Cosmetic Ingredients Demystifed!

The skin care industry is a global powerhouse with markets which are highly controlled and regulated to markets which have no restrictions on what can claimed. Here in skincare products must conform to various legislations as no medical ingredients or claims can be made unless the product is a licensed medicine. There are also requirements that all ingredients must be included (believe it or not it was only a few years ago this was not the case!), and ingredients must be listed in decreasing order of volume using INCI terms.

Basically all creams are a mix of water type ingredients and oil based ingredients mixed with an emulsifier to form a cream (rather like mayonnaise. Within that base is any number of 'active' additives  as well as inert fillers (to give bulk but no function) as well as a preservative or two, stabilisers and pH adjusters.

Here are some common terms and what they mean:

  • Active ingredient (s)- means it has a beneficial function for the skin, however a medical claim can't be made unless it is a medicine. Sometimes more a marketing term implying the product has something extra special in it.
  • Anti-oxidant- means the ingredient or product can slow down or stop oxidation by free radical activity. Things that increase free radical activity include UV damage and smoking
  • Astringent- means the tissues will tighten and large pores will shrink. May make the skin feel tight and dry
  • Botanical- derived from plants-may be whole plant, fraction  or a constituent which has been extracted)
  • Comedogenic- will increase keratinocytes clumping together in the follicles so blocking them
  • Emollient- a fatty product which softens the skin- they will also hydrate the skin be minimising water evaporation
  • Essential Fatty Acids -building blocks of cellular membranes- loss of EFAs increases skin roughness
  • Ester- an organic acid and alcohol--help give smoothing and emollient action to the skin
  • Fragrance- can be natural or synthetic (on labels word can be either according to INCI)
  • Humectant- bind water and increase the moisture content (e.g. glycerine, squalene)
  • Skin Conditioner- a generic terms which helps keep skin it its optimal state and improving overall tone and texture. 

How to use bases to create your own products.
At there is a number of wholesale bases to start creating your own products. As all bases are fresh made you are secure in knowing you will have at least 18 months to use them. here are some tips

  •  All bases carry a preservative however if you are adding more water based ingredients then you will need extra preservative
  • Limit handing of your bases with fingers- ALWAYS wash hands and use hand sanitiser. Wipe around the lid or top with a peper towle and some meths or alcohol after using to reduce contamination
  • use a sterile spoon to remove product. Store product in a cool dark place away from dust and light


Face creams- using a moisturiser base add up to 5% carrier oil such as avocado, jojoba oil, camellia oil and mix in well (no extra preservative needed). Good essential oils for the face include lavender, frankincense, rose, sandalwood, petitgrain. DO NOT USE citrus oils on the face due to phototoxicity (reactions with sun light). Maximum 0.5-1% essential oils. Check for allergies

Body Cream -use the moisturiser base and add 5-10% hard fat like cocoa butter, shea butter or mango butter for a deeper moisturiser experience. Essential oils can be added 1-2% (again check for allergies). Try oils like ylang ylang, rose geranium, lavender, lemon myrtle

Face mask- add fine mineral clay to a cream or gel based cleansing base. 1 part clay to 3 parts cleanser.

Posted: Sunday 7 May 2017