Technical Ingredients Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   
Ingredient Name  
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) extract Skin Deep rating: 3
Botanical extract
Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse chestnut) seed extract Botanical extract
Alcohol denat. (aka Denatured alcohol, ethanol) NYR Organic herbal extracts are important ingredients that contribute to the therapeutic properties of our products. They are made by steeping herbs with organic rye alcohol. When an herbal extract is added to a skincare product, the European Union (EU) requires manufacturers to label the product as containing denatured alcohol (or Alcohol denat.) to indicate the product can no longer be consumed. The EU also requires us to list the components of the extract separately: e.g., for Calendula Extract: Calendula officinalis, Alcohol denat. (For products made in the US, manufacturers can simply list the ingredient as calendula extract without indicating that the product contains alcohol).  See Note (4) for further information.

We use alcohol where we believe it is appropriate and safe. Our deodorants are a good example. We believe in order to achieve an effective product without resorting to aluminum salts or Triclosan that ethanol, combined with antibacterial essential oils, is the most suitable option achieving the desired effects without blocking the pores. Ethanol is also a fixative and solvent, helping to stabilize and maintain the blended essential oils and natural plant essences in a product. Ethanol is the same alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages and the Skin Deep hazard rating for this ingredient is based largely on problems associated with drinking it rather than putting it on your skin as part of a blended product. See Note (4)
Allantoin Botanical extract
Ammonium lauryl sulfate Derived from coconut oil, we use this mild foaming agent and detergent in our shampoos. Lauryl sulfates are functionally some of the best surfactants available. We use them in our shampoos because they leave hair feeling clean and conditioned. While there is a widespread belief that lauryl sulfates are ‘harsh’ detergents, this is not necessarily so. What makes a detergent ‘harsh’ or ‘mild’ depends to a large extent on how it is blended in the final product. By choosing a mild detergent to begin with and blending it carefully with other ingredients, we are confident that our shampoos and other foaming products are as mild as possible while still being effective.
Apricot kernel oil polyglyceryl 10 esters Derived from apricot kernel oil, this plant-based dispersant is used in our organic bath oils to allow the oil blend to mix with the water. It also has a moisturizing action.  
Aqua (Water) Water is an essential component for healthy-looking skin and hair, as it cleans and moisturizes. It is also necessary to dissolve water-soluble ingredients in a product and therefore forms the base of many of them.
Ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin C palmitate)

An antioxidant derived from ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that helps reduce environmental damage to the skin.

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Benzyl alcohol Skin Deep rating: 6
Benzyl alcohol is a natural constituent of essential oils such as jasmine, ylang ylang and rose. It has natural solvent actions. We use a nature-identical version in some of our cleansers and moisturizers to dissolve oil-based ingredients, helping them blend more thoroughly into the final product. Benzyl alcohol also has natural preservative properties. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (5)
Benzyl cinnamate Skin Deep rating: 4
Benzyl cinnamate is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as cinnamon, helichrysum and lemongrass. It is also found in benzoin resin. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Benzyl benzoate Skin Deep rating: 5
Benzyl benzoate is a natural constituent of ylang ylang essential oil, which we use in some of our products. It has a fixative action, helping to stabilize and maintain the blended fragrance in a product. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Benzyl salicylate Skin Deep rating: 6
Benzyl salicylate is a natural constituent of ylang ylang essential oil, which we use in some of our products. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Bisabolol Botanical extract (constituent of chamomile)
Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) nut butter The butter produced from the nut of the African karite tree has long been used for its superior moisturizing properties. Our shea nut butter is produced in Ghana and is certified organic.
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Cananga odorata (Ylang ylang) oil Skin Deep rating: 3
Botanical extract
Capric triglycerides Derived from palm and coconut, capric triglycerides are in the form of a thin oil that works as a solvent for other oil-based ingredients. It is also a softening emollient that absorbs easily into the skin.
Cera alba (Beeswax) Beeswax is used to give texture to creams and balms; it also helps protect the skin from moisture loss. Our beeswax is from New Zealand and is certified organic.
Cetearyl alcohol Cetearyl alcohol is also known as emulsifying wax or cetyl stearyl alcohol. It can be animal-, vegetable-, or petrochemical-derived, but we choose to use a vegetable-derived source from palm or coconut. It emulsifies and thickens products, and it has an emollient action.
Cetearyl glucoside This is a type of emulsifying wax derived from coconut and corn. Only small amounts are needed for it to be effective in blending ingredients and smoothing the consistency of products. We use it in some of our moisturizers.
