Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Substitutions: Reading INCI names

Gina writes: Hello Susan, whatever you write about is fascinating and most interesting! For me substitutions are very interesting since I live in Europe and cannot find many of the "products" you mention - not where I can pay in Euros :)

As I mentioned in the post on INCI names, a lot of suppliers will change the name of the ingredient they carry to represent their company or their core values. We have a lot of confusion about "conditioning emulsifier" and it helps to know the proper name of the ingredient so you aren't reliant upon one supplier.

Let's say you're interested in Coco SilkyCleanse from the Herbarie or Creations from Eden. Knowing that the INCI for this ingredient is Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate means I can go to the Personal Formulator or Of A Simple Nature (UK) and buy it there!

I try to use the INCI for ingredients like surfactants and esters because it makes it easier to find these ingredients in your local suppliers' stores, but sometimes they are simply too long to type!

One of the problems with surfactants is that suppliers like to sell blends of surfactants, which means you're reliant upon them for that specific combination. (LabRat always said don't get reliant upon blends because if they run out or stop carrying it, you'll have to reformulate. This happened to me with Bioterge 804!) For instance, I love to use BSB and LSB from Voyageur (those are also the names Stepan gives them) and I can't find those combinations anywhere else. When you see BSB on this blog, you can substitute it for a different blend, generally ones that are considered "baby blends" like the Baby Blend Concentrate from the Herbarie. When you see LSB on the blog, substitute it for your favourite surfactant or the surfactants found in the INCI name.

BSB is INCI: PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Quaternium-15. 
LSB is INCI: Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate and Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

It gets worse with emulsifying wax. I use Polawax, which is listed as emulsifying wax NF (the ingredients are a trade secret) and you'll see emulsifying wax NF listed for a number of different products. Before you invest in an emulsifying wax NF or something listed as an emulsifier, read the INCI. For instance, Aromantic (UK) has a product called "Emulsifying Wax Natural" that contains Glyceryl monostearate and cetyl alcohol, which is not emulsifying wax NF. There are a number of different ways to make emulsifying wax NF, and you'll want to check the INCI so you can ensure you'll get the same product again.

If you are looking for Ritamulse (INCI: Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate), you'll want to look for NatraMulse at the Herbarie and Creations from Eden and ECOmulse at Lotioncrafter. (This, by the way, is an emulsifier approved for organic products, and something I hope to play with over my Christmas break from work!)

In the original post on this topic, DuhBe noted she keeps a spreadsheet of her ingredients with the INCI names on it so she can compare prices between suppliers. I think this is a good way of keeping track of what you're buying and what you want. I can't think of a better way to do this, other than memorizing every ingredient or only referring to said ingredient by the INCI name (which is what I did - I refuse to call it Amphosol AS-40 any more as it's really C14-16 olefin sulfonate, but I don't expect you to be as chemistry obsessed as I am!)

Ideally, I would include the various names for each ingredient in every post, but I simply don't have the knowledge of names outside of North America and I don't have the time doing a search of every supplier for that information.

Please note, the naming of these suppliers should not constitute an endorsement by me of these companies. I use them as examples of where I found these specific ingredients. And could those of you outside of North America please send me a few names of suppliers you like so I can take a look at what they carry?

As a secondary note, if your supplier is advertising that the ingredient you're about to purchase contains "no chemicals" or was created "without chemicals", you're dealing with someone who doesn't know his/her business very well. Run away now.

If your supplier doesn't list the INCI, ask them for it. It's something that should be standard on every suppliers' website. If they don't know it, refuse to give it to you, or don't bother responding to your e-mail, find another supplier (if possible).

And finally a note to suppliers - for the love of all that is good and holy, could you please learn to type and/or proofread your sites? In going through a few of them, I was shocked to see so many poorly spelled ingredient names. Not only is it annoying to those of us obsessed with correct grammar and spelling, it makes it really hard to do a search for an ingredient when you've spelled it wrong!


Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, good idea about the spreadsheet and using only the INCI names - that makes it so much easier:).Susan, I hope my comment did not come across like you should research suppliers in foreign countries. I had to laugh because I`m am obsessed with correct spelling and many a times I notified websites of their spelling errors. Puhh, I hope I spelled everything correctly.

Thank you Susan!

Best wishes

Tara said...

I get very annoyed with websites with spelling mistakes. I feel like, how are you running your business when you can't even make sure that your website, which is viewable by the entire world, has correct information.

kontakt said...

Links, links, links! Hopefully useful to someone. I certainly don't expect you to Swift browse through them all.

Companies I've bought from:

UK: Of a Simple Nature They sell in many different quantities including packages of like 50 grams, which is good for people like me. They sell SCI, which I have had problems finding on this side of the Atlantic.

UK: New Directions They also sell from Australia and a couple of other places, but this is the UK branch of the company. They sell BTMS, which I have had problems finding on this side of the Atlantic. (Or at least they did, atm I fail to find it on their website. This Finnish company usually have BTMS, or so I've been told, but they are currently closed due to moving to another location.)

Germany: Kosmetiche Rohstoffe Not sure I really think they are "good", they seem to have limited understanding regarding their goods. They are cheap, anyhow, and deliver orders fast, and sell also in small amounts of ingredient. I have not been unhappy about anything I bought there, but nowadays I prefer sellers who can give more information. But some stuff I'll probably still buy from there, because of price and convenience.

Sweden (listed just for the heck of it, don't suppose anyone is really interested or bother to browse through the strange language): Crearome
Sannanature/Sanna of Sweden Both are focused on the costumers who want "natural" stuff, so they don't sell stuff like propylene glycol.

I have some more links on but I haven't ordered from them so I can not really say anything about them. But at least that might be a place to start, if you're looking for companies in Europe. There must be Spanish ones, and French, and so on, but I haven't found them. If you know of some, I'm very happy if you'd post me a link!

Quite often, the websites are terrible. Search functions might not find other names than trade names, for instance - even if they have the INCI name on the web page, you don't find it unless you switch to website specific google search.

DuhBe said...

Very well said. As for me, if a supplier doesn't list the INCI on their website, I'm out of there.

I'm super excited to hear about your Ritamulse experiments. I have a sample of it and hope to play with it soon in anhydrous products instead of lotions. Too many chemicals, too little time...

kontakt said...

I wrote something fairly lengthy here, with an couple of links to webshops in Europe and one to a list of suppliers my own blog. I really don't think I've written something that would make you censor it. Could it possibly have gotten stuck in your spam filter, due to the many links?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi kontakt. For some reason, your comment was automatically transferred to the spam box, but I've reinstated it! Thanks for the heads up! (I check the spam section regularly because I don't want non-spam things to be put in there! You're the first non-spam to end up there!)

I don't censor posts as I want to encourage free expression and an interesting exchange of ideas. I've had a few people say "you'll probably delete this comment" because they disagreed with me, but that's the last ting I would do!

I do delete those that are clearly spam (like the heating and plumbing company from England advertising on my blog!).

Randi Carr said...

I apologize now for spelling mistakes... I promise to have them fixed for the new website... and Tara, you know you can kick my arse LOL


eattheroses said...

Actually, it was great to get links to some more Swedish suppliers, as many UK ones charge way too much for shipping to Scandinavia.

Here is another Swedish supplier that I like:

Thanks for all the good information, and keep up the great work - your blog is really helpful!