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Quick guide to skincare and cosmetic labels

Quick guide to skincare and cosmetic labels

How often do you read the labels on your cosmetic products or skincare?  Here is why you should pay closer attention to labels.

The Problem With Cosmetic Labelling

Cosmetic labelling is not subject to the same requirements as food labelling in Australia. Not only are manufacturers not required to provide a FULL list of ingredients for their products, there is also no percentage labelling requirement.

By law, a company can avoid disclosing the name of some ingredients if they determine them to be a “trade secret”. Those “secret ingredients” are usually put under the “fragrance” umbrella without the consumer being able to know exactly what is in that so-called fragrance.

Many companies also market their products as containing one or many bioactive ingredients but in reality the concentration of those actives is so low that the touted benefits are unlikely.

These are reasons why it is critical to be able to decipher labels and cut through the marketing gimmicks to determine the real components of the product and what you are actually paying for.

Cosmetic Labels 101

 #1 An Ingredient’s Position In The List Of Ingredients Tells The Story Of The Product.

Any ingredient representing more than 1% needs to be listed in descending order of concentration or weight. If an ingredient is less than 1%, it can be listed in any order. If a product is putting forward a particular ingredient which is listed towards the end of the list, then chances are its concentration is very low and you should factor that into your decision making.

#2 All Cosmetic Ingredients Have An Expiration Date

The number of months the product is valid for use after opening is usually on or next to a picture of an open jar on the packaging. Products with water have to have preservatives and they usually undergo testing to determine how efficient those preservatives are at killing harmful micro-organisms. After the expiration date, it is safe to assume that those preservatives are no longer working. Water-based products are a paradise for bacteria, yeast, fungi and mold. You might not see it or even smell but it doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

#3 How The Product Is Tested Has A Lot More Shades Of Grey Than You Might Think.

If a label says a product is “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals,” it means that the product, and not necessarily its ingredients, hasn’t been tested on animals. You might be buying a product that you think is cruelty-free yet the ingredients are tested on animals. It is outrageous to us but it is legal so ask and if you can’t get a straight and definitive answer, you should reconsider your purchase.

> The Australian Academy of Science have created a fantastic article with fun infographics and videos to explain how chemicals are used in cosmetics and the impact they have on you and the world around us.

> For more information on cruelty free cosmetics, you can read this articleby the PETA organisation.

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