Cetearyl olivate Derived from olive oil, cetearyl olivate is an emulsifier that is often blended with sorbitan olivate. Together, these emulsifiers help mix oil- and water-based ingredients and help to give a product a luxurious, smooth feel.
Cetrimonium chloride Skin Deep rating: 3
Cetrimonium chloride, made from plant-derived fatty acids, is used in our conditioners. It is a cationic (positively charged) surfactant that carries nourishing ingredients into the negatively charged broken hair shafts. In order to be effective a conditioner needs to remain on the hair shaft. What helps it stay put is magnetic attraction that works in the same way the positive side of one magnet sticks to the negative side of another. The positively charged ion in conditioners like cetrimonim chloride ‘stick’ to the hair shaft, which is naturally negatively charged, to keep nourishing ingredients on the hair and help repair the hair proteins. Cetrimonium chloride also has preservative properties.
Cetyl alcohol Cetyl alcohol is a vegetable-derived emulsifier that helps to bind oil-based and water-based ingredients in our moisturizers. It also acts as a thickener, and its emollient action adds to the softening effect of the moisturizers.
Cinnamal Skin Deep rating: 7
Cinnamal is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as cinnamon, lemon, lemongrass and petitgrain. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Cinnamyl alcohol Skin Deep rating: 6
Cinnamyl alcohol is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as cinnamon. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Citral Skin Deep rating: 6
Citral is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as bergamot, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavandin, lime, litsea, orange, palmarosa and rose. It has a lemony scent. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Citric acid Skin Deep rating: 2-3
Citric acid naturally occurs in the human body and also in plants, especially citrus fruits. It has a natural preservative action and is used in personal care products in small amounts to preserve them and also to adjust product pH. Human skin is slightly acidic. Citric acid helps to adjust the acid/alkali balance of our products to more closely match that of your skin.
Citronellol Skin Deep rating: 4-5
Citronellol is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as basil, chamomile, coriander, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, melissa, Roman chamomile, rose and tagetes. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Citrus reticulata (Mandarin) oil Skin Deep rating: 3
Botanical extract
Cocamidopropyl betaine Skin Deep rating: 5
Derived from coconut oil, cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is a mild surfactant and foaming agent that is used in some of our bath products. CAPB is derived from coconut oil, and modified to produce an effective detergent. Depending on the quality of the CAPB used, a contaminant, 3-dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA), may persist in the final product. All Neal's Yard Remedies surfactants are of the highest grade to avoid any impurities. All detergents and surfactants have the potential to cause irritation. The secret is combining them to reduce their overall irritation potential. See Note (2) for further information on detergents. 
Cocos nucifera (Coconut) acid Obtained from coconut oil, coconut acid acts as an emollient, emulsifier, moisturizer and surfactant.
Cymbopogon schoenanthus (Lemongrass) oil Skin Deep rating: 4
Botanical extract
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Dead Sea salt The cosmetic value of Dead Sea salt has been known since ancient times. High in minerals and trace elements, the salts are enriching and beneficial to the skin. The salts are invigorating as well as cleansing and refreshing.
Decyl glucoside, Lauryl glucoside Derived from corn, decyl glucoside is a mild surfactant. Blended with other surfactants and foaming agents such as cocamidopropyl betaine, another surfactant, it gently cleanses, as well as giving the product some preservative action.
D-limonene /Limonene See Limonene.
A naturally occurring constituent of essential oils such as eucalyptus, juniper, rosemary, spearmint, bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit, chamomile. See Note (1)
Denatured alcohol See Alcohol denat.
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Ethanol See Alcohol denat.
Eugenia caryophyllus (Clove) oil Skin Deep rating: 5
Botanical extract
Eugenol Skin Deep rating: 7
Eugenol is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as basil, bay, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, palmarosa, petitgrain, rose, tagetes and ylang ylang. It has a pleasant, spicy aroma. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)  
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Farnesol Skin Deep rating: 3
Farnesol is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, neroli, palmarosa, rose and ylang ylang. It emphasizes the aroma of other sweet, floral scents. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
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Geraniol Skin Deep rating: 6
Geraniol is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as chamomile, citronella, clary sage, coriander, geranium, ho leaf, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, neroli, Roman chamomile, rose, Spanish sage and ylang ylang. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Glycerin Glycerin is a versatile ingredient with solvent and humectant properties. This means it helps dissolve ingredients, and helps both products and skin retain moisture. Our glycerin is derived from coconut and we use it in a range of products from soaps to face and body moisturizers to hair conditioners. We use both organic and non-organic glycerin as organic glycerin is not available in food grade at this time.
