Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A note on ingredient names...

There's been a lot of debate about the ingredient Everlasting Flower Absolute (Gnaphalium uliginosum) in Lush's Afterlife moisturizer. Some people have argued it's helichrysum, which is a very expensive essential oil or extract that is used in facial products, which can also be known as everlasting or immortelle.

If you go to the Lushopaedia, they list "everlasting flower absolute" as being helichrysum, but if you look at the Latin name in the ingredient list for this specific product, you'll see it's quite clearly listed as the Latin name for marsh cudweed. As a secondary note, the Ultralight moisturizer used to contain the marsh cudweed version as well, but the Lushopaedia states it contains helichrysum. Since both of these products appear to be discontinued, here's a PDF on Lush's moisturizers and the ingredients in them. 

If you look up the wiki entry on helichrysum, you'll see the Latin name is generally Helichrysum (something or other). In the Lush product, the Latin name is giving as Gnaphalium uliginosum, which comes up with the plant the marsh cudweed (as well as many other names).

I'm not a botanist, so I'm just going through Wikipedia links and stuff my husband found at his university this morning, but I think it's safe to say that if Lush is calling it Gnaphalium ulignosum, then it's Gnaphaium ulignosum.

We need to be really aware of the ingredients we think might be in commercial products. I can call my extracts anything I want if I'm going to add to the INCI name after it. So let's say I use three powdered extracts at 0.5% each in my facial cleanser - grapeseed, green tea, and chamomile (my favourite combination in a facial cleanser). I can call it whatever I want in the ingredient list with the INCI or Latin names after it. I might call it Swift's not-so-secret oily skin blend (INCI: Camelia sinensis extract, Vitis vinifera seed extract, and Matricaria recutita extract) or anti-oxidizing skin blend (INCI: Camelia sinensis extract, Vitis vinifera seed extract, and Matricaria recutita extract) or toasterific spasmodium monster munch (INCI: Camelia sinensis extract, Vitis vinifera seed extract, and Matricaria recutita extract). And if you're in the market for an oily skin or anti-oxidizing blend of ingredients, this will appeal to you and might be the reason you buy my product. (As a note, all of these names are trademarked and patent pending because they're awesome!)

Please read your ingredient names carefully. Glycol distearate and glycol stearate and glyceryl stearate may look similar, but they aren't the same. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are very different surfactants indeed and that little difference between the "yl" and "eth" has caused many a debate. Whether you're buying products in a shop or researching ingredients to duplicate it, you need to know exactly what you're dealing with if you're going to make a good product.

In this case, there's no reason to call marsh cudweed "everlasting flower absolute". It's not a traditional or colloquial name for it, so I can only think of one reason to call this ingredient something very close to helichrysum's traditional name...

I had intended to duplicate Olay's in shower lotion this morning, but all my blogging time was taken up with researching this topic! Join me tomorrow for duplicating this product. And as a note, you can use pretty much any lotion you want as an in-shower lotion. I prefer to use in my in lotion shower bar (an emulsified scrub bar without the scrubbies) or a regular old lotion in my shower, but we'll make this anyway. 

1 comment:

Ged said...

I'm glad you did all that research, Susan, I was just about to waste another couple of hours on it myself!
I'm not surprised, however, if Lush DID get confused by the nomenclature ... it seems that gnaphalium and Helichrysum have a habit of getting mixed up. Just for your interest,and a little off-topic, I found this wonderful article which mentions the confusion in a discussion of another gnaphalium
known as Sweet Everlasting, Cudweed, Old Field Balsam, Sweet White Balsam,Indian Posy, Life of Man, Poverty Weed, Fussy Gussy and Rabbit Tobacco. I'd LOVE to use some Fussy Gussy extract in my lotions!