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Ingredients used for abrading, smoothing or polishing, such as emery or pumice.


Ingredients that have the capacity to absorb or soak up liquids

Action Level

The limit for a contaminant established by the Food and Drug Administration (or other regulatory body) where action
may be taken against a product to remove it from the market or to otherwise ensure that the levels are reduced to
acceptable levels.


Ingredients that unite or bond surfaces together


Alcohols are a large class of important cosmetic ingredients but only ethanol needs to be denatured to prevent it from
being redirected from cosmetic applications to alcoholic beverages.

Amino Acid

Organic compounds that are the building blocks of proteins

Anti-acne Agent

Ingredients that reduce the number of acne blemishes, acne pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. In the United States,
anti-acne agents are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients

Anticaking Agent

Ingredients or processing aids that prevent powdered or granular substances from forming clumps.

Anticaries Agent

Ingredients that aid in the prevention of dental cavities. In the United States, anticaries agents are regulated as Over-The-
Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

Antidandruff Agent

Ingredients that help to control dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. In the United States, antidandruff agents
are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

Antifoaming Agent

Ingredients that reduce the tendency of finished products to generate foam when shaken.

Antifungal Agent

Ingredients that inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungal cells and decrease the number of fungi present. In the
United States, antifungal agents are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

Antimicrobial Agent
Ingredients that kill microorganisms, or prevent or inhibit their growth and reproduction. In the United States,
antimicrobial agents are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.


Ingredients that prevent or slow deterioration due to chemical reaction with oxygen.

Antiperspirant Agent

Ingredients that are applied to the skin to reduce the production of perspiration at the site of application. In the Unites
States, antiperspirant agents are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

Antistatic Agent

Ingredients that prevent or inhibit the buildup of static electricity.

Artificial Nail Builder

Ingredients that are used in nail enhancement products to build or lengthen the nail.


Ingredients that hold together the ingredients of a compressed tablet or cake.


The coarse outer hulls from various cereal grains obtained during milling.

Buffering Agent

Ingredients that minimize the change in the pH of a solution when an acid or a base is added to the solution.

Bulking Agent

Non-reactive, solid ingredients that are used to dilute other solids, or to increase the volume of a product.


Any of various fatty oils remaining nearly solid at room temperature.


A soft tissue that forms over a cut or an injury to a plant surface, or a localized thickening of the skin.


The outside whorl (circle) of floral leaves that ordinarily enclose and support the bud, and that are usually


A substance that facilitates a chemical reaction, but which itself is not chemically changed by the reaction.


The basic structural and functional unit of all organisms; cells may exist as independent units of life or may
form colonies or tissues as in higher plants and animals.


Naturally occurring skin lipids or their synthetic counterparts that are major structural components of the
skin's outer structure; ceramides are vital to the skin's retention of water.

Chelating Agent

Ingredients that inactivate metallic ions so as to prevent the deterioration of cosmetic products.


Ingredients that impart color to cosmetic products. In the United States, the FDA regulates which colorants
may be used in cosmetics.


Refers to the chance that an ingredient or product will cause pores in the skin to clog. This may result in
blackheads or whiteheads, officially called comedones.

Corn/Callus/Wart Remover

Ingredients that are applied to the skin to remove corns, calluses, and warts. In the United States, corn/callus
/wart removers are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

Corrosion Inhibitor

Ingredients that prevent the corrosion (rust) of metallic materials used in cosmetic packaging.

Cosmetic Astringent

Ingredients that induce a tightening or tingling sensation of the skin.

Cosmetic Biocide

Ingredients that help to cleanse the skin or to prevent odor by destroying or inhibiting the growth of
Cosmetic Ingredient Review

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) was established in 1976 as an independent safety review program for
cosmetic ingredients. The CIR Expert Panel consists of independent experts in dermatology, toxicology ,
pharmacolgy and veterinary medicine. The CIR includes participation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration
and the Consumer Federation of America.


An atom or group connecting parallel chains in a complex molecule.


A cells grown in a prepared nutrient medium.

Decreasing agent

Substances that decrease the thickness of liquid cosmetic products


A demulcent is an agent that forms a soothing film when put onto the surface of a mucous membrane ,
such as the inside of the mouth. A demulcent is meant to relieve the irritation of the inflamed mucous


Ingredients added to ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol) to make it unsuitable for drinking, usually by imparting an
intensely bitter taste. In the United States, the use of denaturants are controlled by the Alcohol and Tobacco
Tax and Trade Bureau in the Department of Treasury.

