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Ingredients Directory


Palmitate. Used in baby oils, bath oils, eye creams, hair conditioners, and moisturizers. It can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Palmitic Acid. Fatty acid from palm oil.

Palm Oil. White to yellowish fat. Used to make soaps, shampoos, ointments, and margarine.

Para-aminobenzoic Acid (PABA). Found in Vitamin B complex. Used in sunscreen formulations and as an anesthetic in sunburn products. Can cause allergic reactions.

Parabens. Toxic. Allergenic. Artificial chemicals. Used to preserve cosmetics. They are not effective with shampoos or with products that contain proteins.

Paraffin. Waxy, crystalline mixture. Used as a thickener for cosmetics.

Parfum. See Perfume

Patchouli. Native to Malaysia and the Philippines, Patchouli has been used extensively in Asian Medicine. Its most common use has been as an aphrodisiac. It is thought to have a regenerative effect.

Patch Test. Apply a small amount of cosmetic to your inner arm, cover it with a bandage and leave it for 24 hours, if you are concerned with allergic reactions.

Pectin. Natural substance. Used in cosmetics as an emulsifier and thickener. Contains partially methoxylated polygalacturonic acids.

PEG Compounds. Artificial. Used as solvents, bases, carriers, emulsifiers, and dispersants.

Peppermint Oil. An excellent antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Soothes and tones blemished, irritated skin. Cooling.

Peptides. Natural or artificial. Composed of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. When peptide bonds in the hair are broken, the result is damaged hair.

Perfume. The most concentrated form of synthetically prepared fragrance, applied to the skin to enhance the nature of one’s image. Dating back to ancient times, perfume was created by the Egyptians of resins and wood mixed with oils and water. Today’s perfumes are an enhanced blend of essential oils, alcohol and water, and the “secret” ingredients of its creator.

Petroleum Jelly. Semisolid mixture. Obtained from petroleum.

PHBs. These are preservatives widely used in many cosmetics and shampoo. Another name is paraben.

Phosphoric Acid. Clear, viscous liquid. Use in cosmetics as an antioxidant, sequestrant, and acidifier.

Photo damage/ photoaging. Changes the appearance and function of the skin due to repeated sun exposure and not to the passage of time; may result in skin cancer. Sun protection is the principle means of protecting photoaging changes. Skin cancer incidence can also be reduced.

Phototoxic. Medications or food which render the skin sensitive to light (sun) thereby causing an adverse reaction.

Phytocosmetic. A cosmetic made mainly from vegetable sources.

Pineapple Extract. Pineapple's anti-inflammation and anti-irritation qualities, combined with its ability to refine the skin make it excellent for face care products.

Polymers, polymeric, polymerization. Used in cosmetics to keep sunscreens from washing off, in hair-setting products, and as binders in skin creams. Plastic fingernails are also produced by polymerization.

Polysorbates. Fatty acid esters. Used in many cosmetics as emulsifiers. Polysorbates are assigned different numerical values according to their formulas and whether they're intended to be used in foods or cosmetics.

Polyvinylpyrrolidone. Commonly known as PVP. Used in hairspray and other cosmetics. Inhaled particles may cause problems in the lungs of sensitive people.

Preservatives. Researchers have become increasingly aware of the dangers associated with microbial contamination of topical skin products and know more today than ever about the sources of contamination. Unfortunately the battle against contamination is far from won as adaptable organisms continue to cause problems resulting in bacterial infections of the skin.

Pre-Shave. A fragranced liquid used by men before shaving to lubricate the face and prepare the skin.

Propylene Glycol. One of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetics. Most common moisture carrying vehicle other than water. Permeates skin better than glycerin, but causes more sensitivity reactions.

Protein. Protein consists of amino acids and constitutes about 15% of human body weight. Protein is of critical importance in the structure and function of cells. Recently the use of proteins has been broadened to skin care since many skin problems such as chapping and dryness appear to be associated with damage to or actual loss of skin protein.

Psoriasis. A chronic inflammatory skin disease of unknown cause in which skin cells replicate at a rapid rate. Psoriasis cannot be passed from one person to another, though it is more likely to occur in people whose family members have it. The rash usually consists of scaly red patches that can cause itching. Certain conditions, e.g., infection, some drugs, climate and perhaps hormonal factors and smoking, may trigger attacks.

Pulse Points. The areas on the body where the pulse of the heart is felt close to the skin. The pressure of the pulse will generate heat, therefore forcing the fragrance applied at these points to be enhanced. Pulse points are located behind the earlobes, at the wrists, behind the knees, on the neck, and in between the breasts.

PVP. Abbreviation for Polyvinylpyrrolidone. A faintly yellow, solid, plastic resin resembling albumen. Used to give a softer set in shampoos, hairsprays, and lacquers; also a carrier in emollient creams, liquid lip rouge, and face rouge; also a clarifier in vinegar and a plasma expander in medicine. The CIR Expert panel says based on available data, it is safe as a cosmetic ingredient