Sunday, August 1, 2010

Point of interest: Reading INCI information

I've been surfing through a few forums today and I noticed three things...

First: Everyone seems to call me Swifty! I'm SWIFT (or swift) not Swifty. There is someone else named Swifty and I've already changed my name once to avoid confusion. (If you see someone named Celeritas, that might be well be me - it's Latin for swift - and I'm on the LHC under that name as someone took swift!!!) It's nice, though, that people are referring back here instead of claiming the recipes for their own, so thanks for passing on this blog to other people! I can't reward you financially, but know you have my gratitude!

Second: I am not American. I am Canadian. I eat fries with gravy, leave the country to celebrate Canada Day, and have a ton of Tim Horton's steeped tea cups in my car that I really should get into the recycling bin. I spell colour with a "u" and I'm a family counsellor who loves travelling. (Notice we Canadians double the consonant before -ing or -ed. It's marvellous!) I put the punctuation in parentheses outside the brackets (see example to the  left) and I make withdrawals from my chequing account! And I'm off work tomorrow because it's B.C. (British Columbia) Day! Woo hoo!

Third: A lot of confusion can be avoided by reading the INCI description of a product before buying it.

BTMS-50 is behentrimonium methosulfate (and) cetyl alcohol (and) butylene glycol regardless of what your supplier calls it. If you see the INCI of Cetearyl Alcohol (and) PEG-40 Castor Oil (and) Stearalkonium Chloride, you have Incroquat CR. If you see an INCI of Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-3 Distearoylamidoethylmonium Methosulfate, Polysorbate 60, you have Incroquat OSC (one step conditioner). And if you see an INCI of Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol, you have BTMS-25 with 25% active BTMS, no humectant, and poor emulsification abilities compared to BTMS-50. And any of these could be called a conditioning emulsifier, emulsifying conditioner, concentrated conditioner, a cream rinse concentrate, or something else - so check before you buy! (And if all these names looked confusing to you, then think of how annoyed you'll get scrolling down the screen trying to figure out the differences!)

If you don't live in North America, there might be different names for your products - let's say Amphosol CG for cocamidopropyl betaine - but the INCI should remain the same. So don't go looking for Hydrovance, look for INCI hydroxyethyl urea. Surfactants can be really difficult to find under the same brand name from supplier to supplier, let alone country to country, so learning that DLS mild has an INCI of disodium laureth sulfosuccinate or Steol 230-CS is actually sodium laureth sulfate (or sulphate) makes it easier to find what you want! I've tried to include the INCI information for every product I review unless it's really obvious like stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, oil, butter, and some humectant names (in other words, the INCI tends to be the name of the product).

Note: Outside of America, sulfate can be spelled sulphate and aluminum can be spelled aluminium. In Canada, we use both spellings of each word! 

I know it's not easy to remember all of these things, but it's worth it. Make up a chart for the products in a searchable form on the computer and update it when you learn something new. I'm all for being loyal to our favourite suppliers, but sometimes you need faster service or a closer location to make body wash before you run out and have to go Wal-Mart to use something inferior to what you create in the workshop! If you know the INCI of your product, you won't end up ordering the wrong product. (If the supplier doesn't give you the INCI give that supplier a miss or ask them before spending a ton of money, if you have no other choice! They should have them easily available on their ordering sheet or the data bulletin for the product.)

Look for more helpful hints coming up throughout this month...although most of them won't have the rant as an introduction...

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Susan, obviously I'm the big dork that had to learn some things about INCI. Sometimes I read things on your blog and I think I understand it, but later discover I didn't get it. Then you point it out and I think (smack my forehead), "oh that's what it means."

I do try hard to keep all the new things I learn here straight, but I sometimes miss a step or so. Sorry about that. Angel

bluetansy said...

I'm sure I saw somewhere on your blog a list of fatty acids with their functions and properties ... And impossible to find!
Can you help me please ?
Congratulations on your work !

David said...

Susan, Thanks for the clarification of the Incroquat range! It can be difficult to keep up with the manufacturers names, the INCI names then throw the resellers names in there and you get total confusion! Thanks to you for making it easier for the "surfactant challenged"!
David

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Angel! You're not a dork! And this post wasn't aimed at you...it came out of a post I saw on another forum - someone commented that my posts were "too American" and that the ingredients weren't available in Europe. They are available around the world if you look for the INCI instead of the brand name. Take something like corn starch - the cooking kind. If you look just for the brand you know at home, you may never find it!

I don't sell things, so I didn't need to know the INCI names for regulatory reasons, but knowing them makes it so much easier to order from other retailers and to get what you want!

Hi David! I'm trying to make things easier for all of us, so it made sense to write this post!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi bluetansy. Are you looking for information on specific fatty acids? If so, check out the links to the right of the this page under...
oil chemistry (PDF)
oils and butters (links)
or do a search for the specific fatty acid that interests you as I have specific posts on oleic, linoleic, GLA, and CLA, as well as information on palmitic, stearic, lauric, and the other fatty acids.

bluetansy said...

Thank you! I read those links, I thought a short list with the main properties, a summary ... By dint of the blog go, I'll find! lol

DuhBe said...

What a great point on the INCI. I've started keeping a spreadsheet on google docs with my favorite ingredients, their INCI, and the trade names I find - because I was going crazy trying to keep the surfectants straight when comparing prices between suppliers. (I am SO cheap!) And if they don't list their INCI or guidelines for usage, I pass on them like you said. - Luci Lee

Ged said...

It gets even more complicated when the resellers then change the original brand name to yet another! I think the Herbarie sometimes do this. Also if you are trying out formulas from any of the manufacturing companies they almost always use brand names instead of INCI. Many times I've looked at a formula and thought "No, don't have any of that stuff ..." then checked the INCI and found I do have it, or something very like it ...

Nancy Liedel said...

There are three Nancy Liedel's in the US. Three. People manage to mix us up all the time. Yes, we are all related. I get some odd messages from people and then I have to figure out which Nancy they want to send it to.

My personal motto is don't buy it, don't think about formulating with it, until you know as much as possible about the the thing you're going to use. I better be able to explain why it's in my recipes, if I plan to sell them, or use them on unsuspecting thirteen year olds. That's why this site is great. Invaluable.

Danuta Kildan said...

I hope you do not mind Susan linking to INCI names, Have a wonderful day :)
http://www.oshun.ca/inci.html

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Of course I don't mind, Danuta! The more information, the better!

Emilene Qasem said...

Hi i love reading all your knowledge its helped me so much in setting up my business i appreciate it so much

Im in Australia and this is what i have only been able to find

Its labeled Incroquat Behenyl TMS ( BTMS CONDITIONING EMULSIFYING WAX)

Quaternary Ammonium compound in fatty alcohol .
Contains: Behentrimonium Methosulfate with cetearyl alcahol.

From what i have understood from your post is this is a BTMS 25 ? Please correct me if im wrong .
My supplier actually said they dont know if its 25 or not and didnt know there was a 25 and a 50 ????
Maybe in Australia we dont have it ?