Technical Ingredients in products

In order to ensure product quality and efficacy and make use of the best possible natural ingredients, we sometimes have to use ingredients that we don't currently have an organic source for, cannot be sourced organically as it isn't from agriculture (such as water or salts), or can't be covered by Soil Association certification (such as some of the surfactants in our shampoos). We are committed to organic certification, and using the highest amount of organic ingredients that we can. Ingredients that are organic are always indicated on our product ingredient lists. Organic ingredients are better for you because they contain the highest levels of beneficial vitamins, minerals and nutrients. They’re also free from contamination by toxic pesticides and chemical fertilisers, better for you, the farmers, their families and communities.

# Ingredient Description
001 Alcohol denat. (denatured alcohol) Our alcohol is made from organic rye. It is denatured to make it undrinkable, but it is safe for external use. It helps mix oil- and water-based ingredients and it has a preservative action.
002 Allantoin Allantoin appears as a white crystalline powder which may be incorporated into a wide range of cosmetic preparations. It is considered a soothing substance for irritated skin and it is claimed to have some effect on the repair of wounds but there is no scientific substantiation to these claims. Allantoin is a keratolytic substance which means that it is able to soften and dissolve the keratin (horny) layer of the skin, by virtue of its action on the keratin protein that makes up this layer. It is a common ingredient in moisturising substances and products used to diminish skin irritation. It is used, for example, in treating thickened, dry skin, and cracked lips and it is a common ingredient in shampoos for the treatment of dandruff. Allantoin is found in Comfrey. When comfrey is applied fresh to wounds, sores or ulcers, the mucilage containing the allantoin dries and then thickens and contracts drawing the sides of the wound together, inhibiting infection. Where the wound is fairly superficial it can heal the skin with little scarring.
003 Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate This surfactant (see surfactants) along with SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sulphate) belongs to the category of alkyl sulfates/sulphates. They are produced by sulfation of the corresponding fatty alcohol and then neutralised by respectively ammonia (ALS) or Sodium Hydroxide (SLS). SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) is an ethoxylated version of SLS: ethoxylation makes it more hydrophilic. ALS and SLS are considered natural simply because they do not undergo ethoxylation (which is not allowed by natural/organic Standards). ALS is a good foaming agent especially in hard water. The fatty alcohols used to manufacture this grade are derived from coconut. It is used in shampoos.
004 Apricot Oil Polyglyceryl 10 Esters This is a category of ingredients produced by the esterification of the fatty acids derived from Apricot Kernel Oil and Polyglycerin-10 (a polymer made by 10 molecules of glycerine). It has a typical amphiphilic structure, i.e. it has both a hydrophilic and a lipophilic chain. For this reason these substances are good dispersing agents utilised to carry oils into water, for example an essential oil into the water in the bath tub. They also have good emollient, hydration and moisturising properties.
005 Ascorbyl Palmitate An antioxidant derived from vitamin C. The cosmetic industry shows great interest in Vitamin C due to its antioxidant properties but its use is limited by its instability in aqueous system (most cosmetic products contain water). Ascorbyl palmitate is an ester derived from Ascorbic Acid and Palmitic Acid (a vegetable derived fatty acid). Ascorbyl Palmitate can be defined as an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C and it is stable in cosmetic preparations. It is also used to prevent rancidity of vegetable oils.
Back to top
006 Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Powder A powder obtained from the Bamboo Tabasheer. Certain female bamboos contain a white secretion in their joints called “Tabasheer”. It consists almost of pure hydrated silica and has been used in Indian phytotherapy for its remineralizing properties as well as for strengthening hair and nails. Bamboo powder has oil-absorption properties which make it an ideal choice to limit excessive perspiration and sebum. Moreover, it leaves the skin smooth and silky.
006 Beeswax (Cera alba, Cera flava - white, yellow beeswax) Beeswax is produced by bees to make the walls of the honeycomb in which the honey is stored. And just as beeswax protects the honey, so, cosmetically, it can play a role in protecting one's complexion. Traditionally it is found in moisturising, cleansing creams and ointments. It has a thick waxy texture which is good for use on stressed areas of exposed skin, such as the hands or the lips. Our beeswax is sourced from New Zealand and is organic.
