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Methods & Processes
Comparatively Speaking: Naming Cosmetic Raw Materials
By: Anthony J. O'Lenick, Jr., Siltech LLC
Posted: April 27, 2010
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The cosmetic chemist will also run into names like cocamidopropyl betaine that do not match any of the stem names. This is because the raw material uses coconut oil as a starting raw material. In these cases, an abbreviation of that starting material is used. Other names that chemists will encounter include palm kernel oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.
The INCI dictionary attempts to follow established conventions from other systems. For example, when naming an ether, the chemist takes the stem names from both fatty acids and adds the term ether. Thus, a molecule made with a 14-carbon and 16-carbon chains connected by an oxygen would be called cetyl myristyl ether. An ester of the same molecules would be cetyl myristate.
Hydrocarbons that contain nitrogen are amides and have the phrase included in their name. Therefore, lauramide is used to describe a 12-carbon molecule (lauryl) that has an NH2 group on its end. If the nitrogen has other hydrocarbons attached, those are also named. So, lauramide DEA would be that same 12-carbon molecule attached to a nitrogen, which also has ethyl groups attached to it. When these nitrogen-containing compounds are turned into salts, the suffix -monium is added. So, a 16-carbon attached to a nitrogen with three methyl groups is cetrimonium chloride.
A variety of conventions are used to name polymers. For nitrogen-containing polymers, the term polyquaternium is used. There is also a number associated with the ingredient but this does not refer to anything chemically, it just happens to be the order in which the material was registered. Other polymers use common abbreviations. PEG is polyethylene glycol; PPG is polypropylene glycol, etc.; these are followed by a number to refer to the moles of ethoxylation in the polymer.
For silicone-containing materials, terms like dimethicone, cyclomethicone and amodimethicone are used. Whenever some form of these words appears in a chemical name, the chemist knows there is some silicone in it.