How to Understand Skincare Product Labels

In this modern era, marketing has made it confusing for the average consumer to understand what chemicals are present in skin care products. The responsibility of determining what is safe does not belong to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or the product manufacturer. It is strictly up to the consumer to determine which ingredients are acceptable. Manufacturer packaging contains claims that sound safe, but we need to understand what those claims really mean to make an informed decision.
Here is a breakdown of popular claims and what they really mean:
1. Non-comedogenic – Ingredients have been tested and do not appear to clog pores. This does not mean that the product cannot cause sensitivity.
2. Hypoallergenic – Ingredients have a lower chance of causing an allergic reaction than other products. It is important to note that people react to products differently. Best practice is to review the ingredients and determine if you have had a reaction to any of them in the past.  As with all new products, perform a patch test and watch for reactions for at least 24 hours.
3. Alcohol-free – Products do not contain ethyl alcohol (SD alcohol), which is harsh and drying to the skin. Fatty alcohols can be beneficial to the skin, and these may still be present in alcohol-free products.
4. Dermatologist-recommended – A meaningless claim that can be made even if the dermatologist has used the product on a single patient. Do not be fooled into believing all dermatologists endorse this product on all patients.
5. Natural – There is no standard to dictate exactly what “natural” means or what percent of the ingredients must come from natural sources.
6. Organic – Ingredients have been grown organically, without the use of pesticides or chemical processing. It is important to know that there are several organizations that certify organic products, and each has its own standards.
7. Skin organics – This is a newer term that means absolutely nothing.  
These basic guidelines should help you navigate the marketing dilemma.  After all, knowledge gives you the power to make proper decisions without being fooled by advertisers.