty,Body Care,Skin Care,Skin Problems by cindypk @ 3:01 pm

Kolbjorn Borseth of Aromantic reveals the mysteries of the ingredients used in cosmetics. These include natural ingredients, which are safe to use, and chemical ingredients, which he believes can be dangerous. With this knowledge you can read and understand label ingredients and decide for yourself if the product is safe to use.

The Raw Materials

A lot of raw materials in products hide behind chemical names. For example emulsifiers are usually well labelled as to the chemical components but what you are not told by the High Street shops is that they are usually derived from pig fats. If you are a vegetarian or a Muslim you would probably not choose to apply cosmetics to your skin containing pig fat! The problem is that by law this does not have to be included on the label.

Aromantic’s mission is to reveal some of these secrets so that you can make more informed choices. One of our guiding principles is that if a cream is to be applied to the skin, all of its raw materials should be able to be eaten. This is why we source most of our raw materials from the food industry. Adding toxic materials to the skin will, of course, affect the whole body.


One important ingredient in creams is emulsifier. This acts to bond the water and oil together – a bit like adding an egg to make mayonnaise. Our main emulsifier is VE/MF which we source from the food industry and is used in producing vegan ice creams and in bread. Another emulsifier, which is often used in home made cosmetics, is beeswax. Whilst this is okay to use to make ointments for the hands and feet, it tends to clog the pores and is not absorbed by the skin. It is unsuitable for skin conditions such as large pores and oily skin.

Other raw materials work as help emulsifiers like algae, xanthan gum and cellulose. One important one is Cetylachohol (INCI name: Cetyl Alcohol). Cetanol (C 16H33=H) is a white, firm wax which melts at 48°C. Not water soluble but easy to dissolve in alcohol, ether or fatty oils. Traditionally obtained from the sperm whale but now taken from the palm oil fatty acid (palmitic acid) C16H33COOH, which is treated with liquid gas so the free oxygen (0) atom is removed. Cetylalcohol makes creams and lotions firmer and gives them consistency. It stabilises emulsification and its cosmetic effect is to make the skin soft and smooth.To Avoid

There are also a few raw materials that we should really avoid using. One is Borax (INCI name: Sodium Borate). This is extracted from the mineral Boron atrocalcite and has been used extensively in skincare products. Borax poisoning in small children (anaemia) was not uncommon. It is easy to use and helps to bond fats with water – but extended use of products containing borax will dry out the skin, making it brittle.

According to Danish medical reports, borax can penetrate the skin, cause powerful irritation and can even cause cancer! Studies of Swedish steelworkers who handle large quantities of borax would seem to corroborate this fact. It should not be used in skincare products. In the UK and USA, Borax is often used in very new recipes. Although it has not been used in Scandinavia and Germany for the last 20 years, the language barrier and the lack of published material has led to many people in English speaking countries being unaware of the dangers.


A raw material which is used by some well known brands of skincare products in the UK is Triethanolamine (INCI name: Triethanolamine). This is a by-product of the petroleum industry. It has been used for several decades (and continues to be used) within the cosmetics industry to support emulsification.
This chemical is severely irritating for the eyes and skin. It penetrates the skin and can cause liver damage. In addition to this, when combined with nitrate ions – normally found in drinking water and many meat products – it produces a carcinogenic substance, nitrosamine. It should not be used in skincare products.

So next time you buy High Street products be sure to read the label very carefully and, if necessary, be prepared to ask your retailer some hard questions.

Ref. Kolbjorn Borseth, AromanticAt The Organic you will find chemcial-free natural and organic skincare, haircare and cosmetics, click below for some specifically for Face and Body.

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