Thursday , July 16 2020

READ BETWEEN THE LINES – Understanding Ingredients in Skin Care Products

by Janet Thompson – 

Understanding ingredients in skin care products and determining which ingredients are effective for your skin is a learning process. You need some basic skin care product formulation knowledge and also the ability to recognize different ingredients and their function on the skin.


There are two basic rules that product manufacturers must comply with in order to list ingredients on their products.

  • Standardized names. Ingredient names must comply with the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) format. The ingredient names are standardized in this format so that all of the products can be compared to each other easily and for safety reasons.
  • Descending order. Ingredients must be listed in descending order of concentration to 1%. Ingredients below 1% can be listed in any order.


How does this come together for the consumer? When looking at most product ingredients lists, the ingredients will be in order from the highest concentration to the lowest. When reading ingredient labels, I typically focus on the first five or six ingredients, since they make up the majority of the product, and will be responsible for doing most of the work. I want to make sure these ingredients are useful on my skin so I achieve the goal the product was intended for. The ingredient I like to see listed first is Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is very beneficial to the skin for many reasons.

Here’s a few terms that are used in skin care products and what they do:

Humectant – draws moisture to the skin. Glycerin is a humectant, and is used in a lot of skin care products, including good soaps. Hyaluronic Acid is another humectant that is excellent in skin care.

Occlusive – acts as a protective layer on the skin; keeps moisture from evaporating. Oils and many butters are occlusive.

Emollients – acts as a lubricant and increases the spreadability of a product. Soothing and moisturizing to the skin.

Knowing WHAT the ingredients do for your skin is most important. Don’t be too quick to judge a product. If you are acne prone, Jojoba oil and sunflower oil listed in the ingredients may discourage you from buying it. You may think it will leave your skin greasy and clog your pores. This isn’t always true. It depends on the type of oil, the molecule size of the oil, and where the ingredient falls in the ingredient list. If it’s one of the first five ingredients, it may be a higher percentage in that product … but you’ll never know from looking at the list on the back of a bottle. Manufacturers are not required to disclose percentages because it would give away their formulas. Educating yourself on ingredients and what they do allows you to make the best choices when it comes to skin care, and your overall health and wellbeing. Don’t believe all the manufacturer hype and marketing gimmicks. Take the time to read the labels. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve been putting on your skin, and how quickly you’ll change your habits!

Janet Thompson is a licensed Esthetician, and owner of Spa La Vie, Organic Skin Spa, located in Wasco, IL. 630-485-2788. Janet loves helping people achieve their skin care goals — the natural way.



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