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Controversial Ingredients: One Brand’s Perspective

By: Ada Polla and Anne Pouillot
Posted: November 29, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 6 of 11

What are the alternatives? Alternative detergents can be used in cosmetics—including saponins, decyl glucoside and cocoamide betaine. Saponins are natural cleansing agents found in many plants, especially those growing in desert climates. Saponins consist of polycyclic aglycones attached to one or more sugar side chains. Saponins exhibit cleansing properties because their structures contain both hydrophilic (sugar chain) and lipophilic (steroid or triterpene structure) components.

Decyl glucoside is a mild nonionic surfactant ideal for sensitive skin. However, its texture is not comparable to that of foam obtained using anionic surfactants. For this reason it is advisable to combine decyl glucoside with cocamide betaine.

Cocamidopropyl betaine, the chemical name of coco betaine, is derived from coconut oil. It is used as a mild surfactant and is generally well-tolerated by sensitive skin. However some people may have allergic reactions to coconut oil derivatives.

We recommend either using alternative ingredients or minimizing its concentration15 and working with manufacturers, contract formulators or internal R&D teams to verify the purification steps.


What is it? Dimethicone and methicone are silicone-based polymers, which are derivatives of silica. The only difference between these two polymers is that the repeating unit of dimethicone contains two methyl groups, while the repeating unit of methicone contains one methyl group. These silicones facilitate the spreading of creams and yield a smooth and silky feel.16