unfamiliar skincare ingredients


  • Arachidyl Alcohol - EWG: 1

A fatty alcohol to increase the viscosity of the formula and help the oily and the watery parts to stay nicely mixed together.

  • Arachidyl Glucoside - EWG: 2

An emulsifier helping oil and water to mix.  

  • Behenyl Alcohol- EWG: 1

A fatty alcohol for viscosity controlling and emulsion stabilizing

  • Bisabolol - EWG: 1-2

​It's one of the active parts of Chamomile that contains about 30% of bisabolol. It's a clear oily fluid that is used in skincare as a nice anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredient. 

  • Butyloctyl Salicylate - EWG: 1

A nice, multi-functional helper ingredient that's especially useful in sunscreens. It can solubilize some commonly used UV-filters and it can also help to increase the SPF rating of sunscreens. 

  • Caprylhydroxamic Acid - EWG: 1

A chelating agent that helps to preserve cosmetic products by neutralizing the metal ions (especially iron) in the formula (that usually get into there from water). Its special thing is that it also acts as a biostatic and fungistatic agent and remains active even at high pH.

It is often coupled with antimicrobial glycols (such as propanediol) to create a "preservative free preservative system" for cosmetic products.

  • Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer - EWG: 1  

A naturally-derived (coconut and castor oil) or synthetic ingredient that functions as a polymer and film-forming agent as well as a replacement for silicones in cosmetic formulas. 


  • Caprylyl Glycol - EWG: 1  

It’s a handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel. At the same time, it also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives, such as the nowadays super commonly used phenoxyethanol

The blend of these two (caprylyl glycol + phenoxyethanol) is called Optiphen, which not only helps to keep your cosmetics free from nasty things for a long time but also gives a good feel to the finished product. It's a popular duo.

A natural polysaccharide 多糖 (big sugar molecule) coming from red edible seaweeds. It is used as a helper ingredient for its gelling, thickening and stabilizing properties.  

  • Cellulose Gum -  EWG: 1

Viscosity controllingemulsion stabilising

  • Cetearyl Alcohol -  EWG: 1

A emulsion stabilizer. 

It’s a so-called fatty alcohol, a mix of cetyl and stearyl alcohol, other two emollient fatty alcohols. Fatty alcohols have a long oil-soluble (and thus emollient) tail part that makes them absolutely non-drying and non-irritating and are totally ok for the skin.

  • Cetearyl Olivate - EWG: 1

An ester that comes from Cetearyl alcohol and the fatty acids of olive oil. It often comes to the formula coupled with Sorbitan Olivate as the two together form the natural emulsifier named Olivem 1000. 

Other than emulsifying, Olivem 1000 doubles as an active ingredient with significant moisturizing, barrier-repairing and soothing properties.

It also helps to deliver water-soluble actives such as caffeine more effectively, and can even boost SPF in sunscreen formulas.

  • Cetyl Alcohol EWG: 1

A so-called fatty (the good, non-drying kind of) alcohol that does all kinds of things in a skincare product: it makes your skin feel smooth and nice (emollient), helps to thicken up products and also helps water and oil to blend (emulsifier). Can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil.

  • Citric Acid - EWG: 1-2 

An alpha hydroxy acid, AHA, to adjust the acidity or promote skin peeling and re-growth in the case of anti-aging products. Citric acid is naturally found in citric fruits and juices, providing the characteristic acidic taste.

  • Coco-Glucoside - EWG: 1

A vegetable origin (coconut/palm kernel oil, glucose) cleansing agent that gives moderate to high stable foam. It's also biodegradable and mild to the skin.

  • Copernicia Prunifera (Carnauba) Wax - EWG: 1

A vegetable wax coming from the leaves of the Brazilian tropical palm tree, Copernicia cerifera, for emollient purpose.

  • Diheptyl Succinate - EWG: 1

A natural, "silicone-alternative" emollient that usually comes to the formula with Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer. The two together is trade-named LexFeel N and depending on their ratio, the duo can mimic both super light, Cyclomethicone-type skin feel as well as more viscous Dimethicone like skin feel. 

The duo also plays well with pure natural oils, and it can reduce their greasiness and tackiness and make them feel nicer on the skin. LexFeel N is also very eco-friendly, 100% natural (Ecocert approved), sustainable and biodegradable. 

