Ingredients in Cosmetics – Industrial pharmacy – I B. Pharma 5th Semester PDF Notes

Ingredients in Cosmetics

Ingredients in Cosmetics

Ingredients in Cosmetics

Over the years, lots of changes have taken place with regard to the use of ingredients in cosmetics

They come from a variety of sources, ranging from plants to minerals

Under U.S. law, cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, do not need FDA approval before they go on the market

However, they must be safe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use

Companies and individuals who market cosmetics have a legal responsibility for the safety of their products and ingredients.

Under the law, the FDA cannot take action against a coal-tar hair dye for safety reasons as long as it has a special warning statement on the label and directions for a skin test. The caution statement reads as follows:

Caution – This product contains Ingredients in Cosmetics that may cause skin irritation on certain individuals and a preliminary test according to accompanying directions should first be made.

This product must not be used for dyeing the eyelashes or eyebrows; to do may cause blindness.

The most common Ingredients in Cosmetics are:

Purified water:

The most frequent Ingredients in Cosmetics are used as raw material

Distilled water or deionized water is used

Should be free from microorganisms and inorganic contaminants


Used to prevent microbial spoilage of cosmetics

Water promotes the growth of microorganisms and hence aqueous preparations should contain preservatives

Preservatives should be compatible with the preparation

Should be non-toxic, non-irritant, and non-allergenic

Should have good solubility

  • E.g-Benzoic acid- 0.5%

           Methyl paraben- 0.1%

           Propyl paraben- 0.1%

           Propyl paraben- 0.1%

           Phenyl mercuric nitrate- 0.002%

           Phenyl mercuric acetate- 0.002%

           Chlorbutanol- 0.5%

Dangers of certain Preservatives

Oils, fats, and Waxes:

  • Used as bases for cosmetic preparations like creams, bath preparations, ointments, soaps, lipsticks, lotions, shampoos etc.
  • Oils from different sources like volatile oils, vegetable oils, mineral oils


Vegetable oils

  • Almond oil, Arachis oil, castor oil, coconut oil, olive oil and sesame oil

Mineral oils

a) Light liquid paraffin

Mixture of liquid hydrocarbon. Lower viscosity, colorless and odorless oily liquid. Good spreading agent

Used in bath oils, hair oils, lotions, creams

b) Heavy liquid paraffin

Mixture of hydrocarbons

Colourless and odourless. Emollient in nature. Used in creams, lotions, brilliantines,hair oil,bath oil.

Mineral oil more stable than vegetable oil

Volatile oils / essential oils

  • Peppermint oil, Lavender oil, lemon oil, anise oil


Fatty acids –Stearic acid (C12-C18)

In nature, stearic acid is found in the fats and oils of plants and animals. Animal fat samples typically consist of 30% stearic acid.

Most plant oils receive 5% of their volume from the amino acid, with the exception of cocoa butter and shea butter, which contain as much as nine times more stearic acid

Stearic acid is obtained from fats and oils by the saponification of the triglycerides using hot water (above 200 °C)

Commercially available stearic acid is mixture of palmitic acid and stearic acid

Used as Emulsifier for Creams, Lotions and Shaving Cream

Stearic acid also has important cleansing properties that make it useful in soaps, detergents, soaps, and cosmetics such as shampoos and shaving cream products

Soaps are not made directly from stearic acid, but indirectly by saponification of triglycerides consisting of stearic acid esters

Esters of stearic acid with ethylene glycol, glycol stearate, and glycol distearate are used to produce a pearly effect in shampoos, soaps, and other cosmetic products

They are added to the product in molten form and allowed to crystallize under controlled conditions

Fatty acids –Oleic acid

Causes rancidity, so preservatives have to be used

It increases pearly sheen in lotion and creams

Fatty alcohols- Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol

White waxy solid

Used as emulsion stabilizer, Emollient

Hydrophobic in nature – produce occlusive film, which help in hydration of dry skin.

Fatty acid esters

E.g. Isopropyl stearate, isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl myristate, glyceryl monostearate

Oily nature and low viscosity

After applying to skin- thin, film on skin

Non-greasy in nature

Used as emollient or emulsifying agent

Viscosity enhancer

Used in lotion and creams

Mainly used in O/W type emulsion

Lanolin and its derivatives

Lanolin – a natural fat consists of higher fatty alcohols and higher fatty acids.

