How to read the ingredient list in cosmetics | Doctor Anne

How to read the ingredient list in cosmetics | Doctor Anne

How much money have you wasted over the years because you fell for marketing claims, but the product actually didn’t deliver? Well, I can’t promise you that this will never ever happen again But I can tell you that if you learn to read an ingredient list You are more likely to pick up exactly these products that work. Hi. I’m Doctor Anne. I’m a medical doctor with a passion for skincare that works. On this channel we explore the science behind skin and do quick reviews So you learn to pick exactly those products that work for your individual skin concern. So if this is something you’re interested in, please consider subscribing and ring the notification bell. But in order to teach you how to read an ingredient list Let me tell you first what not to look for: Don’t look at the front, that’s for marketing. Look at the back, That’s for the truth. Don’t look at how many ingredients there are, Because that doesn’t matter. You can make a highly effective serum with using just 5 ingredients, but at the same time you can do one that does nothing at all using twenty. Some Products just need 30 ingredients to work their best, others need ten. The number of ingredients on the list will give you zero information About the efficacy or the value of the product. Next thing I want you to ignore are the free from claims. I’m not going to go too much into detail because I did a whole video that I’m going to link up on the screen, But unless you are only using vegan skin care or you have severe allergies just ignore the Free From claims, They are usually misleading. And even if you have a severe allergie, looking at the actual printed ingredient list is much more Important. But never assume that you can tell how a product is going to affect you Only by looking at the ingredient list. The ingredient list just gives you so much information, Just reading an ingredient list and saying this is worth the money or this is not worth the money won’t work. But now that we have out of the way what I don’t want you to look at, what do I want you to look at to find out what is in your product and How much of it is in your product? Well in theory, it should be easy. Reading the ingredient list should tell you exactly what is inside, because companies are required by law to Print everything on the packaging. True? Not exactly. First of all, you need to be able to make sense of the names to you are reading. Any clue what this is going to do for your skin? Yeah, it’s a peptide and if you have no clue what peptides do, I´ll link another video, But you need to educate yourself About the names, at least the most common names. In times of Google and the World Wide Web It’s really easy to do that, I just want you to remember that everyone that puts in the effort to run a website or a YouTube channel has for sure two things: an agenda and a personal opinion. What not everyone has is knowledge, So it’s really really important that you don’t just trust people on the internet blindly, Not even me! But once you educated yourself, You will learn to see when Marketing actually is kind of misleading and I have a few examples with me. And I love the brands that I’m going to show you, all of these are things that I use in my routine, So no bashing on pixi here. If you have been around, you know I love them. But the pixi Retinol Jasmine Lotion, retinol and peptides, well, if you look at the front you’d say it contains Retinol, Jasmine in whichever shape or form and Peptides, because it says on the packaging. Well, actually it kind of doesn’t, because if you read the ingredient list there’s no retinol in there. What’s in there is a retinol palmitate, and if you’re a little Educated around the whole retinoids – and if you’re not please subscribe, I’m going to do a video on that topic – you know that Retinylpalmitate will be Converted to retinol, but that it’s way less effective. So it’s not retinol. It’s a retinol precursor. So if you buy that because you want a retinol cream You’re not getting one. What makes this reading the ingredient list difficult is that some Ingredients that are listed together mean something different when they are listed together. For example, if you read this on the ingredient list, you’d think it’s safe to say that this product contains retinol. Well, technically, yes, but these four together form complex called RETISTAR, which is Encapsulated retinol that is time released and the time released retinol won’t have the same effect as retinol. So while you´re technically getting Retinol, you´re not getting the retinol That was part of the clinical trials because you get a different form of retinol That still has to prove if it’s really as effective. But your safest bet is to educate yourself about the different forms of skincare ingredients, like emollients, peptides, Occlusives, whatever there are: What do they do, and then learn to identify Them and look for them on the ingredient list. Now that you found out what ingredients are in your product, You want to know how much of them is in there. Because as long as you just put one drop in the whole bottle you’re allowed to list it on the Packaging. And one drop will probably not give you the effect that you are looking for. So is there a way to figure out exactly how much of each ingredient is in your formulation? Well, not exactly, but there are ways to get a really good guess. First you need to know that Everything is listed from highest concentration to lowest, which is why water or aqua is usually the first thing on the ingredient list. That’s only true until you reach 1%, everything that´s at a concentration of one percent or less is Listed in random order. If you want a really easy rule of thumb way, you just pick a product and say: Ok, I’m looking at the first five ingredients because the first five ingredients usually make up around 80% of the formulation. I’m going to look at the kicks Turn Back Time Serum and the first five ingredients are Aqua, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters and then Niacinamide, So chances are good that there’s a pretty decent amount of Niacinamid in this formula. Another way, Again kicks because that’s what I’m using at the moment, But the ordinary has the same, is if the company tells you how much there is in there. 2% BHA and 1% Zinc Concentrate. I can see that the Salicylic Acid comes at place nine, so everything that’s listed before has a concentration for at least 2 % or more, so depending on the ingredient a pretty relevant concentration, and that Helps me look and see that I have a decent amount of humectants and I have a decent amount of an adstringent in this formula. This is where the US people are lucky because if salicylic acid or a sunscreen or anything like that is present in the formula, So if it’s basically an over-the-counter drug, companies are required to list the percentage of actives on the packaging. This is not the same in the EU. But if you want to know a little more and the company doesn’t tell you how much percentage of which ingredient is in there, There is another way by looking at certain ingredients, And the most common one is Phenoxyethanol, Which is a preservative and it’s not allowed to be used at more than 1%, Which means if you see Phenoxyethanol in the ingredient list, you know that everything that comes behind it is at 1% or less. As an example I have the pixi Hydrating Milky Peel with Coconut and Probiotic, and the ingredient list is: Water, Cellulose, Propanediol and Phenoxyethanol and there I know I have reached the 1% line, maybe even lower because you don’t have to use Phenoxyethanol at 1%, you just could, but it’s definitely not more than that. So I know that only Cellulose, Water and Propanediol are atmore than 1%. So the coconut extract and the probiotics are in there, but there are less than 1%, which tells me that I probably won’t get a huge effect of them on my skin, which Is totally fine for me because this is a peeling. Other ingredients to look for are butylene glycol Which is at 1 to 10 %, then there’s sodium hydroxide, Which is usually used at around 1 % and Polyacrylamide, which can be used up to 2.5 %, But usually is again around 1%. And then there are ingredients like Xanthan Gum, Which can be used at any percentage, but it’s used to solidify a formula. If you see Xanthan Gum And it’s a really dropping, runny formula, It’s never more than 1%, because then the formula would be more gel like, like a jelly. Looking at it that way will give you a pretty good understanding of the concentrations of the ingredients in your formula. It’s very important to note though that this does not mean that anything that is at a lower concentration is Less effective, because some ingredients just don’t need a higher concentration. Vitamin C for example is most effective at 20%, but if you use Salicylic Acid at 20%, it will give you a chemical burn and your face is going to fall off. You just need 2%, while at the same time 2% Vitamin C is probably not going to do much for your skin. A great example for that is Peptides. Peptides are effective in very low concentrations, Which is why you usually find them at the end of the ingredient list, and that’s perfectly fine. You don’t need 50% peptides in your formula. To make things even more complicated, There are ingredients that have a percentage in the name, like 5% Granactive Retinoid. This is the name: 5% Granactive Retinoid. So if a company puts that in their formula, they can say: I have 5% Granactive Retinoid in my formula, but It’s not five percent concentration. It’s five percent as in the name. Yes, It’s confusing at first, But if you practice it will save you a ton of money and heartache in the long run. And to keep you entertained and educated, I’m going to link to more videos on the screen that I think you might enjoy And I’m going to see you very soon with another one. Bye!


