A major breakthrough for the benefit of the consumer of cosmetic substances is the legal obligation for the producer to declare the ingredients of the products on the package. Traditional application of a product on the back of one’s hand along with a test of the odor and spreading property does not allow for a competent assessment of the long lasting effect and compatibility of a products. In contrary, analyses of the ingredients to judge the long-term effects of a cosmetics product makes all the more sense.

As we all know commercials and ads issued by producers of cosmetics do not allow for a thorough assessment and often the results are worse from what had have been promised. Not only the end user but also experts like beauticians, dermatologists and pharmacists do have an increasing need for information about cosmetic products, regarding compatibility, allergenic hazards and effect in order to judge the long term health-effect of such products.

Since beauty care products usually contain various ingredients, profound analyses of the final product can be made only upon analyses and judgment of every single substance. As the declaration of all ingredients of cosmetic preparations is compulsory, knowledge out of this book will be beneficial when judging products upon skin-compatibility, allergenic risks and effect as well as some more factors that will be introduced in the course of the book.

When compiling this book we had to restrict to those raw materials that are most frequently used as ingredients for cosmetics since there are so many of them. The total amount of raw materials used by cosmetic industry in different countries can only be estimated. In Germany alone there are currently 10,000 different substances under use. The German League of Beauticians (Deutscher Kosmetikverband BDIH) created a comprehensive database containing 7.500 entries with special notes about the scope of application, supplier but without an evaluation of individual substance.

To the detriment of the consumer herbal ingredients must be quoted in their botanical (Latin) way of writing. Substances which were well known to anybody so far such as “Avocado Oil“ or “Jojoba Oil“ is now indicated as “Oleum Perseae gratissimae“ and “Oleum Simmondsiae californicae“, respectively. Both the English and the Latin name are still found on the package and have been used both therefore in our manual.

The individual assessment always relates to the particular utilization of the ingredient in question. Most important criteria for every raw material are, of course, its skin-compatibility. Then, second there is the functionality within the cosmetic preparation. E.g. a gel former may be utmost skin compatible but as stabilizer it might be outperformed by another gel former with the same quality regarding skin compatibility. Moisture preservers, however skin-friendly they might be, that let the skin dry out within 20 minutes after application can’t get good marks. Likewise, an emulsifier that stabilizes the product outstandingly with remarkable skin-compatibility at the same time but with the side effect of stimulating the transdermal water loss would eventually do more harm than good. (An occurrence that can be observed frequently in current cosmetic products b.t.w.)

A group of cosmetic ingredients still judged negatively are the PEG-compounds, substances, generally used as emulsifier, surfactant or solubilizers. Source of concern is dioxane, a potential side product of the ethylenoxide synthesis. However, with currrent production procedures the formation of dioxane can largely be avoided so PEG-compounds must not necessarily be harmful any more.

Also fears that ethylenoxide could still be contained in the final product after synthesis is unfounded. Polyethylenoxide itself are non-toxic for the body often used in suppositories and pills where they serve as solubilizer for medical substances. Environmental incompatibility does not exist since PEGs are biodegradable.

PPG (Polypropylenglycols) on the other hand take a considerable longer time to break down in the environment but they don’t cause an environmental burden.