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The Organic Salon.com - Glossary

This glossary provides you with a reference guide for ingredients. It is detailed, so dip in whenever you need to! If you do have any questions or concerns regarding ingredients please contact us.

The glossary will be updated as new developments occur in the natural beauty industry.

Sources of information:
Sources: WDDTY, Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth, ewg.org, Suki, Neals Yard, Natura, Derma Doctor, phytochemicals.com, Aubrey Hampton, Paula's choice, DNA Vitamins.com, questhealthlibrary.com

Please click a letter:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Achillea
Tones the blood vessels. used externally, its astringent properties will aid in the healing of wounds, and it has been used to treat haemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Alcohol (or Ethanol)
Used as a preservative. Can cause dryness and irritation. Ethanol can increase the permeability of the skin and may enable unwanted impurities to be absorbed.

Algin extract
A seaweed extract used as a thickener or emulsifier. Rich in minerals & mucilage.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)
An active ingredient derived from fruit acids, used as an exfoliant. Should be used with caution as can cause increased sensitivity to sun and damage to the skin's protective barrier.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
A naturally occuring molecule and powerful antioxidant. Helps to protect cells from free radicals. It increases effects of other antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E. It is water soluble and fat soluble so it can get to all parts of the cell protecting it against free radicals.

Alpha -terpineo
In 1989 the Drug Adminstration identified 5 fragrance chemicals (this being one) to be among those constituents in cosmetics most frequently involved in adverse reactions.

Aluminium
No-one knows exactly how aluminium compounds reduce underarm wetness. They may prevent sweating by clogging sweat ducts. But clogging leads to pressure from the sweat buildup inside the ducts, and it's thought that this may cause the sweat glands to stop secreting. A look at the incidence of breast cancer among 400 US women suggests it may be a combination of underarm shaving and deodorant use that allows chemicals to seep into breast tissue.

Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate
A foaming agent. One of the milder detergents. Can cause dryness and skin redness. In products for prolonged contact with skin, concentrations should not exceed 1%.

Animal Fat (tallow)
Animal Fat (tallow) block pores, effectively suffocating it and contributing to acne. Animal Fat is found in soap and may cause eczema. It can provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Antitoxidant
A substance which helps protect against free radicals, assisting the bodies cells to prevent the too rapid oxidation of nutrients and counter the effect of cancer causing free radicals.

Apricot
The oil is extracted from the fleshy part of the stone, also known as persic oil it is very similar in it’s rich, emollient properties to almond oil, softening, hydrating and conditioning.

Artificial Musks
Look out for musk xylene and polycyclic musks, both of which mimic female hormones. Natural musks, however, are more devastating for the musk deer from which they are extracted, therefore to be avoided for slightly different reasons.

Antioxidant
A substance which helps protect against free radicals, assisting the bodies cells to prevent the too rapid oxidation of nutrients and counter the effect of cancer causing free radicals.

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Behenyl Alcohol
Used as a thickening agent, and preservative. Fatty alcohol derivative of vegetable oils which retains moisture. Can be irritating to the skin.

Bentonite
Emulsifier. Can block pores, effectively suffocating it and contributing to acne.

Benzion
A sweet smelling oil great for wrinkles.

Benzoic Acid
Preservative. A mild skin irritant can cause allergic reactions. Implicated in many health issues including asthma and eczema.

Benzyl Acetate
Directly causes cancer.

Benzyl Alcohol
Preservative. Can be irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Have been shown to cause allergies and dermatitis.

Benzyl benzoate
A compound that occurs naturally in some essential oils.

Benzyl Salicylate
A compound that occurs naturally in some essential oils.

Betaine
Surfactant and foam booster.

Blue Chamomile
An all around healer, soother, calmer, and emollient. Blue (german) chamomile is the finest quality chamomile and very high in alpha-bisabolol, whereas the other types are low in this component and very high in bisabolol oxide A.

BNDP or Bronopol - 2-bromo 2 Nitropropane
Toxic, causes allergic contact dermatitis. Have the potential to be carcinogenic (to cause cancer).

Borage
Nutrient dense oil high in rare gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), also found in human breast milk. Excellent treatment for dry or mature skin, acne, rosacea, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems. Also known as Starflower oil. GLA helps support the hormonal system, skin and joints as well.

Bromelain
A protein-digesting and milk-clotting enzyme found in pineapple.

Burdock
Used in blood cleansing and detoxification combinations as an important anti-inflammatory and anti-infective and is used for its specific antihistamine activity in cases of itching, or eruptive skin problems such as cold sore outbreaks, acne and eczema.

Butane
Used as a propellant or aerosol in cosmetics. The principal hazard is that of fire and explosion, but it may be narcotic in high doses and cause asphyxiation.

