13 FDA List of Approved Cosmetic Ingredients – Usage and Labeling

There are ingredients in cosmetics that are either prohibited or approved by FDA. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of United has set regulations about cosmetic ingredients in The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. There are approved ingredients as well along with List of Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetic Ingredients by FDA with labeling guide and usage limit of each of the approved ingredients.

The dose of usage of the ingredients is needed in order to give consumers a sense of knowledge that approved ingredients does not mean safety is guaranteed and unlimited use is not dangerous. Approved ingredients also need labeling since FDA does not allow products to cite the approval as to avoid illegal marking. Thus, to create awareness, American citizens can read about the labeling regulation in FDA website.

Here is the FDA List of Approved Cosmetic Ingredients:

1. Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)

The ingredient commonly found within cosmetic is Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). AHA is often found in cosmetic products marketed as skin exfoliation, pore cleanser, anti-aging, and maintaining skin’s health in general. Research found the chemical to be able to increase sensitivity to sun but will not worsen when the topical use is stopped after a week and skin will return to normal.

The ingredient is approved with a labeling “Sun Alert” followed by caption advising user to use sun protection for a week while using the product and after discontinuation of use (SeeUsual Signs of Overexposure to Hazardous Chemicals Include) The labeling should be included by any company using this product to create consumers’ awareness.

2. Parabens

Parabens is often listed in many cosmetic and sanitary products’ ingredients. The main use of parabens is as preservative. Parabens is anti-bacteria agent that will keep the product intact from bacteria and mold. Many types of parabens include methylparaben, buthylparaben, ethylparaben, and propylparaben. The products contain parabens are in wide range of variations such as acne cream, hair care, soap, and many other kinds of products.

There is no specific regulation for the labelling as the ingredient is deemed temporarily safe and will need future research to inspect the harm. However, any company uses this as ingredients must mention the name in the ingredients section of product description to avoid the Chemicals in Cosmetics Products

3. Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)

Beta Hydroxy Acid has recently used specifically for anti-aging products. The chemical is intended to reduce fine wrinkle and improve skin texture. While AHAs is more widely used, BHA does not have the occasional skin irritation that AHAs are often associated with. BHA in products is often cited as salicylic acid, beta hydroxybutanoic, and trethocanic acid.

Consumers should be aware of BHA’s name as it is manifested in various names. After several testing by FDA and Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR), the panels approved ingredients to be a permitted chemical in cosmetic. However, as precaution, apply the product containing BHA in skin in case some types of skins are allergic to it. Indeed, this is not the List of Banned Chemicals in Cosmetics in Europe 

 4. Phthalates

Another approved ingredient by FDA is phtalates. Phthalates is widely used within industry from medical to cosmetic industry. In cosmetic industry, the chemical is often found in perfumes, hair spray, nail polish, lotion, and soap. Three types of phthalates are dimethylphthalate (DMP), diethylphthalate (DEP), and dibutylphthalate (DBP). Only DEP is still frequently used. (Related to: Harmful Chemicals In Nail Polish)

The type of phthalates contained in the product should be labeled in ingredients section. This is compulsory by FDA and if companies do not take the labeling regulation, there will be a penalty for it. The importance of labeling is to let consumers know about phthalates included in the product. Even though research have not found sufficient evidence that the chemical is hazardous to children, it is better to limit its use to infants. So, this is one of the FDA list of approved cosmetic ingredients.

5. Diethanolamine

Diethanolamine is temporarily approved ingredient by FDA as research has not yet linked the possibility of carcinogen tendency in diethanolamine to human. The previous research found a possibility of cancer development caused by diethanolamine residue in animal but whether it will affect humans or not is still under research,

Diethanolamine is often used in products that produce foam such as acne soap, shampoo, and shaving cream. Even though the chemical is still safe, if consumers want to avoid any unknown risk of its use, they can go by the labels: Cocamide DEA/MEA, DEA-Cetyl phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 phospate, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate, Triethanolamine and other ingredients mentioning DEA. Also see Harmful Chemicals in Antibacterial Soap to be more aware of chemicals in soap. 

6. Talc

Talc is listed in Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as a permitted ingredient used for industry. Unlike other natural silicate compound such as asbestos, talc is not carcinogen nor can it trigger benign or malignant cancer as it is frequently used in baby powder and skin talc. The only risk it may expose is its possible contamination of asbestos since the two compounds are usually mined together.

The labeling of the ingredient is important since FDA does not review cosmetic ingredients before they are released in market. However, if suspicion arises, FDA will conduct research to further seek the undiscovered effect of the chemical. Talc is simply cited as talc in products’ ingredients. (Read Examples of Organic Compounds and Uses)

7. Carmine and Other Color Additives

Carmine is among the permitted color additives approved by FDA. The chemical is used to produce deep red color. Carmine is extracted naturally from scale insects and some of the porphyrophora species. Carmine is often used as color additives in hair coloring, nailpolish, paints, and artificial flowers.

Here is the FDA List of Approved Cosmetic Ingredients:

  1. Copper powder
  2. Disodium
  3. Henna
  4. Titanium dioxide
  5. D&C coloring
  6. FD&C coloring

To make sure what ingredients the products contain, always check the label and look for the ingredients. Aside from the mentioned ingredients above, there are also other approved ingredients. By looking at the ingredients label and look the information up, the safety of thr chemical will be known. Also check Harmful List Of Banned Food Additives In Many Countries on how to recognize banned food additives.

Several cosmetic ingredients are permitted by FDA as research has not yet found the danger of those compounds.