Ingredients in One Earth Body Care Products
We select each of our ingredients to produce best-in-class products while doing our best to avoid conflict ingredients like palm oil and its derivatives. This page describes key ingredients and the products they’re used in. See our Sustainability Page for more information on how we select ingredients.
Cetyl Alcohol, an Emollient Fatty Alcohol
Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol and a waxy solid at room temperature. It’s formula is CH3(CH2)15OH. Here’s a molecular model of cetyl alcohol:
Cetyl alcohol is an “occlusive” substance, which reduces evaporation from the hair shaft and helps keep the hair from drying out. It’s a very common ingredient in lotions and other skin-care and cosmetic products.
Cetyl alcohol is produced from palmitic acid, a fatty acid that’s abundant in coconut oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter and other fats. The cetyl alcohol used in One Earth products is derived from coconut oil. To learn more about why we’re a palm oil-free company, check out our series of blog posts on palm oil.
The OH on the end of the cetyl alcohol molecule is why it’s called an alcohol. But unlike drying, distilled liquid alcohols such as ethanol, cetyl alcohol is a moisturizing, conditioning fatty compound. It acts as an emulsifier, holding oily and water-based substances together.
Cetyl alcohol is an ingredient in our conditioner bars.
Behentrimonium Methosulfate, an Emulsifying Conditioner
Behentrimonium methosulfate (BTMS) is an emulsifying conditioner derived from rapeseed oil. Our supplier has verified that the rapeseed oil source of their BTMS is non-GMO. BTMS is a great detangler and makes wet-combing hair smooth and easy. It helps give hair body and bounce without weighing it down.
What about the “sulfate” on the end of the name? Sulfates used in cleansing products can irritate the body. Strong surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate can be drying to the skin and scalp. In contrast, BTMS is not a surfactant. Many types of compounds contain sulfates. The sulfate in BTMS allows it to disperse in water and to hold oil- and water-based ingredients together.
BTMS is a positively charged quaternary ammonium salt. Its molecular formula is C26H57NO4S. What is a quaternary ammounium salt? Good question. Let’s break it down:
A salt is a molecule containing a cation (positively charged atom or molecule) and an anion (negatively charged atom or molecule). Think table salt (sodium chloride: Na+ and Cl–). An ammonium salt contains an ammonium cation (e.g., NH4+) and any anion. In a quaternary ammonium salt, the charged Nitrogen atom has 4 single bonds with Carbon atoms. Here’s a the structural formula of BTMS:
BTMS is an important part of our conditioner bar formulas. We also use a small amount of BTMS in our shampoo bars to help make them gentle and softening to the hair.
Organic Fair-Trade Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter, such a rich, emollient and delicious butter! Cocoa butter is the fat of the chocolate plant, Theobroma cacao. It’s found in the beans, along with cocoa powder. Theobroma cacao grows in tropical parts of the world, including South America and Africa. Our organic, Fair Trade-Certified cocoa butter is sourced from Peru. It’s a saturated fat, solid at room temperature, and it’s prized for body care as well as food. We use only organic, Fair-Trade-Certified cocoa butter in our products (certified by Fair Trade USA).
The fatty acids in cocoa butter include oleic acid (~35%), stearic acid (~33%), and palmitic acid (~28%). Cocoa butter is soothing and occlusive to dry skin and hair. It softens and protect curls and helps tame the frizz. Cocoa butter is a very stable fat; it’s loaded with antioxidants that give it a long shelf life. We love it for its nourishing, protective qualities, its stability and overall deliciousness.
Organic Fair-Trade Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a key ingredient in many One Earth products. Coconut oil adds a light, silky feel to hair and gives it physical protection. Its small molecular size lets coconut oil penetrate the hair shaft, which conditions and protects it from damage. A well-conditioned hair shaft absorbs less water. This is a good thing, because swelling and drying of the hair shaft can damage the hair.
Our coconut oil is sourced from small-scale farmers in the Philippines who farm an average of 20 acres each. The farmers cultivate up to 60 coconut trees per acre. Many grow legumes, bananas, mangoes or other small fruit trees beneath the coconuts. Farmers harvest the coconuts year round by hand with a long-handled knife. The discarded husks are used as compost or fuel, and ash from the burned husks is used as fertilizer. Fair-Trade practices provide a better price to farmers compared to conventionally farmed coconut. In addition, farmers get access to health care and higher education for their children.
Orange Peel Wax
Orange peel wax, (Citrus aurantium var. dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract), is a fabulous addition to conditioner bars. It’s a soft, orange wax extracted from orange peels after most of the essential oils have been removed from the peel. Orange Peel Wax consists of long-chain esters (ca. 50–65%), free fatty acids (6–15%), hydrocarbons (8–15%), phytosterols (ca. 4-8%) and free alcohols. It also contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds.
In nature, the wax embedded in orange peels helps to protect the fruit. It regulates moisture flow and gas exchange and inhibits pathogen penetration. Compounds in the wax help regulate microbial colonization of the orange peel.
Orange peel wax is used in cosmetics ranging from lip balms to sunscreen to conditioners. We use it in our conditioner bars for normal and oily hair. It lightly coats the hair surface, enhancing natural curl and shine while not weighing the hair down. When you use the conditioner as a leave-in product, the wax provides a styling gel-like effect. Orange peel wax naturally has a lovely, strong citrusy aroma. We use deodorized orange peel wax in some conditioner bars to match the shampoo bar aromas.
Caprylic / Capric Triglycerides
Caprylic / capric triglycerides (CCT) are also sometimes called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Caprylic / capric triglycerides can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oils – ours come from coconut oil. At room temperature, CCT is a clear, light liquid. It has a silky feel and is readily absorbed by skin and hair. CCT is non-greasy, lighter than whole coconut oil and is used as an emollient and antioxidant in skin-care products.
A little more detail on the chemistry: Coconut oil contains a variety of fatty acids with different carbon chain lengths and numbers of double bonds. These include caprylic (C8H16O2), capric (C10H20O2), lauric (C12H24O2), myristic (C14H28O2), palmitic (C16H32O2), stearic (C18H36O2), oleic (C18H34O2) and linoleic (C18H32O2) acids. To make CCT, the oil is heated and distilled to isolate the different fatty acids and separate them from their glycerol backbones. Then the caprylic and capric acids are recombined with the glycerol to form CCT.
Bamboos are treelike grasses in the pea family (Poaceae). There are more than 1400 species worldwide, distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. Some bamboo species grow in temperate regions. They can spread aggressively. Bamboo bioferment is made from the Giant Bamboo, Arundinaria gigantea, which is native to parts of the US.
Bamboo is a natural source of silica. To make the bioferment, macerated leaves are fermented with Lactobacillus lactis. The Lactobacillus forms a complex with the silica, and the resulting solution is used in hair-care products. The benefits of this natural silicate include improving “slip,” shine and combability. Bamboo bioferment is considered a natural alternative to synthetic silicones in hair-care.
Pathenol (pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B-5) is a moisturizer and humectant that binds to the hair shaft, acting as a lubricant and enhancing shine. Panthenol can also penetrate into the hair shaft, which may help strengthen the hair and protect it from mechanical and environmental stress.
When it comes to aroma in One Earth products, it’s all about essential oils! We use only plant-based essential oils for fragrance, never any synthetic scents. From lavender to patchouli to cedarwood to lemongrass, we use a wide variety of oils in our conditioner bars and other products. These plant essences are powerful and concentrated. They not only have compelling smells, they can have potent physiological effects too. Read more about essential oils in this post!