Scientific Names and Beauty Products

Hi everybody,

Since I have been trained geek-style for so long, I get used to scientific names of species. When it comes to product labeling, manufacturers use scientific names for sources of natural extracts. For example, instead of writing aloe vera, they would use Aloe barbadensis. For common sources like aloe, most people can recognize the scientific names. However, for uncommon ones, you can feel lost and in most case, confused. I don't blame you, it takes forever to remember these names since they are long and hard to pronounce.

When it comes to naming species the scientific way, it is quite similar to naming people: you have a first name and a last name. However, in scientific naming, it is first name last, last name first.

Using aloe vera as an example: Aloe is the last name, or gender, and barbadensis is the first name, or species. The first letter of gender is always capitalized while that of species is not. There are two ways to write scientific names: italicize (Aloe barbadensis), or underline (Aloe barbadensis).

Ok, to be fair, Aloe barbadensis is an easy one. But can you guess the common names of Hamamelis virginiana or Simmondsia chinnesis? They are common plant extracts found in beauty products and I guess it's a good idea to comprise a short list of scientific and common names of plants, fruits, and flowers used in beauty products.

Achillea millefolium: yarrow
Actinidia chinensis: kiwi
Aloe barbadensis: aloe vera plant
Althaea officinalis: marshmallow
Anthemis nobilis: chamomile
Arctium lappa: burdock
Arnica montana: arnica
Avena sativa: oat

Borago officinalis: borage
Butyrospermum parkii: shea butter

Calendula officinalis: calendula
Camelia oleifera: oil-seed camelia, tea oil camelia, or Lu Shan snow camelia
Camelia sinensis: tea, the kind we drink. Green, black, white, red tea come from the same plant but the process of making them are different. Green and white tea are not fermented.
Chamomilla recutita: matricaria chamomile
Citrus aurantium dulcis: orange (it has 3 names, the last one is the sub-species, as we have many different types of citrus fruits.)
Citrus medica limonum: lemon
Commiphora myrrha: myrrh
Cocos nucifera: coconut
Coriandrum sativum: coriander
Cucumis sativus: cucumber
Cupressus sempervirens: cypress
Cymbidium grandiflorum: a type of orchid

Echinacea purpurea: coneflower
Equisetum hyemale: scouringrush horsetail
Eucalyptus globulus: eucalyptus
Eucalyptus dives: piperitol
Eugenia caryphyllus: clove

Ficus carica: fig
Fucus vesiculosus: bladderwrack

Gautheria procumbens: wintergreen
Glycyrrhiza glabra: licorice
Glycine soja: soybean

Hamamelis virginiana: witch hazel
Hedera helix: ivy
Hedychium coronarium: ginger lily
Helianthus anuus: sunflower
Humulus lupulus: hops (the name has 6u's)

Jasminum officinale: jasmine
Juglan regia: walnut
Juniperus communis: juniper

Laminaria digitata: kelp
Lavandula angustifolia: lavender
Limnanthes alba: meadowfoam
Linum usitatissiumu: flax seed
Lycium barbarum: goji berry

Mangifera indica: mango
Melaleuca alternifolia: tea tree, the kind oil from the leaves are extracted to make tea tree oil.
Mentha piperita: peppermint

Ocimum basilicum: basil
Olea europaea: olive
Orbignya oleifera: babassu
Orchis mascula: early purple orchid

Phoenix dactylifera: date fruit
Persea gratissima: avocado
Punica granatum: pomegranate
Primula veris: cowslip
Prunus amygdalus dulcis: sweet almond

Rosa canina: rose hip
Rosa damascena: rose
Rosmarinus officinalis: rosemary

Salvia sclarea: clary
Sambucus nigra: black lace elderberry
Santalum album: sandalwood
Simmondsia chinensis: jojoba
Symphiytum officinale: comfrey

Theobroma cacao: cocoa, seed extracts to make cocoa butter
Thymus serpylum: wild thyme
Triticum vulgare: wheat

Urtica dioica: nettle

Viola odorata: violet
Vitis vinifera: grape

Zingiber officinale: ginger

So, what are you going to do with a list like this? To me, it is a good reference since not all companies give you the common names next to the scientific names, which may confuse and scare you. Who knows if Zingiber officinale is safe or not? But we all know ginger is good, right? I hope to include the commonly found items in this list; if I miss anything please let me know.


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