Deodorant Agent

Ingredients that reduce or eliminate unpleasant odor and that protect against the formation of such odors on
the skin.

Depilating Agent

Ingredients that chemically break down hair fibers so that unwanted hair can be removed by simply wiping it
from the skin.


The purified liquid product obtained by the condensation of the vapors produced by boiling a liquid.

Drug Astringent - Oral Health Care Drug

Ingredients that draw together or constrict body tissues and that are effective in stopping the flow of blood or
other secretions. In the Unites States, drug astringents - oral health care drugs are regulated as Over-The-
Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

A liquid used to extract one material from another.


A mixture of two liquids that normally cannot be mixed, in which one liquid is dispersed in the other liquid as
very fine droplets. Emulsifying agents are often used to help form the emulsion and stabilizing agents are
used to keep the resulting emulsion from separating. The most common emulsions are oil-in-water emulsions
(where oil droplets are dispersed in water) and water-in-oil emulsions (where water droplets are dispersed in

Emulsion Stabilizer

Ingredients that help to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components.


A protein found in animal and plant cells that help to initiate or to accelerate specific chemical reactions.


Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution, and control of
disease in populations. Epidemiology studies the distribution of diseases in populations and the factors that
might influence the occurrence of disease. Typically, epidemiology will explore human exposures or life styles
and attempt to determine if there is a correlation between the exposure and a particular health affect.

Epilating Agent

Waxes or other substances that are heated, applied to the skin, and stripped off quickly to remove unwanted

Essential Oil

A concentrated liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.


An organic compound formed by the reaction of an acid with an alcohol .


An organic compound that contains an oxygen atom bound to two hydrocarbon groups. An ether
compound is often represented by R-O-R'.


Ingredients that help to remove dead skin cells from the skin surface.

External Analgesic

Ingredients that are applied to the skin to relieve pain. In the United States, external analgesics are regulated
as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

The mixture of substances drawn out of a material by solution, heat, or another physical or chemical process.

Fatty Acid

A natural organic compound that consists of a carboxyl group (oxygen, carbon and hydrogen) attached to a
chain of carbon atoms with their associated hydrogen atoms. The chain of carbon atoms may be connected
with single bonds, making a 'saturated' fat; or it may contain some double bonds, making an 'unsaturated' fat.
The number of carbon and hydrogen atoms in the chain is what determines the qualities of that particular fatty
acid . Animal and vegetable fats are made up of various combinations of fatty acids (in sets of three)
connected to a glycerol molecule, making them triglycerides.


A process in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances; for example,
the anaerobic breakdown of sugar into alcohol .


A slender, threadlike structure that forms animal or plant tissue


A type of cell found in connective tissue that is responsible for the formation of fibers.

Film Former

Ingredients that dry to form a thin coating on the skin, hair or nails.


A substance, usually liquid, that has been passed through a filter.

Flavoring Agent

Ingredients that impart a flavor or a taste to a product.


The fine edible powder obtained by grinding and sifting cereal grain, usually mostly freed from the bran

Fragrance Ingredient

Substances that impart an odor to a product.

Fruit Body

Spore -bearing structures of non-flowering plants. A plant organ that specializes in producing spores.

A swelling of plant tissue usually due to microorganisms, insects, or injury; sometimes an important source of


A gall whose appearance resembles a nut

General Provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union

Ingredients other than color additives (Annex IV), preservatives (Annex VI), UV filters (Annex VII), and
ingredients not prohibited (Annex II) or restricted (Annex III) may be used in cosmetic products in the European
Union. Specifically, ingredients not included in the Annexes of the Cosmetics Regulation may be used without
restriction, subject to the general principles of protection of human health and good manufacturing practice.


The embryonic form of a grain from which a new organism is developed.


A glucose-containing sugar derivative found widely in plants.


A mixture of proteins obtained from wheat and other cereal grains; usually adhesive .

Gram-negative bacteria

Gram-negative bacteria lose the crystal violet stain (and take the color of the red counterstain) in Gram's
method of staining. This is characteristic of bacteria that have a cell wall composed of a thin layer of a
particular substance (called peptidoglycan).


"GRAS " is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food
additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally
recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its
intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive.