  • Good emollient – due to hydrophobic and adhesive nature and adhesive nature
  • Used at a concentration of 5%
  • Produce W/O type emulsion

Lanolin alcohol – mixture of sterols, triterpine and aliphatic alcohols

E.g. Acetylated lanolin, Propionyl lanolin

Soft Paraffin

 Semi solid mixture of hydrocarbon obtained from petroleum

 Two types- yellow and white soft paraffin

 Emollient in nature

 Hydrophobic in nature –produce occlusive film, which prevents water loss from skin

 By reducing moisture loss, petroleum jelly can prevent chapped hands and lips, and soften nail cuticles, skin lubrication

White Soft Paraffin-

It is colorless and highly distilled

Yellow Soft Paraffin-

It is pale yellow color when not highly distilled


Bees wax

Collected from bee hives (Apis species)

Fresh Beeswax is white, but pollens, resins and other natural impurities may give it a light yellow to deep brown color

Yellowish brown in colour

M.P-: 62 – 65 pollens, resins and other natural0C.

Forms W/O type emulsion

Used in baby products, bath products, lipstick, makeup, fragrances, coloring and non-coloring hair products, nail and skin care products, personal cleanliness products, shaving products as well as sunscreen and suntan products

Help to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components, especially in cosmetics and personal care products that require a creamy consistency

These waxes also increase the thickness of the lipid (oil) portion of solid and stick-like products such as lipstick, giving them structure, allowing for a smooth application, and keeping them solid

Spermaceti/ Sperma wax

Is a waxy substance found in the head cavities of the sperm whale (and, in smaller quantities, in the oils of other whales)

White- Crystalline substance

M.P- 420C – 500C

Used in creams & ointments

Jojoba esters

A botanical alternative to spermaceti is a derivative of jojoba oil, jojoba esters, C19H41COO-C20H41, a solid wax which is chemically and physically very similar to spermaceti

Esters of cetyl alcohol and jojoba oil are used as a substitute for spermaceti

Used in cosmetic formulations as an emollient, due to its remarkable similarity to the natural oil produced by the human skin, and its high oxidative stability

Used in cosmetics such as lipsticks, shampoos and moisturizing lotions

Paraffin wax /Hard paraffin

Mixture of hydrocarbons consisting of n-paraffins and their isomers

Obtained by distillation process from petroleum

It is colorless /odorless

Slightly greasy in nature

M.P – 50-70oC

It is the translucent in nature

Ozokerite Wax/Ceresin /Mineral wax

Obtained from natural ozokerite by purification process

Colorless, odorless and crystalline wax.

M.P- 50 -750C

Used in all kinds of stick cosmetics (lipstick, lip balm, concealers, deodorants), all kinds of emulsions (creams, lotions).

Microcrystalline wax

Complex mixture of isoparaffins

Has microcrystalline structure

M.P -650C-850C

Used in preparation of lipsticks

Carnauba wax (Brazil wax or Palm wax)

Obtained from leaves of palm grown in Brazil

Different grades

Highest grade- light brown

Moderate grade- pale yellow

Characteristic bland odor

M.P- 810-860C

Hardest in nature

Used to thicken lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, deodorant, various skin care preparations, sun screens etc.

Candelilla wax

Candelilla wax is a wax derived from the leaves of the small Candelilla shrub native to northern Mexico and the southwestern US

Gives a smooth and glossy appearance to a lipstick if used at a slightly higher dosage concentration than the proportion of beeswax

Used to harden lipsticks, lip balms, soap bars

Candelilla wax can be used as a substitute for carnauba wax and beeswax


  • Used to protect the preparation against oxidation
  • Since fats and oils are used in cosmetic preparations, they are prone to oxidation

E.g Phenolic type – Gallic acid and salts, BHA, BHT

E.g Phenolic type – Gallic acid and salts, BHA, BHT

Quinone type – Tocopherol

Amine type – Lecithine, ethanolamine

Organic acids, alcohol and esters – Ascorbic acid, citric acid, oxalic acid

Inorganic acids and salts –Sodium sulfite, Sod. metabisulphite


  • Humectants (or moisturizers) are important cosmetic ingredients allowing to prevent loss of moisture thereby retaining the skin’s natural moisture.
  • Humectants typically draw water to the skin from two different places; they can draw water from a humid environment, and they enhance water absorption from the outer layer of skin
  • Used in skin cosmetics, pastes
  • They also prevent drying out of preparations in their containers

E.g. Glycerin, Propylene glycol, triethanolamine

Difference between an Emollient, Moisturizer, and a Humectant???

Emollients are used to soften and smooth the scales of the skin, which help reduce rough, flaky skin. They are also occlusive agents: substances that provide a layer of protection that helps prevent moisture (water) loss from the skin.

A humectant is a substance that actually bonds with water molecules to increase the water content in the skin itself.

