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This chemical decomposition of a (usually fatty) substance causes it to smell "off’ or rotten. Rancidity is the result of oxidation, and natural antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E can safely slow this process.


The "recommended daily allowance"—the government’s idea of how much you should ingest of a given substance.


In Imerbology, a substance that reduces excess body heat.


These natural products are available either as direct plant exudates or as alcohol extractions of botanicals. They rarely occur in nature without being mixed with gums and/or oleoresins.


This aromatic phenol, used as an antiseptic, preservative and astringent, can be derived from resins such as galbanum or asafetida, but it’s usually produced synthetically. Exposure to it can cause methemoglobinemia (a blood disorder), convulsions and death.


This dermal protein is sometimes used in "cellular" rejuvenation cosmetics.


The root-like stem of a plant.


Vitamin B2. See diet for hair and skin.

rice bran wax

See waxes.

rice powder

A nontoxic ingedient used in face powders.

ricinoleic acid

A fatty acid found in castor oil.

Rosa Mosqueta

This is the trade name for rose hip seed oil from the Rosa aff rubiginosa (and also the common name for that variety of rose). Rosa Mosqueta has been used for skin burns, cheloids and scars (hypertrophic, hyperchromic and refractile). As a cosmetic, it smoothes wrinkles, hydrates the skin and slows new signs of aging. (It’s contraindicated for oily skin and acne, however.)

The use of Rosa Mosqueta oil first came to my attention in the summer of 1986, when samples and technical information were sent to me by Dr. Fabiola Carvajal Montiel of the School of Dermatology at the University of Concepci6n, in Chile. Her case studies were dramatic.

After three months of daily application of Rosa X’Iosqueta, the wrinkles around the mouth and eyes of one patient were far less noticeable, and some seemed gone entirely. Another female patient with hvpertrophic scars on the forehead and around the mouth and eyes showed dramatic improvement after six months of treatment. A 26-year-old male patient had extensive traumatic scars from an operation on his face; after four months of treatment, the scars had almost disappeared.

It’s not known whether every type of rose hip seed oil works the same, or if Rosa Mosqueta itself will work for everybody, but it’s an excellent skin and hair care treatment (probably due to the fatty acids and the carotenoids it contains).

Dr. Montiel recommends massaging the Rosa Mosqueta oil in for two or three minutes (to obtain good penetration). I’ve found that putting a high-quality, fatty-acid-based cream over the Rosa Mosqueta gives even better absorption; however, the cream should be made without petrochemicals (mineral oil, etc.), as these will reduce absorption and affect the skin adversely.

Rosa Mosqueta has no known toxicity. It differs from other herbal oils, having a mild pH (around 5.1) and a rather low saponification number. Analyzed extensively by South American researchers, it’s been found to be extremely high in essential fatty acids:

linoleic 41%, linolenic 39% (unsaturated), oleic 16%, palrnitic 3% and stearic 0.800 (saturated). Other fatty acids which have been identified are lauric, myristic and palmitoleic. The high content of essential fatty acids makes it valuable in the synthesis of prostaglan dins, which strengthen the immune system and cell membranes, and help tissues grow.

rose hip seed oil

The fruit of the rose is called a rose hip (or hipberry). Rose hips contain a lot of x’itarnin C (the concentration varies between 0.2400 to i.250o, depending on ripeness, climate and other factors). They also contain carotenoids (at concentrations of 0.0100 to 0.0500), flavonoids (O.Ol0o to 0.35%), pectin substances (3.400 to 4.600), polyphenols (2.O20o to 2.640o),fatty acids, glycosides, riboflavin, sugars and plant acids. Various species of rose hips contain other compounds and demonstrate a wide variety of pharmacological activity. (See Rosa Mosqueta for more on this.)

The oil of roses is a light yellow in color and has a strong odor of fresh roses. Rose oils in general can’t be synthetically produced, and even a supposedly artificial rose oil must contain some amount of natural rose oil. The scientific study of the rose has been chiefly to improve the odor and the appearance of the flower, rather than the medical or cosmetic uses of the oil.