Glyceryl laurate Skin Deep rating: 3
This is a surfactant and emulsifier that we use in our Palmarosa Facial Wash. It blends the oil- and water-based ingredients together. All Neal's Yard Remedies surfactants and emulsifiers are plant-derived. We use high quality ingredients to avoid any impurities associated with health concerns.
Glyceryl stearate (aka glyceryl monostearate) Our glyceryl stearate is formed from plant-derived glycerin. We use it in our creams for its emulsifying action of blending water- and oil-based ingredients together. It has emollient and moisturizing properties, so contributes to the smoothness of the finished product.
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Hectorite Hectorite is a mineral with the consistency of clay. It is used in cosmetics as a thickener and emulsifier. It helps keep water-based and oil-based ingredients in suspension. Products with hectorite need to be shaken before use.
Heptyl Undecylenate This is an extremely light and dry emollient. It is naturally-derived ester of Undecenoic Acid, and is derived from Castor oil.
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Isoeugenol Skin Deep rating: 6
Isoeugenol is a natural constituent of some essential oils we use, such as clove, lime, litsea and ylang ylang. It has a sweet scent like vanilla. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1).
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Jasminum officinale (Jasmine) oil Skin Deep rating: 3
Botanical extract
 
Kaolin (China clay) Kaolin is a white, powdery clay that can absorb high quantities of moisture. Used in facial masks, kaolin helps draw impurities from the skin to provide a deep-cleansing and purifying action.
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Lanolin Skin Deep rating: 4
Lanolin is extracted from wool after a sheep has been shorn. This wax-like substance yields a nourishing oil that is high in sterols and is a very good emulsifier, moisturizer and humectant. We use it to thicken our hair conditioners and some creams to help skin and hair retain moisture. Although it is an animal by-product, obtaining it does not harm the animal. Health concerns about Lanolin are based on the presence of contaminants such as pesticides, which the sheep may have been exposed to. Our high quality lanolin meets the high standards of USP grade. See Note (3)
Lanolin alcohol Skin Deep rating: 3
Lanolin alcohol is made from lanolin. It has emollient and thickening properties and is non-drying to the skin. We use it in Rose Body Cream, as it gives the product its rich, velvety texture. It also adds to the bright, glossy appearance of the cream. 
Lauryl betaine Lauryl betaine is a very mild detergent derived from a variety of plant sources. We use it in our gel-based products such as shampoos and foaming baths. When combined with other surfactants, it creates a milder formulation and reduces the possibility of irritation.
Lauryl glucoside See decyl glucoside
Lecithin Skin Deep rating: 3
Lecithin is a naturally occurring lipid found in both plants and animals. Most commercially available lecithin is obtained from eggs and soybeans. In cosmetics it is used as a thickener and emulsifier. We also use it in our moisturizers and creams for its emollient and antioxidant properties. Our lecithin is derived from soy that is GMO-free. See Note (3)
Levulinic acid Levulinic acid occurs naturally in sugar cane and is derived from starches. It has antimicrobial properties and contributes toward the preservation of some of our creams and bath products.
Limonene Skin Deep rating: 6
Limonene is a natural constituent of many essential oils we use: bay, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile, cistus, citronella, clary sage, coriander, cypress, elemi, eucalyptus, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, ho leaf, juniper, lavandin, lavender, lemongrass, lime, litsea, mandarin, neroli, niaouli, orange, palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, Roman chamomile, rosemary, Spanish sage, spearmint (garden mint), tagetes and tea tree. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
Linalool Skin Deep rating: 5
Linalool is a natural constituent of many essential oils we use: basil, bay, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile, cinnamon, cistus, citronella, clary sage, coriander, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, ho leaf, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lime, litsea, mandarin, marjoram, neroli, niaouli, palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rose, rosemary, Spanish sage, spearmint (garden mint), tagetes, thyme, violet absolute, yarrow and ylang ylang. Some people are sensitive to this constituent. See Note (1)
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Magnesium carbonate Magnesium carbonate absorbs moisture readily. In Neal's Yard Remedies body powders it absorbs moisture that would otherwise prevent the corn starch from flowing freely. We therefore use it as a flowing agent.
Maris sal (Sea salt) We use sea salt in the Geranium & Orange Scrub. Sea salt is rich in minerals and is antimicrobial and cleansing. It is deeply relaxing and helps to loosen muscles and refresh the skin.
Mel (Honey) Honey's emollient action soothes and softens the skin. All our honey is certified organic.
