Alphabetical Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary from Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop

Rating Ingredient
Good

D&C

According to the FDA, D&C is an identification that indicates a coloring agent has been approved as...

Good

D&C colors

General term for a wide group of color additives that are approved for use in drugs and cosmetics...

Poor

daisy flower extract

There is no research showing this extract has any benefit for skin. Also known as tansy, it can...

Categories: Plant Extracts
Best

d-alpha-tocopherol

Antioxidant that's considered the most optimal form of vitamin E.

Categories: Antioxidants, Vitamins
Poor

Daucus carota

Also known as wild carrot. It can have antioxidant properties, but applied topically it can cause...

Good

DEA oleth-10 phosphate

Used as an emulsifying agent, which is a group of ingredients essential to most cosmetic...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Best

decarboxy carnosine HCL

Good

decylene glycol

Functions as a skin-conditioning agent that can help enhance the penetration of other ingredients.

Categories: Skin-Replenishing
Good

decyl glucoside

A synthetic cleansing agent considered very mild on skin. It’s made from a mix of fatty alcohol decyl alcohol and the sugar glucose.

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

decyl oleate

A skin-conditioning agent with research backing its ability to improve immediate skin hydration. Its composition is similar to skin’s natural lipids.

Categories: Emollients
Good

dehydroacetic acid

A synthetic preservative uses in amounts of 0.6% or less. Sometimes its salt form (known as sodium...

Categories: Preservatives
Average

dehydroepiandrosterone

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

deionized/demineralized water

Filtered water used in cosmetics. All water used in cosmetic formulations goes through this process...

Categories: Uncategorized
poor

denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is a drying alcohol that weakens skin. If denatured alcohol is listed as the fifth ingredient or higher, it is of considerable risk for sensitising skin.

Categories: Sensitizing
Average

deoxyribonucleic acid

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

detergent cleansing agent

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Average

deuterium oxide

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

dextran

Polysaccharide that has water-binding properties for skin. Can be used to create a skin care product’s hydrogel structure.

Categories: Skin-Replenishing
Good

dextrin

Carbohydrate that is classified as a polysaccharide. It is used as an adhesive when mixed with...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

DHA

Categories: Uncategorized
Average

diatomaceous earth

Light-colored porous rock composed of the skeletons of minute sea creatures called diatoms....

Categories: Scrub Agents
Average

diazolidinyl urea

Water-soluble preservative.

Categories: Preservatives
Average

dibutyl phthalate

Also known as DBP, it is a common ingredient in nail polish and most synthetic fragrances sold...

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

dicaprylyl carbonate

A skin-conditioning agent, emollient and solvent that helps enhance the absorption of other ingredients in a cosmetic formula. May be derived from synthetic or animal sources.

Categories: Emollients
Good

dicetyl phosphate

A mix of portions from cetyl alcohol and phosphoric acid that functions as surfactant and emulsifier.

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

diethylhexyl carbonate

Functions as a lightweight emollient. Can also be used in sunscreen formulas to help keep the active ingredients dispersed throughout the formula.

Categories: Emollients
Good

diethylhexyl malate

Emollient and skin-conditioning agent derived from the solvent ethyl hexanediol.

Categories: Emollients
Good

diethylhexyl syringylidenemalonate

An ester that functions as a stabilizing antioxidant and helps protect cosmetics products from chemical or physical deterioration induced by light.

Categories: Antioxidants
Best

diheptyl succinate

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

dihydrocholeth-30

A synthetic ingredient that functions as an emulsifier...

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

dihydroxyacetone

Ingredient present in all self-tanners that affects the color of skin. Derived from sugar, it...

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

diisooctyl succinate

Diisooctyl succinate is a synthetic or plant-derived (Paula’s Choice uses the latter) transparent liquid emollient.

Categories: Emollients, Skin-Softening
Good

diisopropyl adipate

Used as a film-forming agent, emollient, and skin-conditioning agent.

Good

diisopropyl dimer dilinoleate

A synthetic ester that functions as a skin-conditioning agent and emollient.

Categories: Emollients
Good

diisostearoyl trimethylolpropane siloxy silicate

Emollient in the silicone family.

Categories: Silicones, Emollients
Good

diisostearyl dimer dilinoleate

A synthetic ester that functions as an emollient and skin-conditioning agent. May be animal-derived.

Categories: Emollients
Good

diisostearyl malate

Diisostearyl malate is an ester that functions as an emollient...

