A Comprehensive Guide To Deciphering Cosmetic Labels & Beauty Products

skincare products, ingredients, beauty products

Table of Contents

Have you ever found yourself looking at beauty products and feeling confused about which one to buy? And, just how many of us have been guilty of buying products just because they look or sound appealing? Or maybe you are one of those ‘woke’ customers who want to buy ‘eco-friendly’ & ‘vegan’ products, but you have a hard time trusting brands.

The good news is that you don’t really have to be a dermatologist to read cosmetic labels. Our guide will equip you to read those labels that look no less perplexing than The Enigma Code.

I'm so pretty
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So, what’s typically on a cosmetic label?

All cosmetic labels look different from one another. Yet, all of them illustrate standard information that highlights important details about the brand & the product. These details can give the consumer a peek into the cosmetic they are investing in:

  • Purpose & description
  • Ingredient list
  • Symbols
  • Weight/volume of the product
  • Directions to use
  • Directions to store
  • Shelf life or expiry date
  • Manufacturer contact details
This Perfume neutralizes all your heinous body odor like febreeze
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Understanding the ‘ingredients’ list

The ingredient list is where you can learn the most about the composition of a particular product. It is a legal mandate for all brands to list out their ingredients on the label. Ingredients are typically listed in order of their concentrations, from the highest concentration to the lowest. This means that the first 5-6 ingredients you notice on the list are highest in concentration. However, this gets tricky, any ingredient less than 1% can be jumbled or put in any order by the manufacturer (FDA permits this) . They do this to protect their formula from competitors.

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Conclusion: Understanding the ingredient list is not as straightforward as differentiating between a good ingredient or a harmful ingredient. Some chemical & natural formulas could work well at a higher concentration while some work best at a lower concentration. Also, not all chemicals are harmful! For example, salt is a chemical with a host of benefits. So it’s essential to know the chemicals, and their properties to fully understand the effects.

“In addition to the product name and basic characteristics, a cosmetic label will also include ingredients in the product – the INCI list. INCI stands for “International Nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients” and is a naming system for ingredients based on scientific nomenclature. The INCI list might seem confusing and frightening at first. Don’t be afraid of it, take some time to read and investigate it.”

School Of Natural Skin Care

How can I research the ingredients on cosmetic labels?

Help will be given to all those who ask for it! Wait, did we just quote Dumbledore?

Dumbledore cheers
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Now, it’s quite normal to be confused by an ingredient/INCI list at first. However, there are ways that can help you decipher these cosmetic labels with ease.

  1. Paula’s Choice: This website belongs to Paula Begoun, also famously known as the ‘cosmetic cop’. She believes that consumers should know their products and have access to research about the ingredients used in their cosmetics. The website has a user-friendly and straightforward ingredient dictionary. Just type the INCI that confuses you, and the dictionary will tell you all about it. Pretty cool, right?
  2. Skin Deep: Skin Deep is another excellent source to check an ingredient or even a product as a whole(if it exists in their database). The website has insightful details about the ingredient’s toxicity, irritation or possible contamination.
  3. Cosmetics Info: This website is a comprehensive guide for users to understand ingredients and their usage in each cosmetic.
  4. The Chemical Maze: This app lets you explore food additives & cosmetic ingredients that could cause allergies or discomfort.

You can also research and learn more about cosmetics and ingredients through these excellent books – A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients & Toxic Beauty: The hidden chemicals in cosmetics and how they can harm us

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In our next blog, we will be covering different symbols on cosmetic labels and what they mean. Till then, stay gorgeous and stay informed!

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