Butyl Benzylphthalate
A Paraben/ Synthetic Preservative. Toxic, causes allergic reactions and skin rashes. They are absorbed into the bloodstream and disrupt the hormonal system. They may be associated with breast cancer. They are EDC's - Endocrine Distrupting Chemicals. Has the potential to be carcinogenic.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
A Paraben/ Synthetic Preservative. Toxic, causes allergic reactions and skin rashes. They are absorbed into the bloodstream and disrupt the hormonal system. They may be associated with breast cancer. They are EDC's - Endocrine Distrupting Chemicals. Has the potential to be carcinogenic.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
A Paraben/ Synthetic Preservative. Toxic, causes allergic reactions and skin rashes. They are absorbed into the bloodstream and disrupt the hormonal system. They may be associated with breast cancer. They are EDC's - Endocrine Distrupting Chemicals. Has the potential to be carcinogenic.

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Calendula
One of the top five healers and skin tonics aiding everything from acne and rosacea to eczema and psoriasis. healing, soothing herb which repairs dry, damaged skin, prevents premature aging, aids in the treatment of bruises, spider veins, boils, sores, burns, wrinkles, swelling, and stretch marks to name a few. Also imparts shades of gold and yellow naturally.

Capryl Glucoside
Plant based Surfactant.

Caprylic Acid
Naturally occuring fatty acid. No known toxicity.

Caprylin/Capri Triglyceride
An emollient derived from coconut oil. Used to disperse pigment in cosmetics and as a thickening agent.

Carrot
A thick orange oil rich in beta carotene, antioxidants, vitamins A, E and C. effectively treats dry, mature skin, prevents and treats wrinkles, sagging skin, stretch marks, sun damage, roseacea, and under eye swelling. nutritive, extremely nourishing moisturizer that helps repair damaged skin cells and rebuild cell tissue.

Centella Asiatica extract
A botanical additive (member of carrot family) which can be benefical in skincare areas such as reduction of visable wrinkles, dark under-eye circles, cellutitis, also contributing to firming and healing of stretch marks and strengthening areas of very fine skin.

Cera Alba
Bees wax. Used as an Emulsifier, practically insoluable in water.

Ceramide
Hydrating agent used in skin and hair conditioners.

Cetearyl Alcohol
Fatty alcohols are components of all natural waxes - derived from plant oil and used as an emulsifier, emollient and thickener. Not to be confused with Ethyl alcohol. Gives a high viscocity to a skincare product.

Cetearyl Olivate
Derived from olive oil. Used as an emulsifier, often blended with sorbitan olivate. Together, these emulsifiers help mix oil- and water-based ingredients and help to give a product a luxurious, smooth feel.

Cetearyl Glucoside
Emulsifier wax. Made from cetearyl alcohol and glucose. Derived from corn or coconut.

Cetrimonium Chloride
A surfactant derived from coconut. Used a hair conditioning agent and also as an antiseptic and as a preservative.

Cetyl Alchohol
Natural or synthetic Emulsifier.

Cetyl Palmitate
Natural or synthetic Emulsifier and Emollient.

Chamomile
An all around healer, soother, calmer, and emollient. Avoid Moroccan - the cheap version - containing no healing power and irritating to the skin. Chamomile also gives gorgeous shades of gold and yellow, blue chamomile is the best.

Cholesterol
Used as a emulsifier and lubricant in eye creams, shampoo's and other cosmetic products.

Chlorphenesin
Preservative.

Cincona
The name of a genus in rubiaceae family. Large evergreens that can grow over 10 metres tall. Originating from India, the soothing, revitalizing and shine enhancing properties of cinchona have been known since ancient times.

Cinnamon
A stimulant, tonic,carminative and astringent.

Citric Acid (pH - modifier)
Widely used acids in the cosmetic industry. It is derived from citrus fruit by fermentation of crude sugars. Employed as a Preservative.

Citronellol
A compound that occurs naturally in some essential oils.

Citrus Extract
Extraction from citrus fruit.

Clay-Kaolin
Used to draw impurities from the skin. Can block pores, effectively suffocating it and contributing to acne.

Coal Tar dyes (and lakes)
Colours D & C Red 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 17, 19, & 33, Green 5, Orange 17, RD & C Blue 1, 2 & 4, Green 3, Red 4 & 40, Yellow 5 & 6 are direct carcinogens (cause cancer). They are also a frequent source of allergic reactions, particulary skin rashes and hives.

Cocamide MEA (Monethanolamine)
Widely used fatty acid of coconut oil. Used as a thickener and foam booster. Should not be used in cosmetic products containing nitrosating agents. Many nitrosamines are amoung the most potent cancer-causing agents found. See Nitrosamine.

Cocamidopropyl Betainamide MEA (Monethanolamine) Chloride
Derived from coconut, a mild foaming Surfactant. Should not be used in cosmetic products containing nitrosating agents. Many nitrosamines are amoung the most potent cancer-causing agents found. See Nitrosamine.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Surfactant derived from coconut oil salt. Creates a creamy foam in shampoos, is also a thickener. It is antistatic and a cleanser.

Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine
Surfactant derived from coconut oil.

Coco Caprylate Caprate
Coconut based Emulsifier and an emollient.

Coco Glucoside
A mild detergent derived from coconuts.

Coco Polyglucose
A "non-ionic surfactant" synthesised from coconut and glucose from corn.

Coco-betaine
A surfactant derived from coconuts and plants.