Categories: Emollients
Good

diisostearyl polyglyceryl-3 dimer dilinoleate

Diisostearyl polyglyceryl-3 dimer dilinoleate is an emollient blend of fatty acids often used in cosmetics to enhance coverage.

Good

dimer dilinoleyl dimer dilinoleate

A mixture of fatty acids and a fatty alcohol. This synthetic ingredient...

Good

dimethicone

An emollient silicone known for its permeable (think breathable) barrier that helps skin retain hydration. It has a uniquely silky, non-greasy feel.

Good

dimethicone/PEG-10/15 crosspolymer

A mixture of the silicone dimethicone with PEG-10 and PEG-15.

Categories: Silicones, Emollients
Good

dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer

A silicone powder that gives cosmetics products a silky feel and has some oil absorption properties.

Good

dimethicone copolyol

Categories: Silicones, Emollients
Good

dimethicone crosspolymer

A silicone derivative used as a stabilising and suspending agent or as a thickener in skin care products.

Good

dimethiconol

Categories: Silicones, Emollients
Good

dimethyl capramide

Functions as a stabilizer and solvent in cosmetics.

Categories: Uncategorized
Poor

dimethyl ether

Colorless gas used as a propellant in aerosol products. It is potentially harmful if inhaled…

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

dimethyl isosorbide

A solvent derived from the sugar sorbitol...

Categories: Uncategorized
Average

dimethyl MEA

Categories: Skin-Restoring
Average

Dioscorea villosa extract

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline

A peptide blend that supports skin’s own collagen by helping to firm and reduce the look of lines on skin and lips.

Categories: Hydration
Good

dipentaerythrityl hexacaprylate/hexacaprate

Mixture of fatty acids used as an emollient, emulsifier, and thickening agent. Leaves skin feeling soft and conditioned.

Good

dipentaerythrityl tetrabehenate/polyhydroxystearate

Used in skin care to create the right amount of slip and help bind moisture. Its substantive texture produces lasting results.  

Best

dipeptide-2

Dipeptide-2 is a small, less complex synthetic peptide made up of the amino acids tryptophan and valine.

Categories: Skin-Restoring
Best

dipotassium glycyrrhizate

Best

dipotassium glycyrrhizinate

Good

dipotassium phosphate

A synthetic salt that helps to adjust and maintain the pH of water-based and...

Categories: Miscellaneous
Good

di-PPG-3 myristyl ether adipate

Derivative of myristyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol) and adipic acid (a buffering and neutralizing...

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

dipropylene glycol

A synthetic texture enhancer and slip agent in cosmetics products.

Categories: Texture Enhancer
Good

disodium cocoamphodiacetate

Mild cleansing agent derived from coconut; considered one of the gentlest surfactants used in facial cleansers.

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

disodium cocoyl glutamate

Gentle cleansing agent derived from coconut, generally well-tolerated by those with sensitive skin.

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

disodium diglyceryl phosphate

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

disodium EDTA

Short for disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. Used as a chelating agent...

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

disodium glyceryl phosphate

Used as an emollient and thickening agent in cosmetics.

Good

disodium lauraminopropionate

A mild surfactant.

Categories: Cleansing Agents
Good

disodium lauriminodipropionate tocopheryl phosphates

This blend is part natural, part synthetic and offers multiple functions, including working as a cleansing agent and mild preservative. Research indicates it may also help calm redness.

Categories: Uncategorized
Good

disodium rutinyl disulfate

A water-soluble derivative of the bioflavinoid rutin...

Categories: Antioxidants
Good

disteardimonium hectorite

Used as a suspending agent, often with pigments.

Categories: Uncategorized
Average

DMAE

Categories: Skin-Restoring
Average

DMDM hydantoin

Formaldehyde-releasing preservative...

Categories: Preservatives
Good

docosahexaenoic acid

Good

dog rose

Categories: Plant Extracts
Good

dogwood

There is a small amount of research showing that dogwood has antioxidant and soothing...

Good

Dromiceius oil

Categories: Emollients
Good

dulse

Best

Dunaliella salina extract

A type of micro-algae that’s known for being adaptable and able to survive even in harsh natural conditions. It’s a rich source...

Good

durian

A tropical fruit that contains high levels of antioxidants such as caffeic acid and quercetin

Good

Durvillaea antarctica extract

Extract derived from a species of algae (Durvillea antarctica).

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!