The FDA considers rose hips (from Rosa alba L., R. damascena Mill, gallica L. and their varieties) as safe for use as nutritional or food supplements. To date, rose hip seed oil hasn’t been animal tested.

rosemary (Rose marinus officinalis,)

Like lavender, rosemary is a major herbal in England and the south of France. Most commercial rosemary oil today comes from France, Spain and Japan. Used in hair tonics for its odor and for its ability to stimulate the hair bulbs to renewed activity (it supposedly prevents premature baldness), rosemary oil is also excellent for the skin. Combining rosemary and sage makes an excellent hair rinse and wash.

Smoking rosemary and coltsfoot leaves is said to be good for asthma and other problems of the throat and lungs. Queen Elizabeth of Hungary used rosemary oil in her now famous hungary water, which dates back to 11235. It was made by putting a pound of fresh rosemary tops into a gallon of white wine, and then letting it stand for four days. Queen Elizabeth was partially paralyzed at one time and she is said to have been completely cured by rubbing this water on her arms, legs and feet.

The famous quote from Hamlet—"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance"—is based on the idea that rosemary is good for the brain and the memory. "As for rosemary," Sir Thomas More wrote, "I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because the bees love it, but because it’s the herb sacred to remembrance and therefore friendship."

According to The Treasury of Botany, rosemary could well be the symbol of women’s rights: "There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other countries that rosemary will not grow well unless the mistress is ~master,’ and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence for want of authority." Rosemary was used by the ancients in their religious ceremonies, in place of the more costly incense. In Spain and Italy, it was considered a safeguard against witches and evil. The Spanish revere it because it’s one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary, and the Spanish word for it, romero, also means pilgrim. Rosemary has also been used in the wreath worn by a bride (as a symbol of love and loyalty) and as a New Year’s gift.


These prickly bushes or shrubs (family Rosa ceae) were probably cultivated in Persia and brought to Italy via IVlesopotamia, Palestine, Asia Minor and Greece. Horace writes about growing roses in beds, and Pliny advises the deep digging of the soil. Roses were cultivated in ancient Rome and the red rose of Province (Rosa gallica) was of Roman origin. There’s a Greek myth that the crimson-colored rose sprang from the blood of Adonis. See rose hip seed oil and Rosa Mosqueta.

Rosa Mosqueta.



This aqueous dilution of the essence of roses was first prepared by Avicenna in the 10th century. French rosewater is superior to any developed elsewhere.

royal jelly

This nutritious substance is secreted in the digestive tube of the worker bees. They and the drones eat it for only a few days, but the queen bee eats it her entire life.

Royal jelly contains a full range of amino acids, mmerals, enzymes and vitamins A, B, C and E. It has very little cosmetic use, but it’s long been a part of Chinese medicine, usually mixed with tonic herbs like astragalus, codonopsitis and tang kiwi.

One of the most popular liquid Chinese medicines is ren-shen-feng-wangliang, which consists of royal jelly and ginseng. Another Chinese medicine, called ginseng-bee secretion (and sold in Chinese herb shops and some health food stores). contains 12% ginseng, 7% astragalus. 5% deer antler, 5% licorice root, 4% cordyceps, 3% tang kuei , 2% polvgonum multiflorum and 2% royal jelly.


In herbology, a substance that produces reddening of the skin and is a mild irritant.

Salicylic acid is an antipyretic and analgesic that works by inhibiting pro staglandin production.

Salicylic acid is absorbed quickly into the body, but secreted slowly. Some countries now forbid its use as a food preservative, and it’s not allowed in children’s products in the U.S.

Topically, salicylic acid is used as an antiseptic and preservative (as well as for its analgesic and antipyretic properties). Natural wintergreen oil is 98% salicylic acid, and is less likely to burn the skin than pure salicylic acid.

Although it occurs as an ester in several plants. sailcylic acid is usually synthesized from phenol, sodium hydroxide and carbon dioxide (the first synthesis was achieved by Kolbe in 1874), but the synthetic chemical isn’t the same as the plant esters. When salicylic acid is heated, it decomposes to phenol, which is toxic.


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Skin Anatomy and Physiology Acne Ingredients Cosmetics
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