Ingredient 101: Understanding Skincare Ingredient Lists and How to Read Them

Ingredient 101: Understanding Skincare Ingredient Lists and How to Read Them

So, you come across a sleek, nicely packaged skincare box that promises clearer, brighter and healthier-looking skin. You pick it up and turn it over, only to be met with a long list of unidentified words typed across the back. Ah, the ingredient list.

Ingredients can feel a little overwhelming at first, but with a good search engine or—even better—a great aesthetician, you too can make sense of all the technical jargon. Of course, investing in a skincare brand that is clean, cruelty-free and free of additives (hi, we’re COSMEDIX), is a great place to start. And while is it easy to get caught up on all the things to “avoid” on an ingredient list, is also important that you understand what to look for.

To help you discover the ingredients that are right for your skin type, COSMEDIX has put together a quick list of 5 common ingredients you should add to your skincare routine, plus how you can spot them on the back of the box:

Oily Skin Look For: Beta Hydroxy Acid

Don’t let the word “acid” scare you away. A BHA is a chemical exfoliant that is ideal for oily, combination and acne prone skin types. This is because BHAs are oil soluble, meaning they can dive deep into the pore to help refine the look of congested skin, improve the look of enlarged pores and reduce oil production. Beta Hydroxy Acids are also gentle enough for everyday use and are often found in both a cleanser and toner that are specially formulated for blemish-prone skin.

What it Looks Like on an Ingredient List: Salicylic Acid, Betaine Salicylate, or Salix Alba

Dry Skin Look For: Ceramides

If you find yourself constantly slathering on moisturizer yet still have dry skin and rough patches, Ceramides are about to become your new best friend. Ceramides appear by many different names on an ingredient list, but all you need to understand is their hydrating and moisturizing skincare goodness. While Ceramides occur naturally in the skin, they tend to deplete over time, which is why it is so important to use them in a skincare routine. Applying a moisturizer 1-2x a day that is formulated with Ceramides will help restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier, lock in hydration and soothe the look of skin.

What it Looks Like on Ingredient List: Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide NG, Phytosphingosine or Sphingosine

All Skin Look For: Niacinamide

We’ve highlighted Niacinamide in the past and we are here to do it again! This holy grail ingredient has quickly risen to the top of trending skincare thanks to its diverse list of skin-loving benefits. Perfect for all skin types, Niacinamide helps maintain oil production in oily skin types, hydrate dry skin types and boost Ceramides (reference last paragraph) for mature skin types. Not to mention it is super easy to spot on an ingredient list since it appears under one name and one name only: Niacinamide.

What it Looks Like on Ingredient List: Niacinamide

Prevention Skin Look For: Peptides

Retinol gets a lot of attention when it comes to wrinkle reduction (as it should), but if you are in the game of prevention there is one ingredient you don’t want to sleep on: peptides. Simply put, peptides act like tiny building blocks in the skin that help boost the look of elasticity while helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and give skin it’s “bounce.” Peptide skincare also helps support the overall health of the skin by soothing and hydrating the complexion.

What it Looks Like on Ingredient List: Palmitoyl Pentapeptide, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9, Acetyl Hexapeptide, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, or Tripeptide 1

Anti-Aging Skin Look For: Alpha Hydroxy Acid

We’ll start with an acid and end with an acid. AHA’s share many similarities with BHA’s: they both help reduce the look of fine lines and improve the overall look of skin texture and tone. The key difference is that AHA’s are primarily praised for their exfoliating and anti-aging properties. For that reason, they are commonly used in a skincare routine that aims to promote healthy cell turnover while helping reduce the visible signs of dark spots and wrinkles.

What it Looks Like on Ingredient List: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, and Mandelic Acid

 

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