Face Wash Ingredients

Woman washing her face

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There are many elements that make up the typical drugstore face wash and cleansers. However, there are some ingredients that are used more often than not in the leading brands. These additives are used to unclog pores, remove debris and dirt from the skin and to condition the skin to flake less and appear healthier.


Allantoin is used in many cosmetics and skin care products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits the use of allantoin in the 0.5% to 2% concentrations in over-the-counter skin protectant products. It is classified as both a skin protectant and a skin conditioner. Skin protectants relieve skin from irritations and skin conditioners reduce the dryness and flaking of skin making it appear healthier. Skin appears supple after the application of skin conditioners.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium laureth sulfate, commonly abbreviated SLS, is a cleanser. It belongs in the chemical class of alkyl ether sulfates, salts of sulfated ethoxylated fatty acids. They help the product foam and make the skin softer. They are typically put in skin products where there is a high mineral content. SLS, which is a main product ingredient in certain personal care products, help makes something lather.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a widely used cosmetic and personal care additive and is an organic alcohol. It has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) as safe up to 50% concentration. This additive is put into formulas to reduce flaking of the skin and to restore moisture. It locks water in the skin and prevents dull dry skin damage. It is also known as 1,2-propanediol or propane-1,2-diol.


Triethanolamine has been reviewed by the CIR as safe and is used in skin care products as a pH control and an emulsifier. It is considered safe up to 5% concentration. As an emulsifier, it makes water soluble and oil soluble additives blend together by reducing surface tension. As a pH control, it keeps the formula from getting too acidic or too alkaline.


Glycerin can be both a natural product and a synthesized product and is a sugar alcohol. It is used in many formulas as a skin conditioner, a skin protectant and a humectant. As a skin conditioner it reduces skin flaking and as a skin protectant it reduces skin irritations. Its humectant properties keep water and moisture in the skin so that it does not dry out.