When it comes to choosing products for you skin, ingredients matter. Just as we want to choose the best and most nourishing food ingredients to put in our bodies, skincare works the same way. Use the guide below to help you read product labels like a pro and start incorporating these magic makers into your skincare routine.
MUST HAVES FOR GLOWING SKIN
VITAMIN C - For brightening, healing and rejuvenating
Commonly listed as: Ascorbic Acid, L-Ascrobic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
VITAMIN A - For rejuvenation, exfoliation and repair
Commonly listed as: Vitamin A, Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate, Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, Retinaldehyde, Retinal, Tazarotene
PEPTIDES - For youth-boosting, wrinkle-fighting and prevention
Commonly listed as: Tripeptide-1, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9, Argireline, MatrixylTM, Hexapeptide 3, 8 or 20, Palmitoyl Ogliopeptide
HYALURONIC ACID - For plumping, hydrating and moisture-boosting
Commonly listed as: Hyaluronic Acid, Glycoaminoglycane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hyaluranon, Hylan, Hyaluran
ALPHA-HYDROXY ACIDS - For exfoliating, nourishing and correcting
Common AHAS: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Kojic Acid
BETA-HYDROXY ACID - For oil-balancing, fighting inflammation and acne prevention
Commonly listed as: Salicylic Acid Hydroxy Benzoic Acid or Trolamine Salicylate. Willow bark is also the natural form of salicylic
THINGS TO NOTE WHEN CHECKING INGREDIENTS
Did you know...The EU and the US FDA have similar rules for all cosmetic labels, they are:
Ingredients must be listed on external packaging
Ingredients are listed in descending order by concentration meaning the main ingredients are listed first. Anything ingredient with a concentration of less than 1%, can be listed after the main ingredients, in any order
Active ingredients should be listed separately with their concentrations
Fragrance and color are not required to be listed by concentration and usually appear last on an ingredient label.
Trade secret ingredients don’t have to be listed at all and can be labled using: "Other Ingredients”
While it isn't possible to know where on the list the 1% starts or how much of anything you’re actually getting, a common rule of thumb is that the first 4-7 ingredients are above 1%. So if you’re looking for a specific active ingredient, make sure it’s higher up on the list.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID : THE DIRTY DOZEN
Despite strict standards for labeling, the FDA does not have the same stringent standards when it comes to what is allowed to be used in a product and what is not. For example in Europe, the EU has banned or restricted 450 tested and monitored products. The United States has banned only nine. The government does not require health studies or pre-market testing in order for a product to be sold. Of the 10,500+ ingredients that have been determined by the FDA, only 15% have actually been evaluated for safety.
When we talk about toxic ingredients, a common phrase that comes up is "The Dirty Dozen." The dirty dozen is based on a 2010 Canadian study, which cited these 12 chemicals and compounds as ones consumers should avoid. It's also important to know there are still a lot of unknowns. I recommend reading up and then deciding for yourself.
THE DIRTY DOZEN LIST:
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole OR Butylated Hydroxytoluene
- Coal tar dyes (p-phenylenediamine and colors listed as "CI" with a five-digit number)
- Diethanolamine (Cocamide DEA and Lauramide DEA)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) - Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
- Parfum (Fragrance)
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
- Petrolatum (aka petroleum jelly or Vaseline),
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
The ingredients that comprise the dirty dozen are labeled as such primarily based on suspected claims that they can disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with hormones. Others are seen as potentially cancer-causing. Some cause irritation to the skin. Others like Parfum are problematic because they are not regulated and could be any number of things from a natural fruit oil to a hazardous synthetic chemical.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE
CosDNA Ingredient Database: http://www.cosdna.com/
Cosmetic Ingredient Review: https://www.cir-safety.org/
Environmental Working Group Cosmetics Database: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/