No known benefits

Incidentals at a glance

  • Refers to ingredients with no measurable effect in a cosmetic or on skin
  • The lack of efficacy is almost always due to the amount being vanishingly low
  • Preservatives and de-foaming agents fall into this category
  • May also refer to ingredients added during processing that do not end up in finished good

Incidentals description

Incidental ingredients are defined by the FDA as “any ingredient of another ingredient or processing aid present at an insignificant level and having no technical or functional effect.” Preservatives, defoamers, stabilizers, and other similar ingredients that are part of another ingredient, blend, or used as a processing aid are examples of incidental ingredients. They are considered incidental because they are present in such vanishingly low amounts in the final product that they have no technical or functional effect in the formula or on skin. What is the difference between a regular ingredient in your personal care formulas versus an incidental ingredient? Incidental ingredients do not have any impact on the product’s performance, aesthetics, or safety. In the United States and many other countries, it is not a requirement to declare incidental ingredients on a cosmetic’s ingredient list since they have no impact on the product itself or how it may interact with skin. However, some brands opt to include them. In contrast, regular, non-incidental ingredients can and do have a wide range of effects in a formula and on skin. These non-incidental ingredients are required to be disclosed via standardized ingredient lists, as they serve an intended purpose to provide benefits to skin and its appearance and/or to stabilize a formula so it remains intact, stable and safe to use.

Incidentals references

  • Pharmaceutics, September 2021, pages 1–30
  • Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 83:13-14, 2020, pages 509–524

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


We couldn't find this in our ingredient dictionary. We log all missing ingredients and make continuous updates.

Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.