As a beauty entrepreneur, we always search the net for inspiration and something to copy ;). Learning what the stuff means on a product’s label is an important skill we should develop and also understanding then how the ingredients used are translated into copy and marketing.

Today I want to start with a long time bestseller according to and also the company itself.

fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

© fresh Inc.

Here you can have a look at their online presence, it is interesting to note, that they do not offer a full ingredient list online at the time being, especially so because it is a legal requirement in the US.

An online search revealed the ingredients as follows:

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Rosa Centifolia Flower, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract, Angelica Keiskei Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, PEG-150, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, BHT, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Citronellol, Geraniol

These ingredients could be also confirmed by various packaging photos in online reviews.

Here the Key Ingredients listing according to fresh:

  • Rose fruit extract is known for its toning properties.
  • Rosewater helps to soothe and rose flower oil helps to nourish.
  • Angelica leaf extract is known to help retain moisture.*
  • Hyaluronic acid helps attract and maintain moisture to enhance suppleness.

*in-vitro test on ingredient


The Formulation

The EU has a bunch of Frame Formulations which can be used when adding your products to the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP). I am going to use it as a guide and when we can go deeper into each function of the ingredient.

To learn more about Frame Formulation and the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) click here.

IngredientsMaximum levels (% w/w)Product Example
Ethanol (alcohol, alcohol denat.)70
Humectants (e.g. glycerin, PEG) 25Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate
Plant extracts10 Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract, Angelica Keiskei Extract
Oils (e.g. vegetable and/or mineral)5Rosa Damascena Flower Oil
Silicones including volatile silicones (e.g. cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone)5
Bulking agents (e.g. silica, nylon powder)5Rosa Centifolia Flower
Additional ingredients (e.g. vitamins, UV filters)5Sodium Citrate, citric acid, BHT
Emulsifying agents, anionic / amphoteric / non-ionic surfactants (e.g. sorbitan stearate)5PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-150
Thickeners (e.g. carbomer)2 Xanthan Gum
Preservatives, antimicrobials2Phenoxyethanol
Parfum1.5Fragrance (Citronellol, Geraniol)
Aquato 100Water, Rosa Damascena Flower Water

You see all ingredients used in this Tonic fit nicely into the frame formulation and we also get an idea about the usage rates ūüėČ Glycerin is becoming sticky in concentrations over %5 so just go from there to determine the over usage rates.


The Ingredients

Water Рor aqua for outside the US, is usually the solvent in a formulation. You can use distilled, deionized, purified or tap water.

Glycerin Рis our humectant in this formulation. Humectants are water binding ingredients. In formulations, they usually play a double role. First, they act as a water-attracting ingredient on the skin applied to, second, they keep the product from drying out (this is very often the main reason why it is used). Chemically speaking glycerin or glycerol is a sugar alcohol (tastes awfully sweet), it can be obtained by synthesis or from natural sources, it is also a component of all animal and vegetable fats and oils.

Butylene Glycol – is a humectant and solvent. As a solvent it helps in formulations to make them thinner, get active ingredients easier into the skin and helps to incorporate other ingredients into a formulation. It also increases freeze/thaw stability.

Rosa Centifolia Flower¬†The beauty of a rose is here diminished to play a role as filler and maybe show stopper ūüôĀ

Rosa Damascena Flower Water – is a part of the water in this formulation. Scientific research shows that rose water has some antimicrobial, UV protection, antioxidant, and relaxing properties. (Source)

Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract – is an extract of the fruit of the Rambler Rose, also known as Japanese Rose. Different vendors describe its properties as anti-inflammatory, soothing, pore refining and toning.

