Prophylactic self-isolation for shampoo’s formula investigation. Day 31st.

Navigation in shampoo’s oceans. Transparent conception and tips. PART 2

Staying AT HOME, we already have started to l’earn about the shampoo’s formulas. You can find the first part of the investigation in the previous post:

I will continue to share some basic, transparent conception and tips to navigate in shampoo oceans:)

Navigation in a shampoo oceans or How to choose a better option:

Why “Aqua” is always the first ingredient?

All the ingredients in a shampoo (or any other cosmetic product) formula are written according to their percentage concentration, starting from the ingredients with a highest amount, and finishing with ingredients with a lowest amount. For example:

In the 1st and in the 2nd formulas, Aqua (water) is the main ingredient by percentage, it’s amount is highest. The least amount of ingredient is Cl16255 and Parfum in the 1st and 2nd formulas, respectively.

“Aqua” means water (in Latin). “Aqua” is a trivial, common name of water. In an ingredient list, other than “Aqua” could be “Water” or “Eau”. According to EU regulations, trivial, common names must be used for ingredient labeling and therefore should be easily recognized by consumers speaking different languages. Trivial names of cosmetic ingredients are taken from the European Pharmacopoeia.

Water is a good solvent for plenty of chemical/natural ingredients, and therefore makes a basis (major amount) for a shampoo formulas. Water could be different: purified, deionized, demineralized, tap water… But that aspect is never (never?) mentioned in an ingredient list.

From the other hand, ingredients like Cl16255 or Parfum are needed in very very small amounts to make their job. Actually, they never could be in front of shampoo’s list, but it is good to see them (or not to see at all?) at the end of the list!

What does <<Cl 16255>>mean?

Cl 16255, or any other “Cl” with numbers aside means the synthetic cosmetic colorant. As an example, Cl 16255 is a synthetic colorant “Acid Red 18”, with a chemical formula Trisodium 1-(1-naphthylazo)-2-hydroxynaphthalene-4′,6,8-trisulphonate.

There could be one or more synthetic colorants in one shampoo formula.

Synthetic colorants were found in further received shampoo formulas:

As one could notice, synthetic colorants are rather popular to add in shampoo formulas, because they are cheap and easy to handle with.

About natural colorants

As an alternative, natural colorants sometimes are used by producers. There are plenty of natural colorants available, but they are not cheap and adding them to a “chemical shampoo mixture” could cause unsuspected color changes or other reactions. In other words, it is difficult to manage with them:)

Usually, chlorophylls (magnesium chlorophyll) or Copper complexes of chlorophylls and chlorophyllins, as natural colorants, could be found in shampoo formulas (but I did not find it in any of received shampoo formulas).

Is there the word “fragrance” or “parfum”?

In general, if there is a word “fragrance” or “parfum”, it means that ANY chemical with a pleasant smell could be used. Because the amount of parfum required are very very low, it was assumed not even to group them in catalog list (as it is done for synthetic colorants).

Fragrance-sensitive people (children) could be sensitive to shampoo (contact dermatitis) just because of that one ingredient – “parfum” or “fragrance”. This word in an ingredient list is actually mystic, because it could not be identified anyhow by a consumer. Examples from the received formulas:

Synthetic parfum is rather popular to add in shampoo formulas, because it is cheap, easy to handle with and does not require any specific labeling.

Again, all the ingredients in a shampoo formula are written according to their percentage concentration, starting from the ingredients with a highest amount, and finishing with ingredients with a lowest amount. Unidentified parfum, as a potential skin irritant, if present, should be found at the very end of the ingredient list, but not in the middle.

About natural fragrances

In some high quality shampoos, natural fragrances could be added. In that case it will be clearly stated that fragrance/parfum is of natural origin.

Other option

Other option to avoid chemical fragrance/parfum is to look for a statement on a label that “shampoo does not contain any fragrance/parfum”.

Because the topic is really huge, we start from the very basics, and will continue going ahead in further posts. Stay tuned and subscribe to this blog to get notifications about every new post (these days it is coming every day:))


(1) International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook by Joanne Nikitakis and
Beth Lange, Ph.D., 16th edition, 2016

(2) 38 Natural Colourants for Organic Skincare,

(3) Handbook-of-Pharmaceutical-Excipients 6th Edition by Rowe, R.C., Sheskey, P. and Quinn, M., 2009

Photos by Dr. A. Palatronis on Phot of rose by Pexels

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