What’s in a Label? Pt. 2

Feb 25, 2011 by

Cosmetic labels can be very misleading, persuading, and worst of all most are not regulated by any government agencies. How can you tell if something is a good buy? You have to do your research, that’s a lot of work though. The best way to narrow down how much research you have to do it to learn how to read a label. Some of the most common terms you will come in contact with are:

  • “Clinically Proven”

What does this mean? Just about nothing. When something has been clinically proven, that means that it has gone through testing in a controlled environment, such as a lab. These results are one sided, and generally done by the company producing the product. They can say whatever they like, nothing substantial has actually been proven.

  • “Brightening”

Cosmetic companies use this term often in skincare products when they want you to think that it is going to lighten the skin. However brightening and lightning products are very different. A brightening product is going to temporarily brighten the look of the skin, using light reflecting elements like mica. A lightning product is something that uses chemicals, to permanently fade the skin.

  • “Hypoallergenic”

Clinique is a huge fan of this term. This means that the product has been tested for known allergies, it does not mean that certain skin types will not still have allergic reactions to these products. Products labeled with this term are best for people with sensitive skin.

  • “Firming”

This means that the product contains ingredients that are going to plump this skin, this is not going to give a lasting effect. This is best for someone who is looking for a miracle product and is willing to use it persistently.

  • “Oil Free”

This means that the product does not contain mineral oils like petroleum, lanolin, and plant oils which have the potential to clog the pores. This doesn’t mean that it won’t cause a reaction though, it still can because of the substituted ingredients.

  • “Noncomedogenic”

These products are made of ingredients that are known to not clog pores (comedones). They can still cause breakout, but are less likely. Most acne products are labeled with this term.

  • “Fragrance Free”

Aveda is the biggest “fragrance free” company that I am aware of, you’re probably wondering why their products smell so good without the extra fragrance. That’s because they use essential oils, those are not considered fragrance because the majority of them are botanical extracts.

  • “Broad Spectrum”

This is a term that applies to sunscreen, it means that it protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, just because you have on sunscreen it doesn’t mean that you are fully covered, it is impossible to protect your skin with just sunscreen, although a broad spectrum version is the best option for everyone.

  • “Long Lasting”

You’ve probably seen this on many cosmetic products, it implies that it lasts longer than any other product. Typically all this means though is that it has waterproof capabilities, is it going to last past a dip in the pool? Probably not.

  • “Lifting”

If upon reading this on a label you thought that suddenly your jowls were going to disappear, you thought wrong. This is not a miracle worker, it helps to promote collage repair, but short of a plastic surgeon you aren’t going to be able to lift the skin.

  • “Detoxifying”

The claim to “detox” the skin is a little far fetched, these will help remove oils and impurities from t he skin, but not necessarily purify. People with dull or acne prone skin are generally drawn to products like this, just don’t expect miracles.

  • “Dermatologist Tested”

At one point a dermatologist either used this product or was approached with an endorsement deal. Generally this is way to good to be true. I prefer to use things that are dermatologist recommended, for me by my dermatologist.

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