007 Benzoic Acid Benzoic Acid and its salts (e.g. Sodium Benzoate) are used as a preservative in the cosmetic as well as in the food industry. It derives its name from the gum Benzoin: traditionally Benzoic Acid used to be extracted from this natural resin. With an increase in consumption, Benzoic Acid is now only available as a synthetic ingredient - natural extraction would not be sustainable and it would be detrimental for the environment. Benzoic Acid is defined a "nature identical" substance: it exist in nature, but it is synthetically made in order to preserve nature. The synthetic and the nature-occurring molecules are exactly the same. Its use is allowed in natural/organic cosmetic products, however we do not intentionally use it. Benzoic Acid / Sodium Benzoate can be found in some ingredients that we use; this is why it may appear on the Ingredient list of some products of ours.
008 Benzyl Alcohol It is a substance extracted from plants and fruits e.g. lavender and orange. Some essential oils do contain Benzyl Alcohol. Benzyl Alcohol is an allergen and can be used as a preservative in natural/organic cosmetic products. We have not used Benzyl Alcohol as an ingredient in new formulations since 2012, however it can be found in many of the essential oils that we use in our products. It is a safe antibacterial agent and has a pleasant odour.
009 Benzyl Benzoate Benzyl benzoate is a naturally occurring allergen found in some essential oils we use. It has a fixative action, helping to stabilise and maintain the blended fragrance in a product.
010 Benzyl Cinnamate Benzyl cinnamate is a naturally occurring allergen found in some essential oils we use, such as cinnamon, helichrysum and lemongrass. It is also found in benzoin resin.
011 Benzyl Salicylate Benzyl salicylate is a naturally occurring allergen found in some essential oils we use, such as ylang ylang.
012 Bisabolol The main active ingredient in chamomile which has excellent skin healing properties. It can be used separately from chamomile but is used in concentrated form to emphasise chamomile's skin healing capacity.
Back to top
013 Capric/Triglycerides It can be described as a clear, all-vegetable derived triester possessing unusual lubricity and emolliency. It is very light in colour and is low in viscosity resulting in a smooth, silky, emollient feel on the skin.
014 Cetearyl Alcohol This is a solid substance, usually referred to as "wax", widely used in the cosmetic industry to impart body and consistency to emulsion based products for both skin-care and personal-care applications. It is typically derived from palm oil. It is a mixture of fatty alcohols, predominantly Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohol.
015 Cetearyl Glucoside This is a vegetable-derived oil-in-water emulsifier derived from the condensation of Cetearyl Alcohol with Glucose.
016 Cetearyl Olivate This is a vegetable-derived oil-in-water emulsifier derived from the esterification of Cetearyl Alcohol and the fatty acids derived from olive oil.
017 Cetrimonium Chloride It is a quaternary ammonium compound used for its conditioning properties. It carries a cationic charge that can neutralise the anionic charge of the hair, therefore conditioning it.
018 Cetyl Alcohol This is a solid substance, usually referred to as "wax", widely used in the cosmetic industry to impart body and consistency to emulsion based products for both skin-care and personal-care applications. It is typically derived from palm oil.
019 Cinnamal Cinnamal occurs naturally in some essential oils we use, such as cinnamon, lemon, lemongrass and petitgrain. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
020 Cinnamyl Alcohol Cinnamyl alcohol occurs naturally in some essential oils we use such as cinnamon. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
021 Citral Citral occurs naturally in some essential oils we use such as bergamot, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavandin, lime, litsea, orange, palmarosa and rose. It has lemony scent. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
022 Citric Acid Citric acid is a natural occurring fruit acid, produced commercially by microbial fermentation of a carbohydrate substrate. It is widely used in the cosmetic industry to adjust the pH to acidic values (i.e. below 7).