Sticky, polysaccharide substances exuded by plants that are gelatinous when moist but harden on drying.
Hair Colorant

Ingredients that impart color to hair. Hair coloring preparations may be temporary, semi-permanent,
permanent, or progressive, depending on the length of time the colorant affects the hair.

Hair Conditioning Agent

Ingredients that enhance the appearance and feel of hair, by increasing hair body, suppleness, or sheen, or by
improving the texture of hair that has been damaged physically or by chemical treatment.

Hair Fixative

Ingredients that help hair hold its style by inhibiting the hair?s ability to absorb moisture.

Hair-Waving and Straightening Agent

Substances that modify hair fibers to facilitate changes to the structure of the fibers, such as with permanent
waves or with hair straightening.

Heavy Metal

Heavy metals are higher atomic weight elements that have properties of a metallic substance at room
temperature. Some heavy metals, such as iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, and zinc are required in small
amounts by living organisms. Other heavy metals, such as mercury, lead and cadmium have no known
beneficial effects.


The dry outer covering of a fruit, nut, or seed.


Ingredients that slow the loss of moisture from a product during use.


The outer covering of various seeds or fruits.


Organic compounds consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon.


The product of hydrolysis .


Decomposition of a chemical compound into smaller constituents by reaction with water.


Established in 2007, the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR ) is a voluntary

international group of cosmetics regulatory authorities from Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Japan and
the United States. This group of regulatory authorities meet on an annual basis to discuss common issues on
cosmetics safety and regulation, as well as enter into a constructive dialogue with relevant cosmetics industry
trade associations. ICCR provides a multilateral framework to maintain and enable the highest level of global
consumer protection by working towards and promoting regulatory convergence, while minimizing barriers to
international trade.

In vitro

Experiments performed in a test tube or another artificial, controlled environment, rather than in a whole

Indirect Food Additive

Indirect food additives are additives that may become part of the food in trace amounts due to its packaging,
storage or other handling. For example, minute amounts of packaging substances may find their way into foods
during storage.


A class of chemical compounds found in plants that may have some similar effects as the human hormone
estrogen. These compounds also may have potent antioxidant properties.


The liquid obtained by expressing various plants or plant parts, usually fruits.


A type of skin cell that is responsible for the formation of keratin.


The inner, softer part of the seed or nut contained inside the seed coat.

The sediments obtained from an alcoholic beverage, such as wine, during fermentation and aging.


Fat or fat-like substance found in the cells of plants and animals that includes fats, waxes, oils, and related


A liposome is a spherical vesicle composed of a bilayer membrane . Liposomes can be composed of

naturally-derived phospholipids with mixed lipid chains or of pure surfactant components. Liposomes
usually (but not always) contain a core of aqueous solution. Lipid spheres that contain no aqueous material are
called micelles. A liposome can encapsulate different substances inside the “droplet” and, in this manner, act
like a delivery system. Liposomes are useful for stabilizing ingredients that are sensitive to degradation when
exposed to air.


The contents released from a cell that has been broken apart.

Lytic Agent

Substances that help to break down lipids, proteins, and polysaccharides into smaller components, usually by
the action of enzymes.


A coarsely ground grain.


A thin layer of animal or plant tissue that serves as a covering or lining for an organ or a part.


A molecule that comprises the repeating unit of a polymer .


The filamentous vegetative portion of a fungus, specifically excluding the fruiting structure. It is often
submerged in another body (soil, host tissue).
Nail Conditioning Agent

Ingredients that enhance the appearance and feel of nails, by moisturizing the nail, increasing nail sheen, or by
reducing nail brittleness and flaking.


A Nanometer is a metric unit of measure for the length of an object or distance traveled. Most often
Nanometers are the unit used to express the wavelength of light. One Nanometer is equal to 1 billionth of a
meter or 0.000000001 meters. Approximately 25.4 million nanometers equal one inch.


Sweet liquid saccharine secreted by plant nectaries (glands); chief raw material of honey


A small, rounded protuberance (bump) on a plant.


The fraction of a substance that does not vaporize upon heating.


A natural plant product containing essential oil and resin .


Oil storage bodies found in some plant cells.


A peptide made up of relatively short amino acid chains.

Opacifying Agent

Substances that reduce the clear or transparent appearance of cosmetic products. Some opacifying agents are
used in skin make-up for hiding blemishes.