Cocoa Butter
Pale yellow, hard, brittle fat from cocoa beans that has an odor of chocolate. used in many foods, most notably chocolate, cosmetics and soaps. makes a rich moisturizer and cleansing agent. please look for fair trade cocoa butter and organic cocoa butter.

Cocoamidopropyl betaine
Surfactant derived from coconut oil salt (processed with a petroleum derived alcohol). Creates a creamy foam in shampoos, is also a thickener. It has anti-static properties which make it a conditioning agent for hair and a cleanser.

Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera)
Raw material for soaps and creams. Emollient, a moisturiser.

Co-Enzyme Q10
See Ubiquinone.

Collagen
Putting ingredients like collagen (which is taken from dead animal) onto your skin can in no way create the production of collagen in skin tissue. The only way collagen can have an effect is by being injected under the epidermal layer. On the skin it can block pore, effectively suffocating it and contributing to acne.

CoQ10
An anti-ageing antioxidant vitamin both internally & topically.

Crystaline Silica
Directly causes cancer.

Cyclodextrin
From dextrin - startch gum, used as a diluting ingredient for dry extracts and emulsions as a thickener in cream and liquid cosmetics. May cause an allergic reaction.

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DEA - Diethanolamine
Contains nitrosamines that are carcinogens (cause cancer). Causes facial dermatitis and contact dermatitis.

Decaglycerol Erucate
A surfactant derived from sugar and jojoba.

Decyl Glucoside
Mild foaming and cleansing agent derived from corn oil.

Dehydroacetic Acid DHA
Used as a preservative. The presence of organic matter decreases its effectiveness.

Diaminophenol
Directly causes cancer. Also see Phenol.

Diazoilidinyl Urea
A preservative. Used as an antiseptic and deodorizer. Can cause dermatitis and breathing problems if misted.

Dimethicone
A synthetic silicone compound. Anti-foaming and reduces greasy feel in hair conditioning products. Used as a waterproofing material for sunscreen emulsions. Can inhibit skin respiration. A cancer suspect according to some sources.

Dimethyl MEA
A natural toning extract.

Dimethyl Sulfone (MSM)
An organic sulphur which is an excellent detoxifier and anti-inflammatory. It has proven to be good for the skin, joints and anti-ageing. Topically it helps cellular regeneration, scarring and wrinkles.

Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)
DMAE is an anti-oxidant that helps stabilise cell membranes so helps protects cell membranes from being attacked by free radicals. DMAE can rapidly improve the appearance of sagging skin and also boosts the effects of other anti-oxidants.

Dioctyl Adipate
Directly causes cancer.

Dioxane 1,4
A contaminant, a highly potent carcinogen (causes cancer). Avoid ingredients that could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane. These include ingredients with the following words or syllables as prefixes or suffixes: PEG, Polyethylene, Polyethylene glycol, Polyoxyethylene, -eth or oxynol. Both Polysorbate 60 and Polysorbate 80. Ethoxylated Alcohols, Oleths, Nonoxynol.

Dipalmitoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate
A white to yellow wax-like product derived from the palm use for its conditioning and antistatic properties.

Disperse Blue 1, Disperse Yellow 3 (colourants)
Directly causes cancer.

Distarch Phosphate
A conditioning agent and thickener derived from corn.

d-Limonene
Compound that occurs naturally in some essentials oils.

DMAE Bitartrate
A skin firming agent.

DMDM Hydantoin
This is a formaldehyde-forming preservative. Contains formaldehyde, a toxic chemical. Causes dermatitis, can even cause cancer.

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Echinacea
Echinacea versatile and powerful herb used as a potent natural antibiotic. improves skin texture and tone and provides a nutritive defense against environmental toxins.

EDC's
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. EDC's (such as parabens) are thought to be contributing to decreasing sperm counts, rising levels of testicular cancer (amongst others) and early puberty in girls, and have also prompted the Royal Society to conclude in a recent report that 'despite the uncertainty, it is prudent to mimimise exposure of humans, especially pregnant women, to EDC's...Regulations cannot be 'put on hold' until all the evidence has been collected. Parabens are EDC's they get absorbed into the blood stream and disrupt the hormonal system. They may be associated with breast cancer.

Elastin
Elastin is derived from animal sources, its effect on the skin is similar to collagen.

Elderberry
Powerful anti-oxidant properties that help protect your health by attacking harmful free radicals that damage cells.Elderberry nourishes the circulatory system, invigorates and is a general rejuvenating tonic.

Emollients
Emollients prevent dryness and protect the skin, acting as a barrier. Water is the best Emollient, but because it evaporates quickly it is ineffective. It needs to be hold on the skin by Emollient oils in what is called emulsion. Synthetic Emollients coat the skin and don't let it breath, which can cause irritation.

Emulsifiers
Emulsifiers hold two ingredients together that wouldn't normally mix. This can be either something like wax or the physical action of shaking the bottle. Synthetic Emulsifiers are usually petroleum/hydrocarbon derivaties and can be allergens. Natural Emulsifiers are obtained from various nuts, berries and leaves.

