Common Beauty Product Ingredients ~ Part 4

In this 5 part series, I’m sharing what the common beauty product ingredients are and what effect they have on our bodies. Bleaching Agents Skin whitening is the practice of using substances, mixtures, or physical

common beauty product ingredients
In this 5 part series, I’m sharing what the common beauty product ingredients are and what effect they have on our bodies.

Bleaching Agents

Skin whitening is the practice of using substances, mixtures, or physical treatments to lighten skin color. Skin whitening treatments work by reducing the content of melanin of the skin. Many agents have been shown to be effective in skin whitening; some have beneficial side effects (e.g.: are antioxidants, nutrients, or decrease the risk of some types of cancer); some are a significant risk to health (for example, those containing mercury).
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Many factors, from the sun to just plain old genetics, can be our enemies when it comes to having smooth, even skin. You might not have control over these elements, but when it comes to correcting skin coloring, you want to make sure you’re using the right ingredients.


Hydroquinone is an effective skin lightening agent. It is no longer available in some parts of the world because of the damaging affects of longterm use. The recommended concentration over the counter is 2%, but up to 4% is available from a dermatologist in some countries. It should be used daily for no more than 6 months.

Its initial effect of inhibiting pigmentation is lost with prolonged application and sun stimulation.

Exogenous ochronosis is the main risk of continued use. This results in an irregular blue-black staining affecting sun-exposed skin and nails. It is due to deep deposition of the same pigment that occurs in alkaptonuria (endogenous ochronosis). Exogenous ochronosis may also occur from phenol, quinine or resorcinol.

Ochronosis may also result in loss of elasticity of the skin and impaired wound healing.

In some subjects, excessive use of hydroquinone in combination with certain foods in the diet (fish, eggs, offal, beans) can result in an unpleasant fish odour in the body secretions such as sweat and urine (trimethylaminuria).

Hydroquinone is sometimes given another name, such as:
* 1, 4-Benzenediol
* Quinol
* Benzene-1
* 4-Diol
* p-Diphenol
* p-Dihydroxyl benzene
* Hydrochinone
* p-Hydroxylphenol
* Hydrochinonium
* Hydroquinol
* Tequinol

Monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone is a strong derivative of hydroquinone that almost always causes nearly irreversible complete depigmentation of the skin (white patches).

Kojic Acid:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Kojic acid is a natural crystal like substance that is used is some skin whitening products. It is usually found in a cream form and mixed in at different percentages with the cream between 2 and 4%.

As far as commercial skin lightening products go it is one of the better substances to use to whiten your skin. So if you are wondering how to lighten scars or how to bleach skin on your face or other parts of your body than kojic acid may be a solution for you.

What about kojic acid skin lightener?

In light of the hydroquinone debate, manufacturers are finding safer ingredients to add into bleach for skin products. It is important to look for compounds that are made from natural sources instead of using those that are manufactured from unnatural products. Kojic acid skin lightener fits the bill of that description. Kojic acid can be found in several skin lightener products.

Where does kojic acid come from?

That is a good question. It originated in Japan and is a chelation agent that is produced by different species of fungi. In particular the Aspergillus oryzae, which is commonly called koji.

A chelating agent is a chemical compound made from organic materials that form complexes with substrates and metal ions. It can also be extracted as a byproduct of the process of fermentation when making Japanese rice wine and Sake. But in simpler terms, this type of acid is made from organic materials.

Side effects to kojic acid skin lightening cream?

As with most products, there can be some side effects that can occur with the use of kojic acid skin lightening cream. In some instances kojic skin lightening cream has been known to make a user’s complexion lighter than what they expected it to be.

Be careful in the sun when using this product as you will burn more easily. This is a general rule when using any skin whitening product.

Another side effect that users complain of is increased skin sensitivity after long term use. This can be a bit of a concern for those who are already susceptible to sensitivities. You might experience itchy skin, inflammation, or redness. One could liken the symptoms to being exposed to poison ivy.

For those that are experiencing these types of symptoms, you should consider switching to the lower concentration. If it continues to be a problem, natural skin lightening methods would be better.


A recent study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology has revealed how common it is for mercury and other dangerous substances to be found in skin lightening products originating from countries around the world. One of the critical findings in the study was that of the skin lightening products found to contain mercury, none of them listed the toxin on the ingredient label. Therefore, even if a skin lightening product has an ingredient panel, it does not mean the manufacturer has revealed the presence of mercury.

