Cosmetic Ingredient Database

cosmetic ingredient database

Welcome to the Colin’s Beauty Pages Cosmetic Ingredient Database.

Actually it isn’t a database.  I don’t have the deep pockets of the consumer advocacy groups who put up sophisticated bits of web technology dedicated to scaring people.   And I don’t know enough about the ways of the web to compete with them if I did have any money.  But I have done a lot of posts about cosmetic ingredients and I thought it would be handy for the people who enjoy that kind of thing to have somewhere where they are all gathered together.

It might be useful if you want to look a particular one up too.

Guide To Cosmetic Ingredients For The Perplexed Cover




Benzyl Alcohol


Bismuth Oxychloride

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride


Cetearyl Alcohol

Cetrimonium chloride

Cocamidopropyl betaine

Coal Tar (Not strictly a cosmetic ingredient, but interesting nonetheless)

Dead Sea Salt


DMDM Hydantoin




Glyceryl Stearate (click on this for glyceryl monostearate)

Hyaluronic Acid

Isopropyl myristate



Lavender Oil



Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone

Mineral Oil





Polysorbate 80

Potassium sorbate

Propylene Glycol


Retinol  – See also for retinol derivates such as retinyl palmitate

Rosa Centifolia

Rosehip Oil

Sodium laureth sulfate

Shea Butter

Squalane and Squalene

Titanium Dioxide





Vitamin E

Xanthan Gum

Do you have an ingredient that particularly interests you?  Let me know.

21 thoughts on “Cosmetic Ingredient Database”

  1. Hi

    I was outraged to find out that the face products that I have been using are not as natural as they make out(Origins). I am now on a search for Good organic face/body products. This is how I can across you. I have found the following website and just wanted the opinion of someone in the know. They are called ‘The Organic Pharmacy’ and their products are fairly expensive so I want to be sure they are ok before purchasing anything. If you have any recommendations I would be grateful.

    The particular product I am looking at has the following ingredients: Bilberry (Vaccinum Myrtillus), Rose (Rosa Damascena), Rose Hip (Rosa Canina), Aloe (Aloe Barbedensis), Marigold (Calendula Officinalis), Rose Geranium (Perlagonium Graveolens), Algin, Grapefruit Seed Extract (Citrus Grandis), Sodium Olive Oil Amphoacetate, Aqua (Water), Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin (vegetable), Carageenan, Xanthan Gum, Panthenol, Vitamin E (Tochopherol), Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate)

    Kind Regards


    1. Hi Nicola and thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I don’t know much about the Organic Pharmacy, though I did pop into their shop in Chelsea once. The staff were very friendly which always makes a good impression. Despite this, now I’ve looked at their website I am afraid I can’t recommend on two counts. First they indulge in an appalling amount of scare mongering on their website. I try to be a bit lenient when small companies resort to a bit of knocking the big guys because I appreciate that they have a tough job on their hands and I realise that the bigger companies hold nearly all the cards. But the Organic Pharmacy have gone completely over the top in their list of what they claim are carcinogens in other people’s products. They also endorse homeopathy which is complete nonsense.

      I have to say I am far from convinced that organic skin care products have any particular benefits, though I do like a few particular products. There are a lot of charlatans around who see it as a great way to charge a premium. But if you are attracted by the organic approach there are people who are sincere in what they are doing. I have always found the Soil Association to be a very honest organisation which is straight forward in its intentions and tries to do the right thing. Products that they have accredited are likely to be genuinely organic. Look for their logo on the pack.

      The ingredient list you have posted certainly looks very natural but aside from that I don’t have any comments on it.

  2. Hi Colin,

    I was recently told by a beautician that castor oil is really good for promoting hair growth and was hoping to find it on your ingredients “database” for some background info. Whilst I’ve read many reviews on the internet about how great it is for hair growth esp. for those looking to grow back overplucked eyebrows and thicken their lashes and how brilliant it is for removing scars/moles etc; I am a little skeptical as I cannot find the science behind how it works and it’s effectiveness(that’s if it does work). I can see it being a good moisturiser for skin & hair but beyond that, is there any truth behind what my beautician was telling me?

    Look forward to your response.


    PS Love the blog; have become so much more informed because of it!

  3. Colin, can you explain the origins and uses of silicon?
    One day there it wasn’t there, the next there were hair serums, then skin mattifiers, then it appeared in hair conditioners, then make-up to help it glide. You have to have frizzy hair and an oily T-zone to realise the difference silicon made.
    Now we are sold detoxifying shampoos to remove silicon build-up, and conditioners and styling gunk that proclaim themselves silicon-free. No wonder I’m confused! Is it a good thing or not? And what is its source?

  4. Hello Colin, very imformative blog. can you please tell me where I could get lanolin from to use as a cream on my face and also have you any advice on what to use to fade an age spots ??? thanks

  5. Hi Colin,
    I just would like to say thank you for sharing and explaining the complexities of these ingredients. I love your site and your easy to understand style.