  • Glycerin - EWG: 1

A natural moisturizer that’s also in our skin


  • Glyceryl Stearate - EWG: 1


  • Glycolic Acid - EWG: 1- 4 

  1. It gently lifts off dead skin cells to reveal newer, fresher, smoother skin

  2. It can help skin’s own collagen production that results in firmer, younger skin

  3. It can fade brown spots caused by sun damage or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

  4. Choose a product where you know the concentration and pH value because these two greatly influence effectiveness

  5. Don’t forget to use your sunscreen (in any case but especially so next to an AHA product)

  6. Slight stinging or burning with a stronger AHA product is normal

  7. If your skin is very sensitive, rosacea prone choose rather a BHA or PHA product

  • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil - EWG: 1

A great emollient that makes the skin smooth and nice and helps to keep it hydrated. It also protects the surface of the skin and enhances the damaged or irritated skin barrier.  It's also loaded with fatty acids. The unrefined version is especially high in linoleic acid that is great even for acne-prone skin. Its comedogen index is 0, meaning that it's pretty much an all skin-type oil. 

  • Hyaluronic Acid 透明質酸 - EWG: 1 

  1. It’s naturally in our skin and behaves there like a sponge

  2. It can bind up to 1000 times its own weight in water

  3. It is a big molecule from repeated subunits (polymer) so different molecular weight versions exist 

  4. High-molecular-weight-HA (>500 kDa) is an excellent surface hydrator, skin protectant and can act as an osmotic pump helping water-soluble actives to penetrate deeper into the skin

  5. Low-molecular-weight-HA (< 500 kDa) can hydrate the skin somewhat deeper though it is still a big molecule and works mainly in the epidermis (outer layer of the skin)

  6. Low-molecular-weight-HA might also help the skin to repair itself by increasing its self-defense (~ 200kDa used in the study)

  7. Ultra-low-molecular-weight-HA (<50kDa) is a controversial ingredient and might work as a pro-inflammatory signal molecule

  • L-ascorbic acid - EWG: 1 

Works best between a concentration of 5-20%; Boosts the skin’s own collagen production by being the primary water-soluble antioxidant in our tissue; Fades pigmentation and brown spots; If used under sunscreen it boosts its UV protection; Extremely unstable and oxidizes very easily in presence of light or air; Stable in solutions with water only if pH is less than 3.5 or in waterless formulations; Vit E + C work in synergy and provide superb photoprotection; Ferulic acid doubles the photoprotection effect of Vit C+E and helps to stabilize Vit C; Potent Vit. C serums might cause a slight tingling on sensitive skin

  • Lauryl Glucoside - EWG: 1

A 100% vegetable origin, biodegradable, mild cleansing agent that gives moderate to high amount of foam.



  • Leuconostoc/​Radish Root Ferment Filtrate - EWG: 1

 A natural preservative 

  • ​Malic acid

Comes from apple and is an AHA - an exfoliant.

  • Microcrystalline Cellulose EWG: 1-2 

Cellulose is an important component of the cell walls of green plants and it's the most abundant natural polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) on Earth. If the polymer structure is not too big (less than 200 repeated units), cellulose becomes microcrystalline cellulose.

In skin care, it comes as a fine or less fine white powder. The less fine (bigger particle size) version is used as a gentle scrubbing agent (a nice natural, biodegradable alternative to now banned plastic polyethylene) and the ultra fine version is used as a helper ingredient that gives a super-silky, soft touch, reduces tackiness or greasiness and can also be used as a mattifying agent.

Combined with Cellulose Gum, it also works as a nice gelling agent.

  • Panthenol (B5) - EWG: 1

Also called pro-vitamin B5. To moisturise the skin by helping the skin to attract water and then hold onto it. There is also research showing that it can help our skin to produce more lovely lipids that are important for a strong and healthy skin barrier. 

It has anti-inflammatory and skin protecting abilities. Reduces irritation caused by less-nice other ingredients. 

Useful for wound healing as it promotes fibroblast (nice type of cells in our skin that produce skin-firming collagen) proliferation. 

A study shows that a nail treatment liquide with 2% panthenol could effectively get into the nail and significantly increase the hydration of it.

Panthenol might hydrate and make your hair softer and more elastic. 