One of the limitations of this study was that it did not include all internationally available skin lightening products. However, the findings serve as a warning that mercury and other dangerous substances are commonly found in these cosmetics and that the labels often do not reveal that information.

Many readers have posted questions here asking whether the skin lightening cream they are using contains mercury. Unfortunately, the lack of reliable information on these products has made it impossible for me to answer the questions with any certainty in most cases. Given that mercury is highly toxic, it’s better to stop using any product not verified to be mercury-free rather than risk your health. As an alternative, you can use natural means to lighten the skin, such as lemons, orange, yogurt, honey, gram flour, turmeric, and aloe vera gel.

Alpha-hydroxyl Acids (AHA):

What Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHA’s) are a class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in fruits, milk, and sugar cane. Although they are called acids they are not to be confused with strong industrial acids such as hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. The AHAs most commonly used in cosmetic products are glycolic acid (which is derived from sugar cane) and lactic acid (the substance that gives you muscle burn when you exercise). Other AHAs used include citric acid (from oranges, lemons, etc.), 2-hydroxyoctanoic acid, and 2-hydroxydecanoic acid. The AHA’s may be obtained from their natural sources or may be made synthetically.

Why Are They Used In Cosmetics?
Products containing AHA ingredients may be for consumer use, salon use, or medical use, depending on the concentration and pH (acidity). Since 1992 there have been products marketed as cosmetics intended to exfoliate and cleanse the skin. These products most often contain glycolic and lactic acids. They help reduce the appearance of skin wrinkling, even skin tones and soften and smoothe the skin. AHAs as used in cosmetics may function as exfoliants. They act on the surface of the skin by removing dead surface cells, thereby improving the appearance of the skin. In addition, lactic acid functions as a humectant-skin conditioning agent. AHAs also function as pH adjusters. pH Adjusters are materials added to products to make sure they are not too acid or base (low pH and high pH) and are thus mild and non-irritating. Many AHAs are naturally occurring products. For example, Glycolic Acid, a constituent of sugar cane juice, and Lactic Acid, which occurs in sour milk, molasses, apples and other fruits, tomato juice, beer, and wines, are carboxylic acid that function as pH adjusters and mild exfoliants in various types of cosmetic formulations. In addition, Lactic Acid functions as a humectant-skin conditioning agent.

Why are sunscreens added to Alpha Hydroxy Acids?
As discussed above, sometimes small amounts of a sunscreen ingredient may be included in an AHA product to protect against any increased sensitivity to sunlight that might occur during use.

Does the use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids increase the incidence of skin cancer?
Studies have not found that AHA-containing products contribute to an increase in the incidence of skin cancer. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted a study to determine if simulated sunlight increased cancer in mice whose skin was treated with Glycolic Acid. No increase in tumors over those mice exposed to simulated sunlight alone was observed.


A natural skin lightening/whitening agent. It works by slowly releasing hydroquinone through hydrolysis, which in turn blocks Tyrosinase activity and reduces the skin’s melanin (pigmentation) production. In cosmetics, this ingredient appears in two different forms: Alpha-Arbutin or Beta-Arbutin. Due to patenting concerns, most skin care products contain plant extracts that contain Arbutin (e.g. bearberry, pear, blueberry), rather than pure Arbutin. Used in a variety of cosmetics, particularly ones aimed at lightening the skin such as lotions, crèmes, serums, cleansers, and spot treatments.

While most research strongly supports the ingredient’s ability to fade/lighten age spots and hyper-pigmentation, it is still unclear as to how much Arbutin it takes to inhibit melanin production. Overall, the general consensus is that it works as a skin lightening agent and seems to be a promising alternative to pure Hydroquinone.

Safety Measures/Side Effects:
There are many questions surrounding the safety of this ingredient. This is mainly due to the fact that it is a form of hydroquinone-a skin bleaching ingredient that has indicated a potential for causing cancer, and consequently been banned in several countries. In addition, studies have shown high doses of hydroquinone to frequently cause ochronosis (a bluish black pigmentation of skin tissue), particularly in dark skinned people. Of course, more research on hydroquinone is needed to substantiate any claims, and it still remains to be the premiere skin bleaching ingredient to the dermatological community.

Arbutin appears to be less irritating than hydroquinone when used in similar concentrations. It also is reported to cause less sun sensitivity. This is most likely due to the gradual release of hydroquinone. All in all, it is regarded as a safer and gentler alternative to pure Hydroquinone.


