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It's all double Dutch to me.... (part 3)

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In this blog series so far, we have looked at what information should be legally listed on all beauty product labels and why companies (large or small) are required to use the technical INCI name when listing ingredients.

This week we will continue to look at the ingredients label.

Did you know.... that the ingredients label on beauty products is similar to the ingredients label on food products?


Let's have a look at a food label, then, to see


Rissotto In this Wild Mushroom Risotto, can you tell me what the primary ingredient is?  In other words: can you figure out which ingredient has the highest % content?

Dried Risotto Rice, right?

And how did you work this out?

Well - on this specific ingredient label, there's a bit of a giveaway - after Dried Risotto Rice it states '(80%)' 

But ingredients labels do not always list the % after each ingredient.... only if the manufacturer is wanting to make a point, for example. 

So in this case, I suspect that the manufacturer wants to assure customers that this product has a very high rice content and is not being plumped up with non necessary ingredients.


In general we have been taught over the years that the ingredients listed on a food product are listed in descending order.  So on this product (even without the added % information) we would appreciate that Dried Risotto Rice is the primary ingredient and Milk Protein is (most likely) the least ingredient.


Well the same labelling technique is used in beauty products: the first ingredient listed on a label is always the primary ingredient.


Let's look at an example:

body butter - citrus zing


The ingredients label on my Citrus Zing Whipped Body Butter reads:

Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Cocos nucifera oil / Aloe barbadensis extract (aloe butter), Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond oil), Alpha topcopherol (vitamin E), Parfum, Linalool, Limonene, Butylphenyl methylpropional, Hexyl cinnamal, Citronellol, Mica, CI77891, CI77861, CI77492



Following the same logic as with a food label, the primary ingredient on this product would be...?

Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter)

Exactly right!


And why is this information useful?

Well..... it gives you a better idea of the quality of product you are buying.


For example: When you go to buy a Body Butter.... what are you looking to buy?

dry elbow skin


Well normally you will be looking for a heavy mosituriser designed to tackle, in particular, those really dry areas like the heels, elbows and knees.... especially in Winter when your skin needs extra moisturising.



Shea Butter


And I suspect that you would be looking for a product which, as its name suggest, contains primarily butter.


Good... then we would be looking for the same product.


Now suppose you lifted my Citrus Zing Whipped Body Butter and read this (mythical) ingredients label:

Aqua (water), Cera alba (beeswax), Glycerin, Zea mays (cornstarch), Kaolin (cosmetic clay), Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Cocos nucifera oil / Aloe barbadensis extract (aloe butter), Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond oil)....

What would you think?




Well...... the primary ingredient would be...... Aqua (water)


And near the end of the ingredients list you find the yummy ingredients (Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Cocos nucifera oil / Aloe barbadensis extract (aloe butter), Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond oil)) which you want to moisturise your skin. 

Hmmmmmm: Is this product really of high quality?  Will it really moisturise my skin as much as I want it to?

It might be fine..... but, personally, I wouldn't buy it.

Why?  Well the yummy ingredients are so far down the list that I don't think there would be a high percentage of them in the product.


And why is this helpful for you?

question mark

Well - similar to food labels, reading the ingredients label on beauty products may never be easy.... but as you get more and more used to reading the label, you'll be able to apply this logical thinking and avoid products which appear to have superfluous ingredients high up the list and preceeding the really yummy ingredients you want to put onto your body.


As always, I hope this post has been helpful to you.

If you liked it, feel free to share it with your friends and/or add a comment.

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