The skin is the body’s largest organ and absorbs what you put onto it. Always read the ingredient labels and know what’s in your products.
We all have faced that moment. Yes, I’m talking about that moment of frustration when you are standing right in front of the rack full of beauty products in your favorite beauty store with the hottest skin care product in your hand and feeling absolutely overwhelmed! To find the much-anticipated product after a long hunt? Nope! You are overwhelmed to see the ingredient list. Sounds similar? Then, read this post to know how to decode your cosmetics labels yourself:
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Found In: Chemical peels, face washes, facial masks, skin creams, serums, etc.
AHAs (lactic acid, glycolic acid, etc.) are a group of naturally occurring or synthetic chemicals used for chemical exfoliation of the skin. The compounds in this class can penetrate the skin deeply and dissolve the cellular bonds so that the dead cells are eliminated and we get a smooth, bright skin. Due to their surface level activities, AHAs can treat greasiness, acne, dark spots, blemishes, scars, wrinkles, fine lines, etc. effectively. However, one might also experience irritation and photosensitivity.
Salicylic Acid / Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
Found In: Everything including face washes, face masks, facial wipes, creams, lotions, and so on.
Salicylic acid or BHA is an oil-soluble derivative of aspirin which, being an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent, is used for treating oily, acne-prone skin. It heals acne by cleaning clogged pores and prevents further breakouts by offering surface level exfoliation. It also helps in reducing existing blemishes, producing collagen, improving skin texture, and enhancing the barrier function of the skin. Excessive dryness, irritation, mild stinging, allergies, etc. are some of the side effects of using BHA.
Copper Peptide GHK-CU
Found In: Moisturizer, serum, anti-aging cream, etc.
This is a copper complex present in human body, which combines with three amino acid molecules and forms tripeptides. Copper peptides are known to promote collagen production, speed up wound healing, and strengthen immunity with its great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been found to reduce signs of aging, increase skin elasticity, enhance skin texture, and eliminate scar marks. However, the anti-aging qualities of GHK-cu are yet to be proved scientifically.
Found In: Primers, serums, cleansers, moisturizers, creams, toner, etc.
Dimethicone, a silicone-based polymer, is responsible for the silky smooth, soft, and matte finish offered by certain beauty products. It can enhance our skin texture by filling in fine lines as well as large, open pores. The large molecules of dimethicone also make it a good skin protectant that helps other products glide over the skin. It is also capable of preventing mild irritation, dryness of skin, etc.
Found In: Rich creams, cold creams, heavy moisturizers, ointments, etc.
Emollients are natural (lanolin, cocoa butter, etc.) or synthetic (mineral oils, squalene, etc.) lubricating agents that are mainly used for hydrating dry skin in order to reduce patches, flaking, cracking, and so on. It can be ‘Occlusive’ (creates a barrier on the skin surface to restrict further evaporation of water) and ‘Humectant’ (attracts and seals moisture in the outermost layer of skin called ‘epidermis’). Though it keeps skin soft, smooth, and rash-free, people may experience pore clogging and breakouts at times.
Found In: Serums, leave-in products, lotions, etc.
Being a potent natural antioxidant, ferulic acid protects our skin from free radical damages and slows the process of aging significantly. It also provides sun protection, helps in reversing sun damages, and increases the effectiveness of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin E by making them stable. People with sensitive skin might experience some negative effects of ferulic acid.
Glycerin / Glycerol
Found In: Moisturizers, serums, facial masks, etc.
Glycerin, a heavy colorless liquid obtained from natural fats, is basically a humectant that attracts and locks moisture in the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis). Consequently, the natural protective barrier of our skin is reinforced and we get rid of dryness, scaling, dermatitis, psoriasis, etc. It not only maintains the moisture of our skin but also plumps it up.
Found In: Serums, and hydrating creams.
Hyaluronic acid, a structural component of our skin, can be produced synthetically and applied topically for deep penetration and optimal hydration. It can retain natural moisture of the skin, plump it up instantly, smoothens signs of aging, and enhances skin elasticity, and so on.
Found In: Facial masks, face scrubs, peel-off masks, etc.
Kaolin is a white clay mineral, which can balance the natural oil levels in our skin by working as a gentle absorbent. It absorbs excess moisture from the oily skin, promotes deep cleansing, averts breakouts, reduces inflammation, and so forth.
Found In: Exfoliators, makeup removers, natural oil-based products, etc.
Lauric acid is basically a saturated fatty acid that holds amazing anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. It hydrates skin deeply and reduces inflammation to a great extent.
Some Other Common Beauty Ingredients
- Niacinamide: A water-soluble anti-inflammatory vitamin, which is mostly used for treating acne, improving skin tone, making skin firmer, and curing sun damages.
- Hydroquinone: A bleaching agent with antioxidant properties, which is great for reducing dark spots, hyperpigmentation or melasma, etc.
- Lycopene: A phytochemical that is rich in antioxidants and can reduce pigmentation as well as lighten the natural skin tone.
You will also come across the names like phthalates, sulfates, parabens, preservatives, perfumes, fragrance, etc. while checking the labels of your beauty products. Try to avoid these ingredients as they are highly damaging to our skin and some of them are even known to be potentially carcinogenic.