Antioxidants play an important lifeline role in superior face and skin aging products. Antioxidants are natural substances made up of vitamins and minerals. They can counter “free radicals” that damage DNA, lipids and proteins. Damaged skin cells can speed up aging with wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles under the eyes, dull skin, decrease elasticity and pliability.


You can find previous post regarding preservatives below:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Soothing Agents


Allantoin is a white odorless powder. Other Allantoin containing compounds that may be used in cosmetics and personal care products, include the Allanotin salt of vitamin C, Allantoin Ascorbate, and the Allantoin salt of vitamin B7, Allantoin Biotin. Allantoin complexes that may be used in cosmetics and personal care products include Allantoin Galacturonic Acid, Allanotoin Polygalacturonic Acid, Allantoin Glycyrrhetinic Acid and Allantoin Panthenol. Among the Allantoin containing ingredients, Allantoin itself is most likely to be used in cosmetics and personal care products. It is used in the formulation of bath products, eye makeup, hair care products, oral hygiene products and skin care products.


Here are 8 benefits of using aloe vera gel:

1. It treats sunburn.
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.

2. It acts as a moisturizer.
Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel, so it`s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion. For women who use mineral-based make-up, aloe vera acts as a moisturizer and is great for the face prior to the application to prevents skin drying. For men: Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.

3. It treats acne.
Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.

Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. Additionally, in Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.

4. It fights aging.
As we age, everyone begins to worry about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity in their skin. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated.

5. It lessens the visibility of stretch marks.
The skin is like one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss) the elasticity of the skin can be damaged. That’s what leaves those unsightly stretch marks. These marks appear due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching. Aloe vera gel can help hide these stretch marks by healing these wounds.

6. It’s nutrient rich for good health.
This solid material contains over 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acids and salicylic acid.

7. It soothes in periodontal disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, it’s extremely helpful in the treatment of gum diseases like gingivitis, periodontitis. It reduces bleeding, inflammation and swelling of the gums. It is a powerful antiseptic in pockets where normal cleaning is difficult, and its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of denture stomatitis, apthous ulcers, cracked and split corners of the mouth.

8. It aids in digestion.
The internal benefits of aloe vera are supposed to be just as amazing. The plant is said to improve the digestion and to relieve ulcers. Some people consider it a laxative, while others attribute that effect to its digestive qualities (which normalize the system and induce regularity). The juice is also prescribed for arthritis and rheumatism. To test any of these claims, steep the cut foliage in water or chew pieces of the fresh leaf.


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Camphor has been used medicinally for centuries to treat many skin conditions, such as itching, irritation and pain. It’s a stimulating product, and if you don’t use it according to the instructions, it can be poisonous. In skin care products, the U.S Food and Drug Administration does not approve of camphor if the concentration exceeds 11 percent.

Camphor is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for skin care use if the concentration is between 3 percent and 11 percent. You can use camphor to relieve skin itching or irritation or to control pain. Camphor is often found in rub-on products for cold sores, insect bites and stings, minor burns and hemorrhoids. You can use camphor as a rub to put directly onto your skin, or you can inhale it. To inhale camphor, add some camphor to a vaporizer and inhale the steam.

Side Effects
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say camphor can cause the following symptoms: irritation of the eyes, skin and mucous membranes; nausea; diarrhea; vomiting; headache; epileptiform convulsions and dizziness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned products containing greater than 11 percent concentrations of camphor in 1983. Even small doses can be fatal for your child or infant.

When used properly, camphor provides a cooling sensation and relieves symptoms such as pain, irritation and cough. You can use camphor in soothing backaches and muscle pain. To soothe skin conditions such as eczema or acne, camphor is used due to its ability to reduce redness and irritation.


Traditionally, emollients are considered ingredients which have smoothing or softening properties. They are put into formulas to provide moisturizing benefits and support a variety of conditioning claims. There are a number of types which we’ll list below.

Hydrophilic Emollients
The term emollient is rather broad so things that are humectants can also be considered emollients. Water soluble ingredients like glycerin, sorbitol, and propylene glycol are all technically emollients. When you need conditioning, this are good ones for your water phase.

Lipophilic Emollients
These are ingredients that are not soluble in water and make up the bulk of the available varieties of emollients. The one that you use depends on properties such as polarity, emolliency scores, spreading behavior, compatability with other ingredients, rheological behavior, and hydrolytic stability. This group can further be broken down by grouping them by their polairity.

Non-polar: These are mostly derived from petroleum and include ingredients like mineral oil, Isoparaffin, and Isohexadecane.