Enzyme-Vitamin--C
Unique, powerful, time-release vitamin c that works within the skin and with the skin's enzymes over time, lightening and brightening the complexion, providing serious antioxidant action and repairing sun damage, spots, and discoloration. prevents premature aging and helps fill in and repair lines and wrinkles.

Ester C
A Patented form of vitamin C clinically shown to retain its potency longer than other forms. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is very beneficial to the skin.

Ethyl Paraben
see Parabens.

Ethylhexyl Stearate
An emollient derived from plant oil. Prevents water loss.

Evening Primrose
A nutrient oil high in GLA - Gamma Linolenic Acid (Omega 6). A valuable emollient and skin conditioning agent high in essential fatty acids and extremely useful for skin and scalp. useful for balancing hormones as well.

Exotic Vervain
Obtained from the small pepper shaped fruits which resemble peppers. most valued for its anti- inflammatory and calming properties.

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Farnesol
A compound that occurs naturally in some essential oils.

Flaxseed
Alpha-linolenic acid. Flaxseeds and their oil are also the best sources of an essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid.Essential fatty acids are important for cell membranes, blood pressure regulation, and other functions. An omega-3, similar to some of the fatty acids in fish oil, like aspirin, omega-3s may reduce blood clotting. Flaxseeds and their oil may also lower total blood cholesterol, as well as LDL ("bad") cholesterol. flaxseeds contain lignans—which may have anti-cancer properties.

Fluoride
Direcly causes cancer. No human disease including tooth decay will result from a fluoride deficiency. Fluoride is a synthetic poison, and there is enough in the average family toothpaste to kill a small child if ingested. The US and Sweden but not the UK require that fluoride toothpastes be labelled with a special poisons warning. Both animal and human studies show a clear relationship between oral cancer and fluoride.

Fluorocarbons
Flurocarbons are commonly used as a propellant in hairsprays, they cause irritation of the respiratory tract.

Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is highly toxic, neurotoxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic. Formaldehyde precursors react with other chemicals in the product to release formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies) - 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1-,2-diol, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM-Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Metheneamine, Quaternium-15, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. Directly causes cancer.

Fragrance
More than 5000 chemicals are used in making fragrances, 95 per cent of which are mostly or entirely synthetic, usually derived from petroleum or coal tar. Nearly a third of the chemical additives used in perfumes and other scented products are known to be toxic, including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, synthetic musks and phthalates. Other toxins and sensitisers can cause cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.

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Geraniol
Essential oil compound. One of the monoterpene alchols, essential oil compounds that have have tonifying, stimulating and antimicrobial properties. Geraniol is a natural antioxidant.

Glutaral
Directly causes cancer.

Glycerin
A humectant which helps the skin retain moisture. Hydrates and provides a skin barrier; allows topical agents to go on very smoothly; a concern is clogging of pores when present in high concentrations.

Glyceryl Caprate
An emollient and emulsifier made from fatty acids from corn, coconut or palm oil and glycerin. Helps consistency of creams and lotions.

Glyceryl Oleate
A gentle conditioner derived from coconuts. Emulsifier.

Glyceryl Stearate
An emulsifier derived from palm kernel or soy oil (it is also found naturally in the human body). Glyceryl stearate also acts as a solvent, mosituriser and consistency regulator in formulations. Very mild with a low skin-irritation profile.

Glycine Soja
Soy amino acid acts as a texturiser.

Glycolic Acid
An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) helpful for acne-prone skin, resolves dry skin conditions; used in chemical peels as well as to help reduce the appearance of pores and wrinkles; exfoliates excess flaking or crusty skin. Also see Alpha Hydroxy Acid.

Grapeseed
A light, very easily absorbed oil rich source of linoleic acid (Omega 6). Pressed from the seeds of grapes, look for pressed organic only, this is one of the most powerful antioxidants around with bioflavinoids superior to most because of their water solubility­ making them much more absorbable by the body. Prevents and treats free-radical damage, sun damage, and pollutions effects.

Green Tea
Very powerful natural anti-oxidant (20 times stronger than vitamin E) that reduces inflammation when used topically, revitalizes the skin and prevents damage from environment, sun, free-radicals.

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Horse Chestnut
The seeds contain a saponin mixture from which two crystalline products can be separated: aescin and prosapogenin. Actions that have been attributed to escin include antiedematous properties, anti-inflammatory activities, and venotonic properties.

Horsetail
Rich in minerals and vitamins. It enriches the blood, hardens the fingernails and revitalizes lifeless hair. It is also is good for those white spots that occur on the finger nails, which indicate a calcium imbalance in the body.

Humectants
The purpose of cream is to keep the skin moist. Many conventional creams create a suffocating film on the skin and prevent moisture loss. A natural humectant, glycerin, holds moisture in the skin if there is enough moisture in the air. If not it can actually draw moisture from the skin.

Hyaluronic acid
Cyclic Acid: a new term for Hyaluronic Acid: A strong hydrating complex holds 1000 times the water in skin. Also helps to draw in 'active' ingredients deeper into the skin.

Hydrogenated Caster Oil (corn/canola)
Used as a wax. Hydrogenated oils still contain some unsaturated components that are susceptible to rancidity. Therefore the addition of antioxidants is still necessary. Ingestion of large amounts may cause pelvic congestion.

