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Ingredients Directory


Labeling. The Cosmetic Labeling Act ( Fair packaging and labeling act ) marked a major step in helping consumers become aware of what they put into their hair and rub onto their faces. Passed April 14, 1977, it requires that ingredients be listed, in descending order of concentration, on the labels of most cosmetics. Soap, however, excluded, and flavors, fragrances and trade secrets don't have to be listed specifically.

Lactic Acid. Naturally occurs in products made by bacterial fermentation. Produces pH levels like those of the hair and skin. It also helps moisturize the skin naturally.

Lake Colors. These solid forms of dyes are made by mixing liquid dye with an insoluble powder like aluminum oxide. They may be natural, but they're usually manufactured and are made from coal tar.

Lanolin. This yellow, semisolid, fatty discharge from sheep's wool is used as an emulsifier, a base, and an ointment. Lanolin has long been burdened with the reputation for being an allergen or sensitizing agent. That has always been a disappointment to formulators because lanolin is such an effective moisturizing agent for skin. A recent study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2001, pages 28–31) may change all that. The study concluded "that lanolin sensitization has remained at a relatively low and constant rate even in a high-risk population (i.e., patients with recent or active eczema)." Based on a review of 24,449 patients who were tested with varying forms of lanolin, it turned out that "The mean annual rate of sensitivity to this allergen was 1.7%"—and it was lower than that for a 50% concentration of lanolin. It looks like it's time to restore lanolin's good reputation. That's a very good thing for someone with dry skin, though it can be a problem for someone with oily skin, because lanolin closely resembles the oil from human oil glands.

Lauramide DEA. This white, waxy, nonionic, artificial chemical is used in shampoos, bubble baths, and detergents as a surfactant and foam-builder. It may be mildly irritating to the skin.

Lauryl Alcohol. This fatty alcohol, often derived from coconut oil, is used to make anionic surfactants. It may be natural or man-made.

Lavender Oil. Known for its sweet, floral-herbaceous scent. Lavender has significant antiseptic and antibacterial actions which help promote healing. Used in baths to relax, revive and soothe. For use on all skin types.

Lecithin. Used as an emulsifier and surfactant. High in the B vitamins choline and inositol. It's found in egg yolk and manufactured from soy oil.

Lemon Oil. From the fruit of the citrus lemon. Known for its astringent and anti-irritant qualities.

Lime Oil. Shares many qualities with lemon oil. Has many antiseptic and restorative properties.

Linden Extract. From the flowers of the Linden tree. The flowers contain essential oils which are celebrated for their brightening and soothing qualities.

Linoleic Acid. Essential fatty acid, found in cold pressed oils, used as an emulsifier in cosmetics.

Lipids. These materials are soluble in alcohol (and other solvents) but not in water. Includes fatty acids, fats, waxes, fixed oils, phosphatides, cerebrosides, and sometimes steroids and carotenoids. Along with proteins and carbohydrates, lipids constitute the structure of cells. When used on the skin, they have a moisturizing and cream action.

Liposomes. Microscopic sacs obtained from natural or synthetic sources. Because these can easily penetrate the skin, in lotions and creams liposomes are used to deliver substances, contained within the sac, to internal skin layers.