Checking Beauty Product Ingredients

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Why Check Beauty Product Ingredients?

There are over 12,000 chemical ingredients registered with the F.D.A. that can be used in skincare products. It is a dizzying array of actives, from acids to stabilizers, emulsifiers, thickeners, pH adjusters, preservatives and so on. While the FDA does not need to approve ingredients for use in the U.S., they do regulate them. Consumers know very little about where ingredients come from, how they’re made, or how many may cause irritation or other side effects. In addition to that, many product labels use INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names , which are not commonly known.

When you multiply this by the number of products used by the average consumer (approximately 10), the total number of ingredients used on any one day can be substantial. The FDA also lists ingredients that are prohibited in skincare products, like ingredients classified as drugs. However, should a skincare product be found to cause adverse reactions, the FDA cannot order the product off the market – they can merely issue a voluntary recall. (You can read an example of this here.) This often puts the onus on the consumer to verify claims made by skincare companies, and to check its labels for questionable ingredients.

Where can we find some of this information? Fortunately, there are online sources of information on the many ingredients that are in your beauty products. Below are examples of a few of them. Remember, knowledge is power; by knowing what’s going on your skin, you can be empowered to find the skincare products containing only the ingredients that YOU want to use.

Ingredient Resources

  • Skincarisma.com – with a database of over 32,000 products from around the world, this website created by a community of savvy consumers includes an ingredient analyzer and product comparisons.
  • ewg.org – The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database rates over 76,000 products for safety based on available data. They’re more than just a product database, however, the food guides and other helpful articles designed to help you live a green, clean life.
  • safecosmetics.org – not technically a database, but it has a “Red List” of ingredients to avoid.
  • cosmeticingredientreview – this website is sponsored by the Personal Care Products Council, and provides the results of scientific studies performed on chemical ingredients found in personal care products. If you’re into the science, it provides detailed information. (Warning; the majority report on animal testing of ingredients.)
  • incidecoder.com – this website allows you to search by ingredient or by product to get the list of ingredients and what they are used for. What more do you need?
  • cosmeticsinfo.org – this website provides an alphabetical listing of ingredients and what they are used for. Very useful if you have a product in hand and you are checking the label ingredients.

Disclaimer: We are not responsible for the information contained in third-party websites, nor does their inclusion here constitute an explicit endorsement.