Melissa officinialis (Lemon Balm) oil Skin Deep rating: 4
Botanical extract
Mica Skin Deep rating: 3
Mica is a naturally occurring silicate mineral. It is used to give sparkle and color to cosmetic products. Safety concerns are related largely to workplace exposures. Breathing in large quantities of mica dust can cause respiratory problems, but this is not the case with the tiny amounts used in cosmetics.
Montmorillonite (Red clay) Montmorillonite, more commonly known as red clay, has been used in cosmetics for thousands of years. It is deeply absorptive and cleansing. It absorbs the skin's oils and toxins, while its high mineral content improves the skin's circulation and general health. It is also a useful natural stabilizer.
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Octyl palmitate Octyl palmitate is an emollient derived from palm oil and is used in our Vitamin E & Avocado Night Cream and Comfrey & Mallow Foot Balm for its rich, moisturizing and softening capacity. 
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Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 This bio-active ingredient is made from a combination of palmitic acid (which is derived from plant oils) and naturally fermented amino acids.
Panthenol Panthenol is a precursor to vitamin B5, which means it is converted into this vitamin when absorbed by the body. We use a nature-identical version in our products. It is a moisturizing ingredient which is why we add it to some of our cleansers and lotions.
Potassium sorbate Skin Deep rating: 3
Potassium sorbate is used widely in the food and cosmetics industry as a synthetic preservative. We add it to some of our moisturizers and hair care products to give them a gentle preservative system that guards against yeasts, molds and fungi.
Propolis extract (organic) Propolis is produced by bees from a resinous substance collected from trees. It is used to protect the hive. Its antimicrobial action makes it useful in cosmetics as it helps to protect the skin. All our propolis is certified organic.
Prunus persica (Peach) seed powder A natural exfoliant made from the pith of the peach.
Pumice powder Obtained from porous volcanic rock, we use pumice powder in our Pumice Foot Scrub and Seaweed Salt Scrub for its gently abrasive cleansing action. It helps to remove dead or hardened skin, cleansing and softening at the same time.
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Sclerotium gum Sclerotium gum is obtained from the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. It is a natural thickener that promotes hydration of the skin and the product itself. It also helps to stabilize the emulsion of other ingredients in a product.
Sodium castorate Sodium castorate is the soap created from castor oil when it is mixed with sodium hydroxide. It cleans and soothes, and provides a waterproof coating on the skin so it doesn't dry out. It is in our Citrus Hand Wash.
Sodium citrate Sodium citrate is a salt derived from citric acid. It has a preservative action, and as a buffer, it helps regulate acidity in products. It is commonly used in the food and cosmetics industry.
Sodium cocoate Sodium cocoate is the soap created from coconut oil when it is mixed with sodium hydroxide. It gives a good lather and cleanses without being harsh. It forms the base of many of our soaps, along with sodium palmate.
Sodium hyaluronate Sodium hyaluronate is a substance that is found naturally in the body and can also be produced, via fermentation, from sugar. It boosts moisture levels in the skin and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles to give the skin a soft finish. It is also a useful gelling agent that keeps ingredients together and to refine a product's texture.
Sodium hydroxide  (aka Caustic soda, lye) Skin Deep rating: 3
It is not possible to make bar soap without sodium hydroxide. When this strong alkalizing agent reacts with an oil or fat, soap is the result; there is no lye in the finished product. Safety concerns for this chemical are related to exposure to the raw material and not to its use as a catalyst in producing soap.
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate Skin Deep rating: 3
This is a mild foaming and cleansing agent that effectively removes surface oil and dirt from the skin or hair.  
Sodium methyl coco taurate (aka Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate) This is in our Seaweed & Arnica Foaming Bath for its foaming and cleansing actions. It is fairly mild but its combination with lauryl betaine makes it even milder. It is derived from coconut and taurine, an amino acid.
Sodium palmate Sodium palmate is the soap created from palm oil when it is mixed with sodium hydroxide. It lathers and cleanses well without being harsh. It forms the base of many of our soaps, along with sodium cocoate.
Sodium usnate (Lichen) extract Botanical extract.
Sorbitan olivate Derived from olive oil, sorbitan olivate is an emulsifier that is often blended with cetearyl olivate. Together, these emulsifiers help mix oil- and water-based ingredients and help to give a product a luxurious, smooth feel.
Sorbitan stearate Sorbitan stearate is an emulsifier that we use in many of our moisturizers and bath oils. It helps blend water- and oil-based ingredients; in particular it helps essential oils to blend with water.
Stearic acid Stearic acid is a natural fatty acid derived from coconut or palm oil. It is in our NYR Men Close Shave Cream to emulsify the ingredients and give the product a smooth finish. It also helps to soften the skin and hair, which lessens skin irritation.