Angelica Keiskei Extract – Skin Care wise I couldn’t really find much on this ingredient, there is a ton of research about dietary / health benefits. Most sources agree on a skin conditioning function. The only a bit more detailed (manufacturer) source I found is this:¬†Angelica Keiskei Extract

Rosa Damascena Flower Oil –¬†is a volatile oil obtained from the flowers of Rosa damascena. Rose Oil is known for its¬†emollient properties; it also offers antiseptic and astringent properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Rose oil can also help refine skin texture and probably has also some wound healing properties.¬†(Source)

Sodium Hyaluronate –¬†is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in connective tissues such as cartilage. It has a smaller molecular size as hyaluronic acid (making it especially penetrative) and is able to hold more water than any other natural substance. In cosmetics, it is used as a thickener and as a skin conditioning agent¬†that moisturizes and protects skin. It is a very effective moisturizing agent and an excellent humectant. It does penetrate the dermis and has a wide use. (source)

PEG-150 РMy guess it is PEG-150-Distearate and used here as solubilizer. PEG-150-Distearate is a polyethylene glycol diester of stearic acid. It is an effective thickener for surfactant-containing products (e.g. shampoo, conditioner, shower gels), a solubilizer for various water-insoluble ingredients, good co-emulsifying properties in creams & lotions.

PPG-26-Buteth-26 –¬†is the polyoxypropylene, polyoxyethylene ether of butyl alcohol. It¬†is an alcohol-based conditioning agent and surfactant. As a part of the PPG Buteth component group, it is utilized in cosmetics and skincare formulas due to its capability to restore the look of dry, broken hair and skin by reduction of flaking and improving suppleness.¬†It’s mainly considered an emulsifying agent with conditioning qualities, but can also be utilized as a scent component and surfactant.

PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil – is a non-ionic polyethylene glycol derivative of castor oil. PEG 40 hydrogenated castor oil is used in cosmetics as a solubilizer, emulsifier, surfactant and emollient. It is derived from Castor oil and is useful in producing products that disperse in water whilst offering good moisturizing properties.

Sodium Citrate –¬†Cosmetic manufacturers use sodium citrate to adjust the acidity of a product. Citrate, in the form of citric acid, is also found in citric fruits and juices.

Xanthan Gum –¬† is a biotechnologically produced polysaccharide consisting of a main chain of glucose units frequently with a side chain composed of mannose, glucuronic acid and ketalized pyruvic acid at every other glucose molecule. Acetic acid too can be ester-linked. Xanthan gum has thickening properties and improves the gliding characteristics of gels. Similar to hyaluronic acid xanthan has gentle skin-smoothing properties combined with moisturizing characteristics. The TEWL (transepidermal water loss) is slightly reduced if there is a superficial film on the skin.

Citric Acid –¬†Naturally occurring Citric Acid is a member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) group and in skin care products it is often used as an ingredient in exfoliants and chemical peels, but most often Citric Acid is used to adjust the pH in personal care products such as lotions, cremes, shampoos, etc.

BHT –¬†Butylated hydroxytoluene,¬†is used as preservatives in a variety of personal care products.¬†It neutralizes free oxygen radicals & prevents auto-oxidation of organic materials (prevents rancidity of fats & oils), extends shelf-life & stabilizes colorants of cosmetics.

Fragrance –¬†Fragrances are complex combinations of natural and/or man-made substances that are added to many consumer products to give them a distinctive smell. Fragrances are used in a wide variety of products to impart a pleasant odor, mask the inherent smell of some ingredients, and enhance the experience of using the product.¬†

Phenoxyethanol –¬†The ingredient 2-phenoxyethanol (phenoxyethanol) is well-known for its antimicrobial efficacy against a range of microorganisms, and it is particularly effective against Gram-negative microorganisms such as Pseudomonas species.¬†It is used as a preservative in both leave-on and rinse-off personal care products. (source)

Citronellol, Geraniol – are compounds found in fragrance and then exceeding predefined limits (IFRA Standards) have to be disclosed on the label. These components are always known allergens.


Customer Reviews of this Product

Here are links to a view reviews of this product. Consumer reviews are a good way to get an idea of what a consumer wants in products and can give you also great guiding points on formulation improvement and copy wording. ūüėČ


Decoding ingredient labels is a nerdy and fun way to spend some time, but it makes you also a better formulator and salesperson.

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have any suggestions for the next label decoding session? If yes please leave a review and don’t forget to share.

XO, Justine

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