What’s In The Bottle
You don’t need to interpret every aspect of a product’s formula, but you should examine the label. Because these aren’t products intended for human use, manufacturers don’t have to declare components. Some label their products with the list of ingredients, along with dosage and administration, and precautions. Other companies protect their trade secrets with vague statements (such as “patented ingredients”) or no information.
Brand-name recipes are produced by combining materials of different chemical formulas. The resulting solutions are compounds.
Organic compounds include lipids (such as fats, oils, waxes, sterols, and triglycerides) and proteins. Your horse’s living cells are made up of these organic compounds. His hair and hooves consist of the protein substance keratin.
As you read labels, consider the roles of ingredients. Each ingredient contributes a function, and the ingredient should be compatible with the hair’s keratin structure. For example, does the product contain a solvent? The American Heritage Dictionary describes a solvent as “a substance in which another substance is dissolved, forming a solution; A substance, usually a liquid, capable of dissolving another substance.”
Examples include alcohol, used as a solvent or cleaning solution, and glycerin, both a solvent and an emollient. Acetone can be used as an organic solvent.
Making a typical product involves extracting raw material to blend it into a formula. Many liquids begin with oil and water. With the popularity of “natural” products, you’ll see essential oils as ingredients. These are distilled from a plant, and usually mixed with a carrier oil.
Citronella, from a tropical Asian grass (Cymbopogon nardus), is one such oil. The aromatic oil obtained from this plant is used in human and equine insect repellents. Cedar oil also adds a fragrance that can repel insects.
In conditioners, you’ll see examples of humectants, or substances that promote retention of moisture. Glycerin is from glycerol, a liquid obtained from fats and oils. Cy Faries, of Exhibitor Labs, Inc., explained, “Glycerin is a wonderful humectant. Used in the same material with alcohol, you maintain the balance and still get rapid drying, as in hair spray.”
Another popular moisturizing ingredient is aloe vera, from the plant Aloe barbadensis. Aloe is known for its soothing and healing properties. Surprisingly, nettle is another ingredient that soothes the skin.
You’ll also see moisturizers containing oils from avocado, lavender, almond, rose, rosemary, pine, and wheat germ. Lanolin, fat extracted from wool, is another natural ingredient.
David Fletcher, of Unanimous, praised jojoba for its properties. “Jojoba is a therapeutic agent, which prepares skin for growth. It removes sebum. The skin retains proper moisture.”
Vitamin E is added to moisturizers, and Panthenol (vitamin B-5) is used in repairing dry, brittle hair. Jim Cummings, of Cowboy Magic, explained, “Panthenol is vitamin B-5 made from rice bran pantothenic acid. Panthenol attaches to hair shaft barbs to fill in and add smoothness, plus other benefits.” He also described silk protein: “A byproduct of vaporized silk molecules, recondensed into a liquid form to add strength, shine, texture, and ability to hold moisture.”
Petroleum-based products also can function as emollients. Petrochemical, or a chemical derived from petroleum, doesn’t mean harmful. Petrolatum, known as petroleum jelly, remains a staple for many uses. Mineral oil is an effective lubricant.
Cindy Carfore, president of Shapley’s, described how an oil-based product balances a drying or healing action with moisturizing. “M-T-G has a drying agent and conditioning agents to keep the skin moist and conditioned. It protects against the elements that cause fungus.” This conditioner is designed as a leave-in product, to condition the hair and skin.
The lubricant silicone comes from the mineral silica. Used on hair, this substance improves how hairs slide against each other, remaining slick and reflecting light. It also repels dust and dirt.
Shampoos are detergents, made of chemical compounds. Many contain sodium laureth sulfate and/or sodium lauryl sulfate. Both are derived from lauric acid, and they are found in top-quality salon products.
Cocamide is a detergent product, made with coconut oils and an organic compound, amine. You’ll see cocamide MEA (made with the amine, monethanolamine) and cocamide DEA (with diethalolamine).
Products might contain astringents, to dry and tighten skin. Witch hazel can help relieve itching.
Antiseptic, antimicrobial, or antibacterial properties of some products can prevent or treat minor skin irritations. Examples of natural ingredients include thymol (of thyme oil), eucalyptol (oil from eucalyptus), and the popular tea tree oil (from Melaleuca alternifolia).
Pyrethins are compounds found in many fly repellents. They form the active ingredients of pyrethrum (from chrysanthemum flowers). One brand of repellent contains DEET, a colorless, oily liquid that earns its name from d.t., or diethyl toluamide.
Products benefit from added fragrances, to improve the smell of the formulation. Natural fragrances, such as verbena or chamomile, can please your nose without irritating the horse. [btn link=”http://www.horseshoenation.com/safe-use-of-grooming-products/3/” color=”orange” size=”size-l” target=””]Next: Lotions and Potions[/btn]