How to Read Ingredient Lists

Every skincare and wellness product should have its full ingredients listed on the packaging. Some ingredient lists may be harder to spot than others. From hard-to-pronounce words to unfamiliar names, ingredient lists can be confusing! We’ve created this quick guide to help you better understand ingredient lists so you can easily identify ingredients, what their purpose is, and how they work. 

 

1. Where to Find the Ingredient List

Usually, you’ll be able to find the ingredient list on the back or side of the product’s packaging. On some product packaging, the ingredient list may be on a “peel-back” sticker label. For these, simply peel the label where it says “peel here” to reveal product information. 

 

2. Names of Ingredients

The names of ingredients on ingredients are often confusing and complicated. This is because they have to follow the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system. Under this system, ingredients must be named using their scientific names. For plant ingredients, they must be listed under their Latin names. Often, you’ll find an ingredient’s common English name in parentheses next to it, which helps you decipher the ingredient a little easier.

For more detailed information on specific ingredients, check out our Ingredient Glossary.

 

3. Ingredient Order

Ingredients are listed in order from the highest to lowest concentration. This means the ingredients at the top of the list have a greater amount present compared to ingredients at the bottom of the list. The first few ingredients usually make up the bulk of the product formula. However, this does not mean that ingredients at the bottom of the list have minimal effects. Some ingredients are effective even at low concentrations.

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