Follow us on our new Insta page »
Alterna Caviar Anti-Ageing Blonde Shampoo

Caviar Anti-Ageing Blonde Shampoo

Alterna Caviar Anti-ageing Blonde Shampoo is a sulphate-free cleanser that illuminates dull, blonde tones while toning down brassiness and protecting colour. Ideal for mature hair, this shampoo helps minimise the visible signs of ageing.
Uploaded by: proxyoaza on

Ingredients overview

Aqua/​Water/​Eau, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Wasabia Japonica Root Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, [more]Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract, Algae Extract, Caviar Extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phospholipids, Corn Oligosaccharides, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Tyrosinase, Lentinus Edodes Tyrosinase, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Peroxidase, Peptide, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Glycine Max (Soybean) Symbiosome Extract, Pikea Robusta Extract, Papain, Bromelain, Melanin, Melanin Silanetriol, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Oats, Adenosine Triphosphate, Niacinamide Polypeptide, Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide, Pantothenic Acid Polypeptide, Saccharomyces Lysate Ferment, Saccharomyces/​Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/​Zinc Ferment, Superoxide Dismutase, Lactoferrin, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol, Copper Lysyl Oxidase, Acetyl Methionine, Acetyl Serine, Aminoacyl tRNA Synthetase, Phytosphingosine, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-10, Polyquaternium-7, Sodium Phytate, Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer, Acrylates Copolymer, Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Alcohol, Glycereth-26, Glycol Distearate, Polydodecanamideaminium Triazadiphenylethenesulfonate, Amodimethicone, Dihydroxypropyl PEG-5 Linoleammonium Chloride, Divinyldimethicone/​Dimethicone Copolymer, C11-15 Pareth-7, Laureth-9, Trideceth-12, C12-13 Pareth-23, C12-13 Pareth-3, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance/​Parfum, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Limonene, Red 33, Ext. Violet 2
[less]

Highlights

#alcohol-free
Alcohol Free

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Aqua/Water/Eau solvent
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate surfactant/​cleansing
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate surfactant/​cleansing
Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate surfactant/​cleansing
Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine surfactant/​cleansing, viscosity controlling
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate surfactant/​cleansing, emulsifying, viscosity controlling
Cocamidopropylamine Oxide surfactant/​cleansing
Wasabia Japonica Root Extract
Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract
Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract moisturizer/​humectant, viscosity controlling goodie
Hydrolyzed Algae Extract
Algae Extract emollient, moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Caviar Extract
Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil emollient, perfuming goodie
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) emollient, viscosity controlling goodie
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract
Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract antioxidant, emollient goodie
Retinyl Palmitate cell-communicating ingredient 1-3, 1-3
Tocopheryl Acetate antioxidant 0, 0
Phospholipids skin-identical ingredient, emollient goodie
Corn Oligosaccharides
Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Tyrosinase
Lentinus Edodes Tyrosinase
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Peroxidase
Peptide
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein moisturizer/​humectant
Glycine Max (Soybean) Symbiosome Extract
Pikea Robusta Extract antioxidant
Papain 0, 0
Bromelain
Melanin
Melanin Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Rice Protein
Wheat Amino Acids soothing
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein moisturizer/​humectant goodie
Hydrolyzed Oats
Adenosine Triphosphate
Niacinamide Polypeptide
Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide antioxidant
Pantothenic Acid Polypeptide
Saccharomyces Lysate Ferment
Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment
Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment
Superoxide Dismutase antioxidant goodie
Lactoferrin
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol
Copper Lysyl Oxidase
Acetyl Methionine
Acetyl Serine
Aminoacyl tRNA Synthetase
Phytosphingosine skin-identical ingredient, cell-communicating ingredient, anti-acne, antimicrobial/​antibacterial goodie
Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride viscosity controlling
Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride
Polyquaternium-10 viscosity controlling
Polyquaternium-7
Sodium Phytate chelating
Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer
Acrylates Copolymer viscosity controlling
Decyl Glucoside surfactant/​cleansing
Lauryl Alcohol emollient, viscosity controlling, emulsifying
Glycereth-26 moisturizer/​humectant, emollient, viscosity controlling 0, 0
Glycol Distearate emollient, emulsifying, viscosity controlling
Polydodecanamideaminium Triazadiphenylethenesulfonate
Amodimethicone emollient
Dihydroxypropyl PEG-5 Linoleammonium Chloride
Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer
C11-15 Pareth-7 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Laureth-9 emulsifying
Trideceth-12 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
C12-13 Pareth-23 surfactant/​cleansing, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
C12-13 Pareth-3 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 superstar
Butylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling 0, 1
Propylene Glycol moisturizer/​humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling 0, 0
Citric Acid buffering
Tetrasodium EDTA chelating
Methylisothiazolinone preservative icky
Potassium Sorbate preservative
Fragrance/Parfum perfuming icky
Geraniol perfuming icky
Hexyl Cinnamal perfuming icky
Linalool perfuming icky
Limonene perfuming, solvent icky
Red 33 colorant 2, 1
Ext. Violet 2 colorant

