Skincare ingredients in plant extracts, why not written in a standard chemical name?

The main reasons are as follows.

  • The composition of plant extracts is too complicated, it really needs to be written as a standard chemical name, and the composition list can’t be written.
  • The plant purification process is difficult, it is difficult to make a single or a limited number of ingredients.
  • The cosmetics regulations do not allow them to be written as standard names.

In fact, in addition to extracts, many natural sources of raw materials have such problems.


The composition of the plant is very complicated.

Let’s take a look at the composition of the turmeric extract that has been a bit low recently and use it as an example.

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Don’t ask me what they are, because I don’t know. It is conceivable that if the simplest bold technique is used, that is, I often spit a pot of soup, the ingredient list inside is enough to eat a pot. More than two hundred ingredients, I am afraid that the outer packaging box of the cosmetics can’t be written! You must have thought of it, smart and smart. Since the ingredients are so complicated, we use a better process to extract the main ingredients, don’t we have clear chemical names?


The plant extraction process is very complicated

The plant extraction process is very complicated, and many ingredients are difficult to extract single or certain ingredients. We continue to make an example with turmeric.

First, use supercritical carbon dioxide technology to extract the turmeric, and it has changed from yellow to a golden oil with a high-grade sense.

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However, there are still many ingredients inside. These are the top components, which together account for 74%. So the remaining 26% are other messy chemical molecules. Are you sure you want to write them all out? Besides, write these molecules out, are you sure you can recognize them?

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It is not enough to extract it once, and then use Super Niu’s molecular distillation technology to extract it a second time. It is already very pale yellow, with the feeling of high-purity essential oils. The resulting ingredient list looks like this:
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Can you read it? Anyway, I can’t understand it, except for knowing that the concentration of these active ingredients has increased to 80.8%, and then nothing happens. What the hell is the remaining 19.2%? How much concentration is there? Probably only God knows.


Cosmetic regulations do not allow plant extracts to be written as chemical names

Because turmeric is not in the list of used cosmetic raw materials, in a sense, it is considered a banned ingredient in China to be written as turmeric root extract. At one time, the Food and Drug Administration considered a policy: if the concentration of the core ingredients in the extract exceeds 50%, it cannot be said to be an xxx extract, and it must be declared as an active ingredient. However, these active ingredients can be found pitifully in the catalogue of the names of used cosmetic ingredients. This means that those high-purity extracts can no longer be used. Bad money drives out good money. Finally, the opposition from the industry can’t stop it.

“The composition looks very simple, but it is actually very complicated” is not just a patent for plant extracts. Many other natural-derived ingredients have similar problems. Natural oils are also the hardest hit areas with complex ingredients. The following table shows the main ingredients of argan oil (left) and olive oil (right). There are fatty acids with different carbon chain lengths, different saturations, various polyphenols, and various vitamins. Seeing this huge pile, I would rather write a simple grease on the ingredient list instead of a pile of ingredients that ghosts don’t recognize.

In addition, the composition of hydrolyzed protein is also very complicated. It contains a lot of peptide fragments. There are thousands of amino acids permutation and combination, if they strictly follow the naming method of peptides. Even if the protein is hydrolyzed in place in one step, there are dozens of kinds of amino acids. For example, the hydrolyzed silk protein often used in facial masks, if the silk is completely hydrolyzed into a single amino acid, its composition is like this:


What’s so good about this pile of tattered amino acids? What’s there to say? So it’s not that people don’t want to write standard chemical names, but that they really can’t write it, can’t write it, and don’t want to write it!


Li, Shiyou, et al. “Chemical composition and product quality control of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.).” (2011).

Derouiche, Abdelfettah, et al. “Effect of argan and olive oil consumption on the hormonal profile of androgens among healthy adult Moroccan men.” Natural product communications 8.1 (2013): 1934578X1300800112.

Do, Sun-Gil, et al. “Silk fibroin hydrolysate exerts an anti-diabetic effect by increasing pancreatic β cell mass in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice.” Journal of veterinary science 13.4 (2012): 339.

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