Ingredients Primer

DID YOU KNOW???

…That your skin might be aging before its time? Check the labels of products you currently use. The following ingredients are actually found in many skin-care and cosmetic items on the market today.

ACETONE A volatile, flammable liquid used in paints and varnishes as a solvent, and in organic synthesis.

COLLAGEN A strongly fibrous protein that is abundant in bone, tendons, cartilage, and connective tissue, yielding gelatin when denatured by boiling (Greek kolla, glue).

LANOLIN A fatty substance, extracted from wool, used in ointments, waterproof coatings, etc. Also called wool fat, from Latin lana, wool, and oleum, oil.

MINERAL OIL A colorless, oily, almost tasteless oil obtained from petroleum (Latin petra, rock, and oleum, oil) distillation and used chiefly as a lubricant, in cosmetics, and as a laxative.

PARAFFIN A general name often applied to paraffin wax, but more correctly referring to a great group of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum.

PETROLATUM A jellylike substance obtained in the fractional distillation of petroleum; also called petroleum jelly.

SD ALCOHOL Specially denatured alcohol. Ethyl alcohol (also known as ethanol, or grain alcohol) is commonly used in cosmetics, and to prevent it from being diverted illegally for use as an alcoholic drink, it may contain an added denaturant that makes it undrinkable. Numbers following SD Alcohol on a label (23-A, 40, and 40-B, for example) indicate how the alcohol was denatured, according to the formulary of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

SOAP A substance used for washing and cleansing purposes, usually made by treating a fat with an alkali; any metallic salt of an acid derived from a fat.

Why are the above ingredients harmful? Mineral oil, the primary ingredient in many cosmetics, forms a greasy barrier on the skin and blocks the pores from receiving needed oxygen and nutrients (think of an oil spill and its effects on living creatures). Collagen and lanolin are animal products and can clog pores or cause allergic reactions. Detergents in soap strip the skin of its protective acid mantle. Acetone is used to remove finger nail polish and should never be put on the skin! Solvent alcohol is very drying to the skin and can cause the skin to produce excessive oil. Artificial dyes and fragrances are irritating to the skin.

From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site, Office of Cosmetics Fact Sheet, March 7, 2000; Materials Handbook, 13th ed., 1991; and Random House Webster’s College Dictionary,1999.

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