Alterna Caviar Anti-Ageing Blonde Shampoo
Ingredients explained

Also-called: Aqua;Water | What-it-does: solvent

Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product. 

It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water. 

Expand to read more

Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying. 

One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time. 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A cleansing agent that's claimed to be so gentle on the skin that it hardly impacts the skin barrier. It also gives a rich, creamy foam, it's based on vegetable fatty acids and is readily biodegradable.

It's an especially important and popular ingredient in "syndet bars" (or soapless soaps). Dr. Leslie Baumann says in her great Cosmetic Dermatology book that thanks to the unique molecular characteristic of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, it "has defined a new dimension in the mildness of cleansing bars".

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A naturally derived, readily biodegradable cleansing agent that gives a rich, creamy foam, is milder to the skin than most sulfate-based cleansers and provides a luxurious, silky skin-feel. 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A cleansing agent that's described by multiple manufacturers as a very mild, non-irritating surfactant but with great foam properties. It's recommended for gentle cleansers suitable for sensitive or baby skin.

A thickening and foam-boasting co-surfactant with amphoteric structure meaning that its head contains both a positively and a negatively charged part (surfactants are most commonly anionic meaning their head has a negative charge). It's very mild and gentle, comes from coconut oil and is readily biodegradable. 

A mild, biodegradable cleansing agent that is also a very good team-player next to other cleaning agents. It is known for its good foam-boosing abilities while improving the mildness of the formula. Its performance is similar to Isethionates, another group of cleaning agents known for their gentleness. 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

A secondary cleansing agent (co-surfactant) that's a good aid next to other (anionic) cleansing agents. It improves foam, the mildness of the formula and builds viscosity, pretty much all the things co-surfactants are used for.

Also-called: Wasabi Root Extract

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Carrageenan Extract, Seaweed Extract | What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, viscosity controlling

The extract of red seaweed that has nice film-forming, skin smoothing and moisturizing properties.​

The manufacturer claims that thanks to biomimetic properties between skin proteins and carrageenans it has a very long-lasting action and can form a "second skin". It also gives a "slow-release" effect to oil-loving active ingredients and measurably reduces trans-epidermal water loss (that's pretty much a synonym of saying that it moisturizes the skin). 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Algae Extract - goodie

We have to admit that Algae Extract is not our favorite ingredient name. It does comply with the INCI standard (the official list about how ingredients on the product labels have to be called, the thing we help you to decode here :)), but there are about 20 000 different kinds of algae and an extract from them can be made in another 10 000 ways.

So, Algae Extract can be anything from La Mer's "Miracle Broth" to a simple brown algae extract that helps to smooth the hair. The official description in the Europiean Cosmetic Ingredient listing is this: "an extract of various species of Algae; Extract of the Seaweed, Fucus vesiculosus, Furaceae". Its official functions include being a humectant (helps skin to attract water), emollient (makes skin feel smooth and nice) and skin conditioner (a catchall phrase for saying it does something good for the skin).

Expand to read more

A 2015 research paper on the potential of uses of algae in cosmetics summarizes that algae are rich sources of biologically active metabolites including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, alginates, polysaccharides, and carotenoids. Currently, algae extracts are mostly used as moisturizing and thickening agents, but algae also have great potential to combat skin aging, pigmentation as well as working as an antimicrobial.

We have also browsed through Prospector to see what manufacturers say about their algae. There is, for example, an algae extract trade-named Lanablue that comes from blue-green algae (green algae is rare, less than 1% of the total macroalgae in the world) and is claimed to have retinoid like effects (i.e. reduce wrinkles, smooth skin) but without the side effects (though it seems now that the INCI name of Lanablue was changed to Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae Extract). 

