How to Read Skincare Ingredient Labels

Did you know that the average skincare product or cosmetics has 15–50 ingredients? Women use around 9 to 15 of these goods, meaning women, on average, put approximately 515 chemicals on their skin every day. So, between the scientific jargon, descriptions, direction, and product claims on skincare labels, how are you supposed to tell what ingredients are actually good for your skin? 

Keep reading the learn how about how to read skincare ingredient labels and understand what’s in your products. 

Skincare Product Label Basics

The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) regulates ingredient labeling on skincare products. This widely recognized system sets the standard for the names of ingredients on cosmetics. One aspect they regulate is ingredient lists.

Ingredient Lists

When you’re looking at lists of ingredients on a skincare product label, pay attention to the order of the name. They’re always listed by order of concentration, highest to lowest. Most often, the first additive you’ll see on a list is water.

Although, there are a few exceptions to this. 

When ingredient concentrations are 1% or lower, they don’t have to follow a specific order. Added colors, regardless of abundance, may show up in any order once all other ingredients have been listed.

Products containing active ingredients (like titanium dioxide, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, dimethicone, petrolatum, etc.) are listed with their concentrations, descriptions, and instructions for using the product. 

The First Five Rule 

This rule dictates that the product comprises the first five skincare ingredients on the label. The names following it are far less abundant, meaning it may not contain enough to actually impact your skin. 

Decoding the Terms

If you flip around any tube of lotion or bottle of makeup remover, you’ll likely see some long scientific words like cetyl alcohol, citric acid, tocopherol, isopropyl myristate, methyl propanediol, propylene glycol, and so on. They may look odd or intimidating, but they’re all very common. 

If you value transparency, take a look at cleansers from Yves Rocher. They have an ingredient glossary and list all of the ingredients alongside their products. 

Cetyl alcohol: A type of fatty alcohol often derived from coconut or palm oil. It helps keep skincare creams from splitting. In addition, it moisturizes and soothes dry skin. 

Citric acid: An antioxidizing agent that promotes exfoliation. It may irritate sensitive or dry skin but works well for oily types. This shouldn’t be used alongside a retinoid, as it may agitate the skin.  

Tocopherol: The scientific name for Vitamin E. It’s another antioxidizing agent that protects your skin from damage from free radicals. Moisturizes skin and promotes healing. 

Isopropyl myristate: An emollient that enhances the skin’s barrier and ability to hold moisture. It also enhances the ability of other products to be absorbed into your skin. 

Methyl propanediol: A solvent that promotes the retention of other skincare ingredients. It moisturizes the face without making it feel sticky or oily.

Propylene glycol: A humectant used in many skin and hair care products that boosts moisture retention in skin and hair. It’s typically okay for all skin types but could irritate some. 

Reading Skincare Ingredient Labels Made Easy 

If you have a daily routine, you should know how to read your skincare ingredient labels. While scientific names like tocopherol and isopropyl myristate may sound unusual, but they are good for your skin. Additionally, understanding your products helps you make the best choices for your troubles. 

If you liked this article on deciphering skincare claims and reading labels, check out the rest of our blog!