How-To: Understand Your Beauty Products Label

Does Butyrospermum Parkii Butter sound familiar? Do you know what is Tocopherol?

These are ingredients often found in beauty products and commonly referred to as shea butter and vitamin E. These scientific names are the INCI names (Internationale Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) and are used in many countries for listing ingredients on cosmetic product labels. 

The ingredient list is very important since this helps you understand what you’re putting on your body. If a product doesn’t have ingredients listed…run away! Remember knowledge is power and learning to read the labels is the best way to avoid falling for subtle marketing tricks (“natural”,… what does that even mean?). Here are a few things to look at:

  • The order: this matters since ingredients are listed based on their volume. The first ingredients have the highest concentration, whilst the last ones have the lowest percentage of the overall product. The ingredients used at less than 1% of the beauty product can be listed in any order. Some brands will put the focus on certain ingredients that appear at the bottom of the list. This will make you think that these are the core of the product but their benefits will be minimal even non-existent. Don’t be fooled…
  • Shortened ingredient lists: if you see terms such as “active ingredients”, please remember this is not the full list and you would need to look on the product or online to get the full list of ingredients.
  • Allergens: products containing allergens will also be listed on the label. These are usually marked with an asterisk or in italics. There are currently 26 allergens that need to be declared on cosmetics labels (depending of the percentage of the total product) if present in certain cosmetics:
    • Alpha-Isomethyl ionone
    • Amyl cinnamal
    • Amylcinnamyl alcohol
    • Anise alcohol
    • Benzyl alcohol
    • Benzyl benzoate
    • Benzyl cinnamate
    • Benzyl salicylate
    • Butylphenyl methylpropional
    • Cinnamal
    • Cinnamyl alcohol
    • Citral
    • Citronellol
    • Coumarin
    • Eugenol
    • Farnesol
    • Geraniol
    • Hexyl cinnamal
    • Hydroxycitronnellal
    • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde
    • Isoeugenol
    • Limonene
    • Linalool
    • Methyl 2-octynoate
    • Evernia prunastri (Oak moss)
    • Evernia furfuracea (Tree Moss)
  • Perfumes / Fragrances: Companies do not have to mention what is in their fragrance or perfume and can therefore hide synthetic ingredients. These fragrances can contain allergens too.

There are a lot of tactics that brands use in their marketing strategy to mislead people, so do your research before buying any cosmetics.

You can check the EWG website to find more info on ingredients and more.

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One comment

  1. Great article. Thanks for the info😊

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