It is easy to become completely overwhelmed when looking over the ingredient label attached to skin and body care products. As a result of the requirements from the FDA as well as the continuing development of new and specialized ingredients by the cosmetic industry, the lists can become insanely long as well as indecipherable! And while these labels have actually improved in recent years due to regulatory and societal pressure, it can still be a confusing mess if you aren’t sure what you are looking at.
And while it may be impossible to become readily familiar with each and every ingredient on a label, understanding how labels are constructed can help arm you with enough information to make good choices in your skin care decisions.
As dictated by the FDA, ingredients are always listed in descending order, top to bottom, depending on the concentration of ingredients. Because of this, the first ingredient listed can typically constitute most of the product. Often this first ingredient is water; distilled, mineral, purified, aqua, and so on. When water is listed, it is usually present at 75% or more of the product. Always go for distilled when possible.
If you were then to divide the remaining ingredients at the midpoint, those that are listed before that midpoint will represent the next largest percentage of inclusion in the product. This is important. If you see any of the following, especially towards the beginning of the ingredient list, run, don’t walk away. Some of the biggest irritators are:
-Parfum or fragrance
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate,
– Petrolatum and Mineral Oil
– Propylene Glycol
– Benzalkonium chloride
– DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
– Imidazolidinyl Urea
– Lanolin alcohol
So go ahead and print this list out and take with you when you are shopping for products. If you see them in the list, try to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them entirely, make sure that they are low in the ingredient list. Very low in the ingredient list. If you do, your skin will be much happier and you should experience less irritation as a result!