Reading a skincare label can feel like reading a foreign language, not to fear, by the end of this blog you’ll feel far more confident reading a label. We know how it goes, with the best of intentions, you pick up an attractive looking skin care tester and turn it over to check the ingredients list. You’re an intelligent, conscious consumer who cares about what chemicals go on your skin. But, as you scan the ingredient list, you realise that there is only about one word that you actually recognise (Aqua - well done!) but the rest is just a blur of numbers and letters and you actually have no idea what you are looking at. So you turn the product back over, pop a bit of cream on the back of your hand, rub it in, smell it and put it back on the shelf. Don’t feel bad, we have all been there.
What not to worry about:
Even the most natural skin care products will have an ingredient list that reads like a science experiment. Most skincare uses INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) names to allow consistency and transparency between countries. So just because the ingredient list looks scary, it doesn’t always mean it is.
Oversharing is good:
Because ingredients are so difficult for most people to understand, a really good sign when reading your ingredient list is any added information that helps you to navigate what ingredients are or where they come from. We certainly believe in transparency here at Nutra Organics and we will jump on any opportunity to give you more information. Our ingredient lists are full of added information about the source of an ingredient or a more common name for it, just so that you can get to know the product better. Look for the over-sharers in the skincare industry!
The bad guys:
There are a few common cosmetic ingredients to look out for and avoid if possible. The main common ones on our naughtly list are: Parabens, PEGS (Polyethylene glycols), SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) due to contamination concerns and the possibilities of causing irritations or toxicity. We also avoid fragrances, as they are common skin irritants. We are lucky that we live in the age of information and you‘ll be able to look up any ingredient you want more information on to see if you are comfortable with it. Two resources we love for skincare are: ewg.org/skindeep/ and paulaschoice.com.au/ingredient-dictionary. Obviously everyone is different and some people will be sensitive to some ingredients and not others.
Ingredient lists are written in order of highest quantity ingredient to lowest (unless there are ingredients present in quantities lower than 1% - those ingredients can be listed in any order). This is helpful to know when you are after a product because of a specific ingredient. If that ingredient is close to the top of the ingredient list, there will be a decent amount… if it’s close to the bottom then there won’t be much. Keep in mind that some ingredients are potent and highly active so aren’t required in large quantities. For example, you want a glycolic acid peel? It's totally appropriate for water to be listed in the ingredient list BEFORE the glycolic acid, because straight glycolic acid would not be a fun time! It’s all about context.
The little jar symbol:
There is a little jar symbol on cosmetic products which indicates how long the products should be kept after opening. So you know that moisturiser you have had in the bottom of your drawer since highschool? Yeah, it’s time to throw that out.
So there you have it, next time you are a little unsure, we hope this helps you feel a little more confident about the ingredients and the brand you are investing in for your precious skin and your biggest organ.