  • Doctor Anne says:

    Do you read the ingredient list before you purchase skincare?

  • Marie-Luise says:

    Could you please check out Clarins products? Like the double serum? ☺️

  • urbanjeanie says:

    Hi Anne, this is a marvellous video! Thank you so much for giving me an idea of what to start looking for. I wish you could do more on how to read ingredient lists – I found this video to be clear and to the point on what to start looking for when trying to read an inky list. Also thank you for clarifying that the ingredients listed on the front of the bottle or box won't exactly be what's inside and to check the back of the box! I recently purchased Elizabeth Arden Retinol capsules (duty free while I was traveling) and when I look at the ingredient list I see that retinol is listed right at the end of the list. The ingredient you mentioned phenoxyethanol is the very last ingredient on the list – so I'm assuming that the retinol is around the 1% mark? Whatever the case I know it's a very low percentage but I'm enjoying the product because it's gentle and I'm still seeing a good result. I'd love to see more videos – I love that you'll be doing one on retinols as there is so much to learn! … Also, I'm sick at the moment – I think a combination of jet lag and change in the weather has impacted my immune system and a bug as got to me! I'd love to see a video on taking care of your skin when you're sick. My skin looked great a couple of days ago … today I feel like a dried up prune!!! Thank you for your awesome videos – I have so many to catch up on and will do today while I'm convalescing! Much love to you Xx

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