Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Rupali Goswami (Beauty Expanti-aging products ert)  on 29th Sep 2020

Understanding Skincare Ingredient Labels 

Understanding Skincare Ingredient

Why is reading the label important?

With all the Illustration, designing, taglines, and ingredients, information on the labels can be extremely heavy and bemusing for the customers, be it skincare or haircare products. Understanding label ingredients can be tricky but also important! You should know precisely what you will be applying to your skin and hair. Our body gets subjected daily to many products that we put on without accurate information about the ingredients

You can run into risks if you ignore what's printed on the label

Some of us don’t care about the ingredients of a product and neglect the fact that by applying something that we don't know enough about, we can cause damage to our skin and hair. On the other hand, some of us struggle with decoding complicated ingredient lists and their pronunciation. Terms like Alpha-hydroxy acids, Polyhydroxy acids, Beta-hydroxy acid, Kojic acid, Hydroquinone, and L-ascorbic acid are not easily understood.

Considering skin issues such as dark spots, aging, hair fall, frizz, dryness, oiliness, and other things, it is essential to know which ingredients should be used for which skin conditions. Otherwise, you might end up with more skin and hair problems than you already have. 

Did you know:

Vitamins E and C, green tea, lycopene, niacinamide are some of the popular antioxidants ingredients that protect your skin against environmental stressors. 

What to look for in a label?

Understand the order:

Generally, all ingredients on a product label are listed in the order of their concentration percentage from highest to the lowest. The bulk of the formula is believed to be made out of that product's first five ingredients, which usually contains a great moisturizer known as glycerin. If you see an excellent ingredient listed at the bottom, that means it probably won’t be that useful. Whereas, if you see a dubious ingredient such as alcohol within the first three ingredients, then it’s just better to stay away from such products and go for something gentle for the skin and scalp. 

Did you know:

Allergic reactions can happen on the skin due to excessive use of chemicals in the products.

Don’t be scared of the names:

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the product labels? So many ingredients and so many words that we can’t even begin to wrap our heads around them.

Majority of the ingredients that are hard to pronounce, to begin with. What are the possibilities that we would know their usage? The chances are that you may be missing out on many good ingredients, but with proper research, you can find out the importance of each ingredient and what these are used for. For instance, an ingredient like acetyl hexapeptide-8 is great for collagen stimulation and emulsifiers that protects your products from separating within the bottle. 

Composition of ingredients:

This can be a vast topic, but let’s go for a more straightforward approach. There is a never-ending list of ingredients in the beauty world, and every ingredient is sourced from different avenues. There are numerous options, such as vegan products that are made up of plant-based ingredients to protect your skin and hair for better health without the involvement of any toxic or abrasive chemicals.

Locate the bunny:

Products containing a bunny logo on the label indicate that the product is cruelty-free. These products are way more gentle on your scalp and skin because they do not contain artificial chemical ingredients. Products like these can be an excellent choice for people with sensitive and severe skin conditions.

Pro Tip:

Don’t believe everything that is printed on the package. 

Don’t be fooled by these:

If you find these ingredients in any of your hair, cosmetics, or skincare products, you should ditch them right away to protect your skin from all the harmful chemicals. 


There are different types of fragrances found naturally, synthetically, and in the form of essential oils. No matter what kind of fragrance ingredients a product contains/, it can be not very pleasant and sanitizing even for the people who do not have sensitive or acne-prone skin. Most brands do this to make their products more pleasing and have a nice scent, but using these will only damage your skin.


Parabens have been used for a very long time to help keep the active ingredients effective and stable. However, a controversy has been sparked that parabens can pass through into your body and disrupt your hormones. 


Sulfates are a reason for the foamy lather you see while using any shampoos or cleansers. Sulfates attract water and oil, which encourages shampoo, cleaners, and body washes to strip away healthy oils and cause dryness. 

Sounds scary but is very useful: 

These are some scary-sounding ingredients but don’t go by their names, the beneficial properties that these ingredients contain are amazing. 

Caprylic triglycerides

This ingredient is made from coconut oil and glycerin and can generally be found in cosmetics and soaps. This helps improve the texture of your skin and makes it more smooth. It is also considered to be an excellent antioxidant. When you see a product label with “all-natural” or “organic” written on it, it probably contains caprylic glycerides. 

Ferulic acid:

Ferulic acid is rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, E, and C. It is an organic compound that can be found in the cell walls of some plants. You can find this ingredient in anti-aging products to neutralize free radicals that damage cells.  

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate:

This ingredient is a more effective form of vitamin C and because of its components that are rich in fatty acids to help aid the penetration. For more optimum effectiveness, this ingredient can be used with other forms of retinol and vitamin C.

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7:

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 is believed to be a skin-restoring ingredient that effectively helps with anti-aging


Tocopherol, also known as vitamin E, is an essential nutrient for many body processes. Vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant that helps boost the immune system, works for the functionality of nerves and muscles, and prevents blood clots. It protects our cells against damage. 

Did you know:

A product labeled as organic should be made up of at least 70% of organic ingredients. 

Best ingredients according to skin type

Products will work better only when choosing the right kind of ingredients and can be very useful if you keep your concerns in mind while looking at the ingredients list.

It is also very important for brands to be honest and transparent, especially with the listing of ingredients that should be researched appropriately to help their customers understand label ingredients better.

Acne-prone skin:

Ingredients high in antioxidants and salicylic acid can be beneficial for acne-prone skin as these contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These ingredients help in loosening pores, clearing blackheads and whiteheads. However, these should be used in moderation to avoid any skin irritation. 

Dry and sensitive skin:

People with dry and sensitive skin require a higher concentration of emollients and humectants in products that work towards smoothness and soften your skin such as hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, castor oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and argan oil can help retain the moisture in the skin. 

Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum
Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum
Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum
Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum

Hyaluronic + PGA 2% Face Serum

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Oily and combination skin:

With excess oil production and breakouts, ingredients that act as low barrier repair like hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and niacinamide serum can help control the production of excess oil, which can later result in breakouts. 

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Did you know:

Bentonite clay, one of the most popular types of clay, comes from volcanic ash sediments. Clay absorbs excess oil in the skin and unclogs pores. 

Skincare Vocabulary: 


Products containing hypoallergenic ingredients are specially made for people with sensitive skin and are less likely to cause allergic reactions. 


Made for people with oily skin, products with these ingredients are made to avoid skin pore blockage and works well on acne-prone skin. 


These products and ingredients are reviewed by dermatologists who are experts in treating skin, hair, and nails. But the product might not work for you as everybody has different skin types. It is always better to consult your dermatologist before trying out a new ingredient. 

These are some of the best skincare ingredients to soothe your skin: 

  • Allantoin
  • Bisabolol
  • Boerhavia diffusa root extract 
  • Burdock root
  • Colloidal oatmeal 
  • Curcumin
  • Licorice  
  • Willowherb
  • Green tea 

Ingredients are a very complicated subject and can be scary for some people, but all you need to do is remember to look for the right amount of concentration percentage of ingredients that you need, and if you are unable to find those ingredients, you should leave the product and move to the next one.  

Understanding label ingredients

 is the key to find out what works best for you, but apart from focusing on ingredients, you should always remember not to base your opinions entirely on skincare or haircare trends. Research well, listen to the requirements of your skin, and you will be better informed. 

Did you know:

Engine degreasers, brake fluid, and anti-freeze are chemicals used for industrial purposes and can also be found in skincare products.