Herbal Essences bills its body wash products as a good way to cleanse while moisturizing the skin. The product information emphasizes the soap’s mallow flower, vitamin E and aloe vera and advises users that its ingredients come from renewable plant resources. The overall ingredient list, however, is a bit more difficult to translate.
The product’s malva sylvestris, or mallow, extract, is used as a thickening agent in cosmetics formulas. It might have soothing as well as anti-inflammatory properties for skin thanks to its flavonoid, mucilage and anthocyanidin contents, according to Paula Begoun, author of “The Original Beauty Bible.”
There is no true evidence that the aloe barbadensis flower extract, AKA aloe vera, in Herbal Essences aids a person’s skin significantly, advises Begoun. Some research indicates aloe has anti-irritant effects, but it is doubtful this quality remains when it’s mixed into cosmetic products. Aloe may have a role in binding moisture to a person’s skin, however. Aloe acts as a water-binding agent for skin thanks to its sterol and polysaccharide content.
Tocopherol, also called vitamin E, is known to be an “antioxidant superstar,” advises Begoun. This lipid-soluble vitamin has eight different forms, including tocopherol, which is an effective topical antioxidant.
Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, are the top two ingredients in Herbal Essences soap, aside from water. These both can be derived from coconut and are cleansing agents. Much misinformation has circulated about SLS on the Internet, advises Begoun. SLS can be a skin irritant, but is not toxic, nor is it dangerous to skin. Though it is utilized as a standard in scientific studies in establishing irritancy of other ingredients, it does not have a link to cancer, as several Internet sites falsely claim.
The cocamidopropyl betaine in Herbal Essences is a surfactant that’s known to be gentle. Surfactant stands for surface active agent. These substances suspend soil and degrease and emulsify oils. This allows them to be washed away.
Herbal Essences contains both PEG-150 pentaerythrityl tetrastearate and PEG-6 cprylic/capric glycerides. PEG is the acronym for polyethylene glycol. PEG-150 is a thickening agent, while PEG-6 is a derivative of Beeswax that acts as a surfactant, according to the “International Journal of Toxicology.”
The glycerin in Herbal Essences is used as a humectant. That means it absorbs water readily from other sources. Glycerin is used to attract water from the environment as well as from the lower layers of a person’s skin to raise the amount of water the person’s surface layers of skin. Propylene glycol is another humectant in this product.
The product’s sodium chloride is most often referred to as “table salt.” This ingredient is used in skin care products as a binding agent. The product’s sodium PCA, short for pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, also is an effective water-binding agent. It’s a natural component of skin, advises Begoun.
The disodium EDTA, or ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, is a chelating agent. This stabilizer is used in cosmetics to prevent other ingredients from binding with trace elements such as minerals as well as other ingredients. Unwanted binding can cause undesirable changes to a product’s odor, texture and consistency, according to Begoun.
Iodopropyl butylcarbamate is a preservative, according to the Chemical Book website, as is diazolidinyl urea. Diazolidinyl urea is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative and is commonly found in cosmetics. Counter to some claims, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives don’t cause a higher level of skin reaction than other preservatives, according to Begoun. The risk of having a product with no preservatives, in fact, is greater to skin due to possible to possible contamination or bacteria growth that can occur.