023 Citronellol Citronellol occurs naturally in some essential oils we use such as basil, chamomile, coriander, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, melissa, Roman chamomile, rose and tagetes. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
024 Cocamidopropyl Betaine A surfactant. It is a derivative of Betaine (aka N,N,N-trimethylglycine), a substance that can be found in sugar beet. Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) is made by reacting fatty acids from coconut oil and Dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) with Betaine. Currently DMAPA can only be sourced via petrochemistry. This reaction generates an amphoteric surfactant, i.e. a substance that shows both cationic and anionic behaviour depending on pH. It is widely used in personal-care products as it has a very good foaming power combined with an extremely mild toxicology profile. It shows also detoxifying power for more irritant surfactants, e.g. SLS, ALS, SLES - this means that CAPB used in conjuction with other surfactants will lower the irritancy potential of the mixture.
025 Cocoa butter (organic & fair trade) A solid fat obtained from pressing the roasted seeds of the cocoa beans of the South American cocoa tree. No chemical processes are involved in its extraction. Cocoa Butter is used as an emollient and conditioning agent, as well as in the production of ointments, lotions and skin-softening cosmetic creams - especially for treating wrinkles. It is a useful body moisturiser and has a reputation for helping to prevent stretchmarks. Melting at body temperature Cocoa Butter penetrates the skin and then leaves it with a silky finish. Cocoa Butter is also used as a lubricant in the manufacture of suppositories.
026 Coconut Acid This name identifies the fatty acids extracted from coconut oil. This ingredient is typically used in toiletries for its cleansing and foam boosting properties.
027 Corn starch (organic) Starch obtained from corn and used as a thickening agent, stabiliser and absorbent powder. This pure, renewable, natural ingredient has similar absorbent and aesthetic properties to talc. It is vegetable derived while talc is of mineral origin. In the Baby Powder it is used as a natural alternative to talc, which can lead to lung problems if inhaled.
028 Coumarin Coumarin occurs naturally in many plants, giving them a sweet clover smell. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
Back to top
030 Decyl Glucoside This is a naturally derived non-ionic surfactant with good foaming and cleansing properties as well as having a favourable dermatology profile. It is derived from fatty acids of vegetable origin and sugar.
031 D-Limonene See Limonene.
Back to top
032 Esculin Aesculin Naturally derived from HORSECHESTNUT bark, esculin is a skin protectant with UV absorptive properties. It is used as a low level sunscreen.
034 Eugenol Eugenol is an allergen that occurs naturally in some essential oils we use, such as basil, bay, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, palmarosa, petitgrain, rose, tagetes ylang ylang. It has a pleasant, spicy aroma. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
Back to top
035 Farnesol Farnesol is an allergen that occurs naturally in some essential oils we use, such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, neroli, palmarosa, rose and ylang ylang. It emphasises the aroma of other sweet, floral scents. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
Back to top
036 Geraniol Geraniol occurs naturally in some essential oils we use, such as chamomile, citronella, clary sage, coriander, geranium, ho leaf, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, neroli, Roman chamomile, rose, Spanish sage and ylang ylang. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
037 Glycerine (organic / non organic) Glycerin Glycerine is probably one of the most widely known and used ingredient in cosmetic products. It is a colourless and odourless thick liquid and is a by-product of the saponification process of vegetable oils. It is mainly used as a solvent and is a good humectant, i.e it has hydrating properties. We use organic (preferably) and non-organic Glycerine: both are non-palm derived, i.e organic certified glycerine comes from karanja oil while non-organic glycerine comes from coconut oil.
038 Glyceryl Laurate A naturally-derived surfactant that shows some anti-microbial properties.
039 Glyceryl Stearate Glyceryl Stearate is a naturally-derived monoester of Glycerine and Stearic Acid. It is used as a primary emulsifier in water-in-oil emulsions and as a co-emulsifier in oil-in-water emulsions. It can also be used to build viscosity and body in emulsions and as an opacifier in surfactant systems. It also has emollient properties.
