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What Does Synthetic Cosmetics Contain?

Posted on Feb 2, 2017 by in Skin Care |

There are myriads of different cosmetic products on the market, all with differing blends of ingredients. In U.S alone, there are nearly 12,500 unique synthetic ingredients approved for use in the manufacturing of Skin Care Products.

A typical product can contain 15–50 substances. Considering the fact, that average female uses between 9 and 15 Skin Care Products per day, Experts remark, when combined with the addition of fragrances, women apply almost 515 different chemicals on their skin every day through the use of synthetic cosmetics.

Ever wondered what exactly are you putting on your skin? What are those long names on the back of packing? And more importantly are they dangerous? In a nutshell, the answer to the last question is pretty obvious by the fact that the application of any synthetic -artificial- chemical for a prolonged period is harmful to the human skin. But how do we know what’s good and what’s not? Or should you opt for Mineral Makeup or carry on with synthetic? So for this purpose, you need to know how many artificially created chemicals constitute synthetic cosmetics before deciding for yourself.


If your product’s in a bottle; the chances are that it’s going to owe a major portion of it’s volume to the good old water. Water constitutes the source of nearly every cosmetic product: creams, lotions, makeup, deodorants, shampoos & conditioners. As mentioned earlier, water plays a key role in the cosmetics, usually serving as a catalyst to dissolve other components and forming emulsions for density.


Think of this component as the primary catalyst which keeps both water and oil together. Many cosmetic products are based on these catalysts—small droplets of oil dispersed in water or vice versa. Since oil and water don’t mix with each other -because of their nature- no matter how much you blend; emulsifiers are utilised to reduce the surface tension between both components -oil and water-, this development results in a homogeneous and well-mixed product with an even texture. Preservatives present an option to extend the shelf life of cosmetics and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can defile the product.


Thickening agents operate to give products an appealing texture. There are four types of thickeners; lipid, natural, mineral and synthetic.

  1. Lipid thickeners operate by giving their natural concentration to the formula.
  2. Naturally, derived thickeners are polymers that absorb water, causing them to swell up and increase the viscosity of a product.
  3. Mineral thickeners absorb oils to increase viscidity but yield a different result to the final emulsion as compared to other thickeners. Widely used mineral thickeners include magnesium aluminium silicate and silica.
  4. Last but not the least are synthetic thickeners. These are most used thickeners because of their economical price tag and availability. Their primary use is in lotions and creamy cosmetic products. The most popular synthetic thickener is carbomer.


Emollients -artificially- soften the skin by restricting water loss. They are employed in a wide range of lipsticks, lotions and cosmetics. Many natural and synthetic chemicals work as emollients, including beeswax, as well as zinc oxide, butyl stearate and diglycol laurate. A huge range of substances is employed to provide the multitude of colours you find in a makeup stand. Mineral components comprise off iron oxide, mica flakes, manganese, chromium oxide and coal tar. The cochineal insect is often utilised in red lipsticks and attributed as carmine, cochineal extract or natural red 4.

Additionally, there are two types of pigments:

  1. Organic (carbon-based molecules)
  2. Inorganic (metal oxides)

The two most popular organic pigments are lakes and toners. Lake pigments are made by combining a dye colour with an insoluble substance like alumina hydrate, which results in the formulation of water- resistant properties of the product in question. Whereas, a toner pigment has not been mixed with any other material.

There’s just one more thing to mention, and that’s the shimmering effects. These effects are created by employing the use of mica and bismuth oxychloride.

  1. Cosmetic Mica comes from white mica.
  2. Bismuth oxychloride (BiClO) is utilised to form a silver grey pearly effect. This compound is produced synthetically and is known as a synthetic pearl.


Synthetic Chemicals are added to cosmetics to produce an -artificially created- appealing fragrance. Even ‘unscented’ products contain masking fragrances to conceal the smell of chemicals.

The bottom line here is the use of ‘fragrance’ term by manufacturers. Experts from the iqNatural remark that a single entry of fragrance on your product’s ingredient list could represent handfuls or even hundreds of confidential chemical compounds, which were employed to formulate the decisive fragrance.

Reportedly, there are over 3,000 chemicals used to formulate the vast range of fragrances used in consumer products worldwide. The concern here is the lack of knowledge of ingredients which went into making up the fragrance of a product, this action results in biased choices. If consumers are concerned, they should look for fragrance-free products and buy from companies that label their products more comprehensively.