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Dec. 16, 2019 | Ingredient of the month

Polyethylene, a small but sticking bead

This cosmetic ingredient has been present in many formulations for a long time, and has been acclaimed for its softness on the skin and its low cost as much as for its exfoliating and film-forming properties. But its interesting plastic form has given way to its polluting plastic, especially for marine environments, bringing with it all microplastics. Which are getting more and more bad buzz, and are starting to targeted also by regulations.

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The Observatory of Cosmetics
16 Dec. 2019 Ingredient of the month

Polyethylene, a small but sticking bead

This cosmetic ingredient has been present in many formulations for a long time, and has been acclaimed for its softness on the skin and its low cost as much as for its exfoliating and film-forming properties. But its interesting plastic form has given way to its polluting plastic, especially for ...

02 Sept. 2019 Ingredient of the month

Chlorphenesin pro

Chlorphenesin is a synthetic compound that belongs to the class of organic compounds called organohalogens. Chlorphenesin is a phenol ether (3-(4-chlorophenoxy)-1,2-propanediol), derived from chlorophenol containing a covalently bound chlorine atom. Description of this cosmetic preservative by Expertox.

CosmeticOBS - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
11 Sept. 2017 Ingredient of the month

Actibiome: the cosmetic ingredient that rebalances the microbiota

This novelty is launched by the ingredients supplier Codif. Thanks to the use of DNA analysis techniques, its laboratories have, for the first time in cosmetics, established a microbial imprint of the skin during a period of transient stress. They also identified and characterized the microbiota during these periods in ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics
21 Aug. 2017 Ingredient of the month

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone: the story of a blacklisted chemical

These preservatives, like many others, regularly draw the attention of the cosmetics media. For several years, they have been cause for worry and the subject of alerts issued by dermatologist organizations or health authorities due to their strong allergenic potential. Now, they are targeted by European regulators, who intend to ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics
20 Aug. 2017 Ingredient of the month

HICC: too allergenic – a fragrance too far!

We know it by various names, including Lyral®, but on cosmetics labels it is officially listed as Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde. Deemed too allergenic by scientific experts, it is on the verge of being banned for use in cosmetic products in Europe. Yet we still see it frequently in formulas, and this ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics
26 June 2017 Ingredient of the month


Triclosan (2,4,4’-trichloro-2’-hydroxy-diphenylether) is an antibacterial preservative that is also used as a deodorant agent. Long criticised for its harmful effects on health and the environment, it has just been – after several evaluations by European scientific experts – more strictly regulated and its use in cosmetic products has been limited.

05 April 2017 Ingredient of the month

So many different waters… in cosmetics!

Water usually makes up over 80% of the cosmetics formulas on the market. Today, several types of water – they are more than mere water – are used in beauty products for their recognized cosmetics virtues, or to provide a hint of exoticism. They are derived from different sources and obtained ...

01 Feb. 2017 Ingredient of the month

Thermal waters in France (2/2)

Extremely popular among major cosmetics groups, thermal waters are on a roll. Their benefits are not only useful for marketing arguments: the evidence of their properties on the skin is overwhelming.

CosmeticOBS - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
23 Jan. 2017 Ingredient of the month

Thermal waters in France (1/2)

The notion of thermal baths and thermal water-based treatments is very old: it dates back to Ancient Greece. As a guarantee of skin beauty, thermal water is flourishing in today’s cosmetics. Here is a special focus on this ingredient between skincare and beauty product.

CosmeticOBS - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
08 Nov. 2016 Ingredient of the month

Alcohol in cosmetics

It is usually considered friendly and festive as a drink (if it is consumed with moderation, obviously), but can alcohol keep the same image as a cosmetic ingredient? That remains to be seen… And even if it is used a lot, both the advantages and drawbacks of its presence in ...

CosmeticOBS - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
12 Oct. 2016 Ingredient of the month

A like… Retinol

It is one of the most widely used anti-aging actives, and for the longest time. But if the efficacy of retinol (or vitamin A) has never been questioned, its safety of use and skin tolerance are much more doubtful. Cosmetics brands have taken this into account… and so have regulators.

CosmeticOBS - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
15 July 2016 Ingredient of the month

Titanium dioxide

It is part of many cosmetic formulas, usually as a sunscreen or colourant. It is also involved in all controversies on its toxicity, especially when it is used in the form of nanoparticles. Titanium dioxide, as it is designated in the INCI, or TiO2 for close friends, is a widely covered ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics

Anti-pollution ingredients (2/2)

The cosmetics industry is currently in search of new actives to fight against the damage done by environmental pollution on the skin. The Paris edition of the In-Cosmetics show was an opportunity for ingredient suppliers to showcase several types of them. Alongside shields, mainly based on physical protection, prevention and ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics

Anti-pollution ingredients (1/2)

Fine particles, exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, heavy metals… whether it be atmospheric or domestic, we are surrounded by pollution every day, and the damages it causes on the skin are better and better known. Driven by the Asian demand, anti-pollution claims in cosmetics are increasing, and there are countless new ...

