by Priscila Fadul


How to decode beauty ingredient labels

Do you read the ingredients label before buying a product? Whether you understand the long list of gibberish or not, it’s important to understand how beauty labels work. Why? To know you’re getting what you pay for.

Keep reading to learn how to decode the ingredient list on beauty products once and for all.

How do ingredient labels work on beauty products?

Legally, ingredients are required to be listed in order. The list starts with the highest concentrate and descends - until you come to the ingredients that make up less than 1% within the formula. Beauty ingredients that make up less than 1% can be listed in any order.

This is where brands get creative to boost their marketing..

For example, if a beauty product claims to have 10 “active” ingredients, there’s a good chance they’re part of this 1% category. Because the formula contains it, the brand can get away advertising this ingredient even though it’s a negligible amount. Enter, Angel Dusting.

What is Angel Dusting?

This practice is so common, it earned a name: Angel Dusting.

Angel Dusting is when brands add a miniscule amount of an active ingredient so they can justify making grand marketing claims. There is no guarantee that the concentration of the ingredient will have the effect that it’s promising consumers.

What’s the difference between active vs inactive ingredients?

Active, or key, ingredients are the “actives” within a formula that have the potential to improve or change the appearance of skin. They’re often the selling points for the product.

Inactive ingredients are typically ignored by consumers and kept on the downlow by brands. Why? They do not change the structure of the skin. However, some common inactive ingredients like alcohol, base oils, fragrances, and silicons can still cause irritation to the skin.

An easy trick to understand beauty ingredient lists

It’s perfectly okay if you don’t recognize what the ingredients are on personal care products. In fact, 81% of shoppers don’t. Here is a guide to help navigate the list.

First, look for popular ingredients like:

  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Parabens
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Ethylhexylglycerin
  • Glyceryl Caprylate

These ingredients are usually equal or lower to 1%. That means, everything listed after these will be less than 1% too. If key ingredients are listed after these, you’re being angel dusted.

Note: there is one exception with retinol which is supposed to be <1%.

Less is sometimes more

You really can have too much of a good thing. The right ingredients are only good at the right percentages.

Let’s take Vitamin C as an example. A high concentration of Vitamin C, or Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, can increase sensitized skin. Single-ingredient formulas have become increasingly popular for their simplicity, but without proper guidance, consumers are using them and harming their skin. Applying too many at once, like an exfoliating acid then Vitamin C, can actually burn your skin.

Everyone’s skin is different, but we can all benefit from a minimalistic beauty regime that supports our skin’s natural barrier and health. Keep an eye on beauty labels and educate yourself to know what exactly you’re buying! And remember, your skincare routine doesn't need to be complicated, the formula is what matters. A product containing the right combination of ingredients, as we offer in Lendava, will benefit your skin regardless of your skin type, gender or age!

Choose wisely!