Oral Care Agent

Ingredients that polish the teeth, reduce oral odor, or otherwise cleanse or deodorize the teeth and mouth.

Oral Health Care Drug

Ingredients that are applied topically for use in properly caring for the oral cavity. In the United States, oral
health care drugs are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.
Organic Compound

A compound that contains carbon and hydrogen and usually other elements such as nitrogen, sulfur and

Oxidizing Agent

Ingredients that restore hair or skin to its normal oxidized state after exposure to the reducing agent in
permanent waving, or that aid in oxidative hair dyeing.


A group of compounds made up of amino acid chains. An ingredient name containing the term peptide is
usually synthetic.


The wall of a ripened fruit or seed vessel.


Substances that destroy or repel pests, or that prevent or mitigate the effects of pests. In the United States,
pesticides for use in consumer products, including cosmetics, must be registered and approved by the EPA.


A measurement of the acidity or basicity of a substance. pH is the negative logarithm (base 10) of the
concentration of hydrogen ions in solution. Water has a concentration of hydrogen ions of 1.0 x 10-7, and thus
has a pH of 7. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, a pH lower than 7 is considered acidic, and a pH higher than 7 is
considered basic.

pH Adjuster

Ingredients that are used to control the pH of cosmetic products.


The wall of the cavity inside a fruit in which seeds are housed, or the part within the fruit of a flowering plant
to which the seeds are attached


Sterols derived from plants.


Synthetic water insoluble polymers that are repeatedly molded, extruded or physically manipulated into
various, solid forms which retain their defined shapes in their intended applications during their use and


Materials that soften synthetic polymers by reducing brittleness and cracking.


A naturally occurring or synthetic molecule made up of repeating units called monomers.


A large group of natural complex carbohydrates with the general formula (C6H10O5)n where 'n' is a large
number. Polysaccarides are easily hydrolyzed into simple sugars.


Ingredients that prevent or retard bacterial growth, and thus protect cosmetic products from spoilage.


Compressed gases that are used to expel products from aerosols.

Proposition 65

Proposition 65 is a California citizens initiative that was enacted as "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic
Enforcement Act of 1986." Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to the state of
California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Businesses are then required to notify
Californians about these chemicals if they are present in the products they purchase, in their homes or
workplaces, or that are released into the environment.


A naturally occurring complex organic substance present in relatively high amounts in meats, fish, eggs,
cheese, legumes. Made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur and phosphorus.


The contents of a cell , excluding the cell wall.

Reducing agent

Reducing agents are ingredients which during their reaction with oxidizing agents lose electrons. Reducing
agents commonly contribute hydrogen to other substances. They can be used as antioxidants since they
scavenge oxygen. In addition, reducing agents have the ability to split disulfide bonds in hair.

Reference dose

A reference dose (RfD) is the term used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an estimate of a
daily exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without an
appreciable risk of deleterious effects during a lifetime.


A class of solid or semi-solid viscous organic substances exuded by plants. Sometimes refers to a class of
synthetic products with physical properties similar to those of natural resins.

A subterranean plant stem with shoots above and roots below, serving as a reproductive structure, and often
thickened by deposits of reserve food material.


RIPT stands for Repeat Insult Patch Test. In RIPT, a small amount of product is applied to the skin of each
individual subject and monitored for its effect. Over a certain interval of time, the skin is observed, graded, and
tested again.


A watery solution of sugars, salts and minerals that circulates through a plant's vascular system.


The reaction between a caustic alkali (lye) and the fatty acids in a vegetable oil or animal fat that results in

Secondary Direct Food Additive

A secondary direct food additive has a technical effect in food during processing but not in the finished food
(e.g., processing aid).


The semi-solid material left after the oil is expressed from a seed.


The outer protective covering of a seed.


The fluid part of the blood that remains after blood cells, platelets, and fibrogen have been removed.

Skin Bleaching Agent

Ingredients that bleach or lighten skin by suppressing melanin (pigment) formation within skin cells. In the
United States, skin bleaching agents are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients

Skin Protectant

An ingredient that temporarily protects injured or exposed skin from harmful or annoying stimuli, and that
may provide relief to such skin. In the United States, skin protectants are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC)
drug ingredients.

