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Making Sense of Skin Care Ingredients and Product Labels

by Samantha Williams June 26, 2018

Any product, especially anything involving your skin’s health, is only as good as its ingredients and formulation. In other words, you are not buying just random ingredients but a whole package.

Scientific-sounding labels and names of ingredients can be confusing. Let’s try to clear it up a little.

We’re here to further tackle subjects around skin care misinformation and put the abundance of skin care knowledge out there into the proper (hopefully digestible and understandable) context for everyone.

To better understand what the ingredients listed on a product label mean, research and a few quick searches can go a long way when trying to make sense of what ingredients may actually mean to you and the well-being of your skin.

Beware of Claims

The way we talk about skin manifests in other types of methods. From misleading labels to questionable marketing terms, what is not an ingredient can be just as confusing as what’s actually in your products.

Furthermore, markers like “dermatologist-tested” or “clinically proven” are fairly prevalent but are actually pretty meaningless as there are no industry standards for designations for terms like these.

Try your best to ignore marketing once you are considering a product. Remember labels like “natural” or “organic” are not regulated and can vary greatly in meaning.

Also, “free of” labeling doesn’t tell you anything about what’s actually in the product or the possible drawbacks of any absent ingredients or their replacements.

Scientific Names

Complex names for ingredients usually hint at ingredients with deep chemical structures. Many of these have specific purposes as active ingredients to assure formulations are safe to use on your skin.

You shouldn’t be scared of longer, more complicated sounding names and verify what they are, what they do, and their common uses. Scientific terms and names can look overwhelming but their complexities shouldn’t be scary.

Often, labels or ingredient listings will feature certain language or terminology mandated by regulatory requirements. The more familiar you become with them and other like products, the more they will make sense in understanding what they do and how they treat your skin.
skin care ingredients

Read Carefully

Make sure to look thoroughly as typically the first five ingredients listed are part of a bulk formula usually including glycerin (a moisturizer).

Ingredients are listed in the order of their concentrations except for those that make up less than one percent of the formula, so keep your eye on top.

As a guideline, the ingredients listed at the top usually comprise somewhere around 80% of the product, so they are often the most important ones to verify.

Avoid Trends

Don’t be fooled by sexy new ingredients. Any skin care products’ effectiveness should be judged scientifically and has to be proven through long-term use and results-based findings.

If you have a keen eye, you’ll probably notice common ingredients from product to product like different forms of hyaluronic acid or Allantoin and parabens. This probably means they’re safe and widely used.

It’s important to know what you are buying. Beyond any marketing, branding, or lifestyle, products are made of their individual parts in a certain formulation. Knowing more about how those work will better help you understand their safety and effectiveness.

Ultimately, skin care products are only as good as what they are made of and how they are formulated. The quality and combinations of ingredients are therefore very important.

Empower yourself through knowledge and research to better know exactly what you are putting onto your skin, especially if you have any known issues or a history of sensitive skin.

Source: Allure / Beauty Editor

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Samantha Williams

Senior Marketer at METRIN, travel hacker, and serial Netflix binger.

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