Polar: This includes a range of ingredients including materials such as natural oils (Jojoba oil, Olive oil, coconut oil), esters (Octyl Palmitate, Isopropyl stearate, Isopropyl palmitate) and alcohols (Octyl dodecanol).

Silicone Fluid Emollients
The final group is silicone fluids. They provide incredible levels of slickness and also feel light compared to lipophilic emollients. The most common ones used include Cyclomethicone and dimethicone. There are a number of varieties to choose from and each have different characteristics when it comes to viscosity, volatility, and ease of formulation.

Cetyl alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Cetearyl Alcohol:

Isopropyl alcohol. SD alcohol. Cetyl alcohol. Cetearyl alcohol. And plain old alcohol.

They show up again and again on skin care products, from moisturizers to body washes to cleansers and toners.

The Fatty Alcohols
Called “wax” alcohols or “fatty” alcohols, this second group of alcohols in skin care that have completely different properties from those we mentioned above. These are typically derived from natural fats and oils, often from coconut and palm oil. They’re found in nature as waxes, so they’re rich in skin-healthy fatty acids. They can also be derived from petroleum sources, though, or made in the laboratory.

Some examples of these include:
Cetyl alcohol
Stearyl alcohol
Cetearyl alcohol

Manufacturers like to use these alcohols for the following reasons:
Emulsifiers: These alcohols work as “emulsifiers,” which help mix water with oils to create nice, smooth creams and lotions.
Emollients: Since these ingredients are naturally moisturizing, they’re included in many creams and lotions to hydrate the skin.
Thickeners: People like thick, rich creams. They just feel good when you put them on. Fatty alcohols can help thicken a formula to the right consistency.
These alcohols are usually portrayed in more positive light than the others, as they are not drying or damaging. On the contrary, they do help to moisturize skin because of the natural fatty acid content.

Isopropyl Isostearate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Isopropyl Myristate is a synthetic oil used as an emollient, thickening agent, or lubricant in beauty products. Composed of of Isopropyl Alcohol (a propane derivative) and Myristic Acid (a naturally-occurring fatty acid), Isopropyl Myristate is a popular cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredient. It is most often used an an additive in aftershaves, shampoos, bath oils, antiperspirants, deodorants, oral hygiene products, and various creams and lotions.

Safety Measures/Side Effects:
According to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, there is strong evidence that products intended for use around the eyes or on the skin, as well as aerosolized products, containing Isopropyl Myristate have been associated with skin, lung, and eye irritation. The CIR has approved Isopropyl Myristate for use in cosmetics (Source), though its quantity should be limited. A study published in Contact Dermatitis in 2004 from two university hospitals in the UK found cases of allergic contact dermatitis in patients who were exposed to both Isohexadecane and Isopropyl Myristate at higher than normal levels of concentration.

Castor Oil:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Castor oil and derivatives are used in soaps, creams (tretinoin), shampoos, perfumes, lip gels, lipsticks, hair oils (increases hair luster), deodorants, lubricants, sunscreens, and many other personal hygiene and beauty products.

Castor oil has been used in skin care products for centuries, and continues to play an important part in the production of soaps and cosmetics. Cosmetic manufacturers use castor oil and its derivatives in formulating non-comedogenic cosmetics (cosmetics that don’t exacerbate or contribute to acne) and emollients.

Jojoba Oil:

A lot of moisturizers, sunscreens and lotions use jojoba in their formulas, due to the amazing skin protection and benefits jojoba oil provides. It creates an excellent barrier between your skin and the elements and has a natural SPF of 4 which basically acts as a sunscreen when used by itself. It is gentle and soothing on the skin and will not cause any allergies unless use in large, concentrated amounts. It does not lose its moisturizing effects upon application like other water based products tend to do, so mixing this oil with your moisturizer creates a powerful and long lasting moisturizer for your skin. You can physically feel the moisture on your skin throughout the whole day.
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Jojoba oil is commonly used and added into shampoos and conditioners to provide extra conditioning for hair, and is also being touted as a possible means for helping with hair loss, as it is said to get rid of sebum build up on the scalp. It is used in so many products, that it is no wonder it plays such a large role in the cosmetics industry. It’s also added to other conventional, over-the-counter products such as sunscreens, lipsticks and lip gloss.

From conditioning to healing the uses of jojoba oil are numerous and more and more people are discovering how beneficial such simple oil is to our skin and the impact it has made since the banning of whaling. It is also one of the most stable oils around and doesn’t go rancid like so many other oils do.