There is another algae extract from another manufacturer that comes from red algae (much more common, about 40% of total macroalgae worldwide) and is claimed to have not only moisturizing but also skin smoothing and densifying effects. 

Here is a brown algae extract (the most common type, about 59% of macroalgae), also just called Algae Extract on the product label that is simply claimed to be a free radical scavenger, aka antioxidant. These were just three random examples from three manufacturers all called Algae extract even though they all come from different algae with different claims.

Anyhow, the point is this; there are tons of different types of Algae Extracts out there. Unless the brand tells you what they use, it's impossible to know for sure. The most probable scenario for the Alge Extract is that it works as a moisturizer and emollient and it might have some additional anti-aging properties.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Linseed Oil, Flaxseed Oil | What-it-does: emollient, perfuming

The oil coming from the plant Linum Usitatissimum or commonly called Flax. If you are into healthy eating, you probably know flaxseeds as a rich source of hard-to-eat-enough omega-3 fatty acids, or if you are into fashion, you probably have some light summer cloth made from linen.

As for skincare, flaxseed oil is one of the few natural plant oils that is a rich source (35-65%) of moisturizing and probably anti-inflammatory  ω-3 fatty acid, aka linolenic acid. It also contains skin-nourishing oleic acid (11-35%) and barrier repairing linoleic acid (11-24%). 

Expand to read more

According to manufacturer claims, it is used as an emollient, anti-inflammatory and healing agent and it is well-known to create smooth and soft skin. 

Also-called: Shea Butter;Butyrospermum Parkii Butter | What-it-does: emollient, viscosity controlling

Unless you live under a rock you must have heard about shea butter. It's probably the most hyped up natural butter in skincare today. It comes from the seeds of African Shea or Karite Trees and used as a magic moisturizer and emollient.

But it's not only a simple emollient, it regenerates and soothes the skin, protects it from external factors (such as UV rays or wind) and is also rich in antioxidants (among others vitamin A, E, F, quercetin and epigallocatechin gallate). If you are looking for rich emollient benefits + more, shea is hard to beat. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Carrot Root Oil | What-it-does: antioxidant, emollient

The oil-soluble extract coming from the edible, orange part of the carrot. It is created by macerating the carrot root in a carrier oil such as sunflower or olive oil, and the resulting thing (base oil + carrot root extract) is often called carrot oil or carrot root oil. (Not to be confused with carrot seed oil, that can be fixed or essential and comes from the seeds.)

The root extract is known for containing the orange pigment beta-carotene, aka provitamin A. It is a famous molecule for being a potent antioxidant, suntan accelerator and having skin-regenerative abilities. Carrot oil also contains vitamin E and some fatty acids that give the oil further antioxidant and barrier repairing properties. 

Also-called: Form of Retinoids | What-it-does: cell-communicating ingredient | Irritancy: 1-3 | Comedogenicity: 1-3

It's an ester form of vitamin A (retinol + palmitic acid) that belongs to the "retinoid family". The retinoid family is pretty much the royal family of skincare, with the queen being the FDA-approved anti-aging ingredient tretinoin. Retinol is also a very famous member of the family, but it's like Prince William, two steps away from the throne. Retinyl palmitate will be then little Prince George, quite far (3 steps) away from the throne. 

By steps, we mean metabolic steps. Tretinoin, aka retinoic acid, is the active ingredient our skin cells can understand and retinyl palmitate (RP) has to be converted by our metabolic machinery to actually do something. The conversion is a 3 step one and looks like this:

Expand to read more

retinyl palmitate --> retinol -- > retinaldehyde --> all-trans-retinoic acid

As we wrote in our lengthy retinol description the problem is that the conversion is not terribly effective. The evidence that RP is still an effective anti-aging ingredient is not very strong, in fact, it's weak. Dr. Leslie Baumann in her fantastic Cosmetic Dermatology book writes that RP is topically ineffective

What's more, the anti-aging effectiveness is not the only questionable thing about RP. It also exibits questionable behaviour in the presence of UV light and was the center of a debate between the non-profit group, EWG (whose intentions are no doubt good, but its credibility is often questioned by scientists) and a group of scientists and dermatologists lead by Steven Q. Wang, MD,  director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. 

Dr. Leslie Baumann wrote a great review of the debate and summarized the research available about retinyl palmitate here.  It seems that there is a study showing RP being photo protective against UVB rays but there is also a study showing RP causing DNA damage and cytotoxicity in association with UVA. 

