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Cosmetics industry

There are thousands of technical and patented names for cosmetic ingredients, and many ingredients (known by one name) can be of animal, vegetable, or synthetic origin. 'Natural Sources' can also mean animal or vegetable sources, and most often in the cosmetics industry, it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil. Adding to the confusion over whether or not an ingredient is of animal origin is the fact that many companies have removed the word "animal" from their ingredient labels to avoid putting off consumers. For example, rather than use the term "hydrolyzed animal protein," companies may use another term such as "hydrolyzed collagen".

If you have a question regarding an ingredient in a product, call the manufacturer. Thousands of products on store shelves have labels that are hard to interpret, and therefore, it is nearly impossible to avoid animal derived ingredients. With some fundamental awareness, it should be easier to avoid products with animal ingredients. The following information (see references for more detail) will provide the reader with a basic knowledge of the most common animal-derived ingredients. Good sources of additional information are the Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, the Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives. All of these are available at most libraries.

Albumen
Frequently used in cosmetic industry, albumen is usually derived from egg whites and used as a coagulating agent.

Allantoin
This is derived from uric acid from cows, and other mammals. Allantoin is used in treatment of wounds and ulcers, and in cosmetics (especially creams and lotions).

Ambergris
Obtained from whale intestines. Used as a fixative in making perfumes and as flavouring in foods and beverages.

Amino Acids
The building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. It is used in some cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, shampoos, etc.

Arachidonic Acid
A liquid unsaturated fatty acid that is found in liver, brain, glands, and fat of animals and humans. Generally isolated from animal liver. Used in some skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes.

Caprylic Acid
A liquid fatty acid from cow's or goat's milk, used in some perfumes and soaps. Other derivatives include: Caprylic Triglyceride, Caprylamine Oxide, Capryl Betaine.

Cholesterol
A steroid alcohol in all animal fats and oils, nervous tissue, egg yolk, and blood. Can be derived from lanolin. It is sometimes used in cosmetics, eye creams, shampoos, etc.

Collagen
Usually derived from animal tissue.

Colours/Dyes
Pigments from animal, plant, and synthetic sources used to colour foods, cosmetics, and other products. Cochineal is obtained from insects. Colours are coal-tar (bituminous coal) derivatives that are continuously tested on animals due to their carcinogenic properties.

Corticosteroid/Cortisone
Hormone from adrenal glands. Widely used in medicine.

Cystine
An amino acid found in urine and horsehair. Used as a nutritional supplement and in emollients.

Elastin
Protein found in the neck ligaments and aortas of cows. Similar to collagen. Can't affect the skin's own elasticity.

Gelatine
Protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. From cows and pigs. Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics.

Glycerine
A by-product of soap manufacture (normally uses animal fat). Used in cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpastes, soaps, ointments, and medicines.

Hyaluronic Acid
A protein found in umbilical cords and the fluids around the joints. Used as cosmetic oil.

Hydrolyzed Animal Protein
Used in cosmetics, especially shampoo and hair treatments.

Keratin
Protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals. Used in hair rinses, shampoos, and permanent wave solutions.

Lactic Acid
Found in blood and muscle tissue. Also in sour milk, beer, sauerkraut, pickles, and other food products made by bacterial fermentation. Used in skin fresheners, as a preservative, in the formation of plasticizers, etc.

Lanolin
A product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool. Used as an emollient in many skin care products and cosmetics and in medicines. It is an allergen with no proven effectiveness.

Lard
Fat from hog abdomens. Used in shaving creams, soaps, and cosmetics.

Lecithin (Choline Bitartrate)
Waxy substance found in nervous tissue of all living organisms. But, frequently obtained for commercial purposes from eggs and soybeans. Lecithin can be found in eye creams, lipsticks, liquid powders, hand creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, other cosmetics, and some medicines.

Lipids
Fat and fat-like substances that are found in animals and plants.

Myristic Acid
A type of acid found in most animal and vegetable fats. Used in shampoos, creams, cosmetics etc.

Oleic Acid
Obtained from various animal and vegetable fats and oils. Usually obtained commercially from inedible tallow. Found in some soft soaps, bar soap, permanent wave solutions, creams, nail polish, lipsticks, many other skin preparations.

Progesterone
A steroid hormone used in some anti-wrinkle face creams.

Propolis
Tree sap gathered by bees and used as a sealant in beehives. Used in toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, supplements, etc.

Royal Jelly
Secretion from the throat glands of the honeybee workers that is fed to the larvae in a colony and to all queen larvae.

Shellac
Resinous excretion of certain insects. Used as a candy glaze, in hair lacquer, and on jewellery.

Silk Powder
Silk powder is obtained from the secretion of the silkworm. It is used as a colouring agent in face powders, soaps, etc. Can cause severe allergic skin reactions and systemic reactions (if inhaled or ingested).

Stearic Acid
Fat obtained from cows and sheep. Most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavouring.

Stearyl Alcohol
A mixture of solid alcohols. Can be prepared from sperm whale oil. Can be found in medicines, creams, rinses, shampoos, etc.

Tallow
Rendered beef fat, used in candles, soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams, and other cosmetics. Chemicals (e.g., PCB) can be in animal tallow. May cause eczema and blackheads.

Vitamin A
Can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk, wheat germ oil, carotene in carrots, and synthetics. Frequently used in cosmetics, creams, perfumes, hair dyes, etc.

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REFERENCES

Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary by Natalia Michalun (2000)
Cosmetics Unmasked by Dr Stephen and Gina Anttczak (2001)
A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter (1984 and 1994)
A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives by Ruth Winter (1994)
Cosmetic Ingredients Glossary by Feather River Co. (1988)

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