Labels on skincare products can often be daunting. Most of the time we fall for the simple marketing on the front and turn a blind eye to the rest.
Unfortunately, there is little regulation on the marketing of skincare products so terms such as ‘natural’ ‘pure’ and even ‘organic’ are often used misleadingly.
If we want to make informed choices on the skincare products we consume, we need to be able to decipher the important bits of information from the labels. Here are some simple guidelines to follow:
Stop falling for the branding
Get into the habit of looking at the ingredients list before looking at the branding. The products are only as good as their ingredients, so don’t fall for the ‘natural look’.
Red Flag – cheap high street brands advocating natural/pure/organic products. Follow the steps below to evaluate.
Understand the ingredients
These will always be listed in order of quantity, largest to smallest. Plant based ingredients will always be written as their botanical names (tends to sound Latin), however most brands advocating these ingredients will also list the common names.
Chemically derived ingredients will be written as their chemical names (tend to sound like chemistry lessons) and usually they do not have common names.
Ingredients such as preservatives, emulsifier, stabilisers, colourants, fragrances do not make up the bulk of the product but tend to make up the bulk of the ingredient list as they are usually so numerous.
Unless they are plant derived, these will always be chemical names including numbers.
Red Flag – a long list of ingredients sounding like a chemistry lab stockroom count, this product is most likely not very natural.
Organic refers to the farming methods by which a plant (or animal) was grown, i.e. without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides (or hormones and feed additives). Hence only ingredients derived from plant or (animal) material can be organic. (read more about organic salt here)
Truly organic skincare will consist of organic plant derived ingredients. These contain fewer chemicals than non-organic alternatives.
Always check the ingredients list to find out exactly how many of them are organic. Individual items will usually be annotated with an Asterix (*) or similar.
Red Flag – if the brand name contains the word organic, don’t assume the product is completely organic. (there may only be one organic ingredient)
Just as a side note - organic does not refer to the processing or refining methods of the individual ingredients, or of the product as a whole. Look out for my next post on Raw ingredients to learn more.
Simple is best
Look for products with a small number of ingredients, all botanical names with little or no chemical ingredients.
Quite often our skin is overworked as we continuously bombard it with new products and ingredients and consequently it is thrown off balance. This is expressed in a whole host of skin complaints.
Simplify your skincare routine and be consistent.