Hydrolysed Wheat Protein
A conditioning protein derived from wheat which strengthens and conditions the hair shaft.

Hydroquinone
Directly causes cancer.

Hydroxyanisole
Used in permanent hair dyes. Affects the female reproductive system, has the potential to be carcinogenic (cause cancer).

Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate
A new natural binder.

Hypericum Perforatum extract
A botanical additive derived from Hypericum perforatum or Perforate St. John's Wort, a member of the St. John's Wort (Hypericaceae) family.

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Imidazolidinyl Urea
Preservative, toxic, releases formaldehyde in to cosmetics. Can cause dermatitis.

Inulin
A naturally occuring constituent of many herbs such as Burdock & Dandelion, gives a high gloss and incredible shine to hair.

Isoamyl p-Methoxycinnamate
Used in suntan lotions and perfumes. Occurs in storax, Balsam Peru, cinnamon leaves, and coca leaves. It may cause allergic skin rashes.

Isostearyl Neopentanoate
An emollient. A synthetic compound derived from fatty acids.

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Jojoba
Actually a liquid plant wax from seeds with an indefinite shelf life and its chemical similarity to sebum, it is a valuable skin and hair care oil. Rich and nourishing, it helps the desert jojoba plant retain water during drought. It not only acts as a humectant, but actually creates a protective film over the skin and hair that keeps moisture in. Very effective for mature, dry, and damaged skin. does not clog pores.

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Kaolin (clay)
Can block pores, effectively suffocating it and contributing to acne.

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Lanolin
This wool fat is a skin irritant which is frequently found in cosmetics and lotions. Lanolin is a common skin sensitiser that can cause allergic reactions, such as skin rashes, as well as promoting acne.

Lactic Acid
Acid naturally occurring in milk which produced pH levels like those of hair and skin. An excellent mosturiser.

Lauric Acid
A detergent. A mild irritant but not a sensitizer.

Lavender
A good antiseptic, calming, treats headaches, insomnia,depression, aches, wounds, insect bites, reduces stress and tension, is purifying and healing to the skin.

Lecithin
Derived from eggs or soy beans, a fat-soluble compound. Emulsifier and spreading agent, emollient and antioxidant. A water-attracting agent used in products to help hydrate the skin. Keeps the water and oil portions from separating.

Lemon
A natural exfoliate, toner, and skin freshener. Great for balancing and refreshing both dry and oily skin.

Limonene
An essential oil compound found in citrus fruits and various plants. In 1989 the Drug Adminstration identified 5 fragrance chemicals (this being one) some people are sensitive to this. Limonene occurs naturally in many essential oils, a few are: chamomile, rosemary, tea tree, lavender, juniper, neroli and more..

Linalool
An essential oil compound found in citrus fruits and various plants. In 1989 the Drug Adminstration identified 5 fragrance chemicals (this being one) some people are sensitive to this. Linalool occurs naturally in many essential oils, a few are: chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, lavender, lemon, ylang ylang and more..

Liquid Paraffin
The main lubricant in most creams are liquid paraffin, propylene or mineral oil. These are by products from petrol refinery that are 'dumped' in huge quantities in the cosmetic industry. They are cheap and stable and so don't go off easily. They can clog pores and prevent the skin from 'breathing'. Your skin gets addicted to it and literally peels if you stop using it. Often when changing from a mineral oil based skin care to a natural one the skin does a mini de-tox. Also know as a Hydrocarbon, which contains carcinogenic and mutagenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH's) and cause chemically induced acne.

Lye
Lye is combined with animal fats to make bars of soap, which may corrode and dry out the skin.

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Macadamia Oil
A highly nourishing oil which is rich in palmitoleic acid and promotes young looking, doff and supple skin. Anti ageing properties.

Maltodextrin
Derived from corn starch.

MEA - Monoethanolamine
Can be drying to hair and skin, cause allergic reactions. MEA can undergo nitrosation with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic.

Metheneamine
An antibacterial agent.

Methyl Paraben
see Parabens.

Methyl Sulphonyl Methane (MSM)
Also known as MSM, An organic sulphur which is an excellent detoxifier and anti-inflammatory. It has proven to be good for the skin, joints and anti-ageing. Topically it helps cellular regeneration, scarring and wrinkles. Sulfur is stored in every cell of the body, particularly in the hair, nails, and connective tissue of joints and skin, where it is an important structural protein component. MSM is available in capsules and powder for oral intake or in creams for topical use. So far, there have been no reports of toxicity (Sources: Harvard Health Letter, August 2000, www.health.harvard.edu; Healthnotes Review of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, www.healthwell.com/healthnotes/herb; and www.drweil.com).

Methylene Chloride
Directly causes cancer.

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone
Directly causes cancer.

Mica
Earth mineral used to give products sparkle and shine. Available in various tones.

Mineral Oil and Petrolatum
The main lubricant in most creams are liquid paraffin, propylene or mineral oil. These are by products from petrol refinery that are 'dumped' in huge quantities in the cosmetic industry. They are cheap and stable and so don't go off easily. They can clog pores and prevent the skin from 'breathing' and contribute to acne. Your skin gets addicted to it and literally peels if you stop using it. Often when changing from a mineral oil based skin care to a natural one the skin does a mini de-tox.