Back to top
040 Honey (organic) Mel Honey is nourishing and moisturising. It has been used since ancient times in assisting the skin and hair to retain moisture, while it softens, lubricates, nourishes, soothes and protects. It also has success as a digestive in the treatment of inflammations, wounds and burns, frostbite and colic. It helps to tone tired skin. In addition honey acts as a preservative by drawing moisture from many bacteria - including salmonella and E.coli - making it impossible for them to live in its presence. The organic honey which we use in our products comes from hives which are separated by at least 2 miles from all contaminating sources - landfills, sprayed crops, GM crops etc. The presence of heavy metals like lead and cadmium gives a warning of pollution in the areas from where pollen is collected. All aspects of bee-keeping are regulated by the Organic Certification Body.
Back to top
041 Isoeugenol Isoeugenol occurs naturally in some essential oils we use, such as clove, lime, litsea and ylang ylang. It has a sweet scent like vanilla. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
Back to top
042 Kaolin China Clay Kaolin is an absorptive, pure type of clay. Because of its high moisture absorption capacity and its excellent grease resisting properties it is used in face powders, talcum powders and deodorants. It is more suitable for greasy skins and should not be applied neat to dry skin. On the feet it may draw out impurities and help with foot perspiration problems. At Neal's Yard Remedies we cannot recommend the use of clays for internal use.
Back to top
043 Lanolin Lanolin is also known as wool fat or wool wax as it is extracted from the wool of sheep. It is one of the natural materials available that is most closely akin to emollients found in human skin. This makes it a natural skin lubricant. Lanolin is a particularly useful moisturiser in the treatment of dry and chapped skin or dry hair because it sinks easily into the skin, scalp and hair. It is also used in ointments and aids in protecting the skin against environmental and chemical damage.
044 Lanolin Alcohol Lanolin alcohol is derived from lanolin and is a yellow waxy material. It is a mixture of alcohols derived from the hydrolysis of lanolin. Lanolin alcohol consists of non-saponifiable fractions of lanolin and is refined to a high level of purity. In cosmetics, lanolin alcohol is used as an emollient and as an effective moisturiser. It is less sensitizing than lanolin.
045 Lauryl Betaine A mild, synthetic detergent and foaming agent based on vegetable-derived raw materials which is used to create milder formulations when combined with other detergents. Betaines are used to decrease the irritancy potential of other detergents.
046 Lauryl Glucoside A surfactant derived from fatty acids of vegetable origin (mainly Lauric Acid) and glucose.
047 Lecithin Found throughout the body - in particular the brain and liver - and vitally essential, lecithin aids the transportation of fat throughout the body. With cholesterol it produces bile, thus reducing cholesterol. This is an excellent natural emulsifier derived either from the processing of soya beans or from eggs (although also found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds). It is required by the body for cell-membrane protection and replacement. It breaks up deposits of fat in the blood, inhibits cholesterol deposits in the body by keeping it moving, and can dissolve small gallstones and prevent artherosclerosis. Externally lecithin acts as an emollient, moisturiser and surfactant and has mild antioxidant and nourishing prope.
048 Levulinic Acid Occurs naturally in sugar cane and is a by-product of sugar production. It has anti-microbial properties that are useful to decrease the amount of conventional preservatives used in cosmetic products.
049 Limonene Limonene occurs naturally in many essential oils we use: bay, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile, cistus, citronella, clary sage, coriander, cypress, elemi eucalyptus, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, ho leaf, juniper, lavandin, lavender, lemongrass, lime, litsea, mandarin, neroli, niaouli, orange, palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, Roman chamomile, rosemary, Spanish sage, spearmint (garden mint), tagetes and tea tree. It smells like oranges and is used as a natural flavour in our toothpastes. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
050 Linalool Linalool occurs naturally in many essential oils we use: basil, bay, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile, cinnamon, cistus, citronella, clary sage, coriander, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, ho leaf, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lime, litsea, mandarin, marjoram, neroli, niaouli, palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rose, rosemary, Spanish sage, spearmint (garden mint), tagetes, thyme, violet absolute, yarrow and ylang ylang. Some people are sensitive to this constituent.
