Beauty, Skin

How to read labels on your beauty products


I’ve been telling you to READ YOUR LABELS on all of your beauty products and I hope you are doing it. You can choose what goes in your body and what sits on your skin and is ultimately absorbed into your system. Naturally we want good things not synthetics and chemicals that can lead to a host of problems.

I told you my rule of thumb- if you can eat it and not get sick, then you can put it on your face or body without worries. However sometimes that may not be completely realistic. Lets’ take a look at two labels both for body lotion, so you can see what the heck I am talking about.


This is my Made from Earth Lavender Calm Body Lotion which I LOVE. I look forward to applying this after my shower every evening. Check out the ingredients, everything is recognizable to me but a few things. So I looked them  up.

Stearic acid is one of many fatty acids that occur naturally in various plants and animal derivatives.

Xanthum Gum adds volume to products, used often in foods. Its a natural sugar that comes from corn. So I wouldn’t eat it but I think its all right in small doses in a  body lotion I use once a day.

Oleoresin is a naturally occurring mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir.

Tetrasodium EDTA is a low hazard ingredient. It acts as a preservative so a product doesn’t go rancid. This enables it to sit on your shelf for a longer period of time. Often used in place of parabens.

All in all, I think the ingredients are quite mild. I feel comfortable using this lotion. To be super pure and natural, you could use coconut oil with a few drops of lavender oil as your moisturizer. I do that all the time too.

When reading a label, note the order of which  ingredients appear. The ingredients sitting closer to the top are used in the highest concentration. Keep this in mind: manufacturers can list ingredients with concentrations lower than 1 percent in any order they choose, and labels do not indicate when high-concentration ingredients end and the low-concentration ingredients begin. {source}


This is another body lotion.  Its from a high- end brand and boasts that it’s natural. When I saw the list of ingredients, I highly doubted that. The fact that water is at the top of the list tells me it has a high concentration of water. There are also numerous ingredients that have chemical sounding names- too many to even begin to look up! Any natural ingredients are blown away by all of the synthetics in here. And is that Acetone? Like in the nail polish remover?

Just for fun, see if you can find any of these toxic ingredients:

  • Words ending in “paraben.”
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Triclosan
  • Triclocarban
  • Triethanolamine (or “TEA”)
  • Words starting with “PEG.”
  • Words that have an “eth” in the middle. For example, sodium laureth sulfate.
  • Fragrance
  • FD&C
  • D&C

By comparing these two products, I hope you can understand how the first one is much better, is truly natural and the second one is created from various chemicals and synthetics. Its not a  bad product but it does contain things that are questionable.

*Beware of catchwords like dermatologist-tested, all-natural, fragrance-free, herbal, botanical, cruelty-free and allergy-tested. Because regulatory law doesn’t define the meaning of these terms, any product can use them.*

Fancy words that boast promises on the front label mean nothing when you begin to read the ingredients. Its an important rule, one that I am learning too, to not give into to empty promises! A label can say anything it wants and doesn’t have to back it up, there is nothing holding a brand or company accountable for their claims, as misleading as they are.

For example, a certain baby shampoo promises that it is gentle and pure, however this baby shampoo actually contains traces of formaldehyde (in the form of  preservative Quaternium-15). Pretty scary, right?

Educate yourself, learn exactly what ingredients are by looking them up on Skin or by doing a google search.  Understand that the shorter the list of ingredients and the more you recognize, the better. While Whole Foods and natural food places may sell beauty products, understand they are not always the *best* you can buy however, by reading the labels you will see they are *better* for you than  many of the products available at department stores, drugstores and superstores etc.

Keep in mind that “natural” or “for sensitive skin” or “dermatologist tested” are marketing key words used to draw people in.

I just learned all of this recently and feel pretty bad about falling for these labels. How many toxins I have applied to my skin- the body’s largest organ- makes me sick.   If you have any additional thoughts on reading labels and ingredients, I’d love to hear them. Comment below or find me on Facebook.

1 thought on “How to read labels on your beauty products

  1. I appreciate your series of posts about the ingredients in cosmetics and skin care products. I’ve been reading ingredients for the last three years and now know at least three technical chemical names for Vitamin C and E among other ingredients. Who knew that high school and college chemistry would be so important in the real world? 😉

    I now only use 15 to 20% Zinc Oxide sunscreen products because avobenzone is the only UVA I chemical sunscreen approved in the US. And I just don’t like to think of all the chemical reactions that go on “IN” my skin when I use chemical sunscreens. Better to just use an inert physical sun block like zinc oxide that has been used for years without harm.

    Keep up the ingredients discussions and posts, they are helpful for me.

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