MSM
See Methyl Sulphonyl Methane.

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Nitrophenylenediamine
Directly causes cancer.

Nitrosamine
Nitrosamines are highly carcinogenic (causes cancer). Nitrosamine precursors interact with other chemicals in the product to form nitrosamines.

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Oat Milk
Oatmeal soothing, cleansing, mildly exfoliating, gentle, and moisturizing. oats ease skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne, even out skin tone, reduce redness and inflammation.

Octododecanol
Plant oil

Olive Leaf
Potent natural antioxidant, moisturizer, and skin smoother, rich in vitamins and minerals. absorbs and is utilized easily and readily.

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PABA
Para-Amino Benzoic Acid, can be natural or synthetic. Found in Vitamin B complex. Found in most sunscreens. It can cause allergic eczema and a sensitivity to light in susceptible people whose skin may react to sunlight by erupting with a rash, sloughing and or swelling. There are concerns that it could actually increase risk of cancer.

Panthenol
Vitamin B5. A humectant beneficial to the skin and scalp. A natural thickener, an excellent nutrient and hydrator, holds water in the skin. Known for revitalising and conditioning effects in the hair and skin.

Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl also known as hydroxy methyl benzoates)
Synthetic preservatives widely used in food and cosmetics. They are toxic they cause allergic reactions and skin rashes, have been linked to asthma and eczema. They get absorbed into the blood stream and disrupt the hormonal system. They may be associated with breast cancer. They are EDC's - Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals see EDC's. Autopsies done on cancerous tumours have shown residues of methyl, ethyl and propyl parabens, and the only way these could have been introduced is through the external use of skincare and cosmetics.

Passion flower
Antiirritant and sedative, its roots and leaves are used in skin care formulations for their soothing properties.

Pearl extract
Pearl Extract contains protein complexes, amino acids and polysaccharides which Synergistically enhance skin moisture and UV protection, Promote growth of new skin cells, Maintain skin tone and anti-ageing.

PEG (followed by a number)
Acronym for Polyethylene Glycol. Can be synthetic or part synthetic. Could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane. Causes irritation and dermatitis.

Petrolatium
See Mineral Oil, has the same properties.

Phenol
Fatal poisoning can occur through skin absorbtion. Swelling, pimples, hives and other skin rashes following application to the skin have been widely reported. Potential to be carcinogenic.

Phenoxyethanol
Petroleum based preservative. Used as a fixative for perfumes, a bactericide (in conjunction with quaternary ammonium compounds), as insect repellent, a topical antiseptic, a solvent for cellulose acetate, dyes, inks and resins, in organic synthesis of plasticizers, in germicides, in pharmaceuticals, in cosmetics and in preservatives.  

In its purist form: harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin may cause reproductive defects. Severe eye and skin irritant.

Join the big Phenoxyethanol debate we are having. At the moment there are several natural and organic manufacturers using this chemical preservative, either on its own or with benzyl alcohol and potassium sorbate and gaining Soil Association certification because it is considered low grade.  At The Organic Salon.com we are not yet convinced that this is a safe ingredient to be used in skin care and cosmetics.  It is banned in Japan and some other European countries. Phenxoyethanol along with 2 others - Phenylethalcohol and Dehydroacetic Acid were up for debate at the European Harmonisation discussion a couple of weeks ago, attended by the Soil Association. For a more in-depth review and updates on this please check out our blog (link will soon follow as soon as the info has been uploaded to the blog).

Phenylenediamine (in hair dyes)
Can cause blindness from eye contact. Potential to be carcinogenic.

Phenyl-p-phenylenediamine
Directly cause cancer.

Phospholipids
Fatty substances that are important constituents of cell membranes.Readily absorbed into the skin.

Phthalates
In Dec 2002 researchers found high levels of chemicals called phthalates in some well-known perfumes and toiletries. These chemcials, already known to contribute to male infertility and to cause genital abnormalities in mice and rats, were found in 34 products. Genital abnormailities such as undescended testicles, malformations of the urinary tract and hypospadias now occur in 4 per cent of baby boys. Prostate damage, and reduced sperm numbers and motility are on the rise amoung adult men.

Polyoxyethleneth
Could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane.

Polyoxyethlenoxynol
Could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane.

Polyoxyethylene
Could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane.

Polyphenols
Very powerful antioxidants, present in several different botanicals, most notably grape skin and grape seed extracts.

Polysorbate
A family of Emulsifiers and preservatives. Could be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane.

Ponogamol (pongamia) extract
Extracted from the Karanja Tree in India.Contains UV absorbing properties, boosts UV action of Zinc, broadens UV spectrum and conditions and protects the skin.

Potassium Cocate
See Coconut oil.

Potassium Sorbate
Preservative, may cause mild irritation to the skin.

p-Phenylenediamine (following oxidation)
Directly causes cancer.

