Understanding The Jargon Of Skin Care Products

By Marilynn Syrett Published 07/4/2009 | Beauty
It is always advised to read the ingredient list of skin care products before purchasing them. However, often it happens that the labels include words that are totally alien to you. When you do not understand the meaning of these labels, you can end up making a wrong choice and buying ineffective products.

Here are some tips to read the labels of skin care products effectively so that you can make a wise decision.

Understand the Jargon

Here are the meanings of some commonly used labels on skin care products.

Oil Free
This means that product is not oil-based and is ideal for oily and acne prone skin.

This means the ingredients of the product have been tested and proven that they do not clog the skin pores.

This means the product would not cause any allergic reactions and is ideal for sensitive skin.

This means the product does not contain ethyl alcohol (that serves to dry up the skin). However, the product may contain certain fatty alcohols.

This means that the product is comprised of natural ingredients or ingredients derived from natural sources. However, there are no federal regulations regarding the use of this term.

This means that the product contains ingredients that have been grown organically without the use of any pesticides or chemical processing. However, as in the case of natural products, there are no federal regulations that define the use of this term.

Understand the Ingredients

Often, in place of ingredient names, skin care products list the category that they belong to. Here are some examples.

They lock in moisture and bring it to the upper layers of the skin. For example glycerin, urea, and ceramides.

They fill in the cracks and rough spots on the skin that are caused by dryness and make the skin smooth and supple. For example, cetyl alcohol, isostearyl alcohol and oils derived from plants and fruits.

They tend to create a thin film over the skin surface in order to prevent moisture from escaping. For example, paraffin, mineral oil etc.

They accelerate the lather and foaming action in cleansers. The most common example of surfactants is ammonium laurel sulfate.

They protect against free radicals, UV damage by sunlight, moisture loss and environmental stressors like dirt and pollution. Moreover, they encourage healthy cell renewal and promote the appearance of healthy and younger looking skin.

Look for Active Ingredients

Active ingredients of skin care products are the ones that directly address the problem areas and produce results. For example, AHAs are powerful exfoliating agents. Similarly, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are active ingredients for the treatment of acne.

Notice the Order of Ingredients

Skin care companies often highlight certain ingredients on the front of the cover as their USP but actually, these ingredients may only be present in negligible quantities. You can get to know the comparative concentration of ingredients by looking at the ingredient list of the product. The list contains all the ingredients of the product in decreasing order of concentrations. Ingredients that are present in high concentrations are listed at the top and those featured in the last are present in lower concentrations.

Therefore, if you are buying a product that promises to deliver excellent results because it contains aloe vera, but aloe vera is listed only as the second last entry in the ingredients list, then you are just probably wasting your money.

Avoid Potential Irritants

There are certain ingredients used in skin care products that can be harmful and cause irritations,
especially on sensitive skin. Therefore, it is best to avoid them. Here are some potential irritants.

They are commonly included in shampoos and cleansers to promote foaming and lathering. They also contribute to reduce oiliness and thus end up drying the skin.

They are synthetic preservatives that are used to eliminate bacteria and viruses that can spoil the skin care product. They don't have very adverse reactions on the skin but because they are synthetic, people prefer to avoid them. Common examples of parabens are Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben and Butylparaben.

Fragrances and Colors
They have absolutely no skin care benefits and just contribute to increasing the skin sensitivity and promoting irritation and breakouts.Dr. Marilynn Syrett is a graduate from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine Of The Pacific. She has a keen interest in studying the use and effectiveness of skin care products and acne treatments.