We think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and we agree with Dr. Baumann's conclusion: "sufficient evidence to establish a causal link between RP and skin cancer has not been produced. Nor, I’m afraid, are there any good reasons to recommend the use of RP". We would add especially during the day!

Bottom line: If you wanna get serious about retinoids, RP is not your ingredient (retinol or tretinoin is!). However, if you use a product that you like and it also contains RP, there is no reason to throw it away. If possible use it at night, just to be on the safe side.

Also-called: Vitamin E Acetate | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

It’s the most commonly used version of pure vitamin E in cosmetics. You can read all about the pure form here. This one is the so-called esterified version. 

According to famous dermatologist, Leslie Baumann while tocopheryl acetate is more stable and has a longer shelf life, it’s also more poorly absorbed by the skin and may not have the same awesome photoprotective effects as pure Vit E. 

Phospholipids - goodie

A type of lipid that's the major (about 75%) component of all cell membranes. As for skincare, it works as an emollient and skin-identical ingredient.

It has a water-loving head with two water-hating tails and this structure gives the molecule emulsifying properties. It is also often used to create liposomes, small spheres surrounded by phospholipid bi-layer designed to carry some active ingredient and help its absorption.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

Also-called: Reishi Mushroom Extract;Ganoderma Lucidum Extract

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: Shiitake Mushroom Extract;Lentinus Edodes Extract

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: soothing

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

A chemically chopped up version of wheat protein that consists mainly of amino acids (the building blocks), peptides (a couple of amino acids together), and proteins (lots of amino acids together). 

It has moisturizing and film-forming properties and  might be able to counteract the irritating effects of cleansing agents in cleansers and shampoos. It can also condition and repair damaged hair leaving it soft, silky and smooth.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Also-called: SOD | What-it-does: antioxidant

Superoxide Dismutase - or in short SOD - is the body's smart antioxidant enzyme that protects the cells from highly reactive, cell-damaging superoxide radicals (O2−).

You have probably read the terms "free radicals" and "antioxidants" a thousand times, and you know that free radicals are the evil guys, and antioxidants are the good guys. So superoxide radical is a very common free radical that can cause all kinds of cell damages and superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of superoxide radicals into molecular oxygen and hydrogen peroxide (btw, this one has to be further converted by other antioxidant enzymes, called catalases).

Expand to read more

The extra nice thing about SOD is that it remains intact during the neutralization process and can continue its magic, while non-enzymatic antioxidants (like vitamin E) are used up during neutralization.

The efficacy studies of topical SOD are promising. In-vitro (made in the lab) tests show that SOD is a more effective antioxidant than vitamin E, green tea extract, and MAP. There is also an in-vivo (made on real people) study that measured how SOD can reduce the redness caused by UV rays and it was much more effective than vitamin E (pure or acetate form) and ascorbyl palmitate

All in all, SOD is a really potent antioxidant and slathering it all over yourself is a great way to give the skin a little extra help in protecting itself from all the bad environmental things out there. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

This ingredient name is not according to the INCI-standard. :( What, why?!

It's a type of lipid, a so-called sphingoid base that can be found naturally in the upper layer of the skin. It's found both in "free-form" and as part of famous skin lipids, ceramides.

There is emerging research about Phytosphingosine that shows that it has antimicrobial and cell-communicating properties and is considered part of the skin's natural defense system.

Expand to read more

A 2007 study showed that Phytosphingosine even works against evil acne-causing bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes and shows promise as a complementing active ingredient in treating acne-prone skin thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities.  

A nice one to spot in the ingredient list. :)

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

A cellulose derived polymer (a big molecule that consists of many parts) that can help to thicken up products, form a nice film on the skin or hair and is considered to be an excellent hair conditioner.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: chelating

It’s one of those little helper ingredients that makes sure the product stays the same over time. No color change or anything like that. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

A big polymer molecule that has a bunch of different versions and thus different uses. It can act as a film former,  as thickening agent, or it can increase the water-resistance in sunscreens. It is also used to entrap pigments/inorganic sunscreens within a micron size matrix for even coverage and easy application.

A vegetable origin (coconut or palm kernel oil and glucose) cleansing agent with great foaming abilities. It's also mild to the skin and readily biodegradable.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, emollient, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

It's a nice glycerin-based humectant and emollient that gives skin a smooth and luxurious feel.

