Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary


Disclaimer: For informational purposes ONLY. Not medical advice.

MONSTER BITES: Since it is not my objective, nor am I qualified to educate you about ingredients, I encourage you to become a savvy consumer and educate yourself. With the use of the web, reputable websites are available to find. Here are some of my favorites. Please note that Cosmetic Monster is not responsible for the content on these websites.

COSMETICSDATABASE.COM – This is my favorite cosmetics ingredients site since it also lists the safety and potential hazard of ingredients and products as a whole. Their website is easy to use and their coding is also simple.

COSMETICSINFO.ORG – Simple and to the point information about ingredients, their safety, uses and other similar ingredients.

FDA.GOV – Reading labels isn’t enough. You should know HOW to read labels. Find out the FDA regulations about testing, ingredients and labeling.

Anogeissus leiocarpa

Anogeissus works in the same area in the skin that prescription wrinkle medications and lasers target. It penetrates deep within the skin to block destructive enzymes that weaken skin’s elasticity, and encourages production of new fibrillin to keep skin looking youthful, lifted and lineless.

Benzyl Alcohol

Safe in cosmetics at concentrations up to 5%. Used in cosmetics as a preservative, solvent, viscosity decreasing agent, external analgesic (pain killer), fragrance ingredient.

Bifida Ferment Lysate

Bifida ferment lysate is an easy to use probiotic that has both in vitro (in a dish) and in vivo (human) studies that show its effectiveness in stabilizing our  immune system, making our skin more stress resistant (who couldn’t use that), providing nutrients to our skin, and protecting our skin against environmental aggressors.


Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate

Acts as a lubricant on the skin’s surface to give it a soft and smooth appearance and as a hair conditioning ingredient. It also imparts water-repelling characteristics to cosmetics and personal care products, improves “spreadability,” and is used to improve dry skin conditions.

CIR Safety Review: The CIREP reported that the acute oral toxicity of Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate was low and that the ingredient produced no significant acute, subchronic or dermal skin or eye irritation. The ingredient produced no evidence of skin sensitization. Similar studies with product formulations containing Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate confirmed these results, as well as indicated the ingredient was not phototoxic.


Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine

This ingredient has a wide range of uses, especially with hair care products. It acts as a foaming agent, conditioner, anti-static agent, surfactant and thickener. As a mild surfactant, it gently cleanses the skin/hair and helps deliver other ingredients contained in a product, particularly moisturizing and cleansing ones. It’s mostly used in bath and hair products such as shampoo, body wash, cleanser, hair dye, liquid hand soap, bubble bath, conditioner, exfoliant/scrub and shaving cream.

Dehydroacetic Acid

Sodium Dehydroacetate and Dehydroacetic Acid kill microorganisms and prevent their growth and reproduction, thus protecting cosmetics and personal care products from spoilage.

PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica (Swiss Apple Stem Cells)

PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica (from the Mibelle Biochemistry site) – “The first plant stem cell active for skin stem cell protection with proven efficacy.

PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica is a liposomal preparation of apple stem cells developed by a novel, patent pending plant cell culture technology.

PhytoCellTec™ – a novel plant cell culture technology has been invented to cultivate dedifferentiated callus cells from a rare Swiss apple. These apple stem cells are rich in epigenetic factors and metabolites, assuring the longevity of skin cells. PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica has been shown to protect skin stem cells and delay the senescence of hair follicles.

PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica provides a revolutionary anti-aging performance for real rejuvenation.

Claims with PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica
• Protects longevity of skin stem cells
• Delays senescence of essential cells
• Combats chronological aging

• Patent pending
• Award winner (BSB innovation prize for the best active ingredient 2008)


Phenoxyethanol is an excellent alternative to the standard, potentially harmful formaldehyde-releasing preservative. Information Source:

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol and Polypropylene Glycols attract water and function as moisturizers to enhance the appearance of skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness. Propylene Glycol is also used to help stabilize formulations.


Totarol™ is a naturally occurring plant extract against potent anti-bacterial activity in both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Totarol™ has also potent anti-oxidant properties. Totarol™ is active against acne and tooth decay bacteria, and is one of the rare phytochemicals active against penicillin and methicillin resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

Totarol™ has value as an active ingredient or preservative in skin, body and oral care products, as well as in disinfectants. Totarol™ is a non-primary irritant and non-primary sensitizer to the human skin. The most abundant source of Totarol™ is the heartwood of the New Zealand Totara tree. Mende Biotech Ltd is the only commercial supplier of Totarol™ to manufacturers of natural products. (Source:

3 thoughts on “Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary

  1. As a long time Aesthetician/Cosmetologist/make up artist, I can proudly say that my passion for skin care has landed me in a world of continuing my education through excessive ingredient research and training. This is what allows the skin care industry to thrive and evolve.
    I have actually helped save lives through something as simple as educating my clients about the good/bad ingredients in their skin care/make up/body care products.

    I liked reading the info on this site, but felt compelled to leave a comment regarding propylene glycols. All glycols with the exception of ” Butylene ” are extremely dangerous for topical or oral use!
    Butylene is the only glycol ( solubilizer ) with similar benefits that you listed for “polypropylene and propylene glycol.

    The FDA and CTFA examined and verified propylene, dipropylene, ethylene, and hexylene glycols all to be teratogenic possible bone marrow depressants, liver and kidney toxicities occur in huge doses, or within extensive continual use!
    I would suggest further review of any ingredients in all products we all use, because for people with lower immune systems, people who have or are currently battling any cancers, or if cancer runs in your family…taking precaution to certain ingredients is vital to our life-span.

    peace & love always…

    1. Thank you for that information! I still strongly encourage consumers to do their own research. There is always conflicting information out there and it can be difficult to verify what is the “truth”.

      “PG is not acutely toxic (single dose, high exposure). It is essentially non-irritating to the skin and mildly irritating to the eyes. Numerous studies support that PG is not a skin sensitizer or a carcinogen.”Source:

  2. BTW, for those of you looking for ingredient safety, this glossary focuses mainly on what an ingredient is and what it does. There are many sites online that list ingredients, safety and other information. If this is a concern for you – please be sure to consult your physician or dermatologist before using any product.

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