March 5, 2014

What's Up with Plant Extracts in Natural Hair Shampoo?


via The Beauty Brains-

Q: Since water is usually the first ingredient of any shampoo… then all these extracts are basically taking the place of plain old water. What would make this formulation different is the concentration of the extracts in the purified water, no?- Liz 

The Beauty Brains respond:

Think of it like this, Liz:

Let’s say my shampoo is made of mostly water (about 90%) and the rest (10%) is detergent, preservative, thickener, color, etc. So my ingredient list would read something like…

“Water, detergent, preservative, thickener, color, etc.”

Now, let’s say I want to make this formula look more natural by adding a bunch of plant extracts. I ask my supplier for a cocktail of 10 or 12 different botanicals which are supplied at low concentrations in water (sometimes alcohol, glycerin, or polyethylene glycol is used as a diluent along with the water.) So I’m still adding almost 90% water but now that water contains a few percent of botanical extracts. Since these extracts (along with the water in which they are diluted) make up the majority of the formula, I could create an ingredient list that looks something like this…

Read On!>>>


“Aqueous Purified Water Extracts: Camellia Sinensis Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara Peel Extract (Bitter Orange), Astragalus Root (Membranaceus) Extract (Milk Vetch), Schizandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Pinus Tabulaeformis Bark Extract (Pine), Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Sedum Rosea Root Extract, Rehmannia Chinensis Root Extract, detergent, preservative, thickener, color, etc.”

Of course this ingredient list is not following the official International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) which requires that water be listed first since it’s present at the highest concentration. You don’t get to count all of the water as extract since the true extract is present at a very low level. The majority of the product is STILL water but it certainly looks more natural when presented this way, wouldn’t you agree?

If the listing followed the U.S. rules (ingredients listed in order of descending concentration until 1%, below which they can be listed in any order) it SHOULD like this.

“Water, detergent, thickener, etc. Camellia Sinensis Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara Peel Extract (Bitter Orange), Astragalus Root (Membranaceus) Extract (Milk Vetch), Schizandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Pinus Tabulaeformis Bark Extract (Pine), Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Sedum Rosea Root Extract, Rehmannia Chinensis Root Extract, preservative, color.”

The other important question to ask whether or not the extracts will make the shampoo work any better on your hair. The truth is the vast majority of botanical extracts won’t do anything for your hair (especially when applied from a shampoo, since they just rinse away.)

You have to be very careful when buying so-called natural products so you’re not tricked into spending more money on a product that isn’t really any different.

Do you use any products with botanical extracts listed at the beginning of the ingredient label?

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