Back to top
051 Magnesium Carbonate The structure of this chemical is such that it absorbs water easily. It is used in the Baby Powder to counteract any moisture that the starch might absorb from the air and is thus used here as a flowing agent.
052 Montmorillonite Red Clay Montmorillonite, more commonly known as red clay, has been used in cosmetics for thousands of years, it is deeply absorptive and cleansing. It absorbs the skin’s oils and toxins, while its high mineral content improves the skin’s circulation and general health.
Back to top
053 Octyl Palmitate Octyl palmitate is used in our Avocado & Vitamin E Night Cream and Comfrey & Mallow Foot Balm for its rich, moisturising and softening capacity.
Back to top
054 Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 A bio-active derived from palmitic acid (from plant oils) combined with animo acids to helps to stimulate collagen formation.
055 Panthenol Panthenol is a precursor to vitamin B5, which means it is converted into this vitamin when absorbed by the body. It encourages cell growth and is moisturising, which is why we add it to some of our cleansers and lotions.
056 Parfum ‘Parfum’ indicates a mixture of aromatic ingredients that are designed to fragrance a product. Our products are fragranced only by pure essential oils only. We prefer to list all our ingredients, so you only see 'parfum' in a couple of cases where we are restricted by the amount of space on our labels.
057 Peach Powder A natural exfoliant made from the pith of the peach.
058 Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil This is an emollient that is softening and lubricating to the skin. It is made from a blend of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and castor oil. It also acts as a preservative.
059 Phenoxyethanol Phenoxyethanol is a preservative. It is particularly effective at protecting water-based products, such as moisturisers, from bacterial contamination. It is mild enough to be used safely on the skin.
060 Polysorbate-20 Polysorbate-20 is a viscous liquid that we use in our flower waters and shampoos to help emulsify and stabilise these water- and oil-based formulations.
061 Polysorbate-60 Polysorbate-60 is used in some of our cream cleansers and moisturisers for its emulsifying action. It helps to bind and stabilise our water-based ingredients with our oil-based ingredients.
062 Potassium Sorbate Potassium sorbate is used widely in the food and cosmetics industry as a preservative. We add it to many of our moisturisers and hair care products to give them a gentle preservative system that guards against yeasts, moulds and fungi.
063 Propolis extract (organic) Propolis is produced by bees from a resinous substance collected from trees. It is used to protect the hive. Its antimicrobial action makes it useful in cosmetics as it helps to protect and repair the skin. All our propolis is certified organic.
064 Pumice Powder Obtained from porous volcanic rock, we use pumice powder in our Pumice Foot Scrub and Seaweed Salt Scrub for its gently abrasive cleansing action. It helps to remove dead or hardened skin, cleansing and softening at the same time.
065 Pure Sea Salt Sourced from French salt marshes, we use pure sea salt in our Lavender Bath Salts. Sea salt is rich in minerals and is antiseptic and cleansing. It is deeply relaxing and helps to loosen muscles and refresh the skin.
Back to top
066 Sclerotium Gum Sclerotium gum is obtained from the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. It is a natural thickener that promotes hydration of the skin and the product itself. It also helps to stabilise the emulsion of other ingredients in a product.
067 Shea butter (organic) Butyrospermum Parkii The butter produced from the nut of the African Karite tree has been long used for its superior moisturising properties. Our shea nut butter is produced in Ghana and is certified organic.
068 Shikimic Acid Shikimic Acid is naturally obtained from a Japanese plant called Shikimi (Illicium Verum, aka Star Anice). Shikimic Acid has been proven to have an action on skin odour control through several mechanisms, i.e. inhibition of growth of certain micro-organisms and inhibition of degradation of triglycerides into free fatty acids responsible for bad odours.
069 Sodium Castorate Sodium castorate is the soap created from castor oil when it is mixed with sodium hydroxide. It cleans and soothes, and provides a waterproof coating on the skin so it doesn’t dry out. It is in our Citrus Hand Wash.
070 Sodium Citrate Sodium citrate is a salt derived from citric acid. It has a preservative action, and as a buffer, it helps regulate acidity in products. It is commonly used in the food and cosmetics industry.