Avocado Oil:

Avocado fruit is extracted from avocado trees which were earlier found in the regions of Mexico and Central America and are now being cultivated in different parts of the world on a large scale basis, thanks to their growing popularity. The oil squeezed from avocado fruit is found to have very high nutritional value. They are considered to be as healthy as olive or almond oil, but they are on the expensive side when compared to other oils.
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
1. Smoothing of Skin
The benefits of cold pressed avocado oil depends a whole lot on the presence of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E. You can apply the oil directly to your skin or through consuming avocado oil rich foods. They are found to be effective in smoothening up the skin stature thereby maintaining a silky skin tone. It is the high level of Vitamin E that prevents the skin from inflammations and itchiness thereby helping skin to maintain its health and softness. The antioxidants present in the oil is also found to be capable of soothing even sunburned skin. Research works have proved that they are effective against skin related diseas
es like eczema.

2. As a Moisturizer
These days we have so many types of skin moisturizers to choose from, but many of them have chemical compounds in large number. When it comes to skin treatments, it is always safe to use natural products likewise natural moisturizers seem to show much better results with very little or no side effects. Avocado oil is capable of penetrating deep into the skin unlike other oils and this helps in achieving quicker results. This helps in making skin soft and hydrated. One of the amazing property of avocado oil is their humectancy, which prevents the skin from drying out that allows the skin to be on hydrated mode for longer period. Even though they works fine in almost all kind of skins, those with dry skin is likely to gain better results. Cold Pressed avocado oil with its pure nature is also capable of keeping the skin fresh and clean from contaminated particles.

3. For Acne Treatment
Acne is considered as one of the most disturbing skin conditions especially on teenagers, though not many treatment measures are found to be effective avocado oil seems to work well in preventing the effects of acne. Mainly there are 3 ways through which they can influence acne related issues.

Topical Treatment for Acne Problems
As Moisturizer
There massive penetrative power helps them to work the skin from deep thereby killing off dead cells. This helps in removing the oil content and unclogging the pores. Once the pores are removed, cold pressed avocado oil is found to limit the inflammations caused by sebaceous gland which produces sebum oil that causes itchy pimples. They are also capable of promoting skin tone and keep them fresh and clean.

4. Anti Aging Product
This is an amazing property of avocado that many of the people doesn’t know. But research works have proved that avocado oil has very high anti aging properties capable of providing protection against free radicals. They works penetrating deep into the skin cells and allowing them to function correctly even while they are getting attacked by free radicals.

Did you know? An Avocado has more Potassium than a Banana.
Mitochondria present in the cells produces most of the cells energy from nutrients. But at times they can lead to the formation of unstable chemicals which may affect the performance of both mitochondria and other cell components.

Avocado oil works its magic right here by reversing this process and thereby letting the mitochondria to produce energy even when they are being attacked by free radicals.

5. As a Sunscreen
When it comes to maintaining skin color nobody will be ready to take any chances. This is exactly why sunscreen lotions and creams get good business compared to other cosmetic oils. Some natural oils are found to act as effective sunscreens and avocado oil is one among them. They are much better compared to artificial products. It is assumed that natural oils are rich in sun protection factor that prevents the skin from darkening. They have a very high proportion of good mono-saturated fats and it is them that forms a protective layer all over the skin to protect them from getting exposed to sun.
Wikipedia – Skin whitening
Skintrium – The Most Common Ingredients in Skin Bleaching Products
Dermnet New Zealand – Bleaching creams
Skin Whitening Forever Secrets – Kojic Acid for Skin Whitening is it Safe?
GMA Network – FDA warns against mercury content of 15 skin-whitening products
Emax Health – Is There Mercury In Your Skin Lightening Cream?
Cosmetics Info – Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Truth in Aging – Arbutin
Happi – The Role of Antioxidants In Dermtological & Cosmetic Formulas
cosmetics Info – Preservative Information
Costmetics Info – Allantoin
MindBodyGreen – The Benefits Of Using Aloe Vera For Skin Care And More
Livestrong – Camphor & Its Use in Skin Care
AnnMarie Gianni – Why You Don’t Want Alcohols in Your Skin Care
Truth in Aging – Isopropyl Myristate
Castor Oil – Castor Oil for Cosmetics
The Jojoba Oil – The Role of Jojoba Oil in the Cosmetics Industry
Good Health Academy – 5 Proven Benefits of Cold Pressed Avocado Oil for Skin

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