The BHB Beauty Blog

How To Decode An Ingredient List

How To Decode An Ingredient List

As you may have noticed; we took a short little blog vacation to brainstorm a new approach to The BHB Beauty Blog.

Something we have always been so passionate about is what different skincare products are made of. Besides the amazing ingredients they put in big bold letters on the label that make you not even second guess buying it when you’re on your “I came in for one thing” trip to the store-what else is in it? When I was younger, I bought what smelled good. Just typing that made me cringe. I never put any thought into what ingredients were in it. Of course, I saw that paragraph of ingredients that was so small I would roll my eyes at it not caring because if it smelled good that’s all that mattered. (Cringing even harder now). The present-day me now understands how crucial it is to understand what ingredients are on that little paragraph of a list and how many companies use ingredients that are either completely unnecessary, full of toxic chemicals, or both. As I’ve matured  and learned more, I understand that when you see an ingredient list and read it there truly is a method to the madness.

All ingredients on every single INCL(ingredient list) are listed in order according to how much of that specific ingredient is in that product. An easy way to get the gist of what the product is made up of is to use what I call the "thirds" method. The next time you go to use one of your skincare products take a quick look at the ingredient list and imagine it is divided into three sections. The first section lists the ingredients that make up 80-95% of the entire product. If the first ingredient on that list is water you are quite literally using a product made of water. The second section of the list is where you will find your surfactants, emulsifiers, and oils. These ingredients make up anywhere form 1-4% of the entire product. Last but not least, that third section is composed of your allergens and preservatives.

I remember someone telling me that if you pick up any product and read the label and after reading the first ten ingredients don’t see the main-attraction ingredients you should put it down. Even though a product has “made with organic coconut oil” on the label in big bold letters, that doesn’t mean that it is an organic product. The way companies get away with this is by using very vague and easily misinterpreted verbiage. They can’t be held accountable for being misleading because they didn’t lie.

In addition to keeping an eye out for those advertised ingredients and making sure they are in that very first section of the ingredient list, it is also important to look for the fillers and toxic components that many companies use. Your skin absorbs anything that is put on it similar to how a sponge absorbs water. Knowing you have a choice when it comes to what skincare products you use would you use the one that smells good and everyone might be buying, or do you take a second to read that ingredient label to make a decision on whether or not that’s something you want being absorbed into your body. The only way to truly 100% know if the product you are using is safe you must must MUST read that little label!

When decoding the INCL it's important to have a very broad and general idea of what each ingredient is by noting how it is worded.   Plant ingredients for example,  are the easiest to point out because they are listed under their Latin name which always has two parts. After their Latin name they then put the common name of the plant derivative in parenthesis. For example, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil is the INCL way to say sunflower oil. An easy way to quickly identify an ingredient that you aren't sure of is to use a website called "Paulas Choice" or just do a simple google search. The thing I like most about Paula's Choice is that it breaks down the unidentifiable name into something you can not only understand but also find out what it comes form and wether or not it's a harmful ingredient. 

I have heard multiple times from different people that they follow this rule that if they cannot pronounce an ingredient name-it’s toxic. That could not be further from the truth, and this is why; so many vitamins, preservatives, and stabilizers have names that sound weird and cannot be pronounced but are actually good! Coco-Glucoside is one of those “unpronounceable” ingredients that would fall under that rule. Unfortunately, someone who goes by this rule would miss out on realizing that it is a very safe and effective surfactant, conditioner, emulsifier, and foaming agent that comes from fruit sugar and coconut oil.  

At the very end of the list of ingredients are the “allergens”. These are the artificial fragrances, colors, and essential oils that are most likely to be an allergen to people-go figure. Usually, these allergens are written in italics or have an asterisk letting the consumer know that it’s an allergen so be aware.   

 No matter if you're using a Bay Harbor Beauty product or the expensive designer product,  your health and knowledge of what that product is made of should never be compromised. We all love to have our bathroom shelves lined with designer bottles, but when it comes down to the health of your skin-many of them should be used for nothing more than decoration.

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