14 April 2016 Ingredient of the month

Phenoxyethanol (EGPhE)

It is known due its record about its safety, and also because it is very often mentioned as "Phenoxyethanol-free"… This wording is then a selling point … but knows why? A look at this ingredient, criticized, but still widely used.

CosmeticOBS - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
04 April 2016 Ingredient of the month

Cosmetic allergens

They are among the cosmetic ingredients most often denounced by the press or consumer organisations for their potential to harm health. They are omnipresent in products of all categories, especially as soon as they contain a perfume. 26 of them are subject to a declaration obligation in the ingredient lists. But are ...

Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
07 March 2016 Ingredient of the month

Should we stop using talc?

As innocuous as it may seem, talc often triggers controversies within the cosmetics industry, a sector used to polemical issues. And the fact that it has been used for thousands of years will not calm down the debate, as it is now regularly suspected of having carcinogenic effects. Still, should ...

Mibelle Biochemistry/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
11 Jan. 2016 Ingredient of the month

Algae to mimic the caloric restriction process: a new anti-aging cosmetics strategy

There is a passion going on in the world of cosmetics for micro-organisms and other bacteria, both those that are found in the environment and those that settle in our human bodies. What new actives can they produce? What interactions can we generate with them to design new skin treatments? ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics
10 Nov. 2015 Ingredient of the month

Butylphenyl methylpropional: a name to keep in mind… and ban

Its official designation sounds so barbaric, that Butylphenyl methylpropional is often referred to with its main trade name: Lilial. In addition, the toxicological profile of this perfuming substance present in numerous cosmetics seems altogether unacceptable, since the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has just deemed it ‘not safe’ for ...
13 Oct. 2015 Ingredient of the month

Aqua… or water in cosmetics!

Our body comprises 65% to 70% of water (the figure depends on the age or the body mass…) Our cosmetics almost match this figure, or may even be higher in water! Water is very often the main ingredient of all the care and beauty products we daily use. That is saying a ...

Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
01 Sept. 2015 Ingredient of the month

MBBT: an exceptional, but contradictory UV-filter

MBBT, Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol in INCI lists of ingredients, is a very specific UV protective agent. It is both a filter and a screen, and efficient against UVBs and UVAs. It is synthetic, but in the nanoparticle form, and considered safe for use in Europe… with a few reservations, though.
01 July 2015 Ingredient of the month

Beauty herbs

Do not think mincing them above your cream jars to bring out their flavours will make you look more beautiful. However, your skin can actually get to taste herbs, as they offer many active substances and other precious extracts. Focus on an aromatic quartet with a cosmetic score.

The Observatory of Cosmetics
09 June 2015 Ingredient of the month

The ‘CITES’ cosmetic ingredients pro

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES convention, aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. And this also concerns the cosmetics industry, as it uses a few of them ...


Beauty flowers

How to restore the skin’s rose petal velvety feel? Or lily whiteness? Or magnolia radiance, mallow softness? With flowers, of course! They have not just swept across marketing sales leaflets, they are also everywhere –and much more efficiently– in cosmetics formulas. 

31 March 2015 Ingredient of the month

Marine invertebrates: tomorrow’s cosmetic actives?

The sea is a rich source of cosmetic ingredients. But there are not just algae, sand, sludge, salt, or water in the marine world! Invertebrates, a family of species which gathers most animal organisms living in this environment, might represent a new solution for cosmetic applications, especially in the perfume, ...

Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
09 March 2015 Ingredient of the month

When cosmetics are immersed in… vegetable oil!

Can you name at least one category of cosmetics that can NEVER contain at least ONE vegetable oil? … No, really? Not even one? And yet there are some. Only a few, that’s true. Which ones? You’ll get the answer at the end of this article!

12 Jan. 2015 Ingredient of the month

Cosmetics are going exotic

Cosmetics are often reproached for being too chemical, not natural enough… And yet there are many interesting opportunities for the industry to transform into a beautiful fruit basket, as faraway countries provide us with so much richness, in the form of vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, fatty acids, or sugars our skins ...
08 Dec. 2014 Ingredient of the month

Cereals in cosmetics: with or without gluten?

