How to Decipher Ingredients on a Skin Care Label

Elizabeth Grant Biocollasis Complex Skin Care Box and Product to Decipher Skin Care Label Photo


Judging a skin care product before buying can be confusing. After all, there are so many products that all claim to do amazing things for the complexion to keep it young, supple, clear, protected, toned, and healthy. However, reading a skin care label and understanding what you might be buying is another story. In view of this, here are some valuable tips for the best way to choose skin care products wisely when scanning that label.

Ingredients Are Listed in Order of Quantity in Skin Care Labels

A simple rule to remember is that ingredients are listed by importance in the formula and dwindle down line by line to the bottom of the list. The top ingredients in the label make up the biggest percentage of that product’s formula. Generally speaking, the first five ingredients make up the majority of the formula and may give you a clue to how well a skin care product might work.

On the other hand, there is another rule that also comes into play for ingredients with less than 1 percent concentration. Being the case, the manufacturer is free to list that ingredient in no special order.

Quality Can Outweigh the Quantity of the Ingredient for Effectiveness

Keep in mind that all ingredients are not created equally. Certain ones can have a dramatic impact with just a small concentration in the formula like peptides. Copper peptides like Matrixyl can increase the skin’s collagen and elastin levels and rebuild tissues with minute levels compared to bulkier ingredients.

Beware of Masking Ingredients on Skin Care Labels

Some manufacturers attempt to pass off skin care products as free of fragrance or preservatives by using masking agents to make it appear that way. You might see ingredients such as Amylcinnamaldehyde, abies sachalinensis branch/leaf water, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), albizia julibrissin bark extract, aloe barbadensis leaf, and many more here.

The Number of Ingredients Listed Can Give You a Clue to How Healthy the Formula

The more lines of ingredients, the more wary that you should be as to what the skin care formula contains. Unless you are a chemist that can understand the function of each ingredient, then you may be sticking more of a chemical soup onto your skin than you would like for optimum skin health.

Just Because an Ingredient Is Long and Unrecognizable Doesn’t Mean It is Bad

Ingredient names often have long, scientific labels attached to them, which can be intimidating to the consumer. However, not all of those scientific names are chemicals that you should be concerned with such Aloe barbadensis, which is from the aloe vera plant.

Don’t Always Trust Advertising for the Complete Truth in Skin Care Labels

Let’s face it. Companies want to sell their products. In doing so, they hire large advertising and marketing firms with talented people to present their products in the most tempting light to consumers. Advertising also gives companies a lot of lead way to do just that in how they word the pitch. For instance, dermatolgist-tested can mean as little as one dermatologist found the product safe from causing any irritation. It does not mean it won’t cause you irritation. Hypoallergenic and allergy tested is another that you need to take lightly because there is no set standard in place that companies need to adhere to.

Expiration Dates Should Be Visible on Skin Care Labels

Some companies stamp an expiration date on the box, jar, or bottle to show the product’s working life. However, some companies either skip printing a date to leave you in the lurch. I feel dates are important. If you can’t find one printed, then call the company and read them the manufacturer’s code to give you a production date.

You also should look for an open lid symbol with an M by it. You’ll also find a number near it. This indicates how many months the product will last after opening it and exposing to air.

We spend a fortune on our skin care products. Thus, we should expect to get all the benefits that we pay for and knowing how to read labels properly helps make us educated consumers.


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