Preservatives
Preservatives are added to cosmetics to keep a product fresh and free from bacterial or fungal contamination. Preservatives stop decaying, all natural skincare products will eventually deteriorate and go rancid. It is essential to prevent product deterioration and to protect the consumer. Some preservatives may be allergenic, irritating and can even release small amounts of formaldehyde, which is an irritant as well as a carcinogen. Alcohol can replace preservatives (see Alcohol). More gentle preservative systems are available. Effective preservation can be achieved by using a blend of citrus seed extracts (antibacterial effect) in combination with a minimal amount of a food grade preservative.

Chemical preservatives are generally used because they are cheaper than and extend the shelf life of products more than natural alternatives. Storing natural products in the fridge will help to extend their life.

Propyl Paraben
see Parabens.

Propylene Glycol
Works as a humectant, moisture carrier, derived from petroleum. In industry it is used in antifreeze and hydraulic brake fluid. A strong skin irritant and thought to cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage. Also see mineral oil.

Pure Aloe
A Semi-solid gel from the center of the leaves that has been used for thousands of years. However, commercial aloe vera gel consists of aloe extract, stabilizers, synthetic preservatives and thickeners to increase shelf life. It is much preferred to use the pure, thinner feeling extract. A superb soother, emollient, skin conditioning agent, external analgesic, humectant. Very beneficial to dry, chapped and damaged skin and hair.

Pure Fruit Oils
Pure, cold pressed or expressed fruit oils are highly emollient and moisturizing, light and easily absorbed. High in nutrients and vitamins A and E, beta carotene and essential fatty acids. Look for organic, pressed fruit oils.

Pure Rose Wax
Pure rose wax protects our skin as it rotects the delicate petals of the rose. Its natural, decadent, sensuous aroma uplifts and soothes the senses.

PVP/VA Copolymer
Polyvinylpyrrolidone, creates water resistance. Possible carcinogen (cancer causing).

Pynogenol
Derived from the French maritime pine tree. A powerful antioxidant and blood vessel and colagen strengthener. Used in anti aging products.

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Quaternium-15
Perservative that releases formaldehyde. Can cause dermatitis.See Formaldehyde.

Quercetin
Found in many foods including apple, tea, cabbage, nuts and berries. An antioxidant which helps combat free radicals. Quercetin has many health promoting effects, including improvement of cardiovascular health, reducing risk for cancer. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects. All these activities are caused by the strong antioxidant action of quercetin. It will help to combat free radicals molecules, which can damage cells.

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Retinyl Palmitate
Derived from Viatmin A and palm (also known as Vitamin A Palmitate). Can cause irritation. Considered a more stable alternative to retinal for normalizing the skin’s texture and helping smooth out fine lines. Is the ester of retinol combined with palmitic acid; thought to be less irritating than retinol.

Rice Powder
Powdered organic rice is an excellent exfoliant without being overly rough. Nutrients such as are absorbed as well when using this fine grade ingredient.

Ricinoleic Acid
A mixture of fatty oils found in the seeds of castor beans. Used in soaps and externally as an emollient.

Rose Hips
Renowned for its properties in treating scar tissue, acne, psoriasis, eczema and blemishes. Also useful for hyperpigmentation. Super emollient, high in vitamin C, linoleic acid, prevents infection, acts as a natural moisture barrier, tones, soothes, is high in vitamin C, linoleic acid, prevents infection, acts as a natural moisture barrier, treats skin damage, premature aging, and wrinkles.

Rosemary
Stimulating, refreshing and helps relieve mental fatigue, improves mental clarity, it had anti-oxidant and invogorating properties and helps stimulate the circulation and ease aching muscles.

Rutin
An emollient and antioxidant found in many plants, fruits and vegetables. Rutin has strong anti-oxidant properties and has anti-inflammatory effects.

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Saccharin
Directly causes cancer.

Sage
An anti-inflammatory, gentle astringent and has been used as a lotion to help treat wounds.

Sericite mica
Natural, untreated cosmetic mica. See Mica.

Sesame Oil
An emollient oil similar to other non fragrant plant oils.

Shea Butter
also called Karite butter, from the fruit of an African tree. A rich, potent, fabulous skin softening treatment. you only need a tiny amount to notice a big difference in tone, moistness, softness and strength.

Shepherds Purse herb
Possesses mild astringency properties. It also contains several substances which could help female physiological processes.

Shitake
Intensive natural antioxidant and rejuvenator. Medicinal mushrooms are being studied for their use in preventing cancer. protects, beefs up the skin, nourishes and protects.

Sodium Borate
A perservative also known as borax. A potential irritant can cause skin rashes and hair loss.

Sodium C14-16 Oletin Sulfonate
Can be derived from coconut (usually will say). Used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent, but is considered potentially drying and irritating for skin. See surfactant.

Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate
An Emulsifier and Surfactant.

Sodium Chloride
Common table salt used as a binding agent in skin care products. Occasionally used as an abrasive in scrub products.

Sodium Cocoate
See coconut oil. Lathers readily and is a fine skin cleanser.

Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
The most gentle detergents available to cleanse but also respect the skin & hair.

Sodium Dehydroacetate
A preservative. Large doses can cause vomiting, ataxia and confusion.

