Decoding Your Beauty Jar


Finding the right skin care products that work is hard enough without trying to decipher the tongue-twisting-sounding names that you see in the ingredients list (not to mention the handful of suggestions from the salesperson!). We understand, it’s simply difficult as each of us is unique. To simplify, why not read this piece – a handy guide for you to understand what you put exactly on your face.

The most essential step first is to understand how the list is made on your skin care stuff – the list is made in descending order, with the amount that are the most in the product, until the least in the last order.

And basically, the first five ingredients constitutes as the key in the overall formulation so if you see a product claiming it’s full of vitamin E but the word (or its derivatives) is at the bottom line, I doubt that the cream will have vitamin E to provide benefits for your skin.

Take note though, as the keyword ‘active ingredients’ will make a difference – if you see that particular key ingredient is on the bottom list, chances are it will work as well. It’s because mild concentration of active ingredients is needed for it to work, say 5%. Too high of it will only mean that you need to get it through your dermatologist.

Sometimes you can’t find any products containing our favorite ingredient, then look for its derivatives. The scientist created the compounds as they’re much more stable and can be mass-produced. For example, vitamin C tends to oxidize rather quickly so unless you can find products containing the vitamins in their pure form (hint: they will be expensive!), look for their derivatives for similar effect.

For example, a derivative of vitamin C is ascorbyl, vitamin E with tocopherols, and vitamin A with retinol.

Take note as some of us are quite sensitive to preservatives and fragrances contained in the product (a patch test is seriously recommended) and it’s not helping if the products have the suspected names covered up. For example, be wary of anything that is listed as fragrance as they not only helps to make the cream smells nice, but there’s also a possibility that the fragrance is also a preservative.

Just because any acne product didn’t have the word ‘acne’ on the product, doesn’t mean you can’t use it for that red spot. It’s because that if the product have the word ‘acne’ or blemish’ the product then needs to have a label showing FDA drug panel, including specific ingredients and their quantity. Look for the word ‘clarifying’ instead – also works for healing zit spots.

Finally, the expiration date! It’s essential as you don’t want to use ‘dead ingredients for your skin – other problems might come up. Simply look at the label that shows a floating lid jar with the number and the word “M” on it – that’s the amount of months that you can use after opening the tube.


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