A so-called diester created from two stearic acid molecules and an ethylene glycol molecule. Its main thing is being an opacifier and pearling agent in cleansing products making them white and glossy. It can also give body to creams and emulsions.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emollient

A modified dimethicone-type silicone molecule that also contains amino-groups. Having amino-groups means that Amodimethicone also has Nitrogen in its molecule that likes to have a positive charge. Positively charged (or quaternised) molecules are substantive to skin and hair as those are negatively charged surfaces and are excellent film formers. Amodiemthcone is no exception and it is especially recommended for hair-care products for its long-lasting hair conditioning benefits.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emulsifying

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Glycerin - superstar
Also-called: Glycerol | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • A natural moisturizer that’s also in our skin
  • A super common, safe, effective and cheap molecule used for more than 50 years
  • Not only a simple moisturizer but knows much more: keeps the skin lipids between our skin cells in a healthy (liquid crystal) state, protects against irritation, helps to restore barrier
  • Effective from as low as 3% with even more benefits at higher concentrations up to 20-40% (around 10% is a good usability-effectiveness sweet spot)
  • High-glycerin moisturizers are awesome for treating severely dry skin
Read all the geeky details about Glycerin here >>

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 1

Butylene glycol, or let’s just call it BG, is a multi-tasking colorless, syrupy liquid. It’s a great pick for creating a nice feeling product.  

BG’s main job is usually to be a solvent for the other ingredients. Other tasks include helping the product to absorb faster and deeper into the skin (penetration enhancer), making the product spread nicely over the skin (slip agent), and attracting water (humectant) into the skin.

Expand to read more

It’s an ingredient whose safety hasn’t been questioned so far by anyone (at least not that we know about). BG is approved by Ecocert and is also used enthusiastically in natural products. BTW, it’s also a food additive. 

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • It's a helper ingredient that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products
  • It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer
  • It has a bad reputation among natural cosmetics advocates but cosmetic scientists and toxicology experts do not agree (read more in the geeky details section)
Read all the geeky details about Propylene Glycol here >>

What-it-does: buffering

Citric acid comes from citrus fruits and is an AHA. If these magic three letters don’t tell you anything, click here and read our detailed description on glycolic acid, the most famous AHA. 

So citric acid is an exfoliant, that can - just like other AHAs - gently lift off the dead skin cells of your skin and make it more smooth and fresh. 

Expand to read more

There is also some research showing that citric acid with regular use (think three months and 20% concentration) can help sun-damaged skin, increase skin thickness and some nice hydrating things called glycosaminoglycans in the skin. 

But according to a comparative study done in 1995, citric acid has less skin improving magic properties than glycolic or lactic acid. Probably that’s why citric acid is usually not used as an exfoliant but more as a helper ingredient in small amounts to adjust the pH of a formulation. 

What-it-does: chelating

A handy helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes.

What-it-does: preservative

As you may guess, if something is only recommended in products that you rinse off (cleansers and shampoos), then it’s probably not the best ingredient for the skin.

Methylisothiazolinone (MI) is a preservative that' super efficient against bacteria at surprisingly low concentrations. The problem with it though is that it can also sensitize and irritate the skin quite easily when it comes in leave-on formulas.

Expand to read more

Currently, some countries are considering to ban it entirely (like Denmark) and the permitted use level is very low (under 0.01%). Luckily there are plenty of products on the market with other preservative options so if you are a better safe than sorry type it's probably best to avoid it. 

What-it-does: preservative

It's one of those things that help your cosmetics not to go wrong too soon, aka a preservative. It’s not a strong one and doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. To do that it has to break down to its active form, sorbic acid. For that to happen, there has to be water in the product and the right pH value (pH 3-4). 

But even if everything is right, it’s not enough on its own. If you see potassium sorbate you should see some other preservative next to it too.

Expand to read more

BTW, it’s also a food preservative and even has an E number, E202.

Also-called: Fragrance, Parfum;Parfum/Fragrance | What-it-does: perfuming

Exactly what it sounds: nice smelling stuff put into cosmetic products so that the end product also smells nice. Fragrance in the US and parfum in the EU is a generic term on the ingredient list that is made up of 30 to 50 chemicals on average (but it can have as much as 200 components!). 

If you are someone who likes to know what you put on your face then fragrance is not your best friend - there's no way to know what’s really in it.  

