This article was originally published on SheKnows.com—the #1 women's lifestyle digital media company, with a mission of women inspiring women—as "5 Common Skin Care Label Lies," and is reposted with permission from the author.
When it comes to skin care labels, products are not always what they seem
We’ve learned over the years that if we’re going to invest money in anything, it had better be on skin care and on products to help preserve the image and health of our faces and skin. And although we’ve taken the necessary precautions to start building up our arsenal of products, there are some things that we need to look out for.
Oftentimes, labels with golden promises reel us in and have us spending more dollars than time reading into what they really mean. Most labels don’t accurately describe the products we buy, and this could lead to more harm than good in the long run. So here are five things to look out for before buying your next skin care product, which will help work in your favor for smarter investments and beautiful, healthy skin.
1. All-natural doesn’t mean all good
Sometimes we’re hypnotized by labels that say “all-natural.” But don’t be fooled. Just because a label says “all-natural” doesn’t mean that the ingredients in that product are all organic or natural. Cosmetics companies are given a lot of leeway in terms of product language.
Board-certified dermatologist Rajani Katta brings up the very important point that so many different things can be considered all-natural — even things like poison ivy, but we wouldn’t want that on our faces, would we? And sometimes, even if an all-natural ingredient is good for your skin, companies could mix that ingredient together with more harmful preservatives, negating those positive effects while still marketing it as an all-natural product.
2. Factor in fragrance
We all know fragranced products have a tendency to be irritating to the skin. So naturally, we’ll gravitate toward products that say “fragrance-free” or “unscented.” But, beware — such a simple phrase can also be completely misleading labeling language.
According to Katta, manufacturers are completely allowed to call a product fragrance-free if the fragrance chemicals in that product are used for non-scenting purposes. Not to mention, if the product is used to mask strong odors or smells that already exist instead of trying to create a new one, that product can also be deemed unscented — even though that fragrance ingredient still exists.
3. Test for sensitive skin
A lot of products will claim to be hypoallergenic or made for sensitive skin to give people the idea that they’ll be gentle. But these claims are not guaranteed, even when they’re on the packaging. The best way to figure it out is to always test the product on a small patch of skin on your forearm for about a week to give time for any adverse reactions to come about. That way, you can figure out for sure if it was really made with sensitive skin in mind or if you should avoid the product altogether.
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4. “Dermatologist tested”
Sometimes, those words give us the idea the product has a professional recommendation. But just because something says it was tested by dermatologists doesn’t mean it was done the way that we think it was. Oftentimes, this just means that a dermatologist did a patch test similar to the one we suggested for sensitive skin products to see if there were any bad reactions, but not to see if the product did what it claimed to do (like be anti-aging, brightening, oil-controlling, etc.). So, this claim definitely doesn’t guarantee a dermatologist’s recommendation or even it’s safety for use.
5. Plan for percentages
Numbers always draw us in, and when we see that something contains 99 percent vitamin C, we’re hooked. But that percentage doesn’t mean that the product is made up of 99 percent vitamin C with the 1 percent being something else. Sometimes, manufacturing companies can get away with using just one drop of a solution that contains 99 percent of that active ingredient and then giving the product that percentage as a whole. But that math clearly doesn’t add up, and instead really leaves us with a mere 1 percent of whatever that active ingredient is. These skin care companies also commonly put a lower percentage of whatever the active ingredient is than what was actually proven to be effective in testing, leaving much to be desired for the product’s claims.
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So while we’re all on that quest for beautiful, youthful skin, some of these companies are really working against us. We owe it to ourselves to keep a sharp eye on those labels to make sure we’re getting what we pay for and to have all those careful efforts pay off in the results that we truly want.