  • Phenoxyethanol  - EWG: 2-4 

A safe and gentle preservative in very low concentrations. However, there are several studies have shown both humans and animals can experience skin irritation, rashes, eczema and hives. It is thought to cause central nervous system damage in exposed infants.

You might see this ingredient listed in a few ways:

ethylene glycol monophenyl ether; 2-Phenoxyethanol; PhE; dowanol; arosol; phenoxetol; rose ether; phenoxyethyl alcohol; beta-hydroxyethyl phenyl ether; euxyl K® 400 (a mixture of Phenoxyethanol and 1,2-dibromo-2,4-dicyanobutane)

  • Polyhydroxystearic Acid - EWG: 1

A so-called dispersant or dispersing agent that's used in inorganic (titanium dioxide/zinc oxide based) sunscreens or in make-up products to help to distribute the pigments nicely and evenly on the skin. It's also claimed to increase the UV absorption of the sunscreen formula as well as to reduce the annoying white cast left behind by inorganic sunscreens.


A big sugar molecule (polysaccharide) that is used as a natural thickening and gelling agent. 

  • Sillica 

viscosity controllingabsorbent/mattifier

  • Sodium chloride (Salt) - EWG: 1

is the fancy name of salt. Normal, everyday table salt. 

If (similar to us) you are in the weird habit of reading the label on your shower gel while taking a shower, you might have noticed that sodium chloride is almost always on the ingredient list of shower gel because it acts as a thickener with ionic cleansing agents (aka surfactants) such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate

  • Sodium Gluconate - EWG: 1

The neutralized form of gluconic acid. It's a great ingredient to neutralize metal (especially iron and copper) ions in a cosmetic product. This helps to prevent discoloration of the formula over time or rancidity of cosmetic oils. It can also be a pH regulator and a humectant (helps skin to cling onto water).

  • Sodium Hyaluronate 透明質酸鈉 - EWG: 1

It’s the - sodium form - cousin of the famous Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF)hyaluronic acid (HA).

The two forms are almost the same, both are polymers and the subunits can be repeated in both forms as much as you like.

A true difference, though, is that the salt form is more stable, easier to formulate and cheaper so it pops up more often on the ingredient lists. 

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) - EWG: 1-3

Derived from ethoxylated lauryl alcohol and used as a surfactant. Milder and much less irritating than sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Still, better to avoid if you look for a mild facial cleanser.

Concerns: Non-reproductive organ system toxicity (moderate), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) (moderate), 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - EWG: 2

A surfactant; an emulsifier or a penetration enhancer for active materials

Concerns: Non-reproductive organ system toxicity (moderate), and Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) (moderate)

  • Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate - EWG: 1

An amino acid-based emulsifier that helps water and oil to mix and stay that way. It is considered as natural, environmentally friendly, and hypoallergenic. 

An ester coming from sorbitol and the fatty acids of olive oil. It is part of the popular emulsifier Olivem 1000



  • Stearic Acid - EWG: 1

A common multi-tasker fatty acid for emollient and viscosity controlling.

  • Sucrose Cocoate - EWG: 1


  • Titanium Dioxide - EWG: 1-3
    A physical sunscreen that gives a nice broad spectrum coverage and is highly stable.

  • Tocopherol - EWG: 1

Also called as Vitamin E; Primary fat-soluble antioxidant in our skin; Significant photoprotection against UVB rays; Vit C + Vit E work in synergy and provide great photoprotection; Has emollient properties; Easy to formulate, stable and relatively inexpensive

  • Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter - EWG: 1

A rich emollient that can moisturize and nourish even the driest skin (think chapped hands or lips). It's loaded with good-for-the-skin things: it contains fatty acids, mainly oleic (35%), stearic (34%), and palmitic (25%) and it also has antioxidant vitamin E and polyphenols. It is a goodie, especially for very dry skin. 

  • Methyl Dihydroabietate - EWG: 1

Viscosity controlling 

  • Mica - EWG: 2

A common mineral powder for colourant. 

  • Xanthan Gum - EWG: 1

A natural thickener and emulsion stabilizer

  • Zinc Oxide - EWG: 1-3 

A physical sunscreen that has an nicer and even broader spectrum protection than Titanium Dioxide (TiO2). It protects against UVB, UVA II, and UVA I almost uniformly, and is considered to be the broadest range sunscreen available today. 

It is highly stable and non-irritating.

Reference: https://incidecoder.com/