Expand to read more

Also, if your skin is sensitive, fragrance is again not your best friend. It’s the number one cause of contact allergy to cosmetics. It’s definitely a smart thing to avoid with sensitive skin (and fragrance of any type - natural is just as allergic as synthetic, if not worse!). 

Geraniol - icky
What-it-does: perfuming

Geraniol is a common fragrance ingredient. It smells like rose and can be found in rose oil or in small quantities in geranium, lemon and many other essential oils. 

Just like other similar fragrance ingredients (like linalool and limonene) geraniol also oxidises on air exposure and becomes allergenic. Best to avoid if you have sensitive skin.

What-it-does: perfuming

A common fragrance ingredient that smells like jasmine. It is one of the “EU 26 fragrances” that has to be labelled separately because of allergen potential. Best to avoid if your skin is sensitive.

Linalool - icky
What-it-does: perfuming, deodorant

Linalool is a super common fragrance ingredient. It’s kind of everywhere - both in plants and in cosmetic products. It’s part of 200 natural oils including lavender, ylang-ylang, bergamot, jasmine, geranium and it can be found in 90-95% of prestige perfumes on the market. 

The problem with linalool is, that just like limonene it oxidises on air exposure and becomes allergenic. That’s why a product containing linalool that has been opened for several months is more likely to be allergenic than a fresh one.

Expand to read more

A study made in the UK with 483 people tested the allergic reaction to 3% oxidised linalool and 2.3% had positive test results. 

Limonene - icky
What-it-does: perfuming, solvent, deodorant

A super common and cheap fragrance ingredient. It's in many plants, e.g. rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and it's the main component (about 50-90%) of the peel oil of citrus fruits.

It does smell nice but the problem is that it oxidizes on air exposure and the resulting stuff is not good for the skin. Oxidized limonene can cause allergic contact dermatitis and counts as a frequent skin sensitizer

Expand to read more

Limonene's nr1 function is definitely being a fragrance component, but there are several studies showing that it's also a penetration enhancer, mainly for oil-loving components.

All in all, limonene has some pros and cons, but - especially if your skin is sensitive - the cons probably outweigh the pros.  

Also-called: Red 33, D&C Red 33, Red 33 Lake;Ci 17200 | What-it-does: colorant | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 1

A super common synthetic colorant that adds a purple-red color - similar to red beet - to a product.

What-it-does: colorant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

You may also want to take a look at...