071 Sodium Cocoate Sodium cocoate is the soap created from coconut oil when it is mixed with sodium hydroxide. It gives a good lather and cleanses without being harsh. It forms the base of many of our soaps, along with sodium palmate.
072 Sodium Hyaluronate Sodium hyaluronate is found naturally in the body. It boosts skin moisture levels and smoothes out wrinkles to give the skin a soft finish. It is also a gelling agent that keeps ingredients together and to refine a product’s texture.
073 Sodium Hydroxide Caustic Soda Lye Sodium hydroxide’s main use is in the formation of soap, when it is usually combined with palm oil or coconut oil.
074 Sodium Lauryl Sarcosinate This is a mild foaming and cleansing agent which effectively removes surface oil, dirt and bacteria from the skin or hair.
075 Sodium Methyl Coco Taurate This is in our Seaweed & Arnica Foaming Bath for its foaming and cleansing actions. It is fairly mild but its combination with lauryl betaine makes it even milder. It is derived from coconut and taurine, an amino acid.
076 Sodium Palmate Sodium palmate is the soap created from palm oil when it is mixed with sodium hydroxide. It lathers and cleanses well without being harsh. It forms the base of many of our soaps, along with sodium cocoate.
077 Sodium Usnate An extract derived from lichen, it is used in our deodorants for its antibacterial properties.
078 Sorbitan Olivate Derived from olive oil, sorbitan olivate is an emulsifier that is often blended with cetearyl olivate. Together, these emulsifiers help mix oil- and water-based ingredients and help to give a product a luxurious, smooth feel.
079 Sorbitan Stearate Sorbitan stearate is an emulsifier that we use in many of our moisturisers and bath oils. It helps blend water- and oil-based ingredients; in particular it solubilises essential oils in water.
080 Stearic Acid Stearic acid, derived from coconut or palm oil, is in our Red Clay Shaving Gel to emulsify the ingredients and give the product a smooth finish. It also helps to soften the skin and hair, which lessens skin aggravation.
081 Sucrose Distearate Sucrose distearate is formed from sugar and stearic acid, a natural fatty acid derived form coconut or palm oil. It is an emulsifier and is used in our After Shave Balm to blend the essential oils with the water-based ingredients.
082 Sucrose Stearate Sucrose stearate is formed from sugar and stearic acid. It is not as strong an emulsifer as sucrose distearate, but it is used in some of our lighter moisturisers to help mix the ingredients together.
Back to top
083 Tocopherol Vitamin E Tocopherol is vitamin E, which is extracted from vegetable oils. It exhibits antioxidant activity, which means it not only preserves the products that it is in, but it also can help to give some antioxidants and nourishment to the skin.
084 Tocopheryl Acetate Tocopheryl acetate is a thick, oily liquid that is derived from tocopherol, or vitamin E. It is very nourishing and protects the skin from harmful environmental effects.
085 Triethyl Citrate Triethyl Citrate is obtained from the esterification of ethanol with citric acid, both deriving from corn by fermentation. Triethyl Citrate has a long history of use in deodorants due to its capacity to inhibit esterase activity in bacteria. The enzymatic cleavage of certain esters present in human sweat and the resulting liberation of malodorous short chain fatty acids is one of the main reasons for bad smell on the skin. Triethyl Citrate has a well-known effect to inhibit this process in bacteria.
Back to top
086 Water (Aqua) Water is an essential component for healthy looking skin and hair, as it cleans and moisturises. It is also necessary to dissolve water-soluble ingredients in a product and therefore forms the base of many of them.
Back to top
087 Xanthan Gum Xanthan gum is derived from corn. It is a mild thickener, emulsifier and stabiliser that we use in many of our products to enhance their consistency.
Back to top
088 Zinc Oxide CI77947 Zinc oxide is insoluble in water, forming a protective barrier when applied to the skin. In our sunscreens it increases water-resistance and protection from UV rays. In Baby Barrier it is used for its mildly astringent, antiseptic and water-resistant properties.
Back to top