How To Read Product Labels?

May 04, 2020

Prince Edward Islands Natural Makeup Artist and educator.

 Hello Loves! 

 Thank you for tuning into another one of my blog posts. I hope that you are finding these posts beneficial to you and your clean beauty journey. 

Today’s topic is all about "How To Read Product Labels". Have you ever flipped over the back of a product to see a long list of daunting ingredients and think to yourself what the f***... ya me too. It can become very overwhelming looking at the long list of ingredients, not to mention the time and research that goes into every single ingredient. Not many people have the time to do this research.. well besides me, but that's because it’s my job! After reading this blog post I hope that it will help you have a  better understanding of product labels and helping to simplify your search for the best product/ standards for you. 

Clean beauty is on the rise  and more and more brands have been rapidly joining on the bandwagon offering "clean" cosmetics and skincare. But how do you determine if the product is ACTUALLY clean? Here are my steps on how I determine whether a product is safe for me to use and if it meets my personal standards. 


The first thing I look at when reviewing product labels is: How long is the ingredient list found on the back of the product? Is the ingredient list long, short, in between? Do you recognize any of the words or is it just a bunch of gibberish? This right away would help me determine whether the product could be full of fillers. Fillers are often used in products to help with other ingredient biocompatibility often referred to as surfactants and emollients. Not all surfactants and emollients are bad but most commonly found in cosmetics. Here is a little list to help guide you in the right direction. 


Bad Emollients:                                          Good Emollients: 

Mineral oil                                                     Shea Butter

Petrolatum                                                    Cocoa Butter 

Paraffin                                                         Coconut, jojoba & other plant oils     


 Bad Surfactants:                                      Good Surfactants:

 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate                               Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)

Alkyl Sulfates                                              Coco Betaine 

 Sodium Laureth Sulfate SLES                   Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

TEA_Dodecylbenzenesulfonate                  Sodium Lauroamphoacetate


Just to give you a little run down of what Surfactants and Emollients are: Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants. Emollients are any substance that softens the skin by slowing the evaporation of water. So just by taking a first glance at the products ingredient list we are looking for less. LESS is MORE. 


The second thing I observe when reading a product label is: What toxins stand out the most to me first?  This may be different for everyone as each individual has their own skill level when it comes to  product knowledge but the most common ones found today are Parabens, PEG's, and BHT/BHA. Although further research will be conducted later, first glance allows me to determine whether the product is worth looking into more.

IE: If I only see one toxin stand out at first glance then I would conduct further research to see if the product is fit for my standards but if I see many more toxins at first glance then the product is not worth looking into for me. If you need help identifying product ingredients or for future reference on toxins found in our beauty products please visit  David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen.  

At this time I would like to point out that the ingredients listed are just SUGGESTIONS about what may or may not be in the product. There is NO LAW or REGULATION determining whether these ingredients are actually in the product. Meaning they don't really need to tell you what's inside the product because there is no law or regulation saying that they need too. I would also like to point out that the ingredients listed in which they are ordered is suppose to symbolize the amount in which makes up the product. Again this is only a suggestion there is no regulations for this which leads me into my next step, the companies integrity. 


When you come across a product do you research the company to see if their morals and beliefs resinate with you? This is something that I look into because companies integrity and beliefs are really important to me, I want to support a business that is like-minded. What is the companies intentions, is it a brand you can trust? Who created the brand? Is the company creating products with the earth in mind? What is the companies environmental impacts? Are they sustainable? These are all the questions I ask when looking into new products, there are so many things to take into consideration when finding a brand suitable for you. You may have other morals that are of value to you, like organic ingredients, or vegan products or perhaps cruelty free. These are all questions that you need to address and research within the brand.

It is important to understand that this is YOUR body and YOUR right. You are free to use whatever products as  you wish whether the standards be the same or in-different to someone else. It's YOUR body. On all platforms I like to educate and  share the products that I love and would personally use on myself. In the boutique I only offer products that adhere to my standards with total honesty and transparency. Simply put if I wouldn't wear it myself, I don't sell it. 

I hope you have found this blog helpful, and that you can incorporate this into your active learning of product labels. 


Much love, 
Jacqueline xx

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