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Whether you’re looking online or browsing the aisles in your local beauty store, finding the right skin care products can be overwhelming. Not only are there seemingly endless choices of types of products but even once you narrow it down, you still have to check the labels to find the best ingredients for your skin. Reading the ingredients label of a skin care product can feel like reading a foreign language. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Think of the label as a code to what’s inside. You don’t have to be a scientist to know what you’re putting on your skin is safe. With just a little knowledge, you’ll be decoding those labels in no time.

A label can tell you many things including: what the product is - such as an eye cream vs a moisturizer, what it’s formulated for – such as anti-aging or acne, and whether it was made to a high standard – such as organic and cruelty-free. Furthermore, the order in which the ingredients are listed is very important. It is required that companies list ingredients in descending order from greatest amount to least amount. This is important to know because many companies will highlight ingredients on the package of their skincare product to entice a buyer. However, upon further inspection of the label, you’ll find that the ingredient they’re advertising is at the bottom of the list, which means that there likely isn’t enough of it in the product to actually be effective. So don’t be fooled by clever wording and fancy packaging.


The term natural sounds so appealing. It makes you think it comes straight from the Earth and doesn’t have any synthetic chemicals in it. However, this is usually not the case with products that boast their ingredients are natural. The only requirements for a product to be able to advertise itself as natural are that a few of the ingredients in the product are natural. This means that even though a product may say “all natural” it can contain more than 30% of synthetic ingredients. So look for products that say they are 100% natural and then check the label to make sure that the ingredients listed are derived from natural sources. Another way to verify is to look for a certified logo, which we’ll talk more about soon.

Natural Fragrances

Fragrances are frequently added to skin care and cosmetic products to entice the user and to cover up any chemical smell. Synthetic fragrances tend to last much longer than natural fragrances which is why companies prefer to use them in their products. However, synthetic fragrances also contain lots of chemicals and can even cause skin reactions on a large percentage of the population. When searching for a skin care product, you’ll want to be sure that the ingredients list natural fragrances that come from botanical sources. Often, products who use real natural ingredients will list them on the label as isolates, because they have been isolated from a botanical source such as essential oils. Although natural fragrances don’t last as long as synthetic ones, they also don’t contain any toxic ingredients. 


Your skin is the largest organ of your body and it’s important that you take the best care of it you can. One primary way to do this is to make sure that you’re not stripping it of the essential oils it needs. Unfortunately, most skin care products are loaded with sulfates. This is why you want to be sure that the label says the product you choose is sulfate-free. Sulfates are essentially detergents that strip dirt and oil from your skin. While this sounds like a good thing, sometimes they can be a little too effective and leave your skin red and irritated. A sulfate-free product will keep all of your natural oils where they belong – nourishing your beautiful skin. 


Other common skin care ingredients are parabens. Companies typically add parabens because they are highly effective in preventing the growth of bacteria. However, parabens are known endocrine disruptors and have also been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. By choosing a paraben-free product, you don’t have to worry about any side effects. In terms of bacteria, don’t worry. Just be sure that the product isn’t expired, you wash your hands before application and that you keep any tools you use for application clean and sanitary.   

Specialty Labels and Phrases

Many products will advertise themselves as organic or vegan or boast enticing phrases such as clinically proven and dermatologist tested. While it might be true that they have a few organic ingredients in them, it’s important that the product contains a certified organic symbol or a USDA organic symbol on the packaging. This ensures that the product is 95% or higher free of synthetic additives. The same goes for products labeled as vegan – be sure that there is a certified vegan logo on the product to be sure it’s authentic. Don’t be fooled by the phrase clinically proven either. This phrase doesn’t mean that the product has gone through rigorous testing. It simply means that the company funded some sort of clinical test. Same with the phrase dermatologist tested. All this means is that a dermatologist has done a patch test to see if the product irritates skin. It doesn’t mean that the dermatologist has evaluated the product for its effectiveness such as wrinkle reducer, acne-preventer, etc.

Now that you’ve been armed with a little bit of knowledge, you’ll be able to evaluate skin care products in whole new way. Always be sure to read the label so that you can make a confident decision about the product you choose.

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