what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A cleansing agent that's claimed to be so gentle on the skin that it hardly impacts the skin barrier. It also gives a rich, creamy foam, it's based on vegetable fatty acids and is readily biodegradable. [more]
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A naturally derived, readily biodegradable cleansing agent that gives a rich, creamy foam, is milder to the skin than most sulfate-based cleansers and provides a luxurious, silky skin-feel. 
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A cleansing agent that's very mild, non-irritating but also has great foam properties. [more]
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | viscosity controlling
A very mild and gentle thickening and foam-boasting co-surfactant. Comes from coconut oil. [more]
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
A mild, biodegradable cleansing agent that is also a very good team-player next to other cleaning agents. It is known for its good foam-boosing abilities while improving the mildness of the formula. [more]
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A secondary cleansing agent (co-surfactant) that's a good aid next to other (anionic) cleansing agents. It improves foam, the mildness of the formula and builds viscosity, pretty much all the things co-surfactants are used for. [more]
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | viscosity controlling
The extract of red seaweed that has nice film-forming, skin smoothing and moisturizing properties.​ [more]
what‑it‑does emollient | moisturizer/humectant
An extract that comes from one or more of the 20 000 kinds of algae out there. In general algae extracts serve as moisturizing, emollient and thickening agents, and many of them also have additional anti-aging properties. [more]
what‑it‑does emollient | perfuming
The oil coming from the plant Linum Usitatissimum or commonly called Flax. If you are into healthy eating, you probably know flaxseeds as a rich source of hard-to-eat-enough omega-3 fatty acids, or if you are into fashion, you probably have some light summer cloth made from linen.As for skincare, flaxseed oil is one of the few natural plant oils that is a rich source (35-65%) of  [more]
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
Shea butter that's considered to be a magic moisturizer and emollient. It is also soothing and rich in antioxidants. [more]
what‑it‑does antioxidant | emollient
The oil-soluble extract coming from the edible, orange part of the carrot. It is created by macerating the carrot root in a carrier oil such as sunflower or olive oil, and the resulting thing (base oil + carrot root extract) is often called carrot oil or carrot root oil. [more]
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
irritancy, com. 1-3, 1-3
An ester form of vitamin A (retinol + palmitic acid) that is pretty much the least effective member of the retinoid family. Its anti-aging effects are quite questionable as well as its behavior in the presence of UVA light. (Use it at night if possible!) [more]
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 0, 0
A form of vitamin E that works as an antioxidant. Compared to the pure form it's more stable, has longer shelf life, but it's also more poorly absorbed by the skin. [more]
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | emollient
A type of lipid that's the major component of all cell membranes. As for skincare, it works as an emollient and skin-identical ingredient. It's also often used to create liposomes. [more]
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 0, 0
what‑it‑does soothing
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
A chemically chopped up version of wheat protein with moisturizing and film-forming properties. [more]
what‑it‑does antioxidant
what‑it‑does antioxidant
Superoxide Dismutase - or in short SOD - is the body's smart antioxidant enzyme that protects the cells from highly reactive, cell-damaging superoxide radicals (O2−). You have probably read the terms "free radicals" [more]
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | cell-communicating ingredient | anti-acne | antimicrobial/antibacterial
A type of lipid that can be found naturally in the skin. Has antimicrobial and cell-communicating properties and is considered to be part of the skin's natural defence system. [more]
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A cellulose derived polymer that can help to thicken up products, form a nice film on the skin or hair and is considered to be an excellent hair conditioner.
what‑it‑does chelating
It’s one of those little helper ingredients that makes sure the product stays the same over time. No color change or anything like that. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes.  [more]
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A big polymer molecule that has a bunch of different versions and thus different uses. It can act as a film former,  as a thickening agent, or it can increase the water-resistance in sunscreens. [more]
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
A vegetable origin (coconut or palm kernel oil and glucose) cleansing agent with great foaming abilities. It's also mild to the skin and readily biodegradable.
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling | emulsifying
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0, 0
It's a nice glycerin-based humectant and emollient that gives skin a smooth and luxurious feel.
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying | viscosity controlling
A so-called diester created from two stearic acid molecules and an ethylene glycol molecule. Its main thing is being an opacifier and pearling agent in cleansing products making them white and glossy. [more]
what‑it‑does emollient
A modified dimethicone-type silicone molecule that also contains amino-groups. Having amino-groups means that Amodimethicone also has Nitrogen in its molecule that likes to have a positive charge. [more]
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
what‑it‑does emulsifying
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0, 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0, 1
An often used glycol that works as a solvent, humectant, penetration enhancer and also gives a good slip to the products. [more]
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | solvent | viscosity controlling
irritancy, com. 0, 0
A common glycol that improves the freeze-thaw stability of products. It's also a solvent, humectant and to some extent a penetration enhancer. [more]
what‑it‑does buffering
An AHA that comes from citrus fruits. It is usually used as a helper ingredient to adjust the pH of the formula. [more]
what‑it‑does chelating
A helper ingredient that helps to neutralize the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes.
what‑it‑does preservative
Preservative with relatively high irritation risk that is used mainly in rinse-off products. [more]
what‑it‑does preservative
A not so strong preservative that doesn’t really work against bacteria, but more against mold and yeast. [more]
what‑it‑does perfuming
The generic term for nice smelling stuff put into cosmetic products so that the end product also smells nice. It is made up of 30 to 50 chemicals on average. [more]
what‑it‑does perfuming
A common fragrance ingredient that smells like rose and can be found in rose oil. [more]
what‑it‑does perfuming
A common fragrance ingredient that smells like jasmine. It is one of the “EU 26 fragrances” that has to be labelled separately because of allergen potential. [more]
what‑it‑does perfuming
A super common fragrance ingredient that can be found among others in lavender, ylang-ylang, bergamot or jasmine. The downside of it is that it oxidises on air exposure and might become allergenic. [more]
what‑it‑does perfuming | solvent
A super common fragrance ingredient found naturally in many plants including citrus peel oils, rosemary or lavender. It autoxidizes on air exposure and counts as a common skin sensitizer. [more]
what‑it‑does colorant
irritancy, com. 2, 1
A super common synthetic colorant that adds a purple-red color - similar to red beet - to a product.
what‑it‑does colorant