Sucrose distearate Sucrose distearate is formed from sugar and stearic acid, a natural fatty acid derived from coconut or palm oil. It is an emulsifier and is used in our NYR Men After-Shave Balm to blend the essential oils with the water-based ingredients.
Sucrose stearate Sucrose stearate is formed from sugar and stearic acid. It is not as strong an emulsifier as sucrose distearate, but it is used in some of our lighter moisturizers to help mix the ingredients together.
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Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) butter Cocoa butter is used for its deeply moisturizing properties. All our cocoa butter is certified organic and from an approved Fairtrade Foundation project.
Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Tocopherol is a natural source vitamin E, extracted from vegetable oils. It is an antioxidant that also helps to preserve the product. It can also provide protection and nourishment to the skin.
Tocopheryl acetate (aka Tocopherol acetate) Skin Deep rating: 4
Tocopheryl acetate is a thick, oily liquid that is derived from tocopherol, or vitamin E. It is a synthetic antioxidant. Safety concerns for this ingredient are based on oral ingestion at very high doses and contamination with hydroquinone. We use very high quality food grade/USP grade tocopheryl acetate in our products. 
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Xanthan gum Xanthan gum is derived from GMO-free corn. It is a mild thickener, emulsifier and stabilizer that we use in many of our products to enhance their consistency.
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Zea mays (Corn starch)

We use organic corn starch as the base for our body powders because it is a gentle, safe, easily-metabolized alternative to mineral talc. We also use it as a thickener in some creams.

Zinc stearate Skin Deep rating: 3
A waxy substance used as an anti-caking agent in our eye shadows. It is water repellent and provides an ease of application whilst also helping the powder adhere to the skin. Safety concerns for this ingredient are based on industrial use and the inhalation of the raw material as a loose powder, not with its use on the skin as a cosmetic. FDA recognizes zinc stearate as safe for ingestion.
   
  NOTES
1. The European Union (EU) requires us to list some of the components of essential oils separately (for example citral, eugenol). These essential oil components are shown in italics on our labels. We do not add these components separately to our products, they are a part of the naturally-occurring plant oils.
2. Detergents help emulsify oils so that dirt and grease can be washed away. Detergents are used in shampoos, shower gels and body washes. When we formulate, we combine specially chosen plant-based detergents so that they complement one another, giving an effective yet skin-friendly cleansing action. We do not use any petrochemical-based detergents, or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

When formulating products with detergents, we consider the effect of the ingredient on the skin, and its effect on the environment. For example, we choose not to use some ‘mild’ detergents such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). It is made by a process called ethoxylation, and ethoxylated detergents may be contaminated with dioxane, an unwanted by-product of the manufacturing process. Other detergents may be non-biodegradable or have other negative environmental impacts.
3. We use standards developed by leading animal protection campaign groups and our continued commitment to animal welfare has been recognized by campaigners from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), who awarded us a 'golden rabbit.’ The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also commended our stance on the issue. We support the animal welfare charity FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) dedicated to the scientific development, acceptance and use of methods that can be used instead of animal experiments.
4. Denatured Alcohol is a term used by other manufacturers to indicate that a solvent such as methanol or isopropyl alcohol has been added to make it undrinkable (denatured alcohol is free from duty and taxes). We DO NOT add these solvents to our alcohol.
5. The shelf-life is labeled on many of our products, to indicate by when they should be used. Our balms and oil-based products don’t need preservatives, but any product with an aqueous component needs preserving to prevent self-contamination during use.
6. The color pigment minerals in our new line of cosmetics have been approved for use by the Soil Association and also meet the COSmos standards – the European harmonized organic standards (founded by France’s Ecocert and Cosmebio, Germany’s BDIH, Italy’s ICEA and Belgium’s Ecogarantie).  Acceptance by these standards ensures that ingredients are produced in a manner respectful of both the environment and of human health. Minerals in particular, since they are a non­renewable resource, have to be produced under environmentally approved practices, both in terms of extraction and further processing. This includes non­irradiation and no nano­technology.
7. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The EWG Skin Deep database, launched in 2004, is an online guide to help customers make informed choices when shopping for personal care products. The ingredient information is based on almost 60 databases from government agencies, academic institutions and industry panels.
Both ingredients and finished products are rated, and assigned a score on a 0-10 scale, from low to high hazard. NYR’s technical ingredients glossary provides further information and context for ingredients with a rating of 3 or higher, as 0-2 represents “low hazard."
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