In part 1 of this post Scatter Brain blogged on what you need to know about “Angel Dusting” a practice that involves adding very low levels of certain ingredients just to make the product more attractive to consumers. In part 2, she gives you tips on what do do about it.
So, how do we protect ourselves from paying for ingredients that are listed yet negligible? The answer is not that simple. First, find out if possible the therapeutic amount of the ingredient you want in a product. Then look on the product’s label at the order the ingredients are listed. The Federal Trade Commission mandates that ingredients on cosmetics must be listed in descending order of predominance. The higher on the list, the greater the likelihood the product contains a therapeutic amount of your ingredient.
Not my cup of tea
This issue gets murkier (sorry pun intended) when you start discussing botanical or herbal products that are extracts or infusions. Think about making a cup of tea. You can steep it a second or two and have practically clear liquid though there is “tea” in the liquid, or you can steep it for hours until it’s dark and cloudy. In fact, you might say that this strong infusion is a real tea party. However, even though tea, not water, is the desired ingredient, either cup of tea could be legally listed as an “infusion of tea” on a product label. And to complicate things more, it’s possible that the percentage of liquid not the percentage of actual tea would determine how far up the ingredient list “infusion of tea” would appear but more about “order of ingredients” in a second.
What else you should know
There are just a few exceptions to this rule. If the cosmetic is also a drug, active drug ingredients are listed before cosmetic ingredients. Ingredients present at a concentration not exceeding 1% may be listed in any order after the ingredients that are present at more than 1% in descending order of predominance. Color additives of any concentration may be listed in any order after the listing of the ingredients that are not color additives.
And finally, the name of an ingredient accepted by the FDA as a trade secret need not be disclosed on the label. Instead of declaring the name of that ingredient, the phrase “and other ingredients” may be used. This one is a real bummer but necessary I suppose.
Very simply put, a little clever sleuthing about an ingredient and its efficacy and/or therapeutic amount and knowing how the federal government mandates the listing of ingredients on product labels can help keep you from buying something bogus.
Did you find this helpful? How do you feel about Angel Dusting? Let us know at the Beauty Brains.
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