Sodium Fluoride
Fluorides are toxic and should not be ingested.

Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
Used as a conditioning agent, derived from glycine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid.

Sodium Lactate
A humectant and substitute for glycerin. The sodium salt of lactic acid which is obtained from milk products.

Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate
Has foaming properties and is a mild irritant.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate - SLS and SLES
A thickener and foaming agent. Can cause irritation to the skin and hair. When SLS is ethoxylated - a process to make it less abrasive and more foamy it becomes SLES. During the ethoxylation process an extremely harmful compound call 1,4 Dioxane may be created, contaminating the product. Tests show foetuses subjected to these substances do not develop functioning eyes, and they are implicated in the formation of cataracts in adults. In America, many toothpastes carry a warning label by law because they contain sodium laurel sulphate: 'warning keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. In case of accidental ingestion seek professional assistance or contact a poison control centre immediately.

Sodium Myreth Sulphate
A cleansing and emulsifying ingredient. Data indicating that a shampoo containing 7% and 20% dilution of this ingredient induced mild to moderate eye irritation in some animal studies.

Sodium Olive Amphoacetate
A detergent derived from olive oil.

Sodium Palmate
Used as a texturiser.

Sodium PCA
A humectant which helps the skin retain moisture.

Sodium Sulphate
Salt cake. May prove to be irritating in concentrated solutions.

Soft Almond
Beneficial for dry skin and helps relieve itching, soreness and dryness. Found to be soothing, healing, lubricating, softening revitalising and nourishing.

Sorbitan Olivate
An emulsifier derived from olive oil, often blended with cetearyl olivate. Together, these emulsifiers help mix oil- and water-based ingredients and help to give a product a luxurious, smooth feel.

Sorbitan Stearate
A natural emulsifier derived from fruits and natural stearic acid. It helps blend water and oil based ingredients, in particular it solubilises essential oils in water.

Soy bean Sterols
A natural emulsifier derived from soya & lecithin. May cause allergic reactions.

Stearyl Alcohol
Has been shown to cause allergies and dermatitis.

Sucrose
Sugar, starting ingredient for preservatives and antioxidants and a substutite for glycerin.

Sucrose Cocoate
An emulsifier derived from sugar and coconut.

Sucrose Laurate
A mild detergent derived from cane sugar and fatty acids. An emulsifier and surfactant.

Sugar
A smooth, soft, meltable substance works to slough dead skin with it’s granulation and gentle, mild sugars help rid the pores of dirt and toxins without stripping the skin like harsher glycolic and milk acids and sugars.

Sunflower Oil
A rich blend of glycerides and fatty acids, which will moisturise and protect the skin. Protects and preserves the skin from moisture loss and helps to keep it soft and smooth.

Surfactants
Detergents are Surfactants (surface-active-agents), which can change the properties of water. They can lower water's suface tension, making it better able to interact with other cleaning agents. They can also add foaming ability. There's no difference between the detergents in your household cleansers and those you use in your bath. It's simply a matter of concentration. Nevertheless, even among detergents, there's a wide variation in both effectiveness and ecological impact. Those based on plants are kinder to the body and environment than those based on petroleum.

Synthetic Colours
Coal-tar dyes are generally labelled as FD&C or D&C followed by a number. Carcinogenic.

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Talc
Directly causes cancer. It has been shown that both inhaling talc and using it in the genital area can cause ovarian cancer.  The Talc used by Living Nature Cosmetics is only used in pressed products and is certified asbestos free.

TEA - Triethanolamine
Contains nitrosamines that are carcinogens (cause cancer). Causes facial dermatitis and contact dermatitis.

Thioctic Acid
Also known as alpha-lipoic acid, a natural anti-oxidant.

Tocopherol
Vitamin E, either natural or synthetic. Has antioxidant properties.

Toluene
Can cause cancer and nervous system damage.

Triglycerides
(or triacylglycerols) are glycerides in which the glycerol is esterified with three fatty acids. They are the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats. Used as an emollient and thickening agent.

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Ubiquinone
Co-Enzyme Q10. Can be natural or synthetic, used as antioxidants and skin conditioning ingredients. An anti-ageing antioxidant vitamin both internally & topically. Helps with energy and stamina.

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Vaccinium Myrtyllus extract
Bilberry extract, also known as blueberry. Some research shows bilberry to be effective as

 

 

In its purist form: Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May cause reproductive defects. Severe eye and skin irritant.

This is an interesting one to watch, we will shortly be putting 'The Phenoxyethanol' debate on our blog so watch out for that.  This chemical preservative is currently being used by some natural and organic manufacturers either alone or with benzyl alcohol and potassium sorbate and gaining Soil Association certification as it is considered low grade.  At The Organic Salon we are not yet convinced of this.  This chemical along with 2 others - Phenylethalcohol and Dehydroacetic Acid were up for debate at the European Harmonisation discussions a couple of weeks ago, attended by the Soil Association.  This chemical is banned in Japan and some countries in Europe.  We will be following this closely for a more indepth review and updates read our blog (link coming soon).

 

In its purist form: Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May cause reproductive defects. Severe eye and skin irritant. 

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