Extracted from various seaweeds, agar is used as an emulsifier and
emollient in cosmetics as well as a substitute for gelatin in foods. Look for
it in your health food store.
yellowish, sticky substance found in the leaves of the aloe vera plant. Noted
for healing wounds and burns, aloe vera also soothes and moisturizes skin.
Readily available in both gel and liquid form, aloe vera can be found in
health food and specialty stores.
- Appearing naturally in fruits such as coconuts, apples, citrus fruits and
black currants, alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, exfoliate and moisturize the
skin. High in glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy's have become a popular ingredient
among cosmetic manufacturers who regularly include synthetic AHAs in wrinkle
creams, masks and toners.
These substances have received a lot of press lately, mainly
because of their ability to counteract the destructive effects of free
radicals in the body. The most common use of antioxidants, however, is as a
preservative. Synthetic antioxidants, such as BHA and BHT, are often included
by cosmetic manufacturers to keep their products from spoiling, but natural
antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E can be added to cosmetics as a safer
alternative to the synthetic variety.
These scented waters are used to treat a variety of skin ailments, from acne
to burns. A byproduct of distilling essential oils, the most common aromatic
water is the familiar rosewater. Aromatic waters are expensive and difficult
to find. Rose and orange waters are often carried by Indian markets and liquor
stores, but are usually of inferior quality.
- Primarily used as an emulsifier, beeswax is obtained from the honeycomb of
virgin bees. Because it is insoluble in water, beeswax is a great addition to
skin creams and lip balms.
the highest-quality beeswax, purchase it directly from a beekeeper.
This white, moisture-absorbing clay is found in the Midwestern United States
and is sometimes called Indian Healing Clay. Used in blemish masks, bentonite
is reported to draw poisons and toxins out of the skin. It is carried by most
health food stores and some drugstores.
Vegetable oils are used to dilute and distribute or "carry" a
plant's essential oils. Although essential oils don't spoil, some vegetable
oils do. To insure quality, add a bit of vitamin E to your blends as a natural
preservative. Common carrier oils include almond, avocado, grapeseed,
hazelnut, jojoba, olive and sesame oils.
Originally made from olive oil, the term “Castile” now refers to any mild
soap. Although modern Castile soaps are widely available, they can be very
alkaline to the skin and hair.
Known for it's delicious chocolaty aroma, this fat expressed from the roasted
seeds of the cocoa plant softens and lubricates the skin. Often used in sun,
skin and massage creams, it melts to an oily consistency at body temperature.
Cocoa butter can be found in most drugstores.
or Corn Flour
- An ingredient often listed in British and Australian cosmetic formulas,
cornflower is simply another name for ordinary cornstarch.
- Any ingredient which promotes the removal of dead skin cells. Natural
exfoliators include oatmeal, cornmeal and almond meal.
- A sweet, syrupy by-product of soap making, glycerin has been used for
thousands of years as a humectant, emollient and lubricant in skin care
preparations. Available at most pharmacies.
- This ancient dye comes from the henna shrub and has been used for centuries
to color and condition hair. True henna produces a red dye, but today's henna
products are mixed with other natural ingredients such as indigo or coffee to
produce a variety of shades. Unlike chemical dyes which penetrate the hair
shaft, henna wraps around each strand, effectively sealing it with a
reflective coating. It is non-toxic.
- One of the oldest known non-toxic dyes, indigo is prepared from several
plants native to Bengal, Java and Guatemala. Producing a dark blue powder with
coppery overtones, indigo has been used for centuries to create color
cosmetics and hair dye.
Also known as china clay, this fine white mineral clay is used in the
manufacture of many powdered and opaque cosmetics. It can also be used as an
oil absorbing face mask.
difficult to find than bentonite clay.
- Used by the Egyptians to line the eye, kohl is reputed to protect the wearer
from disease and evil spirits. Originally made from the ash of frankincense,
kohl was later made from powdered antimony, a metallic element often
containing lead, arsenic, phosphates and other impurities. Kohls containing
lead have been banned in the United States and Great Britain.
- This naturally occurring antioxidant and emollient is often used in soaps,
skin creams and hair preparations. Found in egg yolk and soy oil, lecithin is
high in the B vitamins choline and inositol. Liquid lecithin can be found in
most health food stores.
Commonly found in craft shops, powdered orris root is used in sachets,
aromatic dusting powders and dry shampoos.
Derived from the rootstock of the Florentine Iris, orris is also used
as a fixative in homemade potpourri.
Rumored as having the ability to restore the skin's youthfulness, royal jelly
is the highly nutritious substance secreted in the throats of worker bees. A
valuable component in Chinese medicine, royal jelly contains a full range of
amino acids, minerals, enzymes and vitamins A, B, C and E. Look for it in
Chinese herb shops.
- A perennial herb used widely during the Middle Ages, soapwort gets it's name
because the leaves form a lather when bruised. Check with herb dealers for
Natural tannic acid can be found in the bark of oak trees as well as in
cherries, tea and coffee. Used as an astringent, tannic acid may tint the hair
and skin brown when applied topically.
Another name for essential oils, volatile oils are responsible for producing the
aroma in certain plants and flowers. Volatile oils stimulate the tissue they
come in contact with and can arouse or soothe, depending on their source and
in many synthetic and natural cosmetic preparations, witch hazel is valued for
its astringent properties. An old Native American remedy for insect bites, burns
and irritated skin, witch hazel tones the skin and is good for oily complexions.
Available at health food and drug stores.
Home Book Author Appearances Formulas Articles Take Action!
Copyright © 1997-2002. All rights reserved.