If you’re reading this chances are you have a bit of an interest in your skin’s health. You may even identify yourself as a skincare junkie. Whether or not that’s the case you’ve probably found yourself in the skincare aisle of a store trying to decipher what “Polymethyl Methacrylate” or “Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate” is? It can be pretty disheartening sometimes when you’re simply trying to pick a cleanser but with the latest wave of non-toxic and transparency conscious skincare lines coming into the mainstream, you can finally start understanding what you are putting on your skin. So where do you start?
Here are the top 3 SFT tips to reading skincare labels:
1- Unfortunately the US has yet to catch up with other countries in prioritizing it’s need to label cosmetics according to their toxicity level. Instead the industry is led with false marketing and buzzwords. If a brand claims to have “115% improvement in luminosity after just one use” and your BS meter isn’t exploding, then we might need to have a deeper dialogue.
Let’s breakdown that statement: 115% of 100% is not an actual statistic. And if it is proven to be possible I’m not sure I would trust the long term effects of a product that can improve 115% after one use? Would your skin be transparent after 5 uses? Plus if you look up the actual definition of luminosity it is a term for astronomy and psychics - not your skin.
Green Beauty brands have taken it upon themselves to create a label with easy to understand ingredients regardless of the lack of regulations in the United States. European and Australian standards are considerably much more strict than the US. The EU alone has over 1300 ingredients banned from use while the FDA finds it sufficient for the US to avoid approximately 20. So if you’re truly concerned take a look at product lines that come from the countries who take ingredients serious in the first place. Great examples of SFT approved brands are Pai, MV Skincare and The Beauty Chef as guides. Skip the excess marketing lingo and go straight for the label. If you can read the ingredients and the list isn’t over 15 ingredients, that’s a good start.
2 - Latin is a good thing! Don’t let different languages throw you off too much, in order to list essential oils a company has to label the formal name in Latin. For example lavender essential oil would be labelled “Lavandula angustifolia” and italicized and/or in parentheses. Typically brands will label both to help the reader identify the essential oils right away however to the untrained eye it can unintentionally look as though the product has twice as many ingredients as expected.
Reading synthetic chemicals can be just as easy to breakdown once you start to recognize certain words. You can start by learning what to avoid as well so start by following the dirty dozen. Copy this list into your notepad on your phone and pull it out when you’re uncertain about a product.
This list is called the 'Dirty Dozen' and can also be easily researched in a pinch as well:
1 - BHA (BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE) AND BHT (BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUEN)
2 - COAL TAR DYES (“P-phenylenediamine” or “CI”)
3 - DEA (DIETHANOLAMINE)
4 - DBP (DIBUTYL PHTHALATE)
5 - FORMALDEHYDE-RELEASING PRESERVATIVES
6 - PARABENS
7 - PARFUM (OR FRAGRANCE)
8 - PEG COMPOUNDS
9 - PETROLATUM
10 - SILOXANES
11 - SLS (SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE)
12 - TRICLOSAN
We can dive into the specifics of why each of these are recommended to be avoided but in the meantime here is an article to break it down.
3 - Use an app! Google can be overwhelming because there is so much information out there that you can unintentionally land on misleading information. Plus with so many “experts” out there, the information also isn’t as transparent anymore. SFT recommends trusting the toxicity level of the ingredients by scanning your product in question with the “Think Dirty” app. This app scans the barcodes and gives you an immediate rating of the product based on the ingredients. There’s no judgement, no gimmicks, just honesty and transparency. It’s up to you what level of rating you are willing to work with however it’s an empowering tool to help you start weeding out the bad and recognize what qualifies the good.
If all else fails, ask! Professional estheticians and brand founders can decipher what is what for you. If a lack of transparency is causing you to doubt a product’s promise than follow that instinct. Your gut is always right so allow yourself to trust it. Those little universal tests are great for you to follow when making these health conscious changes in your life. Stay tuned next week for the FOOD edition of the importance of reading labels and the top 3 SFT tips how.