Working out what type of skincare regime works best for your skin and lifestyle can be confusing enough without adding in all the ingredients and confusing information on our skincare labels. Since knowing what we put on our bodies should be as important as what we put in them, today we wanted to share our top tips to help you decipher your skincare ingredients like a pro!
This is perhaps the best investment of time and energy you can make when researching if a product is right for you. In Europe, there is certain information that a product has to have on its label and that includes the INCI ingredient list.
You’ll find it on the back of all skincare products and most product websites, and this is definitely the first place to begin your research on any product.
Ingredients have to be listed in order of weight from highest percentage to the lowest. This is how you can tell the true efficacy of a product. Read the ingredients that appear in top 2/3 of the list as ingredients at under 1% in concentration can be included in any order so any ingredients that come at the end of the list are in very small amounts.
These lower concentrations are perfect for ingredients like essential oils, tocopherol and some actives like peptides, hyaluronic acid and retinol as these are effective in small quantities. However, if the main ingredients marketed in the product are at the bottom of the list not much of that ingredient is present.
Research what ingredients you’re looking for, for your skin type. Use one of the great free resources available online like the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database that can help you decode those scientific looking words and your skincare ingredients quickly and easily.
There is little regulation of terms like ‘natural, ‘organic’, ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty free’. A brand can say it is ‘natural’ even if only a small percentage of its ingredients are. Look for genuine third-party accredited certifications like Ecocert COSMOS Organic, Soil Association, Natrue, Vegan certified and Cruelty Free International as these guarantee stringent audits of brands and products to ensure these claims are genuine.
Many brands create their own certification logos for things like ‘vegan friendly’, ‘natural’ ‘suitable for sensitive skin’ etc. but beware as generally third-party accreditations are the only verified way to gauge whether this is true or not unless its specifically mentioned on the brands website.
There are no standard definitions for claims like ‘hypo-allergenic’, ‘dermatologically tested’ or ‘suitable sensitive for skin’. For example ‘dermatologically tested’ can mean anything from a dermatologist applying the product to their skin once to a more comprehensive patch test carried out in a clinical laboratory on a panel of at least 30 volunteers supervised by a dermatologist.
If you’re unsure, check a brands’ website or send an e-mail as any transparent brand will be more than happy to explain in detail any of their claims and are usually delighted to share this information.
We often forget to check if a product has an expiry date and I know I’ve often held onto products at the back of a shelf for years with no idea of they’re still good or not. A product will either give:
Yes, we all love an Instagram worthy skincare shelfie but don’t be fooled! The beauty industry is awash with ‘on-trend’ products that are often created with minute concentrations of these ‘trendy’ ingredients to sell their product with very little proven efficacy.
Again, do your research, look at the ingredient list and ask questions so you have all the information you ned to determine if it’s the right product for you. After all, I know I prefer buying a fabulous product that I know will have an effective, real result on my skin rather than wasting my money on a snazzy looking jar that has little effect on my skin.
If you’re interested in using more sustainable products and let’s face it this is something we should all be trying to do with all the current environmental challenges we face, look out for the FSC symbol on your product packaging. This means that the paper and card used in packaging materials is sustainably sourced.
Green brands tend to be very transparent about the materials they use so have a read of their websites to learn more. For example, at Nunaïa our outer packaging is made from fully compostable mycelium (we're one of the first companies in the world to use this incredible material grown from the roots of mushrooms - learn more here.) with responsibly harvested FSC certified paper and card and is designed to repurpose to avoid single use. Our bottles are fully recyclable and our products are biodegradable.
You can also keep an eye out for recycling symbols that let you know if a product is recyclable.