January 29th 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 11:33PM
Usha Naran

How to read a Label

When people pick up a cosmetic product, they often assume that the ingredients on the label have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA, however, holds very little regulatory authority over cosmetic products before they are marketed; instead, the cosmetics industry primarily regulates the safety and effectiveness of its products.

Companies are not required to list percentages of ingredients. If they’re not listed about the concentration is about where it falls on the label. Ingredients are listed in order of amount or effectiveness. For example, for an ingredient to be effective it should be among the first five on the list. An exception to the rule are antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Peptides, which are usually found at the bottom but are effective at low levels. If percentages are given, the ideal percentage is between .25% and 1% of the wrinkle fighting retinol, 2% of hydroquinone for dark spots, 2% of salicylic for acne, and at least 10% glycolic acid for exfoliating and skin brightening.

Read the front and back of the package. Number of creams may advertise retinal on the front but when you check the ingredient label it may only have Vitamin A, or retinyl palmitate, which is a less potent form of retinal. For skins sensitive to fragrance just because the labels say unscented, doesn’t mean that there aren’t traces of low level masking fragrance to mask the odor. Hypoallergenic means that the product has been tested for allergens. But it may just mean that the product doesn’t have any known allergens.

It’s easy to forget that many of the active ingredients in wrinkle creams, acne products, and peels, are unstable and do have an expiration date. Once past the expiration date, the product is probably okay for a few months, should it discolor, change in odor, or dry out, it is best to discard and replace. When using time sensitive and light sensitive products it is best to use it up according to its directions for maximum results.

Article originally appeared on The Sanctuary of Winter Park (http://sanctuaryofwinterpark.com/).
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