Whenever we buy any product it is really important to know what it contains. Certain skincare products provide optimum benefits only if they contain specific ingredients in the right quantity. Thus, it is important  that we read the labels of products that we are buying and applying to our skin. 

In this blog we will be highlighting certain important things which one needs to keep in mind before buying any cosmetic products. Before we decide to buy any makeup or skin care products we need to understand that the products available in the market are different from each other based on factors like:    

1. Skin type: Oily, normal or combination    

2. Skin Concerns: The skin problem(s) that we are experiencing like acne, pigmentation, open pores, dark spots etc. 

3. Age: What age group we belong to. 

Label of the products reveal a lot about what that bottle contains. Here are certain things one needs to know to read the labels correctly. 

The labels on the products are their brief guides which helps you to pick up the right product as per your skin type and skin concern. Apart from the ingredients they also have the warning signs and instructions to use the product. Let's have a look into what details are mentioned on the labels and how to read them properly:        

a. Ingredients: First and foremost we need to check the ingredients that are present in a product. One can generally find them either on the front or back of the bottle. Majorly active ingredients are mentioned on the front label and rest on the back label. A complete list of ingredients along with the quantity is mentioned on the back. Mostly the order is mentioned in decreasing value of its quantity that means the ingredient that is present in large amount is present on top and ingredient present in lowest quantity is present at the bottom. The ingredients present in quantity lesser than 1% are mentioned in any order at the last. So beware and read the labels well. A product might say it is argan oil based product and the label mentioning it at the end of the list declares that its quantity is nothing more than 1%. Moreover, buying products online has much more misleading information about the ingredients. There are certain specific words mentioned on the label that can be very helpful in understanding its composition:            

i. Alcohol free - It only refers to a specific alcohol which is ethyl alcohol. However, the product still might contain cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl or lanolin alcohol which are fatty alcohols and can dry the skin. Only isopropyl alcohol is the one that is known to be a drying agent for skin. But it is rarely used in cosmetics.             

ii. Hypoallergenic - This term basically means that the product has very less chances of causing any allergic reaction as compared to other products. Though there is no defined guideline for the same to ensure if there is any product which is less irritating as compared to its alternates for sensitive skin type.             

iii. Non-Comedogenic - This term basically refers to the fact that product doesn’t contain any ingredient that can clog pores and cause acne. So, people with oily or acne prone skin are recommended to look for ‘non-comedogenic’ label while buying a skincare or cosmetic product.            

iv. Organic - At times there are complex chemical names that are mentioned on the product which confuses us as consumers and we are unable to distinguish the actual organic products. In reality,organic products are the ones that contain carbon in them, but certain cosmetic and skincare product companies use synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum jelly and label them as ‘organic’. The best way to ensure that we are buying the right product look for ‘certified organic product logo’ on it. Only if the product contains more than 95% organic ingredients then only it is marked as an organic product.         

b. Warning signs: This is the next important thing that must be checked. This majorly focuses on the facts about the product which one needs to know immediately, like, certain products explain where and how it has to be applied or what areas need to be avoided while applying it. Certain products have warning signs which mention to avoid sensitive areas like corner of mouth, crease of nose, close to eye areas, or may be avoided in case of sensitive skin. This information is very important to avoid any skin reactions.        

c. Source of ingredients: We all must have seen ‘a red dot or a green dot’ on almost all the products that we use. This plays a vital role for those who are very particular about using only plant source derived products and want to avoid animal source derived products. These dots demarcate the difference where ‘Green Dot’ implies the product is made of plant sources whereas ‘Red Dot’ implies the source of product is animal based.         

d. Manufacturing and expiry dates: This is something that we all would have seen while buying the products. This primarily depicts the time period of any product which is considered good under normal conditions of storage and use. Like cosmetic products that do not have a medical grade ingredient are generally considered to have expiry of about 3 years from manufacturing whereas the one that contains some active ingredient for anti acne, anti pigmentation etc. and should be used as per dermatologist’s prescription only usually have expiry of 2 years from the manufacturing date.  Never use the products beyond expiry date as they can hamper the skin health or cause allergy.        

e. Color of the product: Certain products that have ingredients which are sensitive to sun rays and can get oxidized if exposed to sun are generally available in opaque bottles. And just to make sure that consumers know the product is safe and not oxidized the color of product is mentioned on bottle, which one can cross check when they open the bottle. If the colour of a product has changed to yellow or brown they are not safe to use as they have oxidized and can affect the skin health.        

f. Temperature: To keep the ‘actives’ active in products it is advisable to store product at a given temperature, which is mentioned on the bottle depending on the active ingredient present in them. Always look for it and follow it so as to maintain the efficacy of the product for longer duration. Certain products that can get hampered in humid environment should not be kept in the washroom.        

g. Serums or Cream or Lotions: This is all about the consistency of the product. Serums are more velvety, potent and light. They have concentrated active ingredient so they have low molecular weight and penetrate easily in skin surface. Whereas, creams are generally thicker in consistency and keep the skin hydrated for longer duration. But lotions are oil in water base and have good spread ability and can be used on larger body areas easily. Lotions are generally prescribed for hairy surfaces- like scalp or body surfaces that are more hairy. Hence, one can opt for the product depending on skin type and what body area they are to be applied on. Ointments are water in oil and hence, are greasy and oily and spread easily. They should not be used on underarms and private parts as these are closed areas and sweating on these areas can cause irritation.         

h. Pregnancy and Lactation warning: A lot of medicines are not safe in pregnancy and lactation. If one is planning to conceive then consulting a dermatologist becomes necessary before using any skincare product.         

i. Dosage of product - Before starting to use any product one must be aware of the fact that if the product has to be applied during day or at night. Certain products are not photo-stable and are generally advised to apply at night only, as they can cause photo-allergy too.         

ii. Cancer causing ingredients - Certain ingredients if used for longer duration on skin can cause skin cancer. So, avoid using any specific ingredient for more than prescribed duration. Few such ingredients include- phthalate, parabens and lead. The dermatologist who prescribes skincare products can also help to look for labels and understand them. Medical grade skincare products should always be used only as per the dermatologist’s advice. 

Keep Healthy! Keep Glowing!