Cereals are not only found in our plates. They are also incorporated into everyday cosmetics for the benefits they provide to the epidermis. There are numerous types of them, and they are not to be classified in the same category depending on whether people have an atopic skin or suffer ...

Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
04 Nov. 2014 Ingredient of the month

Peanut dressed with ‘oil proteins’

What is sillier than a peanut? And what is more harmless than the oil derived from it? Except… peanut proteins are highly allergenic, to the point that even applying a cosmetic product containing them on the skin may induce undesirable reactions. And this motivated a request for European scientific experts ...
02 Oct. 2014 Ingredient of the month

Beauty spices

Just like cooking, the cosmetics industry takes delight in using numerous spices. And the skin is often satisfied with the highly-seasoned – and very stimulating – flavours their bunches generate in our creams with such good taste!

The Observatory of Cosmetics
29 Sept. 2014 Ingredient of the month


Parabens have been a hot topic for years, and they’ve been accused of all evils. While it is important to point out that they haven’t exactly been proven innocent in every case, we must also recognise that parabens don’t necessarily all deserve the bad rap they get in the media. ...

The Observatory of Cosmetics
01 Sept. 2014 Ingredient of the month

A small nut of multifunctional skincare

The hazelnut is a choice active for our personal hygiene and beauty products. Its leaves or flowers are used in the form of extracts. Its fruit is reduced to powder, and acts as an exfoliating agent in scrubs… but it is actually when it is transformed into oil that it ...

07 July 2014 Ingredient of the month

Tilia, the magic lime tree

Skincare and protection: these are the two words that sum up the cosmetic benefits of the lime tree. On top of that, it soothes, refreshes and perfumes the skin, and shows a good skin tolerance. Here is a beauty ingredient to (re)discover.

The Observatory of Cosmetics
02 June 2014 Ingredient of the month

Red berries: a treat for the skin

As their name implies, they are red! And it is this redness, resulting from their protective pigments, which gives them their main cosmetic properties. Indeed, in addition to provide our daily skincare products with their perfume (or fragrance), they are also as good for our skin as for our gourmet ...

Thinkstock - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
09 April 2014 Ingredient of the month

The salt of beauty

What are the differences between our good old kitchen salt and the salt used in cosmetics? A few dermatological properties and… a generous quantity of marketing arguments too! Here is a small grain of salt in salty formulas and sales leaflets…

03 March 2014 Ingredient of the month

Actives from the mountains

The mountain flora shelters numerous cosmetic actives. They are locally harvested at high altitude, cultivated at polar latitudes or in the antipodes, and they are used to enrich complete ranges of cosmetic products thanks to their multiple benefits. Focus on those that are reaching heights in beauty departments: the edelweiss, ...

05 Feb. 2014 Ingredient of the month

A is for Almond

L’amande et ses dérivés sont utilisés depuis la nuit des temps dans les rituels de soins et de beauté. Et nul doute qu’ils le seront encore longtemps… C’est surtout l’amande douce (Prunus amygdalus dulcis) qui est très utilisée, même si l’amande amère (Prunus amygdalus amara) trouve aussi ...

11 Dec. 2013 Ingredient of the month

Cosmetics press orange

Only a few generations ago, the orange, placed at the foot of the tree, was reserved for good children. This exotic luxury product has become more popular today and has won even our most everyday jars of creams and bottles of shower gels… without losing any of its festive freshness! - Observatoire des Cosmétiques
12 Nov. 2013 Ingredient of the month

Thyme, thymus and caetera

Another cosmetic ingredient that is rarely found in commercial arguments, even if it is present in formulas where it renders great services. The extracts, essential oils or hydrolats of thyme (or rather thyms) have all the precious active ingredients for the face, body or hair!

The Observatory of Cosmetics
02 Oct. 2013 Ingredient of the month

Allantoin: soft repair

Allantoin has all the key properties of an ideal cosmetic ingredient. It is biomimetic, as it is naturally present in the human body. It is also soothing, anti-irritant, hydrating, and softening. It regenerates the skin and is tolerated extremely well. It's no surprise that allantoin is used in a host ...

03 July 2013 Ingredient of the month

Prunus armeniaca: apricot from head to toe

What do you do when eating an apricot? You eat the flesh and throw the kernel away. The cosmetic industry works exactly the other way! It almost does not use the fruit as such, and apricot kernels are the source of active ingredients widely used in our beauty products.

07 June 2013 Ingredient of the month

Cocos-metic nucifera

On our cosmetics packaging, coconut is a promise for sweet and mild fragrance that brings exoticism in our dreams. Less known, though similarly strong active ingredients, its derivatives are numerous in the lists of ingredients. Powdered coconut, oil, milk, water, alcohol, esters or surfactants … many are those from cocos ...