Decoding the Ingredient Labels on Skincare Products. Here’s Why You Should Know How To read Them.

Decoding the Ingredient Labels on Skincare Products. Here’s Why You Should Know How To read Them.


Reading the ingredient labels on skincare products can be a daunting task. It is not easy to decipher the long, and technical names that come printed on the ingredient list of products.

Even if you decide on a product, how do you know which ingredient is right for you or not? Let’s get you the details on how to read the ingredient labels on cosmetics.

Typically, the ingredients are listed in the order of their concentration. Like the higher the concentration, the higher the ingredient finds its place on the list. In this way, the first five ingredients usually make a major portion of the skin formula.

Though it is also not necessary that the higher the content of an ingredient, it is more effective on the skin. Certain ingredients like collagen-boosting peptides work more efficiently at lower levels of concentration. Niacinamide is known to show more effect at 5% concentrations. Salicylic acids and retinol are effective even at levels less than 2%.

Most of the cosmetic products also contain irritants. So, when you read the labels, one of the most important things to do is to avoid the ingredients that could hurt your skin.

If you are one of those with sensitive skin, there are some ingredients you need to watch out for. Like fragrances – the word ‘Parfum’ indicates the product contains fragrances, which could be irritating on some skin types. If you are sensitive to fragranced products, let it pass.

Then, there are some detergents like Sodium LaurethSulfates, alkylbenzene sulfonate, sodium cocoylsarcosinate that are known to upset sensitive skin. And parabens or skin preservatives like Benzoyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxymethyl glycinate, Phenoxy ethanol are ingredients you need to skip if your skin is not happy with it. These parabens or cosmetic preservative that you call, have been around in the cosmetic scene since the thirties. They are known to keep the ingredients stable and effective for a longer shelf life while preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. FDA regulations suggest they are safe to use on skin but there are skin experts who counter the same, and advice to avoid them.

There are some terms in skincare like ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘hypoallergenic’, which are not regulated by the FDA. This means the cosmetic firms have the liberty to use these terms on their skincare products if they contain natural ingredients. But how safe are these natural products? Even some natural ingredients can upset the skin barrier and damage the skin. Moreover, when a product is labeled as natural, it often indicates a product free of preservatives. Without preservatives, the efficacy of the product may decline with time. You will have to use the product before its effect wears off.

The bottom line is understanding the ingredients that are good for our skin. If your skin is dry and sensitive, look for higher contents of ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil that can nourish your skin. Oily and combination skin types can benefit from ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5. Acne-prone skin must look for products containing antioxidants and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps to unclog pores, fight acne, and diminish blackheads and whiteheads.

If you know what to feed your skin, consider half the skin battle is won. Find the right ingredients and treat your skin well, and all will be well.

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