After learning some basic (and scary) facts about the cosmetics industry, you now understand how crucial it is to investigate what’s in your products before making a purchase decision. You may already do it for your food, so why not do it for your personal care products? One must confess, it is all but an easy task… The first challenge is simply, in most Big Beauty products, the sheer number of ingredients per formulation. The second one is just reading the label as it’s usually a long list of unpronounceable gibberish written in a size 4 font. We will all be tempted to give up and trust that ‘natural’ mention on the front. HOWEVER, don’t do that.
Here are some ground rules to decrypt labels:
- Brands have to put the ingredients with the highest concentration first. So look for the 5 to 10 first ingredients to know what makes the bulk of the formula.
- But size isn’t everything… Some ingredients are very effective even at low concentrations. And if there is 1% or less of an ingredient present, it can be listed in any order after the high volume ingredients. So keep reading to the end.
- Don’t believe the hype. It’s not because a product is a worldwide best seller that it is good for your skin. Even for products you’ve known your whole life, investigate the ingredient list.
- “Organic”, “natural”… Don’t take these catchy claims for granted. They are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may only refer to one ingredient in your product. Just like there are no FDA definitions that govern the use of terms like “hypoallergenic” and “noncomedogenic” on skincare products; a company can use them without having done extensive testing.
- On the other hand, know that synthetic ingredients are not always bad and natural ingredients are not always good. Some synthetic ingredients can be safer and way more effective than their natural counterparts. Use your judgement when reading ingredient-bashing stories on untrusted sources (cough… social media), as they could be fake news.
To help you decipher the labels, I’ve computed a list of the Top 7 ingredients to look for in beauty products. Stay tuned!