Skincare 101

Cosmetic Raw Ingredients

We are always talking about the brands and the ingredients they use in their formulations but have you ever wondered where do all the RAW ingredients come from? 4% Glycerin, 3% Matryxil3000, 1% Hyaluronic acid… Who is producing these ingredients?

There are many cosmetic ingredient manufacturing companies around the world which supply the raw material for all the brands we know. BASF, Sederma (Croda), SILAB, Evonik, Ashland, Rahn, Lipotec,.. these are some of the largest cosmetic raw material manufacturers in the world!

Cosmetic formulators order the active or inactive ingredients they need from these companies; the ingredients come with a manual stating the concentrations recommended by the manufacturer. While an ingredient like Glycerin is manufactured by several companies, lots of raw ingredients are patent protected and certain manufacturers has the rights to produce these ingredients. 

Usually each of these companies are specialized in a specific range of cosmetic ingredients, for example the company Sederma is famous for making one of the best known anti-aging compounds; the Palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 which has been included in a variety of commercial skin care formulas under the trademark Matrixyl. By the way, they formulated several versions of this anti-aging ingredient over the years.

It is important to know that some of the active ingredients are not sold as a single chemical, the manufacturer stabilizes the active(s) in an emulsion with additional chemicals and the formulators can buy the emulsion. As an example, the famous ingredient Matrixyl 3000 could be purchased as an emulsion made of: Glycerin, Aqua, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7.

Though some brands mention the manufacturer trade name of the ingredient in the “product description” section, we never see these names on the “ingredients list” of a product! Why? because the FDA cosmetic guidelines state that blended ingredients may not be listed as one ingredient; the component ingredients must be listed individually, based on their percentage in the whole. 

This is how the ingredients list of The Ordinary’s Matrixyl 10% + HA which contains Matrixyl 3000 looks like:

Matrixyl 3000 : Glycerin, Aqua, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7.

The results of clinical studies and recommended concentrations for these ingredients is based on the whole blended emulsion, for instance the concentration of Matrixyl that is proven to work is 3% however once the blend is broken down into individual ingredients it may contain only 0.5-1% of active ingredients.

It should be noted that there are some brands who do manufacture their own ingredients. For example Retrouvé sources some of their ingredients such as the Avocado oil pressed from their Heidegger family permaculture ranch in Malibu.

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