Part 2 - What is in Your Skincare? ..."How To Read A Label"

One of the most common questions we get asked is… “Is this a good product?”  Especially with current trends on social media outlets, we thought it would be good to discuss how we read a label when you ask us such questions.

First of all, when you look at an ingredient list there are a lot of compounds listed that we cannot pronounce nor do we know what they do, but there are certain ingredients you can look for when choosing a product.  We will delve more into the specific active ingredients in later newsletters.  

Cosmeceuticals or skin care products are not highly regulated with regard to scientific testing.  So we look for things like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and glycolic acid in our products. However, the industry is not required to tell us if the concentration of these compounds is effective. All they have to show is that 8-10 people saw improvement after brief use. This is not the same as showing efficacy in a blinded placebo controlled trial as is required to be published in medical and scientific journals. Most of the ingredients that the companies are promoting have been shown to be effective in studies at a specific concentration. All the cosmeceutical industry has to do is add a drop of this to a large batch and list it as the last ingredient to promote as having a specific active ingredient. Presence of the active does not translate to efficacy. 

The ingredients are listed in order of concentration. If water/aqua is the first ingredient, then that product is mostly water.  Keep in mind any product with water will require a preservative and this is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Lastly, we will look for ingredients like fragrance or parfum. Fragrances can be really irritating to a lot of different skin types so we typically try to avoid these, especially in our younger patients.  Some fragrances can be used as a preservative, so a product that says fragrance free may not actually be free of scents if the scent is used as a preservative.

Stay tuned for our next article as we delve more into skincare ingredients.

Elizabeth Grieshaber, MD

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Part I - "What is in Your Skincare Products?"

We get a lot of patients, friends & even reps who love to ask and tell us about all of the fancy ingredients in their skin care. A lot of these are names like snail mucin, meadow leaf bark, or other floral nonsense.