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How To Decode Your Skincare Product Label Like An Expert

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

Figuring out a foolproof skincare regime for your skin type is hard. You can spend ages trying to find products that could work for your skin. One way to do that is to know what to look out for on the skincare product labels so that you can determine whether or not that product is good enough to be included in your regime. Delhi-based dermatologist Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta says having a comprehensive beauty vocabulary is essential in 2022. “You need to be aware of what you’re putting on your body, as much as you’re aware of what you’re putting in your body,” she says. So we got the expert to help us decode skincare product labels so that our beauty shopping gets easier…

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Look out for the basics

“The product label mostly says whether or not it’s suitable for your skin type,” says the dermatologist, “So it goes without saying that it’s one of the most important things to look out for.”

Is it expert-approved?

Mittal Gupta insists that one of your top priorities while reading a skincare product label should be to check whether or not it’s ‘Dermatologically Tested’. “If it says this, then it means that the product has undergone several tests to certify its effectiveness and it would be good for your skin,” she says. But you should be aware that there is a difference between ‘tested’ and ‘endorsed’, so make up your mind after going through the ingredient list too.

Build your vocabulary 

The skincare community’s lexicon is ever-expanding. If you want to shop for skincare products smartly, then you should be up to date on what these terms mean. “You should be aware of what those terms or processes mean for your skin type. For instance, if the label says it’s ‘non-comedogenic’, that means the product will not clog your pores and it’s perfect for people with acne-prone skin,” says the dermatologist, “The label will also indicate whether or not the product is ‘Paraben-free’ or ‘SLS-free’, which means that it’s free of chemicals that could cause long-term damage to your skin.” So don’t be afraid to Google any unknown word you see slapped on a label or reach out to your dermatologist for clarity.

Take the time out to look at the ingredient label

“The ingredients are always listed in order of their concentration in the product. The first three products mentioned in the ingredient list are the ones that are most high in concentration in the product,” says Mittal Gupta, “Say, you’re buying a Vitamin C serum, and the L-ascorbic acid is listed as the 12th product, then you would know that it’s low in concentration in the product. If a really great ingredient is listed towards the end, then it’s not worth buying. Also, check for the percentages of these ingredients to gauge their concentration levels.”

Dates matter!

Do not overlook the manufacturing and expiration dates on the labels. “The open jar symbol on most labels indicates how long the product is good for after opening it,” the dermatologist explains. She adds that you should always look at the dates mentioned, either on the bottle or on the crimp, before buying any product.

You need to be careful while deciding what products to use on your skin because, if chosen wrongly, they can cause long-term damage to your skin. This is why it’s always advisable to consult a professional in case you still have doubts.