Ingredient Dictionary

Good

tribehenin PEG-20 esters

A complex mixture of tribehenin and PEG-20, this ingredient has multiple functions in cosmetic... Read More »

Categories: Emulsifiers, Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Emollients

Poor

TEA-lauryl sulfate

While there is abundant research showing sodium lauryl sulfate is a sensitizing cleansing agent,... Read More »

Categories: Irritants, Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

surfactant

Shortened term for surface active agent. Surfactants degrease and emulsify oils and fats and... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sulfates

Sulfates are a group of ingredients that have many consumers worried but in truth, misinformation, not sulfates, are the actual problem... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

steareth-20

Derived from the benign fatty ingredient stearyl alcohol, this functions primarily as a surfactant... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium trideceth sulfate

See surfactant

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium PEG-7 olive oil carboxylate

A mild surfactant formed by reacting fatty acids from olive oil esters from polyethylene glycol... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Emollients

Poor

sodium palmate

A soap ingredient created by the salts of acids derived from palm oil. May be naturally-derived or... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Poor

sodium palm kernelate

See sodium palmate , soap

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium myreth sulfate

Detergent cleansing agent similar to sodium laureth sulfate or ammonium laureth sulfate... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium methyl taurate

Mild surfactant. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium methyl cocoyl taurate

Mild surfactant. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Poor

sodium lauryl sulfate

Versatile ingredient composed of several non-volatile alcohols. Functions primarily as a surfactant... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Irritants, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate

A gentle cleansing agent that may be derived from coconut or made synthetically. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium lauroyl sarcosinate

Surfactant known (and used) for its foam-boosting properties. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium lauroyl lactylate

Used as an emulsifier and mild thickening agent in cosmetics. In higher concentrations, it... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Good

sodium lauroamphoacetate

Mild surfactant also used as a lather agent. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium laureth-13 carboxylate

Used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent.  Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium laureth sulfate

Can be derived from coconut; it is used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent. It is considered... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Average

sodium hydroxide

Also known as lye, it is a highly alkaline ingredient used in small amounts in cosmetics to... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Irritants

Good

sodium hexametaphosphate

Salt with multiple functions in cosmetics. It can act as a detergent, an emulsifier, a texturizer,... Read More »

Categories: Thickeners/Emulsifiers, Preservatives, Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium cocoyl isethionate

Derived from coconut, it is a mild detergent cleansing agent. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Good

sodium cocoyl glutamate

A cleansing agent derived from coconut oil. This ingredient is also used to help soften (remove... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

Poor

sodium cocoate

Used as a cleansing agent primarily in soaps. It can be drying and irritating for skin. Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents, Irritants

Good

sodium cocoamphoacetate

A gentle cleansing agent derived from coconut fatty acids. It functions as a cleansing agent and... Read More »

Categories: Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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