Photo by: Sisterly Style (@sisterlystyle)

The skin is a dynamic organ that absorbs quickly and effortlessly the substances with which it comes into contact; therefore, it is paramount we know exactly which ingredients are in the products we apply on our face and bodies everyday. However, sometimes we forget to read cosmetics labels before buying them - or rather, we don't read them because we don't exactly know how to, nor do we understand what they say. But don't worry, we’ve got your back! This article is all about tips and directions on dissecting beauty labels; consider it your navigational guide through the world of cosmetology.


Expiration date: Like food, beauty products also have an expiration date. In most packages the date is at the bottom and is marked by an open jar symbol, a number and the letter M. The number corresponds to the amount of months that you can use the product once it’s been opened. Checking the expiration date and replacing your cosmetics on time is crucial to avoid the accumulation of bacteria that cause skin damage.

Concentration levels: Ingredients are listed from highest to lowest concentration. That is to say, the first listed ingredients are found in higher quantities and therefore make up the most part of the product. So if an ingredient to be cautious of (like alcohol) is catalogued at the very top of the label, or if the truly beneficial components are found way at the bottom, then it's best to leave that product on the shelf and go look for a better option.

Bunny: If you find a bunny on the package, this means that the product was not tested on animals and it is certified that its preparation is cruelty-free.

Plant-based product: If you are interested in a plant-based product, check the label and make sure that 95% of the ingredients are natural or derived from natural sources such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and botanical extracts.


Parabens: These chemical compounds are widely used in the cosmetic industry to protect products and increase their time of use. Although they serve to kill bacteria and effectively act as a preservative, studies suggest that parabens can alter the body's hormones, damage reproductive organs, and ultimately increase the risk of cancer. The Andean Community prohibited the use of this ingredient in the formulation of cosmetics in many South American countries, including Colombia.

Sulfates: Sodium sulfate acts as a foaming agent and is found in shampoos, gels, micelle waters and many other facial and body hygiene products. There is some concern that ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are carcinogenic and harmful to our vital organs, but there isn't enough evidence to confirm these statements. However, it can be said directly and without any hesitation that these components irritate and dry out the skin. Since they’re meant to eliminate facial impurities, during the process they also remove natural and healthy oils from your skin, thus aggravating problems such as acne or atopic dermatitis.

Artificial fragrances and dyes: These ingredients tend to irritate any kind of skin type, causing displeasure even for those people who don’t usually have sensitive or redness-prone skin. Although companies include them in their products to enhance the consumer's sensory experience, applying them to your face and body isn’t beneficial at all.

Paraffin and mineral oils: These are petrochemical ingredients that are found in a large number of beauty products, including everything from balms, to lipsticks, moisturizing serums, and mascara. These components create a thick barrier that makes it impossible for the skin to breathe - an essential activity for the proper functioning of this organ. It also accelerates the aging process and worsens many other skin disorders such as eczema.


Tocopherol: This is vitamin E, one of the best antioxidants for reducing photodamage and wrinkles. Tocopherol improves overall skin texture by neutralizing harmful free radicals that cause fine lines and sagginess. It’s mostly used as an anti-aging treatment, but it’s also very known for boosting the immune system and potentially promoting anti-cancer benefits.

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7: These are regenerative peptides that heighten collagen production and suppress skin inflammation.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate: It's just a long and fancy term for vitamin C. Since it’s oil-soluble, tetrahexyldecyl is mainly found in products such as facial serums, and as a highly beneficial ingredient it serves to inhibit melanin production, which helps to lighten and even out skin tone, enhancing skin radiance and eliminating dark spots. 

Ferulic acid: It is an acid that is generally used for protecting the skin against UVA and UVB damages. It also has antioxidant properties.


On top of what's mentioned above, we suggest that you look for these additional ingredients in your makeup and skin care products to enhance your skin's healthy glow.

Dry and sensitive skin: natural moisturizers and emollients like jojoba oil or shea butter.

Oily or combination skin: hyaluronic acid (moisturizer) and vitamin b5.

Acne-prone skin: antioxidants and salicylic acid.

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