Buying cosmetics can be much fun because there are many products to choose from. But how do you know which products are best and which ones you should avoid? Reading the product label is the most important place you should look at before purchasing the item.
Reading this label can tell you numerous details: the brand name, product name, product type, purpose, ingredients, symbols, weights or volume, storage directions, and the contact details for the manufacturer. Here are some tips on how to read and understand cosmetic labels.
The Basics of the Ingredient List
This is crucial to understand, and it can tell you a lot about the product and how your skin might react to it. This list is commonly referred to as the INCI list, which means the “International nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients.”
- Plant Ingredients
There are going to be some scientific names, but don’t fret! Some of these are not that difficult to decipher. Some of them you even know from their common English names. Plant ingredients will be listed on the INCI, and they are always going to be in their Latin name.
You’ll be able to tell if it is a plant because it will say something like Helianthus annuus, which is sunflower seed oil. These names are generally available to find on Google and aren’t harmful to you--unless you are allergic to that item.
- Deciphering Chemicals from Important Ingredients
Many people assume that if you can’t read the item, it must be a chemical. While this sometimes applies, some products are not chemicals but can be tricky to decipher otherwise.
For example, Xanthan gum is a naturally derived ingredient that thickens a cosmetic. Citric acid helps with the pH of the product. If you’re unsure, feel free to search online to see if the item is wrong for you or not.
If you are allergic to coconut oil and sunflower oil, then this is an important part. The ingredient list will always display allergens at the end of the list for your convenience. If you are unsure if the name listed is that item and hasn’t been indicated in parentheses, you can always Google to see if the item is what you are allergic to.
- Abbreviated Ingredient Lists
Companies will often only put the active ingredients online or in other places. Luckily, you won’t have that problem directly from the website. Companies have to put everything on the package legally, so you will always see the complete list in the store.
The Order of the INCI List
There’s always a specified order to the ingredient list that you will likely see once you learn more about reading cosmetics labels. Ingredients are listed from the most amount in the cosmetic to the least.
Checking for Shelf Life
Products will usually have a location where you can see how long your items last. If it lasts six months, it will be identified with a “6M”. If it is twelve months, you will see a “12M”. The numbers guide you to make sure you don’t use the product after it has gone wrong.
The expiration date will always be located at the bottom of the bottle, and it will tell you how long you have to use the product. It is essential you find this out before you buy so you know if you will use it before the product expires.
If you’re interested in vegan and cruelty-free items, these will also be designated by a particular symbol on the label. By law, the companies are required to put this on their packaging, so you will never have to guess if your product is vegan or not.
We hope this was informative and you learned something! Reading labels is not that difficult, but it does take some learning and education. After some time, you’ll be able to tell what products you want to buy and what products you should stay away from.
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