Many humectant’s also have emollient properties, while not all emollients are humectants. The best moisturizers have a combination of emollients and humectants


  • Surface active agents used to decrease interfacial tension
  • Used as

Emulsifying agents

Foaming agent and Cleansing agent

Wetting agent


E.g. Anionic surfactants- Sodium stearate, Potassium stearate, Ammonium stearate, Sodium lauryl sulphate

Cationic surfactants- Benzalkonium chloride, Benzethonium chloride & cetrimide (Cetyl trimethyl ammonium bromide)

Non-ionic surfactant- Alkanolamides , Polyethylene glycol , Polyethyleneimine

Higher concentrations of SLS were responsible for severe irritation and even corrosion of the skin.


Enhance the aesthetic appeal of the preparation

Are of different types:

a) FD& C colours:that can be used in food, drugs and cosmetics

b) D&C colours- that can be used only in drugs and cosmetics

c) External D& C- that can be used only in topical preparation


  1. Organic dyes and their lakes
  2. Inorganic or mineral colors
  3. Natural colors or vegetable and animal colors


  • Dyes are synthetic, chemical compounds that exhibit their coloring power or tinctorial strength when dissolved in a solvent
  • They are usually 80 to 93% pure colorant material
  • Dyes are also soluble in propylene glycol and glycerin
  • They are available in a wider range of shades or hues with higher coloring power than the natural pigments
  • Dyes are usually cheaper in cost

Eg. Tartrazine, Erythrosine, Sunset Yellow and Patent Blue V


  • Lakes have been defined by the FDA as the “Aluminum salts of FD&C water soluble dyes extended on a substratum of alumina“
  • Lakes, unlike dyes, are insoluble in water and color by dispersion
  • The particle size of lakes is very critical to their coloring capacity or tinctorial strength
  • Generally, the smaller the particle size, the higher the tinctorial strength of lakes due to increased surface area for reflected light
  • Lakes are formed by the precipitation and absorption of a dye on an insoluble base or substrate
  • The base for the FD&C lakes is alumina hydrate


Aluminum lakes- Brilliant Blue Lake, Sunset yellow lake, Amaranth lake, Allura red lake, Indigo carmine lake, Quinoline yellow lake

Inorganic colors or mineral colors

  • They have opacifying capacity and stability towards light
  • Wide regulatory acceptance, making them most useful
  • Range of colors that can be achieved is limited
  • Possibly the most important application of, mineral coloring in a present-day medicament is the use of a mixture of red and yellow ferric oxides to give calamine a flesh color

E.g Titanium dioxide


  • Enhance the aesthetic appeal of the preparation
  • Essential oils are used


  • Jasmine oil, used for its flowery fragrance
  • Lemon oil- Used medicinally, as an antiseptic, and in cosmetics
  • Tea tree oil- As an antiseptic
  • Rose oil- Used primarily as a fragrance
  • Sandalwood oil- used primarily as a fragrance
  • Lavender oil- used primarily as a fragrance, relief of anxiety and stress
  • Ylang- Ylang- used for calming, antiseptic, and aphrodisiac purposes, as well as hypertension and skin diseases
  • Spearmint oil- used in flavoring mouthwash and chewing gum
  • Peppermint oil- used in flavoring mouthwash and chewing gum
  • Chamomile oil- aromatherapy
  • Clove oil- used as a topical anesthetic to relieve dental pain
  • Patchouli oil- very common ingredient in perfumes

Ingredients in Cosmetics Summary

  1. Cosmetic raw materials are …………
  • Water
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Humectant
  • Surfactant
  • Surfactant
  • Oil, fats and Wax
  • Preservatives
  • Perfume
  • Color

Ingredients in Cosmetics FAQ:

Are all cosmetic ingredients safe for sensitive skin?

Ingredients in Cosmetics not necessarily. It’s essential to identify ingredients that may trigger skin sensitivities and avoid products containing them.

What should I look for in a cosmetic ingredient label if I have allergies?

Look for common allergens and fragrances, which should be clearly listed on the label. Conduct patch tests if you’re uncertain.

Is it better to use natural or synthetic cosmetic ingredients?

It depends on your skin type and personal preferences. Both natural and synthetic ingredients have their advantages, and the choice should align with your needs.

Are there any regulations for cosmetic ingredients?

Yes, regulatory agencies like the FDA in the United States and the EMA in Europe provide guidelines and regulations to ensure cosmetic ingredient safety.

How can I learn more about the ingredients in cosmetics?

You can research ingredients online, consult with dermatologists, or reach out to the product manufacturer for more information.

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