Does your cream have angel dust?

a CherryImage via Wikipedia

Does your moisturiser have truely have enough of "Extracts of exotic mountain grown berries fed with pure oxygen" to make a difference to your face or is it just a marketing ploy to get you to buy plain distilled water with glycerine?

To be an educated consumer and get full value out of the money you spend on skin care read on...

what is an ingredient list?
An ingredient list given behind all skin care products is a list of the chemicals that make up the product. They are listed in the order of concentration. Typically, preservatives, fragrances, and colors are listed at the end.

Where can I find this list?

generally this list is printed on the back of the bottle/package

Why should I read the lable?
This will allow you to make choices as to what chemicals you want to be exposed to. For example, I am sensitive to mineral oil & petrolatum, so I avoid all products with these ingredients.

Icon of angelic broom sweeping up dustImage via Wikipedia

What is Angel Dusting?
Angel Dusting is the practice of adding minuscule amounts of certain ingredients (generally "natural extracts of fruits & plants") just so that they can be listed on the product label.

Some companies use Angel Dustin
g in a harmless way just to get your attention. They try to entice you into buying the product by adding a touch of a popular and easily recognizable or exotic appealing ingredient (read red cherries, mulberry, ginger, lemon, the list is endless).

This type of Angel Dust ingredient is usually not functional, but it makes women feel good about the product because they find the ingredient attractive. Other less reputable companies abuse this practice by deliberately misleading consumers. They claim to be using a functional ingredient, but they don’t add enough to be truly functional.

If the natural ingredient is not listed amongst the first 5 ingredients list, it is most likely that the product contains less than 1% of the exotic coconut extract. In other words, it is angel dust. To be functional and truely beneficial natural ingredients should make up more than 10% of the total composition.

Reason for angel dusting

The reason is very simple – economics.

If you need to include an extract at 10% and it costs the company Rs. 25,000 per kilogram then the cost of this one ingredient in the formulation would be Rs. 2500 per kilogram – or Rs. 250 per item (if the items weight is 100 grams).

337/365: The Big MoneyImage by DavidDMuir via Flickr

If an “angel dusting” company decides that they would like to claim to have included this particular ingredient, they can simply include it at 1% (or less) - which then would translate to a per product cost of Rs. 25 per 100 gram product or less.

The “angel dusting” company would therefore nearly save 1,000% on the active ingredient – they are not legally breaking any laws or rules, yet they are hoodwinking the consumer into thinking that the product will have the desired effect for which it was purchased.

Now that you know the theory, lets try and read a product label together.

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide DEA, Acrylates C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Salix Alba Bark Extract (Willow), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Gel (Aloe Vera), Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Chamomilla Recutita Flower E

xtract (Matricaria), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (White Tea), Laminaria Digitata Extract (Algae), Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract (Yeast), Arctostaphylos UVA Ursi Leaf Extract (Bearberry), Panthenol (as Vitamin B5), Cyanocobalamin (as Vitamin B12), Ubiquinone, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, PEG 12 Glyceryl Distearate, Sodium Hydroxide, Glucosamine HCl, Glycerin, Urea, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance

First, let’s strip away all the ingredients that are just “filler” or put in to support the marketing story.

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide DEA, Acrylates C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, PEG 12 Glyceryl Distearate, Sodium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Urea, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance

We’re left with

  1. Detergents (SLS)
  2. Thickening polymers that make it gel
  3. Moisturizing ingredients (urea, glycerine)
  4. Solvents that dilute the ingredients to make them usable (water)
  5. Fragrance
  6. Preservatives
  7. Adjustment agents to optimize performance (sodium hydroxide)

So the next time you buy something, flip it around and take a look if you're getting what you're paying for.

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  1. thats a gud one..
    but im always worried...cos most of the Indian branded products claim only the active ingredients..and no word abt the other fillers..i wud go completely lost at such issues.. :(
    I even wrote this to the DrugCompany and they came up with an answer saying that..'its cos of the Indian norms of specifying the ingredients list..!!' What..??Ohh..I'm so lucky!!

  2. Yea, unfortunately India has still not moved to the stage where listing of all products is mandatory.. In fact the ruling to list active ingredients was passed recently in 2002, so we are getting there but slowly.

    My solution to this issue is to buy the imported version of skin care products (from Alfa or NBC) as far as possible, because they have the information. Besides I use only Biotique as it just seems safer or else make the products at home :)

  3. Very enlightening...I always wondered about all these exotic things the manufacturers claimed to add in their products and why they had no effect on my skin at all!!And yet they have the legal permission to do so..*sigh*

  4. @ Simran: It is worse in India becoz as per law they don't have to list all ingredients, only active ingredients... so sneaky companies list these angel dust products as active ingredients, even then read carefully.. if there is a whole list of chemicals b4 you even reach the natural product, it means it is just a marketing ploy...


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