Bookshelf: A Consumer’s Dictonary Of Cosmetics Ingredients by Ruth Winter

An ingredients list can be a utter minefield. Not being particularly scientifically minded (much to the disgust of my father who taught Physics for well over thirty years – sorry Dad!) I am not ashamed to admit that I do struggle to remember, decipher and certainly pronounce, a paragraph of long latin or near un-pronounceable chemical names that make up the ingredients list found on the back of many beauty products.

I picked this up a copy of A Consumer’s Dictonary Of Cosmetics Ingredients a couple of years ago on ebay (I think for as little as two or three pounds) and it has proved to be a great resource. 

The introduction discusses the US Governmental interpretation of a cosmetic and how they differ legally from a drug; gives an overview of the function of some ingredients (preservatives, humectants etc); and what to do if you have an allergic reaction to a product or ingredient. 

From this point on it is purely a dictionary; an alphabetical list of ingredients (harmful and otherwise) found in every day cosmetic products. Unless you gain pleasure from reading a dictionary from cover to cover, it is a book that you dip into as and when necessary – after all, who in all honesty who can remember the difference between Escin and Esculin off the top of their head?

It is a great investment if you have an interest in the ingredients that are in your products. As you can probably see from the image above, I do not own the most up to date copy (mine was published in 1984) however it has been regularly updated. Looking at Ebay today you can pick up a newer (2009) version for around £10.00. 

With Cosmetics ever evolving and technologies developing, I think I may just go and pick myself up a newer copy…

*Back to the afore mentioned ingredients…

Escin: a saponin occurring in the seeds of the Horse Chestnut tree. Practically insoluble in water and used as a sunburn protective
Esculin: Occurs in the bark and leaves of a Horse Chestnut tree. Used as a skin protectant in ointments and creams. No know toxicity

A Consumer’s Dictionary Of Cosmetic Ingredients
Author: Ruth Winter
Publisher: Published in 1976. Republished by Crown Publishers Inc. (2009)
ISBN: 0-517-55286-8

Image: Laura Jane Sessions – Organic Make-up Artist

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