List of cosmetic ingredients

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Ingredients of cosmetic products are listed following International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI). These INCI names often differ greatly from systematic chemical nomenclature or from more common trivial names.

The below tables are sorted as follows:

INCI name chemical meaning - structure, name or description[1] purpose - role(s) in a cosmetic formulation[2][3][4][5]


denatured alcohol ethanol made unsuitable for drinking, often via addition of denatonium. solvent, carrier, astringent
alkyl benzoate C12 - C15 benzoic acid ester, PhCOO(CH2)11-14CH3 (commonly found in products that are fade resistant and water/sweat resistant)
allantoin[citation needed] Allantoin.svg N-(2,5-dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl)urea stops bleeding of cuts from shaving
alpha-isomethyl ionone 3-methyl-4-(2,6,6-trimethylcyclohex-2-enyl)but-3-en-2-one fragrance ingredient[6]
aluminium chlorohydrate[citation needed] basic aluminium chloride Al2(OH)5Cl or Al2(OH)xCl6−x (0<x<6) antitranspirant
aqua water solvent
ascorbyl palmitate [2-(4,5-dihydroxy-3-oxo-2-furyl)-2-hydroxy-ethyl] hexadecanoate


butane butane C4H10 propellant (pressurized dispenser)
Butyrospermum parkii shea butter, vegetable fat made from nuts of African shea tree moisturizer


cocoamide dea


dodecanol emollient, used to make surfactants


Egg oil Triglycerides extracted from egg yolk; contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid), cholesterol and traces of lecithin Emollient


hydroxyethyl cellulose Cellulose fiber from wood pulp with –OCH2CH2OH groups added gives body
hydroxypropyl cellulose Cellulose fibre from wood pulp with –OCH2CH(OH)CH3 groups added gives body


isobutane Isobutane (CH3)2CHCH3 propellant (pressurized dispenser)
isopentane Isopentane (CH3)2CHCH2CH3 propellant (pressurized dispenser)


lauryl glucoside surfactant


Polysorbate 20 surfactant used as a detergent and emulsifier
propane Propane CH3CH2CH3 propellant (pressurized dispenser)


sodium hydroxide Sodium hydroxide NaOH base


triethanolamine N(CH2CH2OH)3 base, chicken liver


  1. ^ several databases yield the chemical meaning, e.g.:
    • chemexper supplier portal / search engine accepting INCI nomenclature
  2. ^ J. Clayden, N. Greeves, S. Warren: Organic Chemistry, ISBN 0-19-850346-6, 2001
  3. ^ Linda D. Rhein, Martin M. Rieger: Surfactants in Cosmetics, Revised and expanded, ISBN 0-8247-9805-8, 1997
  4. ^ Natalia Michalun, Varinia Michalun: Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetics Ingredients Dictionary, ISBN 1-56253-660-5, 2000
  5. ^ Ben Selinger, Chemistry in the Marketplace, ISBN 1-86508-255-4, 1998
  6. ^