Skin-Conditioning Agent - Emollient

Ingredients that act as lubricants on the skin surface, which give the skin a soft and smooth appearance.
Skin-Conditioning Agent - Humectant

Ingredients that increase the water content of the top layers of the skin by drawing moisture from the
surrounding air.

Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous

Ingredients that enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.

Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive

Ingredients that slow the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin's surface.

Slip Modifier

Ingredients that help other substances to flow more easily and more smoothly, without reacting chemically.


Substances, usually liquids, that are used to dissolve other substances.


A small usually single-celled reproductive body produced by plants and some microorganisms and capable of
development into a new individual.


A multi-cellular body where spores are developed in red algae, lichens, etc.


A young shoot from a recently germinated seed, often very rich in vitamin C.


A complex carbohydrate widely distributed among plants. It is the chief storage form of carbohydrates in


A class of solid cyclic unsaturated alcohols found in plant and animal tissues. Sterols are waxy and insoluble in

Sunscreen Agent

Ingredients that are applied to the skin to absorb, to reflect, or to scatter UV rays. In the United States,
sunscreen agents are regulated as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug ingredients.

Surface Modifier

Substances that are added to other cosmetic ingredients to make those ingredients either attract or repel

An ingredient that helps two substances that normally do not mix to become dissolved or dispersed in one
another. Also called a surface active agent.

Srfactant - Cleansing Agentu

Surfactants that clean skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away.

Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent

Surfactants that help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified.

Surfactant - Foam Booster

Surfactants that increase foaming capacity or that stabilize foams.

Surfactant - Hydrotrope

Surfactants that have the ability to enhance the water solubility of another surfactant .

Surfactant - Solubilizing Agent

Surfactants that help another ingredient to dissolve in a solvent in which it would not normally dissolve.

Surfactant - Suspending Agent

Surfactant - suspending agents function by modifying a solid's surface characteristics by adsorption.

Changing the surface properties of a solid, keeps the particles from coming together and falling out of solution.

Suspending Agent - Nonsurfactant

Suspending agents - nonsurfactant modify the interface between solid particles and the liquid medium to
improve the particles' resistance to settling. Many of these substances are gums and polymers.


An organelle-like structure formed within the root nodule of certain plants when bacteria are imported into a
plant cell and become surrounded by a plant membrane . Symbiosomes are thought to contain a mixture of
plant- and bacteria-derived proteins.


A thick dark-colored semi-liquid of organic composition obtained by the destructive distillation of organic
substances and bituminous minerals, including wood, coal or peat.


A plant body without true stems, leaves, and roots; characteristic of thallophytes, a class of plants that includes
algae, fungi, and lichens.


Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical and physical agents on living organisms.


A short, solid, underground stem or root whose primary purposes are food storage and reproduction.

Ultraviolet Light Absorber

Ingredients that protect cosmetic products or packaging from deterioration by absorbing, reflecting, or
scattering UV rays. These ingredients may also be used to protect the hair from UV rays. See also UV Filters.


The fraction of an oil that is not saponified in the refining recovery of the oil?s fatty acids.

UV Filter

UV filters are ingredients that filter certain UV rays that are found in sunlight and, to a lesser degree, artificial
light. UV filter is a general term that is used for sunscreen agents, ingredients used to protect the skin from
UV rays, and ultraviolet light absorbers, ingredients use to protect products, packaging and hair from UV rays.

Viscosity - Decreasing Agent

Substances that decrease the thickness of liquid cosmetic products.

Viscosity Controlling Agent

Materials used to alter the thickness of liquid cosmetic products.

Viscosity Increasing Agent - Aqueous

Substances that increase the thickness of the aqueous (water) portion of cosmetic products.

Viscosity Increasing Agent - Nonaqueous

Substances that increase the thickness of the lipid (oil) portion of cosmetic products.


The woody portion of the stem and root that makes up part of a plant's vascular system.

21 CFR 701.3(a)

Excerpt from the FDA Code of Federal Regulations:

21 CFR Sec. 701.3 Designation of ingredients.
(a) The label on each package of a cosmetic shall bear a declaration of the name of each ingredient in
descending order of predominance, except that fragrance or flavor may be listed as fragrance or flavor. An
ingredient which is both fragrance and flavor shall be designated by each of the functions it performs unless
such ingredient is identified by name. No ingredient may be designated as fragrance or flavor unless it is within
the meaning of such term as commonly understood by consumers...