  6. Hi Colin,
    I’m glad that I found your site! Useful, objective, most of all, enjoyable!! Always admire ppl giving advises or comments based on science.
    Good job and keep going on ^-^

  7. Hello, Colin,
    If I may react to what Judith said above – and ask you for your view please….
    Regarding silicones in hair products I understand there are silicones soluble in water and silicones insoluble in water. (And maybe a third group – partly or hardly soluble in water). The insoluble silicones are insoluble in MERE water, meaning a shampoo will wash them away. What build-up? Isn’t this a nonsense (or a marketing claim to sell “clarifying” shampoos?). What is your opinion please? Do I understand it wrong?
    Sorry, English is my second language.
    Thank you. Very useful webpages you make.

  8. Hi Colin,

    Thank you for writing these posts. I am happily chomping my way through them. Your humour comes through and I am learning at the same time. I’d like to know more about butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). I can’t seem to find much except the scares about toxicity, organs, bioaccumulation, carcinogenic effects.

    With Thanks!

  9. Hi Colin,
    I was just diagnosed with an allergy to Balsam of Peru (benzoic acid). It has MANY different names and is a preservative used in just about everything (cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens,processed foods, carbonated drinks, pesticides, etc. It is noted as one of the top five allergens found in patch tests by U.S. Dermatologists. You might want to do a little research about it.

    Thanks for all the great information.

  10. Hi Colin,
    I have been making all natural skincare products for friends and family for a while now and have decided that I would like to take it further and start selling my products at local artisan markets etc however I am now totally confused with regards to ingredients labelling and product testing and the UK law with regards to selling my products in this way. If there is any advice you could offer it would be very much appreciated!

    Thank you.

    1. Hello Sharon,

      I have a recent blog post which might help.

      And I have written a Kindle book about cosmetic regulations

      A Guide to the EU Cosmetic Regulations for the Perplexed

      And I earn a living advising companies on product development and formulation. I have quite a lot of content written for my professional blog but a lot of it isn’t up at the moment as I have just changed the format. But here is the link anyway.

  11. Hi, thanks for this whole blog, this is probably the first site I’ve come across that provides real, scientifically accurate information on cosmetics! I’m not entirely certain if this is the proper area to ask questions, but here goes…

    My first question is about the mango extract used in cosmetics. I’m apparently allergic to mango skin, but not the inner fruit, if that’s even possible. If I eat an unpeeled mango or use mango-heavy lip balm, my lips swell and sting like I’ve been eating bees. I have noticed it in a lot of products though, after I’ve used them with no adverse reactions at all. Is mango extract hypoallergenic nowadays, or am I probably testing my luck and should avoid mango in cosmetics?

    And because I can’t just be allergic to simple stuff, my next question is about quaternary ammonium compounds. I recently used, at the same time, some fabric softener sheets, Mane & Tail conditioner, and another hair product. I became itchy around the nape of my neck and collarbones. I went to have a look, and I had what looked like chemical burns everywhere that my hair and shirt both were in contact with my skin. It wasn’t a large enough area to warrant medical attention, but it was really unpleasant and unexpected because i had used all of these products before, just not simultaneously. After researching, I found that the only common ingredient that wasn’t in anything else I was using was quaternary compounds. I read that in large quantities it can cause caustic burns, but would that actually have been enough to cause burns? I’ve been avoid quats like the plague since, but I’m dying without fabric softener! Do you think it would be safe to use just one item with quaternary compounds, or can you recommend any fabric softers that are quat-free?

  12. Dear Colin,
    Your site is a great source for all allergy sufferers, Having spent months going round and round I would like to share with the readers a short bit of info which may help others, as I have found that even as an MI sufferer, also allergic to carbo mix, fragrancs, linalool, nickel, limonene and a few other nasties there are also so many other nastes that may cause a reaction and what is ok with one person is not ok with another, so when someone says, I use xyz and someone else tries it, they may in fact be allergic. This is what happened to me. so, I decided to go what I call Zero tolerance. I cut out everything and use: full fat organic milk to cleanse the face. Pure olive oil soap to shower and I also use this on my hair too. Pure olive oil liquid as a moisturiser ( only use very litte on the face and not all the time. Salt of the earth deodorant, only contains salt and is I find a very good deodorant. When I first came across it , my thoughts were ” really, just salt” is that going to work. I have to say in my experience, yes it does. no sweating, no odour and no reaction. I am UK based and bought this in a health food shop. I am slowly researching and going though as much as I can to make my lifestyle change to using as much natural sources as I can. I realise this is going to take a lot of time and yes it is frustrating but I have now started to look back in horror at the amount of chemicals in every day to day products that I have previously used in the past and now it is time to change. So I have written this as a possible help to others. But remember , what works for me may not work for others. Its just another source of info.

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